Posted 18 July 2012 - 11:14 AM
Some interesting quotes regarding Professional Soccer in the US:
1967 “(Soccer) has every ingredient to appeal to the American people. It’s fast; there is physical contact; women can understand it.” Atlanta Chiefs owner Bill Bartholomay, quoted on February 21, 1967, a couple of months before the launch of the new National Professional Soccer League.
1969 “Give a coach of the caliber of Ivan Toplak of Oakland, or Phil Woosnam of Atlanta 11 top American high school athletes for five years and a complete new style of soccer will emerge–one based upon speed, power and the American penchant for tactical formations–an exciting and formidable style that could well give America the World Cup by 1974.” Basil Kane, Soccer for American Spectators, 1969
1973 “In six or eight years our franchises will be worth more than those in the National Football League.” Phil Woosnam in 1973
1974 “We’re not in this to make a fast dollar, and realize it will take three years, perhaps, to break even.” Lee Stern after buying an NASL franchise (the Chicago Sting) for $250,000 on October 31, 1974
1974 “I’m tickled pink. If we got 10,000 this time, we’re sure to get 15,000-18,000 next time.” Washington Diplomats co-owner Mike Finci after 10,145 fans came to RFK Stadium to see the expansion Dips lose 5-1 to Philadelphia on May 4, 1974. They did draw 11,887 for their second home match two weeks later, but then the bottom dropped out and the 7-12-1 Dips finished 11th out of 15 teams in average attendance at 4,975 per game.
1976 “In 10 years at the very most, America will be in competition for the World Cup.” Mercurial star George Best, then of the Los Angeles Aztecs, quoted inSports Illustrated, July 19, 1976
1977 “In five years we’re going to be as popular as the NFL is today. And in 10 years we’re going to be the number one sport in America and the biggest league in the world.” NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam, August 29, 1977. Five years later, the NASL was a shell of its former self and three years after that, it was gone.
1977 “This sport will take off. There is absolutely no way that it will not bypass everything else. This country will be the center of world soccer. In the 80s there will be a mania for the game here. The NASL will be the world’s number one soccer league. And it will be the biggest sports league in the USA.” North American Soccer League Commissioner Phil Woosnam, in 1977
1979 “In 10 or 15 years, we see soccer as bigger than football in this country.” New England Tea Men president Derek Carroll, 1979
1979 “Soccer is going to be the number one sport in this country very soon.” New York Cosmos president Steve Ross, 1979
1981 “We’re still going to be the sport of the ’80s. Don’t forget, the ’80s are just one year old. We’ve still got nine years to go.” Woosnam, quoted in the Washington Post on May 18, 1981. As it turned out, the NASL had fewer than four years to go.
1984 “Listen, if I didn’t think this theory of today’s kids being tomorrow’s ticket buyers wasn’t valid, I’d quit tomorrow and I’d tell the NASL owners to pack their bags. But it is true. The NASL is always going to be around.” North American Soccer League president Howard Samuels in 1984, a year before the league folded
1984 “What we must do, simply, is hang on until today’s kids start buying tickets themselves.” Tim Robbie, president of the NASL’s Minnesota Strikers, in 1984
1985 “Losing those teams is not a setback. The credibility will come back next year. We had an average attendance of 14,000 this year. If we can come back to 17,000 or 18,000 next year, that’s instant credibility.” Woosnam, on September 21, 1981 after five NASL teams folded. Attendance actually dropped slightly the following year and continued to slide until the league folded in 1985.
1986 “I don’t believe outdoor soccer will ever make it [in the U.S.] professionally. I don’t believe we will ever succeed at the Olympic or World Cup level. Americans just don’t buy the sport.” Former NY Cosmos goalkeeper Shep Messing in 1986
1986 “I’ve never been one to delude myself into thinking that all the kids playing soccer are going to be spectators. I don’t think there is a correlation.” Major Indoor Soccer League Commissioner Bill Kentling, in 1986
1986 “We all really got ahead of ourselves. I now realize it will take a tremendous amount of time before we soccer people realize our dream of being an established sport in this country.” St. Louis Steamers midfielder Ricky Davis in 1986. Surprisingly, he was the correct one.
