The Rebirth of Professional Soccer in America
1967 was a strange, tumultuous year in the United States. Cultural and political upheaval both wracked and galvanized the nation in this most strange and troubled of decades. Beyond the headlines perhaps some of the strangest occurrences of all were taking place in your friendly neighborhood sports section where there were often reports of Stokers, Wolves, Whips, Clippers and Bays not to mention soccer wars, pitch invasions, riots, scoreless draws, anti-trust lawsuits and mergers.
This exotic grammar combined to tell the story of the rebirth of professional soccer in the United States. It was a painful, acrimonious rebirth that saw dueling groups of American sports entrepreneurs fracture into two separate and distinct professional leagues: the United Soccer Association (USA), a league sanctioned by FIFA, but absent from the nation’s airwaves and the National Professional Soccer League, considered an ‘outlaw’ league by FIFA and within the United States, but brandishing an exclusive television contract with CBS. The two leagues were ragged, misshapen pieces of a puzzle that refused to fit together, competing directly in the cavernous, barely-full baseball stadiums of America. This would’ve been strange enough, but the USA imported entire teams from Great Britain, Italy and South America, including Stoke City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Cagliari Calcio and Rio's Bangu.
Soccer’s history in the United States is far richer and more complex than many people realize, but this particular chapter seems to have largely been forgotten even within the growing field of soccer scholarship. The book seeks to recover this chapter and place it contextually where it belongs: as the gateway to the NASL and MLS and all points in between. Built on meticulous research and interviews, the book will look at this amazing story on the field and in the boardrooms with a scholarly emphasis on language, soccer as a means of identity construction, the game’s unique ability to act as cultural text reflecting the character of the times, the discursive relationship between soccer and baseball and the nexus between corporate power, media and entertainment.
Seeking to strike a balance between devoted fans of the English Premier League who may not have known of Stoke City and Sunderland’s American exploits circa the Summer of Love, as well as those interested in a rigorous interrogation of the role identity, image and language played in the game’s tortured development in America, this book is designed for the growing cross section of people who know that soccer means more than 22 men chasing a ball.
Soccer riots in Yankee Stadium, Teams with dual-identities, World Cup winners past and future, a fascinating cast of legendary characters featuring: Phil Woosnam, Lamar Hunt, Derek Dougan, Gordon Banks and more. Check it out!