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Although 1991 would see the first interlocking schedule for the recently unified APSL, cold financial reality had set in after the 1990 season, dampening their hopes for to establishing the first nationwide professional league since the demise of the NASL in 1984. Travel costs would be exorbitant for teams that would repeatedly cross the country, and many teams were already reeling because of the salaries commanded by the best players. Although attendance was respectable, ranging as high as 5,000 per game, the revenue flow simply wasn't enough to meet existing expenses, much less the anticipated travel costs. As a result, only nine teams chose to continue into 1991. The financial woes didn't end there, as the Salt Lake Sting folded near the end of the season, despite having one of the best attendance figures, and Penn-Jersey, Albany, and Maryland (despite their stellar record) folded afterwards, leaving only five teams to continue into 1992.
What was lost in quantity was made up for in quality -- the teams remaining were generally the strongest teams, and many of the better players were concentrated on their roster. The APSL was the top professional league in the country, and would eventually be awarded division 2 status by the USSF. A number of players were already veterans of the National Team, including Tony Meola (Ft. Lauderdale), Desmond Armstrong (Maryland), Marcelo Balboa (San Francisco), Bruce Murray (Maryland), Peter Vermes (Tampa Bay), Eric Wynalda (San Francisco), Steve Trittschuh (Tampa Bay), and Jean Harbor (Maryland).
The league consisted of two conferences, with a 21-game interlocking schedule. Maryland Bays quickly took the league in the South Conference, never looking back. They would go on to set a league record for most wins (19) in taking the conference title, on the strength of goal-scoring by league leader Jean Harbor (17 goals, 55 points), Kevin Sloan (14 goals, 32 points), and Bryan Haynes (9 goals, 23 points). Meanwhile, the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers took the lead in the North Conference, winning the title by five games. Ft. Lauderdale scoring standouts included Derek Sanderson (10 goals, 23 points), and Andrew McKay (6 goals, 20 points). In the semifinals, San Francisco earned a surprise victory over Ft. Lauderdale in consecutive 1-0 overtime wins. In the North, Albany Capitals split a pair with heavily favored Maryland , 2-1 and 1-2, before winning the deciding mini-game 1-0. So the championship saw an exciting series between two underdogs. Albany took the first game 3-1, but San Francisco rallied to earn a 2-0 shutout, and take the ensuing mini-game to take home the Commissioner's Cup.
Final APSL Standings, 1991 Pd W L WN WE WS LN LE LS G+ G- GD Pts American Conference Ft Lauderdale Strikers 21 15 6 11 0 4 3 1 2 39 21 +18 117 Albany Capitals 21 10 11 9 1 0 7 1 3 27 29 -2 92 Tampa Bay Rowdies 21 8 13 7 1 0 13 0 0 26 27 -1 69 Penn-Jersey Spirit 21 6 15 4 0 2 13 0 2 25 50 -25 61 Miami Freedom 21 6 15 5 0 1 14 1 0 19 53 -34 52 Western Conference Maryland Bays 21 19 2 17 1 1 2 0 0 54 23 +31 158 SF Bay Blackhawks 21 17 4 12 1 4 2 1 1 33 16 +17 126 Colorado Foxes 21 13 8 11 1 1 7 0 1 36 27 +9 111 Salt Lake Sting * 20 3 17 3 0 0 14 1 2 12 22 -10 33 Semi-Finals: Albany Capitals defeated Maryland Bays 2-1 (OT), 1-2, 1-0 (MG) San Francisco defeated Ft. Lauderdale, 1-0 (OT), 1-0 (OT) CHAMPIONSHIP: San Francisco defeated Albany 1-3, 2-0, 1-0 (MG) (*) Salt Lake folded before playing their last game. Consequently, several friendlies with CSL clubs Vancouver and Montreal, and the Colombian club Millionarios were included as "official" games to bring all clubs up to a total of 21 games played. After the season, Albany, Penn-Jersey and Maryland folded. Leading Scorers: G A Pts Jean Harbor, Maryland 17 11 45 Kevin Sloan, Maryland 14 4 32 Zico Doe, Colorado 12 2 26 Derek Sanderson, Ft. Lauder. 10 3 23 Bryan Haynes, Maryland 9 5 23 Andrew McKay, Ft. Lauderdale 6 8 20 Paul Dougherty, Ft. Lauderdale 7 5 19 Mike Masters, Albany 7 5 19 Townsend Qin, San Francisco 6 6 18 Ramiro Borja, Albany 7 3 17 Scott Benedetti, Colorado 5 6 16 Chance Fry, San Francisco 6 2 14 Dzung Tran, San Francisco 5 3 13 Chad Ashton, Colorado 3 7 13 Philip Gyau, Maryland 3 6 12 Kevin Snow, Miami 5 1 11 Goalkeeping Leaders: (Min. 700 minutes played) Min GA Sv GAA Mark Dougherty, San Francisco 1767 16 76 0.81 Scoop Stanisic, Albany 1760 20 94 1.02 Arnie Masseur, Ft. Lauderdale 1054 12 51 1.02 Steve Powers, Maryland 1546 18 59 1.04 Tony Meola, Ft. Lauderdale 759 9 28 1.06 Mark Dodd, Colorado 720 10 34 1.24 Cris Vaccaro, Penn-Jersey 1020 17 60 1.40 Winston DuBose, Tampa Bay 1609 26 53 1.45 Tony DeFilippis, Miami 1730 50 98 2.60 1991 First APSL All-Star Team: G - Mark Dougherty, San Francisco Bay D - Marcelo Balboa, San Francisco Bay D - Troy dayak, San Francisco Bay D - Danny Pena, San Francisco Bay D - Derek Van Rheenen, San Francisco Bay M - Kevin Sloan, Maryland M - Townsend Qin, San Francisco Bay M - Ramiro Borja, Albany F - Jean Harbor, Mayland F - Zico Doe, Colorado F - Derek Sanderson, Ft. Lauderdale Most Valuable Player: Jean Harbor, Maryland Coach of the Year: Gary Hindley, Maryland Rookie of the Year: Zico Doe, Colorado
The MISL changed its name to the Major Soccer League before the start of the 1990-1991 season. For the first time in a number of years, the MSL returned the same teams for the new season. MSL retained their 52-game schedule, the most arduous schedule ever seen in US professional soccer, matched only by the original ASL during the mid-1920's. The major surprises this year were the resurgence of the Cleveland Crunch in their second season, to take the eastern Division title, and the crash of two-time divisional champs Baltimore. Despite the stability in the franchise lineup, continuing financial woes plagued the league, leading to greater concern about the viability of a number of franchises.
