Tuesday, October 3, 2017

3 October 1984 - The Day The Lights Went Out For The NASL

On 3 October 1984, the Chicago Sting won the North American Soccer League title over the Toronto Blizzard in a match that turned out to be the league's last.

Established in 1968, the NASL grew to prominence in the 1970s due in large part to the signing of high-profile players like Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, and George Best and, by 1978, included a total of 24 teams across the United States and Canada.

But the anticipated crowds failed to materialize and the team owners suffered substantial financial losses, resulting in several clubs folding or moving to the lower-tier (and less costly) Major Indoor Soccer League. At the start of the 1984 season, the NASL had dropped to only nine teams, four in the Eastern Division and five in the Western.

Two teams from each division met in the playoffs, which consisted of a pair of semifinal matches, followed by a best-of-three final, with Chicago and Toronto advancing over their Western Division counterparts to set up an all-Eastern final. Chicago won the first leg in Toronto, 1-2, on 1 October, then won the second in Chicago two days later, 3-2, rendering the scheduled third match unnecessary. With the win, Chicago became only the second team (after the Cosmos) to win more than one NASL title.

After Chicago's victory, Blizzard supporters knocked over a police barricade and invaded the pitch, forcing officials to hold the trophy ceremony in Chicago's locker room.

The NASL intended to return for another season, but several more teams, including Chicago and New York, defected to the MISL. With only two clubs left, the NASL folded in early 1985.

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