74,901 fans fill Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, to watch the New York Cosmos defeat the Tampa Bay Rowdies in Soccer Bowl ‘78. To date, this remains the largest crowd for a professional soccer championship game in North America.
Photo Credit: Joe McNally, http://portfolio.joemcnally.com/
Yesterday, we previewed roughly the first half of XI Issue One: stories on Gil (Scott) Heron, Latina players in North Carolina, Johan Cruyff in DC, immigrants and success in American society/soccer, and the controversial story of Howard University’s NCAA championship teams. Today, we’ll look at the remaining six stories that make up “Coming to America.”
Writing this preview the night after the US men’s national team’s historic win at the Azteca seems as good a time as any to bring up the blurred boundaries that exist for their female equivalents, especially after an Olympic success for Mexico that showed the strength of its development program for male players. Jeff Kassouf looks at why the Mexican roster is stocked full of Mexican-Americans, while Mexican-born players look north of the border for higher level playing opportunities, talking to players such as Monica Gonzalez.
Training with boys’ teams is not out of the ordinary for Mexican women’s players. Some train with men’s professional teams. While training with men’s teams is not the ideal practice setup for women’s players, it at least provides a high level of competition. But it does not provide the money players need to make a living.
Mexican women’s national team players still only earn a stipend of 4,000 pesos –– roughly $300 –– per month from the Mexican federation, according to Gonzalez. Last year Gonzalez was in camp with the national team ahead of the 2011 Women’s World Cup and had to sell her car to pay rent. Mexico needs a league of its own to foster the development of domestic talent. Until that is established, players will continue to play abroad and view that as a route to discovery.
One aim of XI is to dig up lost American soccer history. Expats from the British Isles, of course, were responsible for spreading the sport around the world: and in the United States, some of that role in establishing soccer is fairly well-known on the east coast at the start of the twentieth century. But less is known about the sport’s nascent days on the west coast, a tale Michael Orr uncovers in-depth as he looks at the sport’s early growth and stutters in Portland, Oregon.
Association football was regularly described in the local press as the “Scotch and English game.” Occasionally large crowds in cities like Glasgow and London were a subject of note in Portland newspapers as the sport was very specifically linked to the British Isles, despite the growing presence of clubs in large, eastern American cities.
Portland competed in their its first interstate match on Febuary 22, 1902, when PFC traveled via the steamer Hassalo to Ilwaco, Washington, to face the powerful team from the mouth of the Columbia. Though Portland fans made the 115-mile trek to support the team, there was not enough quality in the metropolitan side to defeat Ilwaco. The 2-0 score line made the proximity to Cape Disappointment all the more appropriate and the PFC crew made the long trip back to Portland.
MLS is a league that straddles two nations; and within one, there is an internal nationalist dynamic of its own defining the identity of an MLS club, Impact de Montréal, as explored by Elizabeth Cotignola as she looks at the team’s marketing campaign upon entering the league this year.
It would appear that the Impact has attempted to reinvent itself upon its ascent to MLS by resurrecting symbols that are rooted in Québec’s history and culture. The team harkened back to Québec’s very beginnings in its campaign. The slogan chosen for the team’s inaugural season in MLS was la conquête commence, meaning “the conquest begins.” This theme – conquest, battle, war – underlies the Impact’s entire marketing campaign. The Impact’s website features posters, which that showed up in Montreal’s metro stations and other public spaces, depicting various players standing stoically at the base of Mount Royal, bearing shields embossed with the Impact’s newly minted crest. The posters feature slogans such as À La Defense du Nord (to the defense of the North) and À La Conquête de l’Ouest (to the conquest of the West). The imagery is unambiguous: the Impact has presented its upcoming inaugural season in MLS to be as much a challenge, a conquest, as cause for celebration – much like the founding of la Nouvelle France, Québec.
How did youth soccer become as American as apple pie in suburban America? The massive explosion in the popularity of the game in places like Southern California was no accident, David Keyes argues, but the planned result of an attempt to “Americanize” the game from its ethnic roots by the founders of AYSO.