The MSL continued their successful tour of Europe, with the Baltimore Blast defeating Oldham Athletic, an English 2nd division team, by a whopping 6-1. Perennial overachiever St. Louis won the FIFA-sponsored New Year's Indoor Tournament in Zurich, Switzerland. St. Louis was the first American team ever to complete in this tournament, now in its 10th year, and finished with a 4-1-1 record, as well as the champion's cup. The league also launched their new two-year television contract with SportsChannel, and a Sunday game of the Week schedule. The All-Star game was held in conjunction with the College Indoor Soccer Showcase, which was followed by the collegiate draft; 23 players active in the Showcase were among those drafted. The All-Star game itself, held February 13 in Kansas City was a high-scoring affair, going into overtime, and ultimately won by the East 9-8. Game MVP Chico Borja, tied an MSL record for scoring five points off of three goals and two assists.
The MSL playoff semifinals saw St. Louis defeat Tacoma in a see-saw battle, with St. Louis taking the first game decisively 9-2, before struggling to a 3-4 overtime loss, followed by another overwhelming 9-2 victory. Kansas City meanwhile defeated Wichita 6-0 and 9-8. In the divisional finals, division winners Cleveland and San digo prevailed, although not without a struggle. San Diego defeated St. Louis 9-6, 5-4 (OT), 4-5, 11-4 and 7-4 in the best of seven series. Cleveland meanwhile, defeated Kansas City 7-2, 7-5, 6-7 (OT), 5-4, 4-5 (OT), 6-8, and 7-6. The championship series was won by San Diego, who took their fourth consecutive league title, in defeating Cleveland 8-4, 3-4, 6-5, 5-7, 6-1 and 8-6.
A major concern for MSL was attendance which took a noticeable drop this season, down more than 1,000 per game to 6,566 per game average. To reduce anticipated expenses, the league voted to reduce the schedule to 40 games for 1991-92, and concluded a new collective bargaining agreement with the players.
Final MSL Standings, 1990-1991: G W L GF GA % GB Eastern Division Cleveland Crunch 52 29 23 322 280 .558 -- Kansas City Comets 52 26 26 263 283 .500 3 Baltimore Blast 52 21 31 298 315 .404 8 Wichita Wings 52 21 31 257 308 .404 8.9 Western Division San Diego Sockers 52 34 18 302 250 .654 -- St. Louis Storm 52 32 20 320 288 .615 2 Tacoma Stars 52 25 27 254 259 .481 9 Dallas Sidekicks 52 20 32 257 294 .385 14 Div. Semi-finals: St. Louis defeated Tacoma 9-2, 3-4(OT), 9-2 Kansas City defeated Wichita 6-0, 9-8 Div. Finals: San Diego defeated St. Louis 9-6, 5-4(OT), 4-5, 11-4, 7-4 Cleveland defeated Kansas City 7-2, 7-5, 6-7(OT), 5-4, 4-5(OT), 6-8, 7-6 CHAMPIONSHIP: San Diego defeated Cleveland, 8-4, 3-4, 6-5, 5-7, 6-1, 8-6. After the season, Kansas City folded. Leading Scorers: GP G A TP Tatu (Dallas) 51 78 66 144 Zoran Karic (Cleveland) 47 73 48 121 Preki (Tacoma) 52 68 53 121 Jan Goossens (Kansas City) 41 53 58 111 Hector Marinaro (Cleveland) 45 63 44 107 Thompson Usiyan (St. Louis) 51 64 38 102 Leading Goalkeepers: (Min 2000 minutes played) Min Svs GA GAA W-L Victor Noguiera (San Diego) 2828 569 206 4.37 31-16 Cris Vaccaro (Tacoma) 2685 470 208 4.65 22-22 Zoltan Toth (St. Louis) 2099 519 176 5.03 25-10 P.J. Johns (Cleveland) 2127 531 180 5.08 25-10 Kris Peat (Wichita) 2070 435 186 5.39 14-21 1st All-MSL Team: G - Victor Nogueira, San Diego F - Tatu, Dallas F - Zoran Karic, Cleveland M - Preki, St. Louis D - Kevin Crow, San Diego D - Fernando Clavijo, St. Louis Most Valuable Player: Victor Nogueira, San Diego Coach of the Year: Trevor Dawkins, Cleveland MISL Scoring Champion: Tatu, Dallas Sidekicks MISL Pass Master (most Assists): Tatu, Dallas Sidekicks Defender of the Year: Kevin Crow, San Diego Goalkeeper of the Year: Victor Nogueira, San Diego Sockers Rookie of the Year: David Banks, San Diego Sockers Newcomer of the Year: Paul Peschisolido, Kansas City Comets Championship Series Player of the Year: Ben Collins, San Diego Sockers Championship Series Unsung Hero: Glenn Carbonara, San Diego Sockers
The SISL continued it's expansion, this time to the mid-south and southeastern US. It also adopted a new name, the Sunbelt Independent Soccer League, to reflect its ever-growing scope. Looking beyond the annual series of team moves, mergers, expansions, and name changes, we now find the indoor season with 18 teams and the outdoor with 17. For the first time, the trend towards outdoor soccer is seen as the clear future of the league. The southeast expansion consisted of the Georgia Steamers, Atlanta Express, Memphis Rogues (the third franchise in as many leagues to use this name), and Nashville Metros. The Metros would become one of the longest-running of the league's teams, and the success of this new "region" would lead to further expansion down the line.
