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Alternate US Soccer Timeline


mytreds

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I haven't gotten FM13 yet. Partly because it's too expensive, but mostly because my Mac's OS is too old for the game to run on. So needless to say I'm getting my money's worth out of FM12. I created my very own USA pyramid structure in the editor to more accurately represent the actual one we have, and even started a save game on it, but that wasn't good enough. Why? Because quite frankly, the US pyramid structure sucks. Period. It shouldn't even be classified as a pyramid really. It has 3 independent closed leagues at the top followed by regional amateur leagues from the 4th tier down, and at the bottom we have 3 different youth leagues. Really? Yes really. But that's US soccer for you. And people wonder why the USNMT loses to teams like Honduras...

Anyway to get to the point- seeing as how a real US league system in FM12 wouldn't satisfy me because it sucks, I decided to research why the US "pyramid" is the way it is and how it got to be this monstrosity of a soccer system today. The short of it is, closed leagues like the MLS, NASL, and USL Pro (aka no promotion or relegation) have always existed in one form or another since the early 1900s. All have failed up to this point in time, so for me its not a question of can the current US leagues survive, but when will they die? Why do I say that? Because as Einstein said, if you keep doing the same thing over and over again, and expect different results, you are insane. US soccer is insane, because it thinks it can keep giving Americans sub par soccer leagues without promotion or relegation and releasing soccer clubs into a more free market approach.

After doing much research, I was astounded at the rich history American soccer has and that gave me the idea for my most ambitious project in the editor yet. What if the Soccer Wars didn't kill American soccer, but made it stronger? What if the advent of the NASL actually launched US soccer into the international stage? What if the crappy MLS, NASL (2010), and USL Pro didn't exist and we had a proper Premier division, proper relegation and promotion, and teams unhindered by silly rules and regulations?

In short, I wish to create a fictional, alternate US soccer universe where teams like Bethlehem Steel, Fall River, and St. Leo's have ruled over US soccer for decades, and now upstarts like LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, and Columbus Crew try to upset the balance, while teams from the NASL like New York Cosmos, Portland, Seattle, San Jose, and Atlanta try fight for their place in history too.

So far I have 433 teams. The league structure will be- American Premier League, 16 teams; American National League 20 teams; and East, North, South, and West conferences, 15 teams each. From there we come to the Regional leagues. From the East we have the 1st and 2nd New York divisions, the Mid Atlantic division, and the Keystone Conference which will split into a Pennsylvania 1st and 2nd division and two New Jersey divisions, North and South. Also in the East is the New England Premier League with the 1st and 2nd division underneath it.

In the North there will be the Great Lakes and Mid West conferences. Under the Mid West Conference will be the Northern Star League and the St. Louis Soccer league. From the Great Lakes Conference will be the Chicago Soccer League, the Michigan Soccer League, and the River Valley Soccer League.

From the South comes the Lone Star Premier and 2nd Division, an Islands Division (which I am still working with since it only has 5 teams), and a Southeast Conference. Under the Southeast Conference will be the Florida Soccer League, the Carolinas Soccer League, the Gulf Soccer League, and the Bluegrass Soccer League.

Finally, in the West we have the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountain, and Southwest Soccer Leagues, as well as the California league. Under the California League are the Northern and Southern California Leagues Divisions I and II.

Cups that I had thought of at the moment are the US Cup, the Community Shield, the American Cup, the Peel Cup, and the Lewis Cup. I'll think of other regional cups in the upcoming days. I have sorted the teams into their preliminary divisions as of now. I now need to make their histories as well as the history of the fictional progression of soccer leagues since 1929 (when the Soccer Wars happened). I'll post that and my reasoning for putting which clubs where in future posts.

I hope this interests at least of a few of you. If it does, I'm sure my labor can be used for FM13 or any future versions (yes, it might take me that long to get this done!!)

What I've done

Find teams to fill out database

Put teams into contemporary divisions

Create team histories- thru 1970's

What I'm doing

Creating league standings, year-by-year

Currently in the 80's

What's to come

Crack open the editor and begin to create teams

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Golem- Cosmos will be a big club, just not the biggest. Other teams will have half a century of history on them when they enter the league in 1971, and when you add the Johnny-come-lately's of the 1990's it'll be a constant struggle for top spot in America.

Javier- A Hawaiian or Alaskan team would be interesting, but I am unsure on using them or not. Realistically, it would be hard for regional teams to fly 5 hours both ways to either state for 1 game. And I will be using real life teams, even the MLS ones. Instead of them being founded in 1996 with the MLS, teams like Seattle, Portland, and San Jose have already been in the league since the 70's, Chivas USA are reverted back to the LA Aztecs, Houston and FC Dallas were in the Lone Star Alliance since the 80's, while the rest mainly are rebranding of other NASL franchises, for example Chicago Fire were once the Chicago Sting, SPorting Kansas was once the Kansas City Spurs, etc. Since US soccer was founded partly in the Northeast, teams like NY Redbulls and Philadelphia Union have been around since the 20s.

As of now I have sorted the teams by their founding dates and will now begin to create league and team histories year-by-year starting with the NAFBL in 1895. Since a lot of teams floated in and out of the soccer leagues in every era of US soccer, each year's standings will be unchanged mostly for those teams who have records of playing. For example Oneida FC didnt play in the NAFBL, but since they are one of the oldest soccer clubs in America, they are playing in this league from the get go. It is a liberty I have to take. It also applies when a team may drop out of existence, I'll just keep them in the league but make up unreal statistics for them just for the purpose of the game.

