Sunday, February 9, 2014

9 February 1972 - The NASL Gets Drafty

On 9 February 1972, the Miami Gatos made Alain Maca the first draft pick in NASL history.

Started in 1968, the league already had four seasons under its belt, but the crowds remained small, with average per-game attendances of around 3,000 to 4,000 each year. Believing that an increase the number of American players would increase its popularity, the NASL established a draft for college players starting in 1974.

The first pick in the first draft went to the Gatos, who were starting their first season in Miami after relocating from Washington, DC (where they were known as the Darts). They chose Maca, a 21-year old defender from SUNY Brockport who was a two-time All-American and MVP of the 1970 NCAA Regional Tournament. He was also the son of former US international Joe Maca, who played at the 1950 World Cup.

Maca played with Miami for only one season, making 11 appearances, before transferring to the Baltimore Bays (1973) and the Washington Diplomats (1974-76), then ending his career with second-division New York Apollo (1978-79). Along the way, he also earned five caps for the United States.

The draft didn't do much to impact attendances, which started taking off only after the influx of foreign superstars like Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer in the late 1970s.

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