American soccer writing, history & data.
Stability reigned in the American Soccer League as the same 10 teams returned for the 1989 season.
In late April of 1989 David F. Prouty was named commissioner of the league replacing Chuck Blazer who resigned in January to become president of the Miami Sharks' franchise. In the first week of May, just two weeks into the season, Miami Sharks' owner, Dirceu Caria, fired Chuck Blazer. Caria criticized Blazer, who assembled the entire team's roster, for not securing adequate corporate sponsorship. Caria began his second stint as president and first term as GM of the club. Coach, Wim Surrbier, would make all roster adjustments. The team began cutting players. Blazer had signed five of the leagues top ten scorers but three were released by mid-July. Near the end of the season the team only had 12 players on its roster, six below the league limit. After winning its opening match, the team lost three in a row before winning the next in a shootout. It then went on a 13-game losing streak and was bringing in less than 300 fans per game by season's end.
In June, USSF secretary general Keith Walker stated that the USSF was planning to announce the formation of a three-tiered league expected to be in place by 1991. The league would include 32 first division teams, a 48-team second division, and an amateur 98-team third division. The 19 teams in the ASL and WSL would have to meet stringent application requirements to gain admittance to the new league. Other teams would come from the Southwest Indoor Soccer League, American Indoor Soccer Association, Heartland Soccer League and Lone Star Soccer Alliance.
In July, the USSF proposed to combine the WSA and the recently-formed American Soccer League. The two leagues were widely recognized as the premier semi-pro leagues in the nation and the USSF hoped to combine them into a professional league that would be the first truly professional outdoor league in the U.S. since the NASL folded after the 1984 season.
Competition was extremely close in both divisions. The Washington Stars and Boston Bolts topped the Northern Division with 37 points each, just 1 point more than third place Albany Capitals. The Stars took first place on tiebreakers. In the Southern Division, both the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Tampa Bay Rowdies ended tops with 35 points each, just 2 points more than third-place Washington Diplomats. The Rowdies took first place on tiebreakers.
The Bolts won their semifinal over beat the Rowdies in two games while the Strikers did the same to the Stars. The first game of the ASL Championship took place on August 19 at Lockhart Stadium with the Strikers winning 1-0 in front of the 5752 in attendance. The Bolts won the second game 2-0 on August 26 at Nickerson Field sending the Championship to a 30-minute mini-game. Marcelo Carrera scored in the eighth minute of the first period for the Strikers who held on the rest of the way to win the season title.
During the 1989 season, the WSL and ASL announced plans for a merger and a national championship. Anheuser-Busch pledged $30,000 to sponsor a national outdoor championship match pitting the winners of the two leagues. On September 9, 1989, the San Diego Nomads faced the Fort Lauderdal Strikers, champions of the ASL, in the 1989 National Pro Soccer Championship. The Strikers won the match 3-1 before 8632 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Cali.
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