Serious question....will MLS ever reach the level of the NASL?

Discussion in 'MLS: General' started by Sempuukyaku, Nov 6, 2006.

  1. Onionsack

    Onionsack BigSoccer Yellow Card

    Jul 21, 2003
    New York City
    Club:
    FC Girondins de Bordeaux
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    Umm no. There were competitive teams no doubt, but no one regularly smoked the Cosmo's in their heyday of 1975-1980.

    When people say Cosmo's and everyone else, they are refering to the amount of attention to the NASL. Without Steve Ross that league would never have recieved any attention at all. Ross built the hype machine for the league by pouring millions into the Cosmos and making them a household name in the country. As their popularity grew it had residulal effects on other NASL markets.

    If you take the Cosmo's out of the picture the NASL might have as well been Major League Lacrosse.

    The NASL had a few really great years in terms of exposure and hype, but thats all they had. Their owners were bleeding money, they had no infastructre, they had too many teams struggling, their TV deal tanked in less than a year or two, they had no revenue control, they had nothing really except for the hype generated by the Cosmos and a few clubs in that league that signed their own aging world stars (Best, Marsch, etc.) that got some press.

    MLS has NASL whipped like a bondage freak in everything except those breif few years of massive hype driven almost exclusivly by the Cosmos.
     
  2. Goodsport

    Goodsport Moderator
    Staff Member

    May 18, 1999
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Also, local radio station KXRX (now KSJX) had a relatively-large listener base for its NASL Earthquakes broadcasts with Hal Ramey calling most of the games (noted MLB announcer Jon Miller called the Quakes games in 1975 and 1976).


    -G
     
  3. chrizzah

    chrizzah Member

    Aug 8, 2000
    DC
    I'll conced that the MLS has better coverage, but I think you're a little off. In the late seventies, ABC showed some games and I know locally (in DC) that a lot of the Washington Diplomats' away games were carried on Channel 5. The best part of the TV coverage was that they would just cut away to ads during the run of play, so they would come back and say "a great goal while we were away." I seem to remember the Washington Post giving the same sort of smaller article coverage that DC United get.

    If you throw out the Cosmos, even in the good years, the attendances for all of the teams were pretty low relative to MLS. I do remember the Diplomats filling RFK Stadium against the Cosmos the year Cruyff was on the team and I do remember the Soccer Bowl held at RFK being a sellout. On the whole those were anomalies though.

    MLS is a way better league. A lot of the greats like Gerd Mueller who came to play in in the NASL during the twilight of their playing career were laughably overweight. Georgie Best was basically crippled by his alcoholism. The league was also padded by a lot of marginal English players who hadn't made the cut in the old English First Division (we'll just ignore Paul Dagleish for this argument. He is the exception in the MLS). Paul Cannell, one of the Diplomats all-time greats barely registers in Newcastle's books. The Americans who played were nowhere near the caliber of the better MLS players and you only needed to field three of them at a time.

    On the whole, the NASL was more of a show than a league. It was sort of like a circus that came to town, had a decent run and then outstayed its welcome. It was a lot of fun to have a soccer team in town during my childhood, but I'd say the MLS has already far surpassed the NASL in terms of quality and excitement. It's not even really a debate.
     
  4. vasco_de_gama110

    Aug 18, 2006
    Glendale, AZ
    BigSoccer Message
    You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to jade1mls again.

    As funny as that line is about Landycakes, it's sadly true too.
     
  5. hasselbrad

    hasselbrad Member

    Jul 25, 2006
    Sugar Hill, GA
    Club:
    Atlanta
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Does MLS have the Rowdies?
    Well then...no. :p

    Like someone else said, there are lots of yesses and some nos.
    Given the fact that most of the SSSs are around 20-25,000 capacity, you'll probably never see the really big numbers, single-game attendance-wise that the NASL was able to draw.
    From a television standpoint, however, MLS is far beyond what the NASL could have ever hoped for. In some regards, this is due to technology. Cable television and the ability to place advertising chirons (sp? TV people) on the screen without interrupting the action will allow for much greater advertising money to be generated, not to mention the ability to split the screen a'la Indianapolis 500 race coverage.
     