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And by the way, I won't be including the Canadian teams in this alternate reality. The growth of US soccer spurs the growth and expansion of Canadian soccer as well, thus Toronto FC and Vancouver will be playing in the CSL, not the APL. This way both countries will be stronger and hopefully a healthy, talented rivalry between the two nations. I will remake the CSL appropriately after I'm done with doing the US.

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The Puerto Rican teams as of now will be in the game, a part of the Islands division in the Southern Conference, but I seriously debating whether they are worth the travel distance for other clubs on the mainland. I would still argue against Alaska and Hawaii, based on the fact that neither state holds any MLB, NFL, or NBA teams. Logistically it's hard for them to be a part of a league that already functions across 4 time zones. Unfortunately, the US is too big to be all inclusive in that manner. Smaller countries like England, Italy, and Spain don't suffer from these problems. Russia is the only country large enough for comparison.

I have considered the NACL and I would like to re create that to make it more on the level of the Champions League in Europe, if I ever get that far, because yes, it would make sense that if Canada were a bigger league they'd have more qualification spots than 1.

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The Puerto Rican teams as of now will be in the game, a part of the Islands division in the Southern Conference, but I seriously debating whether they are worth the travel distance for other clubs on the mainland. I would still argue against Alaska and Hawaii, based on the fact that neither state holds any MLB, NFL, or NBA teams. Logistically it's hard for them to be a part of a league that already functions across 4 time zones. Unfortunately, the US is too big to be all inclusive in that manner. Smaller countries like England, Italy, and Spain don't suffer from these problems. Russia is the only country large enough for comparison.

I have considered the NACL and I would like to re create that to make it more on the level of the Champions League in Europe, if I ever get that far, because yes, it would make sense that if Canada were a bigger league they'd have more qualification spots than 1.

OK. So, are you using conferences in all divisions?

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The Puerto Rican teams as of now will be in the game, a part of the Islands division in the Southern Conference, but I seriously debating whether they are worth the travel distance for other clubs on the mainland. I would still argue against Alaska and Hawaii, based on the fact that neither state holds any MLB, NFL, or NBA teams. Logistically it's hard for them to be a part of a league that already functions across 4 time zones. Unfortunately, the US is too big to be all inclusive in that manner. Smaller countries like England, Italy, and Spain don't suffer from these problems. Russia is the only country large enough for comparison.

I have considered the NACL and I would like to re create that to make it more on the level of the Champions League in Europe, if I ever get that far, because yes, it would make sense that if Canada were a bigger league they'd have more qualification spots than 1.

The ECHL has a team in Alaska and that is like a third tier minor hockey league. Granted they are in the Western Conference and in the ECHL teams dont really have any out of Conference games. I think that of you were going to include a Alaskan team then I would put them in one of the Canadian leagues just because it would make a bit more geographical sense.

I dont really care if Alaska has a team or not since it is not such a stretch to say that there would be one but a team in Hawaii is a bit silly i think.

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Update #1

So far I've created league standings up through 1920. The growth of the leagues slowed a bit as the US got into WWI, but now the Roaring Twenties are here and the top league, the National Association Football League, will restructure into the American Soccer League: two divisions with promotion and relegation. Other leagues will continue to grow and eventually they will join into the ASL as the US soccer pyramid takes shape during the profitable 20's.

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Update #2

This is quickly becoming a grueling process...and I've only begun! But thanks to Microsoft Excel and a baseball simulator I own I am beginning to pick up a little speed as more and more teams are being added and I am trying to figure out the natural growth of growing leagues and such.

The 20's were a great time for America, its people, and its economy. While Europe was languishing from the Great War, the US was prospering economically from the War's toll on her Atlantic cousins. This prosperous growth translated into the US soccer scene, as no less than 38 teams were added to various leagues from 1919-1930, bringing a grand total of 98 professional US soccer clubs chartered under the USFA. During the "Roaring 20's" America saw two professional leagues form and by the end of the decade both began to shape the future of US soccer. This period was termed the "Golden Age" of US soccer, as the sport quickly became popular among the public, and both pro and semipro clubs popped up all over the North Atlantic, St. Louis, and Great Lakes areas. Fans flocked to see games by the thousands and it was great entertainment for all.

The American Soccer League, formed in 1921, was recognized by the USFA as America's top division. It was the first functioning professional league in America with a promotion and relegation system. The initial experiment proved a success as it increased the competitiveness of the clubs. The ASL enjoyed its hegemony over the other American leagues, but this did not last very long. Seeing the ASL's success the Eastern Soccer League took shape a mere four years later, and was a conglomeration of the New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New England leagues. By the end of the decade the ESL and its lower leagues possessed most of the teams in the US and were posing a serious challenge to the ASL's authority as a top league.