The outdoor league split into three divisions this year, leading to some interesting divisional races. The Memphis Rogues continued the tradition of strong expansion franchises, easily winning the Southeast Conference crown, despite its mediocre goals for/goals against ratio. Although they blew a few games big time, they were able to utilize a tenacious defense to earn close victories in the rest of their schedule. The other two divisions saw closely fought races, with the Richardson Rockets pulling out a 1-game victory in the Tex-Oma Conference over Ft. Worth Kickers. This race showed the significance of the bonus points, awarded for the first three goals scored by a team. Richardson won the division based on bonus points, despite having one more loss and one less win than the Kickers. In the Southwest, the New Mexico Chiles and El Paso Patriots finished in a dead heat, with new Mexico winning the division based on bonus points.
In the quarterfinals, Memphis, Richardson, New Mexico and Ft. Worth easily won their series, and New Mexico defeated El Paso 0-1, 4-1 and 3-0 in the semifinal, the first game being decided on penalty kicks. Richardson defeated their semifinal opponent, Ft. Worth 2-1. Left unclear is exactly why this series consisted of a single game as opposed to the three game series won by New Mexico. The championship was a single match, easily won by Richardson over New Mexico 3-0. Richardson continued their success into the US Open Cup, reaching the Cup championship where they lost to the Brooklyn Italians.
Final SISL Outdoor Standings, 1991 Before the season, Georgia Steamers became the Atlanta Quicksilvers. El Paso becomes the Patriots, and New Mexico becomes the Chiles. Permian Basin did not play this season. Waco was merged into Forth Worth. GP W L GF GA BPT PTS PK Southeast Conference Memphis Rogues 16 12 4 31 36 30 98 2-0 Atlanta Quicksilver 16 9 7 41 31 35 89 0-0 Arkansas Diamonds 16 8 8 30 30 26 76 0-1 Nashville Metros 16 7 9 30 35 23 63 1-0 Atlanta Express 16 4 12 20 40 19 47 0-2 Tex-Oma Conference Richardson Rockets 16 10 6 40 27 33 97 0-2 Fort Worth Kickers 16 11 5 30 18 26 92 1-1 Tulsa Renegades 16 8 8 39 28 28 76 1-1 San Antonio Generals 16 8 8 32 29 28 72 2-0 Oklahoma City Warriors 16 7 9 29 40 25 67 0-0 Austin Sockadillos 16 5 11 37 42 31 63 1-2 Southwest Conference New Mexico Chiles 16 11 5 38 18 30 96 0-0 El Paso Patriots 16 11 5 34 20 27 95 1-2 Colorado Comets 16 10 6 35 23 30 88 1-0 Tucson Amigos 16 7 9 20 23 17 61 1-2 Phoenix Hearts 16 7 9 27 26 21 59 2-0 Lubbock Lazers 16 1 15 7 74 7 13 0-0 Quarterfinals: Memphis defeated Atlanta Quicksilver 1-2, 2-0, 1-0 Richardson defeated Tulsa 3-0, 3-0 New Mexico defeated Colorado 1-0(OT) Fort Worth defeated El Paso 3-0, 2-3, 2-1 Semifinals: New Mexico defeated El Paso 1-0(PK), 4-1, 3-0 Richardson defeated Fort Worth 2-1 CHAMPIONSHIP: Richardson defeated New Mexico 3-0. Top Scorers: GP G Pts Uwe Balzis, New Mexico 16 10 31 Francisco Contreras, Oklahoma City 14 13 30 Vladdy Stanojevic, New Mexico 16 16 30 Anthony Richardson, Tulsa 13 11 26 Wayne Gerhardt, Arkansas 15 8 25 Ben Crawley, Austin 11 10 24 Mario Ribera, Ft. Worth 14 11 24 Gabe Garcia, San Antonio 16 8 22 Juan Rodriguez, Arkansas 13 10 21 Chris Veselka, Austin 13 7 21 Leading Goalkeepers: GP GA Pts Dave West/Danny Gonzalez, Memphis 16 16 1.00 Dana Rogge/Jorge Valenzuela, New Mexico 16 18 1.13 Mark White/Brian Lambert, Ft. Worth 16 18 1.13 Mario Cervin, El Paso 16 20 1.25 Craig Lammering, Colorado 16 23 1.44 Dustin Hudock, Wayne Seaber, Tucson 16 23 1.44 Peter Puccia/Peter Valez, Phoenix 16 26 1.63 Brian Hall/Howard, Richardson 16 27 1.69 Chris Dodder/Chris Langly, Tulsa 16 28 1.75 Allen Adams/Robert Weaver, San Antonio 16 29 1.81 Most Valuable Player: David Pfiel, Richardson Rockets Coach of the Year: Phil Jones, Richardson Rockets
The indoor season lost its sense of parity this season, as some teams were unbeatable and others couldn't win to save their lives. Richardson Rockets offered a convincing preview of their upcoming outdoor performance (see above) by going 18-2 for the season, easily beating the Oklahoma City Warriors for the Southeast Conference title, and the Tucson Amigos fought a close race in the Southwest with Austin, Colorado and Phoenix before finally pulling ahead in the end to capture the crown by 1 game. In the quarterfinals, Colorado, Tucson, Ft. Worth and Oklahoma City were victorious, setting up a cross-state battle between Ft. Worth and Oklahoma City, win by the Warriors, 6-3, 7-3, and 8-6. Colorado likewise defeated Tucson. In the championship, the Colorado Comets returned to the top, winning their third league crown 8-3, 7-5, and 5-4.