The goals that Bill Hughes, Hans Stierle, Ted McClean, Ralph Acosta and Steve Erdos had in creating AYSO in 1964 were very different from those involved with the ethnic leagues. While for those in ethnic communities, soccer was about providing a connection to fellow immigrants and to their homelands, from the beginning AYSO was focused on growing the popularity of the game in Los Angeles and throughout the United States.
As Clay Berling, longtime editor of Soccer America, puts it, “The ethnic groups were concerned with having a team that won championships. That was what they grew up with.” In contrast, “The AYSO contingent had an entrepreneurial spirit that the ethnic groups didn’t have.” Former AYSO executive director Tim Thompson has gone further, describing the organization as having a “religious zeal.” Like an evangelical church, the non-profit AYSO was run by leaders who saw it as their mission to convert others to this new game of soccer.
In order to grow soccer, AYSO had to change the sport’s image. If the game was to increase in popularity, it would have to appeal not only to those in ethnic communities, but to the broader American public. Joe Bonchonsky, whose sons played in the first ever AYSO game and whose extensive later work with the organization would see him elected to the AYSO Hall of Fame, sums up the founding of the organization as follows: “AYSO started at the request of a [USSFA] organization. Bill Hughes had tried it before under their direction and failed because it had been too ethnic-oriented. So he said, ‘we’ll start but not in an affiliated manner. We’ll be independent completely.’”
In the 1924-5 season, Archie Stark - Scottish-born, New Jersey-bred - scored 70 goals in 44 games, playing for Bethlehem Steel of the American Soccer League. We tell Archie’s story in words, photos and statistics.
Ethnic soccer has long defined the game in the United States at the highest levels of the amateur and semi-pro levels: just scroll through the list of US Open Cup winners prior to the entry of MLS clubs in 1996 for proof of that. In an essay illustrated by photos from Marty Groark, we look at the past and present of one Chicago club, Croatian team RWB Adria - winners of the 2011 National Amateur Cup, and who once welcomed Eusebio into their red, white and blue colors.
That takes us to the end of this XI issue one preview: you can be the first to read it by subscribing now, with a special introductory offer available through the end of this month.
Johan Cruyff runs onto the field for the Washington Diplomats in the NASL. In issue one of XI Quarterly, Pieter van Os and Leander Schaerlaeckens explore how his experiences with the team in 1980 and 1981 changed the Dutch legend forever:
Legendarily hubristic, cocksure, singularly combative and ruthless, Cruyff was forever embroiled in power struggles or embarking on ideological crusades. If his talent for manipulating a ball and orchestrating an offense was immense, it was (and is) dwarfed by his capacity for inciting conflict and playing mind games.
But the Dips didn’t know any of that yet. In 1980, all they knew was that they’d landed the player considered one of the greatest of all time for his second season in the now-defunct North American Soccer League.
A 1979 NASL magazine focuses on the explosive growth of youth soccer in America - a movement led by the AYSO, whose “Americanization” of the sport is explored by David Keyes in issue one of XI Quarterly.
The 1979 Los Angeles Aztecs of the NASL. In the center is captain Johan Cruyff, whose journey to America is told by Leander Schaerlaeckens in issue one of XI.
The Jacksonville Tea Men played in the NASL from 1980-82, the first professional soccer team in the city and its first major sports franchise. Their name originated in New England, with the club owned by the tea company Lipton.
Johan Cruyff in his Washington Diplomats days, a story told in issue one of XI.
Mexican Leo Cuellar pictured in 1980, a star for the San Diego Sockers in the NASL. Now a dual national of Mexico and the United States, Cuellar is currently the coach of the Mexican women’s national team, and in issue one of XI talks to Jeff Kassouf about the future of women’s soccer in his native country and his recruitment of Mexican-Americans to play for the team.
The New York Cosmos will enter the NASL in 2013.