It all came to a head with what was coined "The Soccer Wars". The ASL initially challenged the USFA by poaching too many players from across the Atlantic, as US owners could afford wealthier contracts for their players and the foreigners were only too happy to get a pay raise. This obviously irked teams abroad though, and FIFA threatened action against the USFA. The USFA, just barely a decade old, wanted to keep its status as a soccer federation within FIFA and imposed sanctions on the ASL as appeasement. The ASL responded in kind by withdrawing their clubs from the nation's top cup competition, the National Challenge Cup in protest and defiance to the USFA's authority. This act lead the USFA to ban the ASL for one year, and essentially made the ASL a rogue league. The ASL's actions had further consequences- two of its biggest teams, Bethlehem Steel and New York F.C., angry that they were pulled out of the Challenge Cup decided to defect and compete in the ESL top division, further stoking the power rivalry between the two leagues. This signaled the end of the "Golden Era" and ASL's complete authority as top league.

The war took a toll on both sides and the public opinion began to grow wary of the European influence on the ASL and ESL. They felt that if the sport were to become a national sport, it needed to be rooted as American as possible, like baseball or American football. The players, in constant fear that their clubs might fold or lose its professional status, began to distrust their owners and league officials, and many either quit or joined clubs abroad. The USFA feared that the war would break up both leagues and all the hard work that made US soccer a success would be gone before it really got going. The USFA stayed strong, however, and compromises were reached eventually. An agreement was made that the ASL would retain its top status, but it would be on probation. Any action against the USFA or ESL would result in strict sanctions and demotion of its top flight status. The ESL's encouragement and flexibility towards league growth proved its initial success, and this was not to go unnoticed. However, it ultimately meant that the ESL would have to join forces with the ASL eventually. Play continued into the 1930-31 season with the promise of an eventual combination of the ASL and ESL into one top flight league.

However, the US stock market crash in 1929 began a darker era for the USA and soccer. The economy, inflated by its successes in the 20's, collapsed, and with it prospects of unfettered growth for soccer that was predicted years earlier. The Depression had begun, and it took a fledgling sport, moments from reaching maturity, backwards and into uncharted waters...

It should be noted that during the 20's, the Great Lakes League (a combination of the Chicago City Soccer League and other smaller leagues) and St. Louis Soccer League also enjoyed growth, though moderate, heading into the 1930's with 12 and 10 teams respectively. Both were independent professional leagues and did not participate in the Soccer Wars, which proved to their benefit. However, officials in both leagues knew it was only a matter of time before the soccer boom migrated West and eventually they would have to encounter the ASL, ESL, or their combined equivalent...

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Update #3

The boom of the 20's grew ever more in stark contrast to the misery of the 30's as the US reached the end of the decade. Ten years since the stock market crash thousands were still out of work, jobs were still scarce, and the economy no better under the tenure of FDR. Roosevelt offered prosperity under his Socialist plans and agendas, but little return showed for his effort. As with the 20's, the shape of America was reflected in US soccer as well.

The Soccer Wars plus the Depression put the ASL and the ESL and its affiliates on rocky ground. To make matters worse, many of the owners in both leagues owned baseball teams as well, and once hard times reached US soccer the owners left for Major League Baseball- a sport that had already established itself as America's National Pastime, and was proving to be quite lucrative. This would have left many clubs on the verge of extinction, if it hadn't been for less wealthier owners or fan's trusts taking over the penniless clubs and starting from scratch again. Although the 30's hadn't seen much growth in new teams (about a dozen teams chartered themselves during the 30's- mostly conglomerated amateur clubs looking to seek glory in the power vacuum), US soccer didn't lose any top flight teams at all, despite all the hardships of the decade.

But the original problems that stemmed from the Soccer Wars, mainly the authorities of the ASL and ESL, were still to be resolved, and current leadership had used the bad economy as an excuse to kick the can down the road. The ASL was still considered the top American league, but was hurt the most financially when many of the owners pulled the plug. The ESL was stronger in terms of teams and finances, but was too fragmented with its regional divisions and irregular promotion system. Both sides knew a final agreement was going to be messy and the USFA didn't need another soccer war over it.

Many of the vaunted clubs of the 20's, like Bethlehem Steel, New York F.C., and Fall River Marksmen, were also hurt during this decade as many of their best players left for higher wages or better competition. These types of clubs were typically relegated to a lower division during these years, allowing smaller clubs to rise to the occasion and grab trophies. There were few dynasties, and many clubs yo-yoed up and down the tables.

With no economic upturn in sight, and talks of another looming war in Europe, things didn't look any better for US soccer when the 40's came around. In fear that US soccer would lose out to other sports such as football, basketball, or hockey, Thomas Cahill, a founding member of the ASL, wrote a plea that circulated to all the clubs, their players, and fans, stating that:

"Soccer is truly an American sport. It allows any club of any stature to acclaim great heights. Is that not the American Way? To work hard and achieve greatness against all odds? And whereas other sports franchises are prone to leaving and betraying its loyal fan bases for a more lucrative markets, soccer truly belongs to its fans, and the survival of so many clubs during hard times is a testament to that. Soccer will endure, and it is up to us as owners, board members, staff, players, and fans to support our boys through thick and thin, and to really claim soccer as America's sport."

The personal plea was well received, and though no dramatic changes were made as a result, the overall effect allowed US soccer to persevere through the decade into the 40's.

