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The United Soccer Association is a former professional soccer league featuring teams from the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker. The league survived only one season before merging with the National Professional Soccer League to form the North American Soccer League. All the teams in the league were imported from Europe and South America. Dick Walsh served as the commissioner.

Origins

In 1966 a group of sports entrepreneurs, led by Jack Kent Cooke and including Lamar Hunt and Steve Stavro, formed a consortium known as the North American Soccer League with the intention of forming a professional soccer league in North America. This group was subsequently sanctioned by both the USSFA and FIFAmarker. However a rival consortium known as the National Professional Soccer League also emerged and to avoid confusion Cooke renamed his consortium the United Soccer Association. The USA originally intended to launch its league in the spring of 1968. However the NPSL, which secured a TV contract from CBS, announced it was ready to launch in 1967. Not wanting to lose ground to its rival, the USA decided to fast track its launch. Without any players of its own, it opted to import whole teams from Europe and South America. It was intended that these teams would represent the franchises during the inaugural season, giving them time to build their own squads for the following season.

1967 Season

After a series of exhibition games, the USA began playing on May 28 and got off to a good start. The Houston Stars attracted an opening crowd of 34,965. However subsequent attendances did not keep pace and the league finished with an average of 7,890 per game. Of the twelve teams Los Angeles Wolves, represented by Wolverhampton Wanderers and featuring Derek Dougan, Cleveland Stokers, represented by Stoke City and featuring Gordon Banks, and Washington Whips, represented by Aberdeen, emerged as the strongest sides. Roberto Boninsegna of Chicago Mustangs finished as the leagues top scorer with 10 goals. The USA entered its play off stage in July 1967. The Western Division champions Los Angeles Wolves, by the flip of a coin, won the right to host the championship game against the Eastern Division champions, Washington Whips. The match drew 17,824 to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseummarker. Wolves won the championship beating the Whips 6-5 after 36 minutes of extra-time. Four goals were scored within a 4 minute period midway through the second half and each team scored during extra time. The game was decided after Whips defender Ally Shewan scored an own goal.

NASL

In December 1967 the USA merged with National Professional Soccer League to form the North American Soccer League, taking the original name of the USA group. As a result of the merger several of the original USA franchises folded. This was partly to avoid some cities having two teams. As a result Toronto City, New York Skyliners and San Francisco Golden Gate Gales were disbanded in favour of their NPSL rivals, Toronto Falcons, New York Generals and Oakland Clippers. The owners of the Gales franchise subsequently merged with Vancouver Royal Canadians and Boston Rovers were relaunched as Boston Beacons. Together with Cleveland Stokers, Los Angeles Wolves, Houston Stars, Washington Whips and Dallas Tornado, these teams then became founding members of the NASL. However, after the 1968 season all of these franchises, with the exception of Dallas Tornado folded. They became NASL champions in 1971 and continued to play in the NASL until 1981.

The idea of importing teams to represent franchises was revived during the 1969 NASL season. Both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Dundee United returned. This time the former represented Kansas City Spurs and again emerged as champions. The latter linked up once again with Dallas Tornado. Two other English League teams West Ham United and Aston Villa represented Baltimore Bays and Atlanta Chiefs while Kilmarnock of the Scottish Football League played as the St. Louis Stars.

Competing teams

Franchise Imported Team Stadiums (Capacity) Chief Sponsors
Boston Rovers Shamrock Rovers Manning Bowlmarker, Lynn, MAmarker Weston Adams (Boston Bruins)
Chicago Mustangs Cagliari Calcio Comiskey Parkmarker (46,550) Arthur Allyn Jr. (Chicago White Sox)
Cleveland Stokers Stoke City Cleveland Stadiummarker (78,000) Vernon Stouffer, Gabe Paul (Cleveland Indians)
Dallas Tornado Dundee United Cotton Bowlmarker (75,504) Lamar Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs)
Detroit Cougars Glentoran Tiger Stadiummarker (36,000) William Clay Ford (Detroit Lions)
Houston Stars Bangu AC Astrodomemarker (44,500) Judge Roy Hofheinz (Houston Astros)
Los Angeles Wolves Wolverhampton Wanderers Los Angeles Memorial Coliseummarker (93,000) Jack Kent Cooke (Los Angeles Lakers & Kings)
New York Skyliners C.A. Cerro Yankee Stadiummarker (67,000) Madison Square Garden Corporationmarker
San Francisco Golden Gate Gales ADO Den Haag Kezar Stadiummarker (59,942) George Fleharty (Ice Follies)
Toronto City Hibernian Varsity Stadiummarker (25,000) Steve Stavro
Vancouver Royal Canadians Sunderland Empire Stadiummarker (33,000) Brigadier General E.G. Eakins
Washington Whips Aberdeen D.C.marker Stadiummarker (46,000) Earl Foreman


Final tables

W = Wins, L = Losses, T= Ties GF = Goals For, GA = Goals Against, Pts= point system

2 points for a win1 point for a tie0 points for a loss

Eastern Division

Teams Played Won Lost Tied GF GA Pts
Washington Whips 12 5 2 5 19 11 15
Cleveland Stokers 12 5 3 4 19 13 14
Toronto City 12 4 3 5 23 17 13
Detroit Cougars 12 3 3 6 11 18 12
New York Skyliners 12 2 4 6 15 17 10
Boston Rovers 12 2 7 3 12 26 7


Western Division

Teams Played Won Lost Tied GF GA Pts
Los Angeles Wolves 12 5 2 5 21 14 15
San Francisco Golden Gate Gales 12 5 4 3 25 19 13
Chicago Mustangs 12 3 2 7 20 14 13
Houston Stars 12 4 4 4 19 18 12
Vancouver Royal Canadians 12 3 4 5 20 28 11
Dallas Tornado 12 3 6 3 14 23 9


Championship

Selected players



External links



Bibliography

  • Official 1968 North American Soccer League Guide. St. Louis: The Sporting News, 1968.
  • Durso, Joseph. "Local Pro Soccer Teams May Share Stadium With Yanks in Spring," The New York Times, Sunday, February 12 1967.



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