Final 1990-1991 SISL Indoor Standings: Before the season, Albuquerque became New Mexico. El Paso became the Sixshooters. Atlanta, Georgia, Memphis and Nashville were added. North Texas United became Ft. Worth Kickers. GP W L GF GA PTS Southeast Conference Richardson Rockets 20 18 2 174 76 72 Oklahoma City Warriors 20 14 6 144 91 50 Fort Worth Kickers 20 12 8 158 105 48 Tulsa Renegades 20 12 8 134 122 48 Atlanta Express 20 11 9 133 132 44 Memphis Rogues 20 8 12 132 145 32 Georgia Steamers 10 5 5 61 56 20 Arkansas Diamonds 20 5 15 109 138 20 Nashville Metros 10 0 10 44 124 0 Southwest Conference Tucson Amigos 20 15 5 174 100 60 Austin Soccadillos 20 14 6 162 113 56 Colorado Comets 20 13 7 178 71 52 Phoenix Hearts 20 13 7 144 97 52 Lubbock Lazers 20 12 8 156 107 48 Permian Basin Shooting Stars 20 4 14 86 181 24 New Mexico Roadrunners 10 1 9 39 112 4 El Paso Spurs 10 0 10 30 142 0 San Antonio Generals 20 0 20 62 227 0 Quarterfinals: Colorado defeated Austin 7-6 (OT),10-9, 6-1(MG) Phoenix defeated Tucson 9-3, 8-7 Ft. Worth defeated Richardson 9-6, 9-7, 7-4 Oklahoma City defeated Tulsa 8-7, 9-5 Semifinals: Ft. Worth defeated Oklahoma City 6-3, 7-3, 8-6 Colorado defeated Tucson 9-6, 9-3 CHAMPIONSHIP: Colorado defeated Oklahoma City 8-3, 7-5, 5-4 Leading Scorers: GP G PT Anrew Crawford, Colorado 16 35 96 Albertico Morales, Tucson 17 42 94 Chino Melendez, Colorado 16 32 89 Enrique Serrano, Tucson 19 26 81 Marcelo Draguicevich, Austin 12 33 80 M. Aranda, Austin 12 30 79 Nicolai Vassiliev,Okla. City 18 26 70 Juan Rodriguez, Arkansas 16 32 69 Mark Perdew, Colorado 16 21 63 F. Manzano, Tucson 18 17 62 Leading Goalkeepers: GP GA GAA Lammering, Colorado 16 58 3.63 Grimes, Richardson 19.5 71 3.64 Swissler, Lubbock 12 56 4.67 Brown, Oklahoma City 12.5 59 4.72 Valdez, Phoenix 18 87 4.83 Toro/Seaber, Tucson 20 100 5.00 Ray, Ft. Worth 19 98 5.16 Haas, Austin 16.5 89 5.39 Cole, Tulsa 19 116 6.11 Golshani, Atlnata 18.5 106 6.27 Most Valuable Player: Chino Melendez, Colorado Comets Top Goal Scorer: Albertico Morales, Tucson Amigos Coach of the year: Caesar Cervin, Ft. Worth Kickers Rookie of the year: Albertico Morales, Tucson Amigos
To better reflect their national ambitions, the American Indoor Soccer Association changed their name to National Professional Soccer League. The NPSL also added three teams to make up for the loss of Indiana and Memphis. The three new teams were the Detroit Rockers, Illinois Thunder and New York Kick. After only winning three games for the entire season, the Kick kicked the bucket, along with the Hershey franchise. Detroit was more successful, becoming a contender for the duration of the decade. By this time, the NPSL was beginning to gain the upper hand in its competition with the rival MSL, as more MSL teams began to run into serious financial difficulties.
Perennial contenders Canton Invaders won their division for the 7th time in 8 years, and Chicago Power won a squeaker in the National Division, finishing in a dead heat with Milwaukee, but taking the divisional crown on the basis of head-to-head competition. The two division champs faced different fates in the semi-finals, with Chicago triumphing over expansion Detroit 14-9, and 8-5. Canton was not so lucky however, losing to Dayton 10-15, 16-12, 6-15. This set up the championship between Chicago and Dayton with the Chicago Power winning the league title 12-0, 8-4, and 12-10, with the final game going into overtime.
Some notable players drafted this year include Kris Kelderman of Virginia (Milwaukee Wave), Ken Snow of Indiana (Chicago Power), John DeBrito of Southrn Connecticut (Tulsa Ambush), Mark Santel of Virginia (Milwaukee Wave), Kevin Grimes of Southern Methodist (Illinois).