The Midwest leagues did no better than their Eastern counterparts during the Depression, and were on the verge of a financial collapse. Some shady ownership and the Dust Bowl contributed to an expected demised of the two historic leagues. In 1939 a desperate plea was sent to the USFA board in an attempt to keep the leagues in some shape or form. Soccer was still popular in this region and many felt it would be a shame to see such teams as St. Leo's or Hyde Park Blues becoming extinct. This appeal was lodged at a coincidental time, as the USFA was covertly deciding what to about the ASL and ESL, and the Great Lakes and St. Louis soccer divisions were now considered to prove fruitful in the board's preliminary discussions...

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Dude, this is awesome. Just out of curiosity, do you have any interest in alternate history (besides soccer history, that is)? Because your writing style greatly reminds me of an alternate history forum I visit sometimes.

Again, really looking forward for the release of this, no matter how long it takes :)

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Update #4

The 40's were an interesting decade for soccer in the US. US soccer at by the end of the decade reached the halfway mark in the 20th century, but what was to show for it? The ASL and ESL were strong leagues in the early century only to fizzle after the Market Crash and the Soccer Wars. The merger of the 30's helped ease tensions but the leagues still showed little signs of getting out of the rut they dug themselves in. Sports need money to survive hard times, and once the going got tough, all the big spenders pulled out, leaving many teams in limbo. All this tumult over the last decade hurt the fans and seriously tempted the fate of US soccer.

As the gears of war went into full during WW2, US soccer spent the 40's biding its time, waiting as young Americans were sent to Europe or the Pacific, unsure of what the world would look like after the most influential period of modern history ended. Soccer teams were impacted, but not to the same effect as baseball teams, who lost star players like Ted Williams and Willie Mays to the draft. This could have been to US soccer's advantage: as the quality of baseball diminished, maybe soccer could come through and prove that its worth to the battle weary American public. However, US soccer didn't take the initiative to do so, and instead use the 40's to consolidate and not take too many risks. This would prove to be unfortunate, as after the war, sports like basketball and football would begin to surpass soccer as American sports.

The biggest change in the 40's came early with the merger of the Midwest and ESL teams into the US soccer pyramid proper. The Midwest was the hardest hit during the Depression and its effects took their toll on the small but historic St. Louis and Chicago leagues. The Midwest League was created from the top teams in the St. Louis and Chicago leagues and the parent division of the newly named Great Lakes Soccer League and the St. Louis Soccer League, which retained its name. The ESL, which had instituted a promotion/relegation system with its four feeder leagues last decade, was now able to promote its champion into the National League as well.

The moves, although final, proved controversial in a few ways. First, the ASL was unhappy that its 2nd tier would now lose its teams to relegation, and that it would have to accommodate teams from the Midwest. The ESL, although happy it could now potentially send teams to compete against veteran ASL sides, thought it unfair that the Midwestern teams, about 30 total, had a higher percentage chance of getting into the National Division. The 4 eastern leagues would decide a promoted team through a playoff of the champions of each league, and when each league has at least 10-15 teams, odds are that even if you win your division, you only have a 25% chance of making into the ESL top flight.

There were also logistical problems as well. Since the Midwest was relatively new to the pyramid, that meant teams relegated from the National division were more likely to be sent to the ESL and below. This meant the Midwest would initially lose teams as they progressively were promoted. The more teams added to the ESL impacted the lower leagues, with the New York and Keystone soccer leagues growing to 15 team each by the end of the decade. Teams within this large divisions began to make noise that it was unfair to play in such large leagues, especially since the New Jersey soccer league averaged about 7-8 teams and consistently had their champion win the promotion playoff.

Clearly the system after the merger of all the nation's major soccer leagues was not perfect. But the experiment lasted for at least the decade and that was something given the tumult of the 40's in and out of the nation. It was not to be a final solution, but it gave the future of US soccer a format that would be used and adjusted over time.

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This might just be the best thing to ever happen to FM.
I second that. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Please KUTGW! :)
Bloody Hell you've put some work into this.Great Stuff :applause:

Cheers guys and thanks for the support. Most of the real work still lies ahead. Good to know that there is interest in this, that way I know it's not solely for my own pleasure.

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Very interesting idea. I'd thought of doing an edit based on the premise that the NASL didn't die in the mid-80s but actually grew in strength to eventually rival the major European leagues, but I've never got beyond the early stages of development. Best of luck on this.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update #5

The 50's started with promise for US Soccer. Team USA made history by beating England 1-0 in the 1950 World Cup, a major upset that would never be forgotten. But that would be the only highlight of the decade. For the rest of the world, the Cold War had begun, yet America experienced some prosperity during the 50's. This didn't translate to US soccer at all, and this decade was treated with more caution, and even less expansion than before. The old guard had become set it their ways, not willing to overextend US soccer if it had to. They didn't want to bankrupt soccer by making any risky moves, but this mindset was holding US soccer back.

During the middle of the decade, the ESL did reorganize its feeder leagues after much pressure from some of the bigger clubs. Before the reorganization, the ESL would relegate a single team that would sort into 1 of 4 regional leagues below the ESL. The result after decades of this system was the NYSL and Keystone Leagues containing as many teams as the ESL itself, allowing smaller leagues like the NESL and NJSL to promote more easily their clubs through the 4 club promotion playoff. The result was the ESL creating a 2nd tier, an ESL North containing teams from the NYSL and NESL, and a ESL South containing teams from the KSL and NJSL. This proved a moderate success, providing smaller leagues for teams to compete in and making the leagues overall more competitive.

