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1991-92 MSL Season


By Dave Litterer of The US Soccer History Archives, with supplemental materials by Steve Holroyd and Paul Reeths

The Major Soccer League was in financial disarray heading into the 1991-92 season. Despite a new collective bargaining agreement with the players, increasing competition from the NPSL was showing its effects, and the financial losses were simply too much for the Kansas City Comets, one of the oldest teams in the league. They folded, and the league was forced back to a single division lineup. More ominiously, players were leaving in increasing numbers to join the NPSL, which, although still operating at a slightly lower level, was much stronger financially due to its lower operating budgets. For its part, the MSL had done much to cut its budgets, reducing the league salary cap to $600,000 from a high of $1,275,000.

In the regular season, the San Diego Sockers easily won the league title, and cruised through the semifinals over Baltimore, before taking their final MISL championship, 7-3, 9-7, 5-4 (OT), 6-10, 2-4, and 8-2 over the Dallas Sidekicks.

The MSL fought on right to the end. Attendance actually climbed slightly this season, and the league was already moving ahead with plans for a new Pittsburgh franchise as well as preliminary plans for European competition. Unfortunately, ownership troubles in St. Louis and Tacoma undermined the league's efforts. In the summer of 1992, Commissioner and founder Earl Foreman, unable to find a sixth team to commit to another season, pulled the plug.

"Due to the instability of league ownership during the past four years, it has been difficult to expand into new markets and attract new owners, thereby precluding the league from realizing its potential for growth," stated Foreman. "The league leaves behind a pretty good legacy. We were an exporter of soccer to Europe in recent years, and we were probably a year away from having a truly international league of U.S., Canada and Mexico. We just couldn't get everybody on the agenda in limited time. We've always called ourselves a major league, but you're not a major league with five teams."

Cleveland and Wichita then joined the rival NPSL, while San Diego and Dallas joined up with a group of arena owners to create the new Continental Indoor Soccer League, which took to the field the following season in a summer league that would avoid direct competition with the NPSL.

1991-92 SEASON
G
W
L
GF
GA
Pct.
GB
San Diego Sockers
40
26
14
243
186
.650
--
Dallas Sidekicks
40
22
18
231
229
.550
4
Cleveland Crunch
40
20
20
249
229
.500
4
Baltimore Blast
40
19
21
213
230
.475
7
Wichita Wings
40
18
22
228
242
.450
8
Tacoma Stars
40
18
22
198
236
.450
8
St. Louis Storm
40
17
23
241
251
.425
9
/r/n

Semifinals
San Diego defeated Baltimore 5-4, 6-7, 5-4 (OT), 6-3, 4-3
Dallas defeated Cleveland, 6-3, 7-6 (OT), 6-7 (OT), 8-7 (OT), 7-8 (OT), 8-4

Championship
San Diego defeated Dallas 7-3, 9-7, 5-4 (OT), 6-10, 2-4, 8-2

After the season, the league folded along with Baltimore, Tacoma and St. Louis. Cleveland and Wichita joined the NPSL, while San Diego and Dallas joined the CISL.

Leading Scorers:
                            GP   G   A  TP
Zoran Karic, Cleveland      37  39  63 102
Preki, St. Louis            39  45  52  97
Hector Marinaro, Cleveland  40  53  41  94
Tatu, Dallas                39  47  41  88
Chico Borja, Wichita        33  32  52  84
Dale Mitchell, Tacoma       40  45  34  79
Paul Wright, San Diego      39  50  27  77
Dale Ervine, Wichita        33  42  33  75
David Doyle, Dallas         40  51  23  74
Branko Segota, St. Louis    34  47  25  72
Domenic Mobilio, Baltimore  40  45  20  65
Paul Doughtery, San Diego   39  37  26  63
Kevin Smith, Dallas         35  25  33  58
Thompson Usyan, San Diego   40  29  26  57
Jan Goossens, Dallas        29  19  33  52

Leading Goalkeepers: 
                            GP  Min    Sht  Svs   GA  GAA   W-L
Victor Noguiera, San Diego  39  2271   905  411  174  4.60  26-12
Joe Papaleo, Dallas         32  1859  1071  414  163  5.26  20-11
Cris Vaccaro, Baltimore     36  2139   998  449  192  5.38  18-16
Kris Peat, Wichita          35  2020   860  361  183  5.43  17-15
Mike Dowler, Tacoma         39  2294  1229  528  215  5.52  17-21
P. J. Johns, Cleveland      29  1688   907  438  160  5.68  14-14
Jim Gorsek, St. Louis       30  1637   971  391  178  5.81  14-18

1st All-MSL Team:

G - Victor Nogueira, San Diego
F - Zoran Karic, Cleveland
M/F - Tatu, Dallas
M - Preki, St. Louis
D - Kevin Crow, San Diego
D - Iain Fraser, Baltimore

Most Valuable Player:  Victor Nogueira, San Diego
Defender of the Year:  Kevin Crow, San Diego
Championship Series Most Valuable Player:  Thompson Usiyan, San Diego
Championship Series Unsung Hero:  Kevin Crow, San Diego
Rookie of the Year: Tommy Tanner, Cleveland
Pass master: Zoran Karic, Cleveland
GoalKeeper of the Year: Victor Nogueria, San Diego







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