- United Soccer Association
Infobox sports league
country=USA and CAN
Los Angeles Wolves
The United Soccer Association is a former professional soccer league featuring teams from the
United Statesand Canada. 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 Europeand South America.
In 1966 a group of sports
entrepreneurs, led by Jack Kent Cookeand including Lamar Huntand 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 USSFAand FIFA. 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 Europeand 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.
After a series of exhibition games, the USA began playing on
May 28and got off to a good start. The Houston Starsattracted 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 Boninsegnaof Chicago Mustangsfinished 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 Coliseum. 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 Shewanscored an own goal.
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 Skylinersand San Francisco Golden Gate Galeswere disbanded in favour of their NPSL rivals, Toronto Falcons, New York Generalsand Oakland Clippers. The owners of the Gales franchise subsequently merged with Vancouver Royal Canadians and Boston Roverswere relaunched as Boston Beacons. Together with Cleveland Stokers, Los Angeles Wolves, Houston Stars, Washington Whipsand 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 Tornadofolded. 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 Spursand 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 Baysand Atlanta Chiefswhile Kilmarnock of the Scottish Football Leagueplayed as the St. Louis Stars.
Los Angeles Wolves(AET)
* [http://www.sover.net/~spectrum/year/1966.html 1966 in American soccer]
* [http://www.sover.net/~spectrum/year/1967.html 1967 in American soccer]
* [http://www.sover.net/~spectrum/year/1968.html 1968 in American soccer]
* [http://www.sover.net/~spectrum/year/1969.html 1969 in American soccer]
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