With baseball teams New York and Brooklyn moving out West to San Francisco and Los Angeles near the end of the decade, this meant it was only a matter of time before US soccer followed suit. However, this was far from the current minds in charge. They had little interest in spreading out that far across America, even though some semi-pro leagues had already been set up in San Francisco and Texas. Had it not been for the upcoming decade, US soccer would either had kept its slow progression or died due to lack of interest and too much competition from baseball and the ever growing sports basketball and football. Luckily, the 60's would change US soccer forever, in ways many didn't expect.

I've been busy with grad school in recent weeks, thus why progress has been slow. Now that I am done with a major step in my degree, and I very excited to get into the 60's as indeed, the rival NASL will upset the US soccer apple cart and change the sport in America forever. I can't wait!

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Cheers m1cha3lm. When I need help with the nuts and bolts in the editor, I'll give you a shout.

Update #6

The 60's began to define American throughout the decade. The Vietnam war had been raging for 5 years, with no end in sight. The Cold War began to escalate further with the Bay of Pigs. JFK was assassinated in '63, ushering in LBJ as the new President. Martin Luther King Jr. died later in '68, another victim of assassination. And meanwhile the band played on at Woodstock, ushering the "Summer of Love" in '69.

Changes also came to US soccer, but not immediately. Much like the decades that had preceded, the early 60's offered little expansion or change to the current US soccer system. Over time, owners and fan's trusts had become conservative within their leagues, not willing to expand to quickly, nor take risk in investing in questionable markets. Also, traveling costs were also an early factor to limiting expansion. Many of the new owners post-Soccer Wars were now in their later years, and still had vivid memories of the dark periods of soccer in America, and how hard they worked to keep soccer going despite all odds.

But times were now different. One factor was the invention of the television. Sports leagues across America and parts of Europe began to realize the potential that this little box could have in a popular sport. The TV allowed many more people to experience the game in their own living room, rather than having to buy a ticket and transportation to a crowded stadium. Another factor was travel- after WW2, planes become more than just machines of war, but a way of luxury travel, and a quicker way than by bus or train to cross the country. But probably a third and even more important factor in the growth of US soccer during the 60's was money. Like the early days of US soccer, baseball owners began to think of soccer as a secondary investment during the baseball offseason. It was because of their finances, and their risk of investment, that eventually elevated soccer from a regional game to a continental one.

In 1966, two groups formed the consortiums known as the United Soccer Association and the National Professional Soccer League. Sports entrepreneurs Jack Kent Cooke, Lamar Hunt, and Steve Stavro formed the USA with the intention of creating a professional soccer league and to become the soccer league in America. Unlike the NPSL, the USA got USSFA and FIFA sanctions for the start of their 1967 season.

However, they were not the only ones with grand plans for US soccer. The NPSL was formed by Bill Cox and Robert Hermann, and although branded an outlaw league due to their lack of sanctions, secured CBS TV rights for their 1966 season. This prompted the USA to quick-launch their season, using a large majority of foreign players to fill their empty rosters.

Both experiments were huge successes. For the 2 years as independent leagues, both drew favorable amounts of fans to see big name players and this new spectacle of American soccer. Younger fans got caught in the initial wave of a newer brand of soccer that the money-rich owners promoted. It ushered in a new era of continental soccer that began to tap into fresh markets. In 1968, both leagues decided to merge into a single 20 team super league called the NASL- National American Soccer League. In effect they would keep the USA's FIFA/USSFA sanctions as well as the TV rights given by CBS.

The ASL and its affiliates looked on with interest and despite being challenged for #1 league in America, the owners showed no signs of protest, mainly for two reasons. First, because the owners were betting on the baseball owners pulling the financial plug on the league, like it did in the late '20's, once it began to become too large and expensive, and that's not a ship the ASL was willing to go down with after years of hard work to stay afloat. And second, even if the NASL did take off, the ASL would piggyback on NASL's success in some form or another, since afterall the ASL had first rights on top league for the USA and if the NASL wanted that title, it would have to go through the ASL, at which point a compromise could be made for a league structure that would favor the ASL teams.

History would show that the prudence of the ASL was correct, but that their premonition of the NASL's outcome on US Soccer was shortsighted. In the coming years the NASL would prove to be the catalyst needed to bring soccer into the hearts and homes of Americans and bridge the gap between niche sport and super league.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update #7

The 70's was another interesting chapter in American history. Long hair, afros, bellbottoms and disco was in. The Vietnam war ended, the Cambodian massacres began, and Watergate closed the door on "Tricky Dick". Elvis died, Star Wars premiered in theaters and a little known company called Microsoft was founded. Jimmy Carter's price and wage controls backfired, triggering gas shortages and nationwide stagflation.

If the 20's was the Golden Age of soccer, then the 70's was its Renaissance. The NASL continued to explode into a mega-league, ending the decade with 51 total teams. What began in the 60's as a single league funded by MLB owners ended in the 70's as a National Soccer league with two lower divisions, East and West. This NASL beast would give birth to many of the modern teams of today's US Soccer structure.

