American soccer writing, history & data.
After years of delays, the U.S. Soccer Federation scheduled their decision to choose an organization to launch a Division I professional league for December of 1993. In early October, the USSF gave the American Professional Soccer League outgoing commissioner, Bill Sage, a deadline of December 15 to submit a business play for the new major league. When the 1994 World Cup organizing committee missed several deadlines, APSL officials began a business plan of their own, hoping to use their league as the basis for the Division I league. Los Angeles Salsa owner and new APSL commissioner, Dr. William De La Pena, stated that APSL teams would make up the nucleus of the new league. That month, the APSL was specifically given Division II status in the USSF's Professional Division. In addition, the USSL admitted the U.S. Interregional Soccer League into its Professional Division and assigned it Division III outdoor status.
In October, the APSL admitted the Seattle Sounders as an expansion franchise for the 1994 season. Alan Hinton and a group of businessmen purchased the franchise which reportedly cost $150,000. Hinton was a former footballer and manager who had managed the Seattle Sounders of the NASL int he early 1980s. He had purchased the Seattle Sounders name years prior.
Tampa Bay Rowdies owner, Cornelia Corbett, was looking for new owners for her club during the 1993 season. Corbett felt that USSF president and chairman of the World Cup organizing committee, Alan Rothenberg, who was formulating a business plan for a new "Super League" to start in 1995 after the World Cup, had no intention of including any of the APSL teams. That was because Rothenberg's league would feature teams solely owned and operated by the league. Corbett also said that Rothenberg wanted his league to be the U.S. major soccer league and the Division III leagues to be the minor leagues to that league. Corbett stated that prospective buyers of the Rowdies would likely back out if Rothenberg's business plan was adopted.
In early December, the USSF accepted the application of Major League Pro Soccer League Inc. for Division I status by an 18-5 vote of its National Board. The USSF also heard from the APSL and Entertainment Destination Enterprises headed by Jim Paglia, a Chicago-area businessman. The MLPS was a subsidiary of World Cup USA 1994 headed by Alan Rothenberg.
The next week, the Toronto Blizzard announced it was dropping out of the APSL in hopes of joining the new Division I league being set up by Rothenberg. Blizzard owner, Karsten von Wersebe, had left the Canadian Soccer League and played in the APSL during 1993 on the understanding that it would become the Division I league in the U.S. He was told that the Blizzard would need $25 million to join the MLPS when it kicked off in 1995. On January 2, 1994, the Blizzard suspended operations.
Later that month, Cornelia Corbett announced that the Tampa Bay Rowdies would not field an APSL team for the 1994 season. Last minute negotiations for the purchase of the franchise by a group of Jacksonville investors fell through when Jacksonville was awarded a NFL expansion franchise in December. Corbett retained ownership of the Rowdies name and logo as well as the popular youth program, Camp Kikinthagrass.
With the loss of the Toronto and Tampa Bay franchises, the APSL was down to six teams. In February, the league looked at the possibility of adding the North York Rockets and a team in New York City as guest members for the 1994 season. North York was a member of the defunct Canadian Soccer League from 1987 through 1992 and had played in the semi-professional Canadian National Soccer League during the 1993 season.
In early March, the APSL confirmed the Toronto (nee North York) Rockets and Houston Force as expansion franchises. The eight-team league would be split into West and East Divisions.
The 1994 season began in early July but troubles with the Houston franchise began right away. The team postponed its first two matches of the season. Houston's first match was on July 14 against Los Angeles Salsa. Houston lost 3-0 to Los Angeles before 3000 at Robertson Stadium. Soon after, the Force ceased operations for the rest of the season. The APSL revoked the Houston's franchise due to internal ownership disputes. The Houston ownership group was unable and unwilling to resolve the financial difficulties necessary to carry on in the league. The league ruled that Houston's sole match was to be considered an exhibition match with the result removed from the official standings.
After the Houston withdrawal, the league revised the schedule. The remaining seven teams completed their 20-game schedules. The playoffs saw the top four teams meet in the semifinals. The round would see each team hosting a match with a mini-game played if the series was tied. That occurred in both semifinal series. In addition, both 30-minute mini-games ended in scoreless ties. As such, both semifinal series went to shootouts. The third-place Montreal Impact knocked out the second-place Los Angeles Salsa in their shootout and the fourth-place Colorado Foxes upset the first-place Seattle Sounders in their shootout.
The 1994 APSL championship game was held on October 15 at Montreal with Colorado looking for its third straight league title. The Impact beat the Foxes 1-0 off a goal by Jean Harbor in the 21st minute before 8169 at Claude Robillard Stadium to win the league championship.
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