1986... GENESIS: THE BEGINNING
Former Tampa Bay Rowdies and Dallas Tornado executive Francisco Marcos decides to start a regional indoor soccer league, the Southwest Indoor Soccer League, or SISL, based in Texas. He signs three teams from Texas and one each from Oklahoma and New Mexico. The original members of the SISL are the Garland Genesis, Lubbock Lazers, Amarillo Challengers, Oklahoma City Warriors and Albuquerque Outlaws.
The vision behind the league, similar to today's, was to act as a minor-league for the highly popular Major Indoor Soccer League, which was the latest and greatest hope for American soccer following the demise of the North American Soccer League. The plan worked. Although the league would not sign an agreement with MISL, numerous players over the years would advance to play at the top level of indoor soccer in the country.
The league was forged by Marcos and five men, who converted empty warehouses into indoor soccer arenas primarily for local competitive and recreational leagues. Their new purpose, unbeknownst to them at the time, would have much greater impact than imagined and their destiny would unfold as the foundation for the country and North America's future success at the international level within 10 years.
Of the original five teams, only one remains. The Texas Spurs of the Premier Development League are the descendants of the Garland Genesis following a slew of moves and name and ownership changes. The franchise, in 2001, will be playing under its 13th name, as the Texas Spurs, since the Garland Genesis debuted in 1986.
It is fitting that the Genesis, whose presence is still felt today, were the first champions in USL history, defeating the Lubbock Lazers, 7-2, in the championship match at the conclusion of the 1986-87 season. Garland's Greg Nicholas picked up the league goal-scoring crown in addition to being Most Valuable Player. Danny Perge of the Genesis was tops in assists, while Oklahoma City's Steve Meyers was the Goalkeeper of the Year and Chico Villar was the Coach of the Year.
A-LEAGUE HISTORY :: 1985-88... WSA AND ASL BORN
It all begins in 1985, shortly after the demise of the North American Soccer League, which tasted brief success. A few soccer loyalists stuck with the goal to create a professional league in the United States by creating the four-team Western Soccer Alliance consisting of the San Jose Earthquakes, F.C. Seattle, Victoria Riptides and F.C. Portland. In the “Western Alliance Challenge Series,” the four clubs played host to the World Cup-bound Canadian National Team. San Jose won the first title with a 4-2-1 record.
In 1986, the WSA jumped to seven clubs with the addition of the Hollywood Kickers, L.A. Heat, San Diego Nomads and the Edmonton Brick Men (replacing Victoria). The schedule doubled to 14 matches with Manchester City (England) and Dundee F.C. (Scotland) visiting each team. Hollywood finished first by a comfortable margin, and defender Paul Caligiuri of San Diego was selected as the WSA’s first Player of the Year.
Late that year, a group led by NASL pioneer Clive Toye began discussions about the construction of a new professional league in the East.
In May of 1987, the American Soccer League announced it would commence play in April of ‘88 with the New Jersey Eagles, Maryland Bays, Boston Bolts, Washington Diplomats and Washington Stars.
The WSA replaced draws with overtime and penalty kick tiebreakers and added a playoff. In a tight race, only one game separated first-place San Diego from last-place California (formerly Hollywood). San Diego topped San Jose, 3-1, for the championship.
When 1988 rolled around, the ASL was 10 teams strong and nearly a quarter-million fans saw the league’s inaugural season of 20 matches per club. The Washington Diplomats, the regular season runners-up, knocked off Northern Division champion New Jersey in the semi-finals two games to one and then swept the Southern Division champion Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the ASL Final.
The ‘88 WSA season saw the Seattle Storm go 10-2 and crush the Earthquakes, 5-0, in the Final. The defending Canadian Soccer League champion Calgary and Vancouver 86ers visited each WSA club, with the WSA clubs winning seven of 12. In the fall of ‘88, the WSA alters its name to Western Soccer League.