Most notably would be the advent of the New York Cosmos. Joining the league in 1971, the capture of the World Renowned Pele in 1975 spurred the Cosmos to 3 championships within the decade. The Cosmos were the example of big spending, signing big name players from across the globe in order to win championships. Initially this spurred other teams to follow suit in order to compete and made for a strong, healthy league. However, this pathway to success would prove to be detrimental going into the 80's. The fiscally irresponsibility would eventually come to a head in the next decade. Yet, without this initial spur of NASL growth along the glamour of soccer and superstars, Americans might not have been hooked enough on soccer to follow through 80's into the 90's and beyond.

Other notables from the decade were the Tampa Bay Rowdies winning 2 championships and teams like the Portland Timbers who finished in 2nd or 3rd consistently. The NASL in this decade would prove to be the testing ground for many new clubs and many who would eventually form the nucleus of modern day powerhouses in US Soccer.

The NASL's continued success did not go unnoticed by their rivals in the ASL. After years of turning a blind eye to the explosion of soccer in the Western USA, the ASL finally granted an ASL contract to the California Soccer League. This small league eventually grew to a healthy 12 teams by the end of the decade, although it acted more as an independent league by being disallowed from promotion into the ASL National division until the league grew further and would prove to be profitable. This lesson was learned from mistakes by accepting the Midwestern teams too early. The leagues shrank to 8 and 7 team leagues as more and more Midwest teams became successful in the ASL leagues. Indeed, this was a landmark decade for the ASL as three teams for the Midwest won the ASL 1st Division, with Holley Carburetor winning it twice in three years.

Another success despite the popularity of the NASL was the return to prominence of some of the Golden Age powerhouses such as Bethlehem Steel, their archrivals Fall River Marksmen, Philadelphia F.C., and New York F.C. The ASL hoped the recent rise to power from such vaunted and old clubs would spark a renewed interest in the league.

Two interesting notes of the decade. First, in 1975, match fixing in the New York and New England regional leagues was finally uncovered. Match fixing was a recurring problem in some of the minor leagues, and the USSFA was right in stamping it out with authority. All teams in both leagues were suspended for one whole season, with no promotion. This sent a clear message to any other club or league if they had thoughts about match fixing.

The second interesting note is about the poor Baltimore Cantons. In 1970, they finished the league as winners of the ASL 1st Division. But by the end of the decade in 1979, they finished dead last in the New Jersey Regional league. It was a clear indication that no club is safe from a steep fall from grace.

It seemed everything was looking aces for all the leagues going into the 80's. The sudden decline of the NASL was not on anyone's mind yet. The 80's, like the 30's, would prove to be a critical decade where US Soccer would have to be saved once again.

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A nice update, as usual, can't wait for the 80's, 90's and 2000's.

Also I'm eager to see with this history, how American soccer pyramid will look like.

The pyramid structure I admit is going to be difficult. At this point, at least 2 national leagues will be levels 1 and 2, but I am divided over using an East/West setup in level 3, or going ahead as I planned with 4 conferences and then regional leagues in level 5 and below. The problem I foresee is the reconciliation between regionalizing leagues and making sure they don't become imbalanced too quickly due to promotions/relegations.

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So while I've been going though the 80's a couple questions came to mind. Feedback would be great!

1. Consolidation of clubs- For realism's sake, should this be done? For example, Paterson, NJ has 6 teams. Paterson has a little over 100k people living there. Does that seem realistic? Brooklyn has 10 clubs alone. Same with Philadelphia, LA, NY. Should I consolidate these teams so that by present day there are only 1 or 2 teams representing Bethlehem, PA or Kearny, NJ? For bigger cities I can understand having multiple teams. So how many teams realistically would be too much for a big city? Looking at London for an example, they have 20+ clubs in the whole English pyramid, so maybe I shouldn't worry out about it. But how about the smaller cities?

2. Club reputations- When I eventually crack open the editor, I'll have to reset club rep to match the fact that many clubs will have been around since the 1920's and 30's, but also take into account that some recent clubs like NY Cosmos will have had considerable early success and need the appropriate rep to attract good players. In the db, all the MLS clubs have reps in the 5000-6000 range I believe. This gives them 3 to 3 1/2 stars in the game compared to the rest of the world. Should I make them on par with the Mexican clubs (4 stars)? Or should I look at Europe and try to compare some league and club reps over there? Or leave the MLS as is and adjust the created clubs accordingly? Or create some sort of formula that takes into account league wins, cup wins, years in service, etc.?

3. Creating players- Instead of creating teams with no players on the rosters, would it be worth it to create players to fill the rosters of at least the major teams created? Will that help the leagues/clubs keep in pace with the game world? I've noticed with games I create it takes a full season or two for clubs to fill rosters and settle into the game. But on the other side, I'm already creating 300+ clubs. Is it worth it to create at least 3,300 players, plus coaches, plus favored personnel/icons/legends, etc? If it is an idea that sounds like it adds to the realism of the game, please let me know. I would be more than happy to do that if only to see that the game feels more real when you start.

4. Youth- Because FM still hasn't been able to make a realistic youth system for the game, US youth usually suck and the USMNT degrades after so much time. Aside from editing a nation's youth rating and giving clubs in that nation good youth facilities and recruitment, what else can affect youth in a country so that clubs can produce decent youngsters and wonderkids as time goes on? I do plan on each club having reserve and u-18 clubs. Does that affect a nation's youth at all? Or is there something else I am missing? I want you to be able to feel like you can produce good youth players and not have to constantly find youth abroad or keep paying older players in order to have a good team. The latter route seemed to happen in every MLS save I had in FM12.