Final NPSL League Standings, 1990-1991 Before the season, the league changed their name from AISA to NPSL. Detroit, Illinois and New York were added. G W L % GB GF GA American Division Canton Invaders 40 28 12 .700 -- 551 436 Atlanta Attack 40 25 15 .625 3 544 401 Detroit Rockers 40 22 18 .550 6 567 474 Hershey Impact 40 19 21 .475 9 489 520 New York Kick 40 3 37 .075 25 284 646 National Division Chicago Power 40 23 17 .575 -- 508 461 Milwaukee Wave 40 23 17 .575 -- 453 404 Dayton Dynamo 40 21 19 .525 2 465 478 Illinois Thunder 40 16 24 .400 7 480 507 First Round: Dayton defeated Atlanta 11-6, 17-16 Detroit defeated Milwaukee 14-9, 9-10, 23-10 Semifinals: Dayton def. Canton 15-10, 12-16, 15-6 Chicago defeated Detroit 14-9, 8-5 FINALS: Chicago defeated Dayton 12-0, 8-4, 12-10(OT) After the season, New York and Hershey folded. Leading scorers: GP G* A Pts Andy Chapman, Detroit 40 77 37 180 Pato Margetic, Chicago 39 37 80 149 Gino DiFlorio, Canton 39 61 26 141 Mirko Castillo, Chicago 31 63 27 140 Zoran Savic, Atlanta 38 56 33 136 Dan O'Keefe, Detroit 38 63 10 132 Dennis Brose, Dayton 40 63 22 129 John Abe, Hershey 39 55 41 117 Franklin McIntosh, Atlanta/Hersh41 58 31 115 George Pastor, Milwaukee 40 52 21 114 *Includes 1 point, 2 point and 3 point goals. Leading Goalkeepers: (min. 700 minutes) Min PA PAA W-L Tony Pierce, Milwaukee 1214 187 9.24 14-5 A. J. Lachowski, Atlanta 1573 245 9.34 15-12 Felipe Hernandez, Milwaukee 1154 190 9.88 9-12 Jamie Swanner, Canton 2159 382 10.61 25-9 Mark Berry, Chicago 1577 279 10.61 16-6 Yaro Dachniwsky, Atlanta 803 143 10.69 10-3 Bryan Finnerty, Detroit 1397 252 10.82 14-10 Most Valuable Player: Andy Chapman, Detroit Rockers Goalkeeper of the Year: Jamie Swanner, Canton Invaders Coach of the Year: Pato Margetic, Chicago Power; Brian Tinnion, Detroit Rockers Defender of the Year: Denzil Antonio, Canton Invaders Rookie of the Year: Brian Finnerty, Detroit Rockers; Jay Resink, Chicago Power First All-NPSL Team: G - Jamie Swanner, Canton D - Denzil Antonio, Canton D - Arturo Velazco, Milwaukee M/F - Pato Margetic, Chicago M/F - Andy Chapman, Detroit M/F - Gino DiFlorio, Canton
The LSSA increased their season to 12 games, and played with seven teams, San Antonio having dropped out the previous season. F. C. Dallas again won the Northern Division, and the Austin Thunder took the south. In the playoffs, F. C. Dallas defeated Houston Alianza 1-0 and Austin defeated Wichita Falls 1-0. The Championship went to penalty kicks after a 3-3 tie, in which F. C. Dallas took a victory 6-5.
Final LSSA League Standings, 1991: G W L GF GA PTS Northern Division F. C. Dallas 12 9 3 35 20 18 Wichita Falls Fever 12 8 4 30 16 16 Oklahoma City Spirit 12 6 6 21 18 12 Wichita Blue 12 2 10 8 28 4 Southern Division Austin Thunder 12 9 3 24 7 18 Houston Alianza 12 7 5 25 20 14 Playoffs: Austin defeated Wichita Fallas Fever 1-0 F. C. Dallas defeated Houston Alianza 1-0 CHAMPIONSHIP: F. C. Dallas defeated Austin 6-5 in penalty kicks after 3-3 regulation tie. After the season, Houston Alianza and Houston International folded. Leading Scorers: GP G Pts Louis Morales, Houston Alianza 11 4 26 Greg Nicholas, Dallas 7 7 21 Scott Bell, Dallas 4 7 15 Tim Trevino, Oklahoma City 7 0 14 Britt Harder, Wichita Falls 6 2 14 Francisco Maldonado, Houston Al. 5 4 14 David Roy, Wichita Falls 5 2 12 Stefan Hiller, Dallas 5 1 11 Kris Handerson, Dallas 4 1 9 Joe Roy, Wichita Falls 4 1 9 Terry Gow, Austin 3 3 9 Julio Cuero, Austin 4 0 8 Mike O'Toole, Dallas 4 0 8 Robert Dobrient, Dallas 4 0 8 Michael Chaffin, Wichita Falls 3 2 8 Ruben Cuero, Austin 3 2 8
The CSL had suffered the loss of Victoria, Edmonton, Ottawa and London the previous season, but expanded into the Maritime provinces for the first time with the Nova Scotia Clippers, who made a reasonable performance their first season, coming in right behind Montreal. The regular season once again belonged to the Vancouver 86ers, who were only the second team to win 20 regular season games. In the playoffs, North York easily disposed of Nova Scotia and Hamilton won a split series with Montreal, 3-0, 3-4 and 1-0. In the semifinals, Toronto defeated North York 2-0, 1-2 and 1-0, while Vancouver won on goals aggregate after a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 victory against Hamilton. The Championship game was a high scoring affair, with Vancouver breaking Hamilton's stranglehold on the trophy, winning its first title by beating Toronto 5-3.
The CSL had always had financial problems, and sometimes it seemed a miracle when the league could pull through to see another season. this year the financial pinch became particularly acute. The Nova Scotia experiment failed, and the Clippers folded at the end of the season. Hamilton, the perennial champion and original league member also folded, along with Kitchener. Sadly, this was to be the next to the last season for the league.