1992 “Zero,” says Frank Deford, America’s preeminent sportswriter, when asked about soccer’s chances as a spectator sport in his country. “It has zero chance. Every chance it had, it failed. I can’t conceive of any set of circumstances that would make Americans want to take an interest. “It’s a very unappealing sport to watch,” Deford continues, “and every time you say that the soccer people all say, ‘You don’t know anything about it; you don’t understand it.’ But it’s a very unappealing sport to watch. I was shocked watching the last World Cup, shocked. I couldn’t believe how dull it was. It was a very boring game.” The New York Times, October 7, 1992
1994 “There is no chance (MLS) will survive. Absolutely no chance whatsoever.” Nye Lavalle, Sports Marketing Group, in The Sporting News, June 27, 1994
1994 “For World Cup soccer worldwide, the World Cup gets a grade A; for staging of the World Cup in America, it gets a grade A. But for the future of soccer in America, the grade is incomplete. If you want a prediction, it seems like the term paper will be turned in and it will get a failing grade.” Nye Lavalle again, apparently on a roll that summer, in the New York Times, July 19, 1994
1994 “Our goal, 10 years from now, is to be in position where we can be considered a sport on the level, in terms of interest, of the big ones: football, baseball, basketball.” World Cup chairman Alan Rothenberg, in that same NY Times article, July 19, 1994
1994 “There’s a better chance of a national health plan being passed by Congress than of a major pro (soccer) league in America.” Art Spander, San Francisco Examiner, June 5, 1994
1994 “The World Cup, should no one get killed, is a fabulous event. Enjoy it. And enjoy the next one. And if, in between, you patronize any and all pro soccer leagues that begin here, enjoy them too. They’ll be gone faster than the girl over there with the hula hoop.” Sportswriter Phil Mushnick, New York Post, June 15, 1994
1996 “Our national team is spread out among 10 localities and charged with making us like the game. This would have been like taking the 1980 US Olympic hockey team and starting a whole new league by placing its members around the country. And the ice hockey team did, incidentally, win a gold medal, as well as whip the Red Army. Chances of that working would seem to be better than this.” Bernie Linciome, Chicago Tribune, April 8, 1996, on the beginnings of MLS
1997 “To be honest, I just don’t think it’s gonna make it here. Soccer’s a sport a lot of youngsters play and I don’t know that they necessarily become fans when they get older. They watch American football, or baseball or basketball, and we have all that here already. There’s a lot of competition.” Irv Moss of the Denver Post, quoted in Soccer America, July 29, 1997
2002 “The USA are just making up the numbers…they can’t play football for toffee…slow at the back, short on real class up front…should get points off Korea, anything else would be a miracle.” London Evening Standard, prior to World Cup 2002
2002 “The U.S. will not defeat Portugal. Nothing is impossible, of course, but the speedy, attack-oriented Portugal is precisely the type of team against which the U.S. typically struggles.” Scott Plagenhoef, Soccer Digest, February 2002
2002 “Anything other than last place will be an achievement for the Americans.” John Motson, BBC, prior to World Cup 2002
2002 “Portugal at a canter.” London Daily Telegraph’s prediction for USA/Portugal at World Cup 2002
2002 “I predict the Los Angeles Galaxy will win the (MLS) championship three out of (the) first five years they play in their own stadium and facility.” ESPN analyst Eric Wynalda, January 2002
2004 “Soccer will be among America’s top four sports in the next five years.” AEG President Tim Leiweke, January 25, 2004
2007 “This is a sucker stadium, not a soccer stadium. We are going to lose our shirts.” Etobicoke (Can.) councillor (and now, somehow, Mayor of Toronto) Rob Ford on Toronto’s planned soccer stadium that would house an MLS team in 2007