Any comments and suggestions would be great. Sometimes when you work on something for so long, you become oblivious to the obvious.

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I see... I have been reading a few blogs out there and a lot people defend the east and west conference right into the Level 1, due to the cost of travelling and the time to get to one location to the other. If these two weren't a factor the debate moves into what kind of pyramid US football (Soccer) would look like. A more approach to the English system (again people defend that below the level 3, wouldn't make sense), but an approach to German, Spannish, French and even the Portuguese system are better, that since the level 3 and below divided to different regions, more division the further you go down.

Then there is an issue of balance in those lower leagues is that, despite USA be big country, has lot less clubs then say, the English, mainly due to its football history. Which i find it a bit insane. :p

That is why I was interested in which approach to the pyramid you would bring.

I would love a lower level to be kind of state league where those clubs that belong in that state compete, but that means about of 50 leagues or so, plus the top levels, which I'm not sure if it is a bit much for a computer to handle that number of leagues.

As for your questions:

1- For example Lisbon, Portugal has around probably 10+ teams. That is big city, for example Funchal, Madeira has +100k people living there has 4 teams, another example The town of Manchico on the main island of Madeira has 2 teams. I find quiet credible to have 6 teams, but that will depend what history you want on these towns.

2- Club reputation should consider the history you are planning for this. If today clubs are the ones that populate the main divisions, then NY Cosmos, Bethlahem Stell should have slightly lower compared to those teams. West Ham United doesn't have same reputation they had 50 years ago, during their glory days, despite the amount of history they have. I think here recent success has to have more importance (think UEFA Coefficients), but that doesn't mean history should overlooked, but have small percentage to influence of reputation (the best example here will be Leeds United).

3- Creating players will add complexity to the game, but also will add a lot amount of work you will have to do on the editor and latter on testing.

4- Can't help you on that department.

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Loving this idea. Here's my feedback on your questions:

1. A city like NY which is comparable to London should be able to sustain multiple clubs especially when you consider the diversity and unique identities of the 5 boroughs. Obviously clubs like Cosmos will sit higher up but I think it only right to see smaller neighbourhood teams lower down the pyramid. Same goes for the other major cities, LA etc but obviously smaller cities/towns etc should only be able to sustain one club, 2 at most.

2. Rep. I think there's no harm in putting it on par with Mexico. With more history etc it should match up to that level. If you could create some crazy algorithm that'd be great but I think that's a lot of work. Unless algorithms are your thing.

3. From a purely selfish point of view, adding players etc is only going to add depth but its a massive task.

4. One thing you can do to help youth development is set the regen template for the nation. That's crucial. Putting in strong reserve/youth teams and tournaments can only help.

If you need any help with the editing side don't hesitate to give me a shout.

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I see... I have been reading a few blogs out there and a lot people defend the east and west conference right into the Level 1, due to the cost of travelling and the time to get to one location to the other. If these two weren't a factor the debate moves into what kind of pyramid US football (Soccer) would look like. A more approach to the English system (again people defend that below the level 3, wouldn't make sense), but an approach to German, Spannish, French and even the Portuguese system are better, that since the level 3 and below divided to different regions, more division the further you go down.

Then there is an issue of balance in those lower leagues is that, despite USA be big country, has lot less clubs then say, the English, mainly due to its football history. Which i find it a bit insane. :p

That is why I was interested in which approach to the pyramid you would bring.

I would love a lower level to be kind of state league where those clubs that belong in that state compete, but that means about of 50 leagues or so, plus the top levels, which I'm not sure if it is a bit much for a computer to handle that number of leagues.

I'm actually looking to Russia in terms of league setup. They are a large country that has to address the issue of large distances to travel. No other European country comes close in terms of the size of the USA, so I figure that's where I'll start. I want to stay away from England, since it's so familiar to so many folks here and wouldn't feel genuine to a real American setup. In the end, I want it to feel as authentic and unique as possible to the regions of America.

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I have to agree with you with your point. Russia is probably the best for the current situation. But that doesn't mean you can take few other ideas for other leagues.

You don't need to go to massive country like Russia to take other ideas, for example, next season (i think it is next season) the third level of Portuguese pyramid system will change from 3 regional leagues and divided it further to 8 regional leagues each with 10 clubs each. Not sure if this is the best option for it in the end, but one of the reasons to further divide the 3 regional league into 8 was to have the cost of traveling be cut down. There is probably other reasons for the massive split, but still lowering travel costs is a pretty big reason.

I see something like this, like the Russian pyramid system to have this many leagues in one level in the US system, as the way to diminish traveling costs for the clubs in the lower leagues. You can analyze other countries (no matter how small they are compared to USA), to understand how best the lower leagues are divided. The best leagues in the worlds, can be good place for ideas, meaning I believe they are doing something right. :)

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Update 8

The 80's. Big hair. Leather and lace. MTV. Pacman.