  6. ButlerBob

    ButlerBob Moderator
    Staff Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    Evanston, IL
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    So I went to this site for attendance figures on the NASL; American Soccer History Archives http://www.sover.net/~spectrum/. It's really a great site and has a lot of information. So here's the top 5 attendance teams for each of the last 5 seasons of the league and also the lowest team. I also inlcuded the next 5 seasons but only included number of clubs over 20k and those below 15k and 10k. So you can see that there were a few clubs, (never more then 4) that averaged more then 20k. But there was a real drop off in attendance for the rest of the league. To me, one of the pluses for MLS is that there is a more consistent attendance across the leage. Having grown up watching the NASL, I think MLS has already surpassed them in overall popularity and coverage.

    '84 Minnesota 14, 263
    Vancouver 13,924
    New York 12,817
    Toronto 11,452
    Tampa 10,932
    San Diego 5,702
    There were 9 teams with averages below 15k and of those 3 were below 10k.
    '83 Vancouber 29,166
    New York 27,242
    Tema America 12,894
    Tulsa 12,415
    San Jose 11,933
    San Diego 4,214
    There were 10 teams with averages below 15k, and of those 3 were below 10k.
    '82 New York 28,749
    Montreal 21,348
    Tampa 18,507
    Vancouver 18,254
    Tulsa 14,469
    Edmonton 4,922
    There were 10 clubs with averages below 15k and 6 of those were below 10k.

    '81 New York 34,835
    Montreal 23,704
    Vancouver 23,236
    Tampa 22,532
    Seattle 18,224
    Dallas 4,670
    There were 14 clubs with an average below 15k and 6 of those were below 10k.

    '80 New York 42,754
    Tampa 28,435
    Vancouver 26,834
    Seattle 24,246
    Washington 19,205
    Atlanta 4,884
    There were 16 clubs with an average below 15k and 8 of those were below 10k.

    '79 4 clubs over 20k , 17 clubs below 15k, 9 of those below 10k
    '78 3 clubs over 20k, 19 clubs below 15k, 10 of those below 10k
    '77 3 clubs over 20k, 17 clubs below 15k, 9 of those below 10k
    '76 3 clubs over 20k, 14 clubs below 15k, 13 of those below 10k
    '75 0 clubs over 20k, 18 clubs below 15k, 15 of those below 10, 2 clubs over 15k, with high of 17,927, the low was 2,641.
     
  7. BocaFan

    BocaFan Member+

    Aug 18, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    And they didn't sugarcoat their attendance figures by staging double-headers with matches involving big clubs from Europe. All the people attending NASL matches were there primarily to see NASL players. MLS still has some work to do to reach that level...
     
  8. The Cadaver

    The Cadaver It's very quiet here.

    Oct 24, 2000
    La Cañada, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    And of course, we all know for certain that unlike MLS, NASL NEVER padded their reported attendence figures and only gave true counts. :rolleyes:
     
  9. doolittledog2

    doolittledog2 Member

    Jun 17, 2002
    Iowa
    And I was at many St. Louis Cardinal baseball games in the '70's that claimed 25,000 some odd in attendance and if there was more than 15-18,000 actually there I would be very surprised. Once again, all leagues pad their attendence numbers.
     
  10. BocaFan

    BocaFan Member+

    Aug 18, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Right. But I wasn't talking about that type of padding. As doolittledog2 wrote, that's done in every American league so they cancel each other out.

    Listing attendances at 90,000 when 80,000 of those people went to the stadium to see something other than MLS is what I was talking about.

    Yah, even in 2006 the Mets totally padded their numbers. In some cases, the "official" attendance is double the # of people actually in the stands.

    Frankly, it's a little embarrassing when the P/A announcer enthusiastically shouts-out an attendance of 40,000 to a half-empty Shea stadium. :eek:
     
  11. CLEATS

    CLEATS New Member

    May 2, 2005
    Look for all intents and purposes the NASL was a foreign league on American soil.The lack of American players in the league led to it's downfall.It was doomed from the beginning.The same reason why the the NFL will never make headway in Europe.As an American league MLS has already reached levels beyond anything associated with the NASL.That league was a 70's fad just like disco,platform shoes and bellbottoms.
     