Final CSL League Standings, 1991: Before the season, Nova Scotia was added. Kitchener changed their nickname to Kickers. G W T L GF GA PTS Vancouver 86ers 28 20 4 4 69 31 64 Toronto Blizzard 28 14 6 8 57 33 48 North York Rockets 28 13 9 6 50 36 48 Hamilton Steelers 28 14 4 10 42 38 46 Montreal Supra 28 11 7 10 41 38 40 Nova Scotia Clippers 28 7 7 14 29 53 28 Kitchener Kickers 28 4 7 17 28 56 19 Winnipeg Fury 28 4 6 18 26 57 18 Quarterfinals: North York 4 at Nova Scotia 0 Nova Scotia 1 at North York 5 Hamilton 0 at Montreal 3 Montreal 0 at Hamilton 4 Montreal 0 at Hamilton 1 Semifinals: Toronto 2 at North York 0 North York 2 at Toronto 1 North York 0 at Toronto 1 Vancouver 1 at Hamilton 1 Hamilton 1 at Vancouver 2 CHAMPIONSHIP: Toronto 3 at Vancouver 5 After the season, Hamilton, Nova Scotia, and Kitchener folded. Leading Scorers: G Domenic Mobilio, Vancouver 25 Eddy Berdusco, North York 14 John berti, Winnipeg 12 Geoff Aunger, Hamilton 10 Ted Eck, Toronto 10 Marek Grabowski, North York 10 Dale Mitchell, Toronto 10 John Kerr, Hamilton 9 Alex Bunbury, Montreal 7 Gino DiFlorio, Toronto 7 Justin Fashanu, Toronto 7 Doug Mulrhead, Toronto 7 Leading Goalkeepers: (1260 minutes needed to qualify) Min Svs GA SO GAA Paolo Ceccarelli, North York 2308 146 27 9 1.05 Pat Onstead, Toronto 2371 146 28 8 1.06 Paul Dolan, Vancouver 2115 100 25 5 1.06 Dino Perri, Hamilton 2420 130 35 10 1.30 Pat Harrington, Montreal 2250 104 33 5 1.32 Shel Brodsgaard, Nova Scotia 2398 164 51 5 1.91 Scott McQuillan, Kitchener 2233 160 49 4 1.97 Tim Rosenfeld, Winnipeg 2430 225 56 2 2.07 All-Star Team: Paolo Cecarelli, North York Peter Sarantopoulos, North York Mark Watson, Hamilton Steven MacDonald, Vancouver Norman Odinga, Vancouver Carl Valentine, Vancouver Dale Mitchell, Toronto Ivor Evans, Vancouver Eddy Berdusco, North York Domenic Mobilio, Vancouver Grant Needham, Montreal
Women's Soccer took a major step forward with the founding of the Women's World Championship (unofficially called the World Cup in 1991 and 1995.) The women's game was growing rapidly, and the United States, although a relative latecomer at the national level was improving rapidly because of the strength of the college game, which had been helped by Title IX. College soccer had been booming through the 1980's, and many of the members of the national team were just reaching their peak when World Cup qualifying began in April. With the stakes so high, the Americans set about their first extensive schedule to prepare for the event. The USA cruised through qualifying and was in a very good position at the start of the cup.
The first Women's World Cup was held in China, in several mid-sized cities in Guangdou province. The US's first two games were held in Punyu, on November 17 and 19. The US was up first against Sweden, who was considered a contender, and the game remained scoreless until just before the first half when Carin Jennings got the first goal. Mia Hamm and Jennings both scored early in the 2nd half, and Sweden made it close with two goals late in the game, but the US held them off. The next game was against Brazil, not a world power in the women's game, and the US had an easy 5-0 shutout. The Americans clinched a spot in the quarterfinals with this game, but still had Japan up on November 21 as they traveled to Foshan.
In this 3-0 victory, Michelle Akers got her first two goals of the tournament. In the quarterfinals, the US was pitted against Taiwan; Michelle Akers exploded for five goals in this 7-0 rout which established the US as the favorites to win the tournament. They headed into the semifinals along with Germany, Sweden and Norway. The US proved their quarterfinal was no mistake as they swamped Germany 5-2 off of three goals by Carin Jennings and two by Mia Hamm. The Final was held on November 30, in Ghangzhou (formerly Canton) between the United States and Norway who had beaten Sweden 4-1 in their semifinal matchup. The game was a tough, closely fought match, going nearly into overtime with a 1-1 tie before Michelle Akers' goal in the 88th minute. This victory brought US Soccer their first world championship, and was a tremendous boost for the women's game. One particularly gratifying aspect of the women's performance was the lack of a single dominating player; several players could be counted on to score goals in quantity, and the victories were the result of a true team effort.
This was the USA's most successful performance in Pan-American history, with the Americans taking their first gold medal. The USA's U-23 team included a number of players from the highly successful U-20 World Championship squad of 1989, including Brad Friedel, Joe-Max Moore, Steve Snow, Cobi Jones and Claudio Reyna. They were also helped by the South American boycott of the games, held in Havana, Cuba. They had three easy victories in the first round, winning 1-0 over Suriname, 3-1 over Canada, and 2-1 over Honduras. This was followed by a 2-1 victory over host Cuba in the semis before winning 2-1 over Cuba to take the Gold medal. Cuba had to settle for silver, and Mexico defeated Honduras 6-1 for bronze. High scorers for the US were Snow (4 goals), and Reyna (2 goals). This victory showed great promise for the United States in the upcoming 1992 Olympics to be held next year in Barcelona, Spain.
One major task of the USSF was to build and strengthen the Men's team through the grant-funded "team-in-training" program. This was making slow progress; only goalkeeper Tony Meola, Captain Peter Vermes, and newcomer Paul Krumpke were on board as full-time paid members. The rest of the player pool consisted of a mixture of APSL, NPSL, MISL, and college players, as well as a few players signed to European teams. Still, the increased national team playing schedule did give the members valuable experience playing against experienced competition, and this was essential for the team to rise to the skill level that would be required for any significant success in the upcoming World Cup. A significant event this year was the hiring of Bora Milutinovic as the new head coach. Milutinovic, with a long list of credentials to his name, immediately set about to strengthen the Nats' major weak area, the defense, with a tenacious control-oriented philosophy, that would eventually reap large benefits for the team as it for the first time seriously challenged, and even beat, some of the major world powers.