While the Reagan Revolution was affecting the majority of Americans, another revolution of sorts was influencing US soccer. The NASL reached its zenith in the early 80's, mounting a serious challenge to the Old ASL's status as America's top flight soccer league. What exemplified their power was the news that Columbia would be unable to host the 1986 World Cup due to financial and other logistical complications. This led to the USA putting in a bid to host the Cup, along with Mexico and Canada. With the expansion of the NASL and the recent fervor for soccer in America, US officials felt that winning the bid would be a sure thing. More investment was put into to the NASL in hopes of finally bringing World Class soccer to America, thus showing the rest of the world how far US Soccer had come, but also to hopefully spur even more support for a sport that was losing ground to the increasingly popular baseball, football, and basketball leagues. Everything was poised for the NASL to reform US soccer in America.

Thus, no one foresaw what would happen should the US lose the World Cup bid, which they did to Mexico, a nation who already hosted a Cup and already possessed an ingrained culture of "futbol" as the national sport for years. Like letting the air out of a balloon, the effect crippled the NASL and its hopes for a hegemony on US Soccer. Investments shriveled up overnight, and by 1984 the NASL was on the verge of folding completely. The glory years of the NASL were over and never to be repeated.

Fortunately, the ASL was in a position to keep the NASL running, even at a minimal level. Once the NASL lost its own independence, the big name players, the luxury, the sponsors left and the NASL became nothing more than a mid level league. However this was to its benefit. The NASL had grown so quickly in such a short span of time that it was unable to sustain itself without the help of major investment. It had grown so large it would have been unable to stay afloat on its own anyway. World Cup or not, it would have been only a matter of time before the poorly run league would implode.

The ASL's long history and knowledge of grassroots ownership and financial restraint helped to pear back the NASL into a smaller league while still being sustainable. Many teams in the lower NASL levels began to create new leagues, such as the Western Soccer Alliance, the Lone Star Soccer Alliance, and the Southern Soccer League. These divisions would prove to be fertile grounds for future expansion in the next decade. It was generally agreed that eventually the NASL would dissolve and integrate their teams into the ASL lower leagues or new spin-off leagues that would join with the ASL down the road.

Near the end of the 80's, some good news did come to US Soccer. In 1988, FIFA granted the USA the 1994 World Cup. This honor was given with the specific stipulation that America needed a clear-cut top division for soccer. The ASL had been the de facto top division league ever since the Soccer Wars, but the recent explosion and implosion of the NASL over the past two decades had thrown the honors of top division into a bit of confusion for the rest of the world. Once the US secured the Cup bid, the ASL and its other leagues came together for meetings to discuss how to restructure American Soccer going forward into the 90's and towards the world stage of a World Cup...

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  • 1 month later...

Update #9

The 90's were exciting times for US Soccer. Despite the failure and near collapse of the NASL in the 80's, US soccer and its fans were looking forward to a new top division and hosting the 1994 World Cup. Preparations were made within the US Soccer pyramid to form a more concrete system along with a top league that was a requirement for hosting the World's top soccer tournament.

The 94 World Cup turned out to be a huge success all around. Record numbers came out in some of the largest stadiums ever to see the World's top players perform. The US Men's team also made it past the group stage and into the knockout stage for the first time ever. They lost right away but it was to the eventual champions Brazil. A strong national performance by the USA only fueled the fervor for more American soccer. Although the World Cup had been televised before, the US capitalized on it like never before, bringing the Cup into every household possible. It caught the American imagination and many were hooked on the sport.

As per requested by FIFA, the US enacted the American Premier Soccer League as the nation's top league. In an unprecedented move the ASL took the NASL division as its 2nd tier league instead of keeping the ASL second division which was already there. The result was the immediate relegation of all ASL second division teams into their respective regional leagues. The move was one part political another part marketing, but there was deep resentment by those teams relegated from the dissolved ASL second division. But the move was final and was the only black mark on the historic restructuring of the US soccer pyramid.

The US pyramid further expanded into the Western and the Southern areas of America. Set up as the third tier were regional leagues each representing the East, West, Midwest, and South. Lower leagues were expanded and contracted as the decade wore on. This decade would see the largest influx of new teams US soccer head ever seen and the USSA wisely allowed the lower regional leagues alter their leagues as they saw fit to meet the demand of more teams. As the lower leagues were still normalizing, only the 1st three tiers of US soccer would remain largely unchanged until the current day.

But it wasn't all roses for US soccer despite the largest growth of teams and fans ever seen and the enormity of the success of the 94 World Cup. Other sports also grew in popularity during the 90's. Baseball saw the rise of power sluggers and pitchers. Many hitters and pitchers began to break long standing records near the end of the decade. American Football came into its own with the dynasties of the 49ers and Cowboys wowing fans and the West Coast offense revolutionizing the game. Basketball saw a rise in popularity in terms of marketing, as everyone wanted to by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

All was heavy competition for the hearts of American fans. But to its credit, US Soccer held its own and prevailed strongly into the new millennium...

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First apologies for the massive delay. Summer break has a weird way of making one extremely lazy. The good news is that during the summer I was able to get a computer that can handle FM13 and FM14, so I am now more current with the rest of the world and not still stuck on FM12. Not sure when I will have something to download Jorgen, but I will need massive help eventually, especially if I decide to create fictional players for this game.

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First apologies for the massive delay. Summer break has a weird way of making one extremely lazy. The good news is that during the summer I was able to get a computer that can handle FM13 and FM14, so I am now more current with the rest of the world and not still stuck on FM12. Not sure when I will have something to download Jorgen, but I will need massive help eventually, especially if I decide to create fictional players for this game.

I'll be happy to help out however you want me to.

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