  12. deron

    deron New Member

    Jul 25, 2006
    Centennial, CO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    It's been decades, but I recall going to see the California Surf. Their crowds weren't anything to get excited about. Except one game when the post match entertainment was a Beach Boys concert.
     
  13. javier66

    javier66 Member

    Jul 10, 2005
    Mission, TX
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Same thing happened w/the LA Aztecs at the Coliseum, 60,000+ to see a doubleheader with Chivas and Club America being the main event
     
  14. The Cadaver

    The Cadaver It's very quiet here.

    Oct 24, 2000
    La Cañada, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    But wait! Didn't BocaFan just tell us that NASL didn't pad its figures with double headers? Who are you going to believe, BocaFan or your own eyes?
     
  15. Mountainia

    Mountainia Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    Section 207, Row 7
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    While I agree that NASL was primarily foreign, that was not why they failed.

    They failed because they were losing money. Even during the 'best' years, 1978-1980.
     
  16. brentgoulet

    brentgoulet Member+

    Oct 12, 2005
    PuertoPlata, DomRep
    the NASL was a very good and entertaining show

    but MLS has a real plan to improve soccer in the USA with salary cap, SSS, media coverage, ADIDAS deal, reserve teams, etc
     
  17. ButlerBob

    ButlerBob Moderator
    Staff Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    Evanston, IL
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    That's not completely true, especially in the last few years a number of the clubs would tie the game to a concert that would also boost the attendance. Also, some clubs also had big events for the 4th of the July that would also increase attendance.
     
  18. BocaFan

    BocaFan Member+

    Aug 18, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Well, I said "double-headers with matches involving big clubs from Europe". :p

    I guess in their declining years NASL did combine matches with other events, but this thread isn't about NASL in its declining years. It's about NASL when it was at its peak.
     
  19. USRufnex

    USRufnex Red Card

    Tulsa Athletic / Sheffield United
    United States
    Jul 15, 2000
    Tulsa, OK
    Club:
    --other--
    Slight inaccuracy... Tulsa was 5th in average attendance in 1980 at 19,787 fans per game... that was the Roughnecks' highest per game average... and not too shabby for a 15-17 team.

    The NASL's idea of a doubleheader usually involved The Beach Boys. :D
     
  20. USRufnex

    USRufnex Red Card

    Tulsa Athletic / Sheffield United
    United States
    Jul 15, 2000
    Tulsa, OK
    Club:
    --other--
    Reading through this thread, some clarification is needed...

    The NASL's mantra could very well have been, "It was the best of times... it was the worst of times."

    Watching that Cosmos documentary, so many of the NASL's officials, owners, players, coaches, etc. sound alot like characters off that fable, "The Blind men and the elephant."

    So, I'll add to it with my own perspective. The Tulsa Roughnecks had a really good media package-- out of 32 games, 12 of the 16 road games were shown on the local ABC affiliate channel 8 (later years had games on the NBC affiliate)... 4 road games and all 16 home games were broadcast on AM740 KRMG, the top AM radio station in Tulsa.

    So you'd watch or listen to all these games and it was a real crapshoot-- feast or famine. You'd see great games in front of big crowds for road games against the Minnesota Kicks, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Seattle Sounders, then watch games with very few fans at huge stadiums in Houston, Atlanta and Dallas. Sports Illustrated gave the NASL some good coverage and you could see NASL highlights regularly on The Sports Machine. ESPN wasn't seen in nearly as many homes as now, but they showed more games and gave better Sportscenter coverage of the NASL than they do MLS. The NASL got enough reasonable national media coverage over about 3-5 years, but I wonder how much of that was based on league officials including commish Phil Woosnam who kept insisting that the NASL was "the next big thing." The resulting backlash (see Frank DeFord and gang...) in my opinion really put MLS at a big media disadvantage for years...