The US started the year with friendlies against Switzerland and Bermuda, both 0-1 shutout losses. This was followed with a 2-2 draw against Mexico and a 2-0 victory against Canada in the final North American Cup. The fact that the US could lose to a minnow such as Bermuda and follow that with a draw against a powerhouse such as Mexico showed the inconsistency as well as the potential of the team. Those earlier games were followed by three very well attended friendlies, a 1-0 victory over Uruguay, a 0-1 loss to Argentina and a 1-1 draw against Ireland before an amazing 51,273 in Foxboro, Mass. This game established Foxboro as one of the premier venues for Internationals, and it would be used for many significant games throughout the decade.
The big event of the year for the Men's team was the inaugural CONCACAF Gold Cup. This was established by CONCACAF as the new North American championship. Although championships had been held previously, they were sporadic, low-key affairs. But this was to be different. The Cup was held in Los Angeles and Pasadena, and featured an unusual quadruple header as all four final games of the round-robin were held in one day at the Rose Bowl. The first game was a nail-biter for the US, as Trinidad, eager for revenge after it's 1989 World Cup qualifying defeat, held a 1-0 lead into the waning moments of the game when Bruce Murray and Marcelo Balboa scored less than two minutes apart to give the US a 2-1 victory. The next game was a fairly easy 3-0 victory over Guatemala off of goals by Bruce Murray, Brian Quinn, and Eric Wynalda. The final game was a more closely fought affair, the US pulling out a 3-2 victory over Costa Rica which featured an open-goal score by Hugo Perez, and an own goal.
The pool victories put the US in the semifinals against Mexico which had lost to the US only once since 1934. The US coasted through a scoreless first half, and came alive early in the second as Hugo Perez angled a penalty kick into the penalty area which was missed by goalkeeper Pablo Larios. Balboa then headed the ball to John Doyle at the far post, who sent it into the open net. Later, Peter Vermes provided the insurance score after evading two defenders and sending a high shot into the upper corner of the net. So the long drought against Mexico was ended, and on a shutout no less. This made the championship game somewhat of an anticlimax, especially with both teams worn down from the grueling schedule, The game ended up an exhausted 0-0 draw which went into seven rounds of penalty kicks before the US scored on a Fernando Clavijo kick and Juan Espinoza sent it over the bar to give the US men their most significant trophy ever.
The rest of 1991 saw the Nationals return to their team development program with a series of five friendlies; winning against Romania and Jamaica, drawing with Turkey and Costa Rica, and losing to North Korea. During this year, Bruce Murray established himself as a star of the team with his goal-scoring prowess, but good performances were also given by Eric Wynalda, Dante Washington, and Marcelo Balboa.
1991 USA Men's National Team results
After qualifying, the US scheduled games against tougher opponents, including all of the top teams in the world, including China, Norway, and Germany. Here the going got tougher, as the US pulled out victories over England and France before falling to the Netherlands 3-4. A 4-2 win over powerhouse Germany was followed by consecutive losses to Denmark (0-1) and China (1-2) waking the Americans to the fact that though they were great, they weren't invincible. The US rallied from their first China loss, and drew against them in the next leg before pulling out a 3-0 victory on a Michelle Akers hat-trick to compete the series in top form. The euphoria didn't last long, as the US lost their final three pre-Cup games, consecutive losses to powerhouse Norway, and another loss to China, this one before a disappointed hometown audience. The series served as a warning to the players not to get too confident. Against the other top teams, a game could go either way, and the US was by no means assured a victory in the Cup.
The preparations for the cup turned out to be a coming-out event for several key players, who would remain at the top of the team for the rest of the decade, including stalwart Michelle Akers, who scored a double in four consecutive qualifying games sandwiched in between the hat-tricks she scored to open and close the qualifying rounds. She wasn't the only one scoring goals in bucket-loads. Mia Hamm really came into her own during this series, scoring 8 goals. Heinrichs and Jennings also shone, as did Brandi Chastain who turned in the first five-goal performance for the team. By the time the world cup run-up was completed, coach Anson Dorrance had solidified a nucleus of players that would remain largely together through three world cups, and well into the 21st century.
After the conclusion of the Cup, the women took a long vacation, not playing again until late the following summer.
1991 USA Women's National Team results
In the 1991 Open Cup quarterfinals, Brooklyn Italians defeated Firfax Spartans 3-0, Chicago Adrian defeated Madison 56ers on penalties after a 4-4 draw, Dallas Rockets defeated Galveston NASA 8-1 and New Mexico Chilies of the SISL defeated Los Angeles Strikers 5-0. In the semifinals, Brooklyn Italians defeated Chicago Adria via disqualification and Dallas Rockets defeated New Mexico 1-0. The Final was held at Brooklyn College field in Brooklyn NY with Brooklyn Italians defeating Dallas Rockets by 1-0.
College soccer continued to grow, with men's varsity teams growing from 547 to 569 and women's programs growing from 294 to 318.
In the Men's Division 1 NCAA tournament, the third round saw Virginia defeat Yale 2-0, St. Louis defeated North Carolina 3-0, Indiana defeated Southern Methodist 2-2 (after 4 overtimes and penalty kicks), and Santa Clara defeated UCLA 2-1. In the semifinals, Virginia defeated St. Louis 3-2 after three overtimes, and Santa Clara defeated Indiana 2-0. The championship was held on December 8, 1991 in Tampa, FL, and was won by Virginia after a 0-0 draw, four fruitless overtimes and a round of penalty kicks.
The Women's Division I NCAA Tournament remained a 12 team field, with 8 teams engaged in a play-in round and four receiving byes. The Third round saw North Carolina defeat North Carolina State 4-1, Virginia defeated Connecticut 2-0, Wisconsin defeated Hartford 1-0, and Colorado College defeated Stanford 1-0 after three overtimes. In the semifinals, North Carolina defeated Virginia 5-1, and Wisconsin defeated Colorado College 1-0. The championship was held in Chapel Hill, NC on November 24, 1991, and North Carolina retained the national championship in an exciting 3-1 victory over Wisconsin on their home field.
