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NASL Reunion Game


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By the way, when did that teenage Russian lesbian pop duo start playing for the Dallas Sidekicks? :D

From dallasnews.com

NASL reunion: One from the history books

10:44 PM CDT on Thursday, September 15, 2005

By STEVE DAVIS / The Dallas Morning News

The first significant NASL reunion is being staged this weekend in Frisco.

About 75 former NASL players, coaches and referees will gather today for a reception from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Frisco. It's open to the public.

On Sunday, about 40 will participate in a NASL reunion game at 11 a.m. at Pizza Hut Park, two hours prior to FC Dallas' MLS contest.

The biggest stars were sometimes past their sell-by dates. The financial blueprint was flawed beyond repair.

But the soccer was surprisingly tight. And for about five years in the late 1970s and early '80s, the North American Soccer League was living large.

It all started humbly as two leagues in 1967. (Lamar Hunt said, "Only in America could you go from no league to two.")

They merged a year later to form the NASL, which lasted 17 years and created a memorable legacy along the way.

It sputtered early but turned in 1975 when Pele joined the Cosmos, followed by a collection of global stars joining the illustrious New York outfit.

Others had to spend to keep up, and the race over the cliff of financial ruin was on. But the sport gained a bridgehead in the meantime.

Fans showed up impressively, and mainstream media got on board in New York, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and a few other markets. At the top, the Cosmos averaged 50,842 fans in 1978, helping entice an ABC contract.

The league averaged 14,440 fans in 1980. But the financial extravagance began exacting its price. Up to 24 teams in 1978 and '79, the league shrank gradually afterward.

The pace of contraction quickened in 1982 and '83. The NASL officially closed shop on March 28, 1985.

All-time NASL team

The team was selected on their contributions to soccer in general, not just to the North American Soccer League (with original NASL team):

Goalkeeper: Gordon Banks, Fort Lauderdale Strikers

The Englishman was regarded as perhaps the globe's greatest goalkeeper of any era, and had a World Cup title to his name. But an automobile accident in 1972 robbed him of his sight in one eye. He joined the NASL later and was named Goalkeeper of the Year in 1977.

Defender: Carlos Alberto, New York Cosmos

Defender: Bobby Moore, San Antonio Thunder

Defender: Franz Beckenbauer, New York Cosmos

Perhaps no NASL player ever combined the grace, savvy and skills of the man known as the Kaiser. The Cosmos won three NASL titles in the four years he spent directing the team from the sweeper position he helped revolutionize.

Midfielder: George Best, Los Angeles Aztecs

Midfielder: Vladislav Bogicevic, New York Cosmos

Midfielder: Johan Cruyff, Los Angeles Aztecs

As Pele declined through the mid-1970s, Holland's brilliant and temperamental dribbling and passing maestro claimed the unofficial moniker as the world's best player. Cruyff was still on top of his game when he played for the LA Aztecs and Washington Diplomats from 1979 to '82.

Midfielder: Teofilo Cubillas, Fort Lauderdale Strikers

Forward: Georgio Chinaglia, New York Cosmos

Unlike some of his Cosmos teammates, he was only a marginal international star when he arrived in NY. But he was prolific, recording 193 goals in 213 games. Chinaglia led the NASL in scoring six times, including 50 goals in 39 regular-season and playoff games in 1980.

Forward: Gerd Müller, Fort Lauderdale Strikers

Forward: Pele, New York Cosmos

Brazil's incomparable scoring king legitimized the NASL, appearing for the Cosmos before huge crowds at Giants Stadium. More than 75,000 fans watched his ceremonial retirement match on Oct. 1, 1977. He remains one of the game's greatest global ambassadors.

Dallas Tornado: Local soccer pioneers

Well before Tatu was scoring regularly for the Sidekicks or Jason Kreis was hammering them in for the Burn, North Texas' pro soccer heroes of another day wore the jersey of the Dallas Tornado.

Tornado aerial specialist Kyle Rote Jr. was among the first American-made soccer heroes. He joined Bobby Moffat, Dick Hall, John Best and others as the local soccer kings of early '70s. By the mid- to late-'70s, Kenny Cooper was setting goalkeeping records and starring in Dr Pepper commercials.

Al Miller coached some talented Tornado teams from 1976 to 1980, with the likes of Jeff Bourne, George Ley, Jim Ryan, Wolfgang Rausch, Steve Pecher, Tony Bellinger, Zequinha and others.

Lamar Hunt's first stab at pro soccer ownership called several venues home after its 1968 launch, settling into a renovated Ownby Stadium in 1976. There, the Tornado started a three-year run that would be the closest it came to salad days.

The club sold out its 21,000-seat stadium several times.

But the red ink flowed nonetheless. The Tornado moved back to its one-time home at cavernous Texas Stadium, an ill-fated shift that helped strip away any local buzz. The team folded after the 1981 season as the last original NASL club.

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