    As for the Cosmos, of course Pele and Co. would have a big impact on the success of the league. But there was NASL success in Tampa, San Jose, Seattle and Portland that pre-dated the Cosmos dynasty. And the Cosmos weren't much more successful on the field in their heyday than the NY Yankees were at the same time in baseball. It was only from 1978-1983 that the league played 30 or more outdoor games each year. And I'd argue the league went too far in going with indoor seasons of 18 games in '81 and '82, then a 32 game indoor season in '83-'84. The 1977 Soccer Bowl champion Cosmos finished 15-11 while Dallas finished at 18-8 and Ft Lauderdale finished 19-7. The Cosmos finished '78 at 24-6 but so did Vancouver. The '79 Cosmos finished a full 2 games ahead of everybody else at 24-6 but lost to Vancouver in the semi-finals while the '80 Cosmos weren't the best that year despite winning Soccer Bowl; that honor belonged to Alan Hinton's dominating Seattle Sounders at 25-7. When the NASL had 20+ teams, most of those teams didn't play the Cosmos more than once or twice per season; compare that to the schedule for a 10 or 12 team MLS... and for us in Tulsa, there were maybe a couple of home games against New York that ever drew over 30,000, yet there were also quite a few games against other teams that managed to draw over 25,000... I'd also argue that the NASL wasn't nearly as scared of playing midweek games as MLS is up to now...

    I think the sport of soccer is much more popular now than it was in the NASL's best years... but just like the NASL overspent on aging stars, today's MLS can just as easily die by putting all its eggs in the stadium basket. It has taken years for original MLS teams to get stadiums built and solid local ownership. It's always easier to get public support to build a stadium if: A) you already have a MLS team or, B) if you already have a USL team.

    It'll be nice if even one of these plans for stadiums in Cleveland, St Louis, Milwaukee or Philly comes through... just a reminder, though...

    Number of new stadiums built in the USA for an expansion team in MLS = ZERO.
     
  21. Mountainia

    Mountainia Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    Section 207, Row 7
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Well, maybe in DC where The Sports Machine started in 1980. But it didn't go national until 4 years later. By then, NASL was all but dead.

    But I get your point. You could see clips of NASL games on TV; not too far from what we get with DC United here in DC.
     
  22. USRufnex

    USRufnex Red Card

    Tulsa Athletic / Sheffield United
    United States
    Jul 15, 2000
    Tulsa, OK
    Club:
    --other--
    I know what you're getting at, but I swear I saw that show on a local Tulsa tv station in 1980, so if it wasn't nationally syndicated that year, it had to get shown in Tulsa somehow (our family was one of the few that didn't have cable TV)... I specifically remember Michael's references to the '80 Seattle Sounders unbeaten streak that included some really good highlights from the Kingdome.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=2665135

    When it comes to the level of play, I suppose many of the NASL teams played at a higher level, especially compared to MLS's standard of play from '96 to '00. But you have to keep in mind how many NASL teams played on astroturf and how that awful turf completely changed the game. First, it made the game artificially faster; second, it caused many goals based on high bounces and defender miscues that never would have happened on a grass field.

    If you're comparing fan support, you're just comparing apples to oranges. MLS should have a higher level of fan support. I think to say the NASL died due to overexpansion is a simplistic and naive assumption. The NASL had less than 10 teams in '72 and '73. In '74 the league expanded to 15 teams... then in '75 expanded to 20 teams... and from 18 teams in '77 to 24 teams in 1978-- prodded along by that tv deal with ABC. Sorry, but I think the insistince of some NASL owners that the future of the sport was indoors did far more damage to the league than the decision to expand to 24 and keep it that way in '79 and '80...

    That we can even have arguments about whether today's MLS matches/surpasses the NASL's prime years ('77 to '83) is an indictment of MLS's conservative approach in everything except stadium construction. I wish in the last 10 years in Chicago, I could have listened to the Fire (in English) on a major radio station... I wished the local Chicago media could show real highlights instead of goals only... I wish the same media people who complain about low scoring could get MLS scores correct and understand the difference between a direct free kick and a penalty kick...

    Here's a thought... instead of insisting on having non-MLS cities build a stadium BEFORE they can get a team, how 'bout focusing on how new MLS teams can build a fanbase and build up community support BEFORE they start thinking about building a stadium... because all it's going to take is one big SSS failure in Cleveland or St. Louis or Milwaukee, et al, to screw it up for everybody including MLS itself.
     

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