Division II Men's champion: Florida Tech defeated Sonoma State 5-1.
Division II Women's champion: Cal State Dom. Hills defeated Sonoma State 1-0.
Division III Men's champion: Univ. of California at San Diego defeated College of New Jersey 1-0.
Division III Women's champion: Ithaca defeated Rochester 2-0.
NAIA Men's Champion: Lynn 3, Midwestern State 1 (3 overtimes)
NAIA Women's Champion: Pacific Lutheran 4, Missouri Valley 0
NJCAA Men's Championship: Mercer County Community College 1, Yavapai College 0
NJCAA Women's Championship: Meramec Community College 4, Anderson 0
NCCAA Division 1 Championship: Hudson 2, The King's College 1
NCCAA Division 2 Championship: Baptist Bible College 4, North Central Bible 1
Final Men's Division 1 Coaches' Poll: 1. Virginia 2. St. Louis 3. UCLA 4. Rutgers 5. Indiana 6. Santa Clara 7. Wake Forest 8. North Carolina State 9. Old Dominion 10. Wisconsin Final Women's Division 1 Coaches' Poll: 1. North Carolina 2. Colorado College 3. Virginia 4. Wisconsin 5. Stanford 6. North Carolina State 7. Hartford 8. Connecticut 9. Santa Clara 10. Massachusetts Men's Division 1 NSCAA All-Americans (1st team): G - Brad Friedel, UCLA D - Alexi lalas, Rutgers D - Mike Lappas, UCLA D - Cameron rast, Santa Clara M - peter DiMaggio, Columbia M - Graham Merryweather, Evansville M - Claudio Reyna, Virginia F - Gerell Elliott, Fresno State F - Henry Gutierrez, North Carolina State F - Manuel Lagos, Wisconsin at Milwaukee F - Dante Washington, Radford Women's Division 1 NSCAA All-Americans (first team): G - Heather Taggart, Wisconsin D - Holly Hellmuth, Massachusetts M - Cathleen Cambria, Connecticut M - Amanda Cromwell, Virginia M - Karen Ferguson, Connecticut M - Julie Foudy, Stanford M - Tisha Venturini, North Carolina F - Kim LeMere, Hartford F - kristine Lilly, North Carolina F - Kari Maijala, Wisconsin F - Tiffeny Milbrett, Portland F - Andrea Rubio, Virginia
Men's National Award Winners:
Hermann Trophy: Alexi Lalas, Rutgers
Missouri Athletic Club Award: Alexi Lalas, Rutgers
ISAA Player of the Year: Henry Guiterrez, North Carolina State
ISAA Goalkeeper of the Year: Brad Friedel, UCLA
NSCAA Coach of the Year (Division 1): Mitch Murray, Santa Clara
Women's National Award Winners:
Hermann Trophy: Kristine Lilly, North Carolina
Missouri Athletic Club Award: Kristine Lilly, North Carolina
US Open Cup Championship: Brooklyn Italians (NESSL) defeated Richardson Rockets (SISL) 1-0.
National Amateur Cup Championship: St. Louis Scott-Gallagher defeated San Francisco El Farolito 3-1.James P. McGuire Cup (U-19 Men): North Huntington Beach (CA) Black
North American Nations Cup: Held at Los Angeles & Torrance, Calif. U.S. tied Mexico 2-2 on 11/12, Mexico defeated Canada 3-0 on 11/4 and US beat Canada 1-0 on 11/16. Mexico finished first on goals scored, US second. Attendance averaged 5,200. (see above for the CONCACAF Gold Cup)
CONCACAF Champions Cup: In the first round, the Booklyn Italians beat Dandy Town Hornets of Bermuda 4-3, and A.A.C. eagles of Chicago lost to the Pembroke-Hamilton Zebras 2-1. In the second round, Brooklyn withdrew before their game against Puebla of Mexico. Puebla went on to win the Cup by defeating Police FC of Trinidad & Tobago 4-2.
CONCACAF Cup Winners Cup: The USA did not participate. Atletico Marte of El Salvador won the final round with 2 wins and 1 loss.
CONCACAF U-17 Championship: The USA beat El Salvador 5-0, Puerto Rico 6-0, and tied Cuba 1-1 in pool play, and won their pool. In the second round the United States drew with Trinidad & Tobago 1-1, beat Cuba 1-0 and drew with Mexico 101. Mexico finished 1st, USA second and Cuba 3rd, and all qualified for the U-17 World Youth Cup.
U-20 World Youth Cup: The USA did not qualify for the tournament. Portugal defeated Brazil 4-2 on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw in regulation time.
U-17 World Championship: Inm pool play, the USA defeated Italy 1-0, Argentina 1-0, and China 3-2 to win their pool. But they lost to Qatar 1-1 (4-3 PK) in the quarterfinals. Ghana defeated Spain in the final.
Hall of Fame: In 1991, the US Soccer Hall of Fame inducted Milton Aimi, and Rudy Getzinger. The new National Soccer Coaches Association of America inducted their inaugural class: Lawrence Briggs, John Brock, Ted Chambers, Bill Jeffrey, Jimmy Mills, George Ritchie, and Earl Waters. The National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (NISOA) Hall of Fame inducted William Fortin, and Frank Longo.
Honda Award (Player of the Year): Hugo Perez
USSF Players of the Year: Hugo Perez, Michelle Akers-Stahl
Chevrolet/US Soccer Athletes of the Year: Hugo Perez, Michelle Akers-Stahl
Last update: March 8, 2014
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