Soccer Bowl

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Soccer Bowl
NASL Championship Final
The trophy awarded to champions
Organizing bodyNASL
Founded1968; 55 years ago (1968)
Abolished1984; 39 years ago (1984)
RegionUnited States
Number of teams2
Last champion(s)United States Chicago Sting (1984)
Most successful club(s)United States New York Cosmos
(5 titles)

The Soccer Bowl was the annual championship game of the North American Soccer League (NASL), which ran from 1968 to 1984. The two top teams from the playoffs faced off in the final to determine the winner of the NASL Trophy.[1] From the league's founding in 1968 through 1974, the championship game (or series, as it was played through 1971) was known as the NASL Championship Final, and in 1984 the single game was replaced by a best-of-three series known as the Soccer Bowl Series.


The NASL championships began as a two-game aggregate goal series in 1968 and switched to a best-of-three series in 1971. In 1972, the league adopted a single-game championship hosted by the higher-seeded club.

Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California, hosted the first Soccer Bowl in 1975.

Then-NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam wanted to build excitement for the championship game. He envisioned a week-long, neutral-site championship event in the mold of the NFL's Super Bowl. On August 24, 1975, the first Soccer Bowl was played Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California, as the Tampa Bay Rowdies defeated the Portland Timbers.[2] Unlike the Super Bowl, the NASL's annual numbering scheme did not use Roman numerals (e.g., Super Bowl IX), but instead used the last two digits of the year played (e.g., Soccer Bowl '78).

Giants Stadium hosted Soccer Bowl '78 with a record 74,091 in attendance.

Under Woosnam's guidance, the Soccer Bowl became a major sporting event.[3] The biggest attendance was for Soccer Bowl '78, when 74,091 filled Giants Stadium in the New York metropolitan area, still the highest attendance to date for any club soccer championship in the United States.[2]

The last Soccer Bowl returned to a best-of-three series format and occurred in early October 1984. The league ceased operation in 1985.


The NASL used several different formats for its championship matches over the course of its history.

The 1968 and 1970 NASL Finals were contested with a two-game series, one in each of the two teams' stadiums, and the winner decided by aggregate goals.

The NASL contracted from 17 teams to 5 for the 1969 season, so no final was held. Instead, as in many leagues in Europe, the championship was awarded to the team with the most points at season's end.

The 1971 NASL Final was played in a best-of-three series, with games one and three hosted by the higher-seeded team.

After 1971, the NASL Championship Final switched to a single game. The 1972 through 1974 were hosted by the highest-seeded team. In 1975, Woosnam's dream of a neutral-site event became reality, and the Soccer Bowl was born. That format continued through the 1983 final.

For the league's final season in 1984, the finals reverted to a best-of-three series, although it retained the "Soccer Bowl" moniker, used alternately with "Soccer Bowl Series".[4][5]


A new minor league North American Soccer League began play in 2011, borrowing much of the iconography of the original. This second league used the name "Soccer Bowl" for their championship match in 2013, and then only for the championship trophy itself from 2014 through the end of the league in 2017.[1]


Sources: WildStat,[6] NASL,[2] Steve Dimitry,[7] Soccer Times[8]

NASL Championship Final (1968–1974)
Final Champions Runners-up Score Venue City Attend. Agg.
1968 Atlanta Chiefs San Diego Toros
Balboa Stadium San Diego 9,360
Atlanta Stadium Atlanta 14,994
(not held) Kansas City Spurs awarded as league champions [note 1]
1970 Rochester Lancers Washington Darts
Aquinas Memorial Rochester 9,321
Brookland Stadium Washington, D.C. 5,543
1971 Dallas Tornado Atlanta Chiefs
Atlanta Stadium Atlanta 3,218
[note 2]
Franklin Stadium Dallas 6,456
Atlanta Stadium Atlanta 4,687
1972 New York Cosmos St. Louis Stars
Hofstra Stadium Hempstead 6,102
1973 Philadelphia Atoms Dallas Tornado
Texas Stadium Irving 18,824
1974 Los Angeles Aztecs Miami Toros
3–3 (5–3, p.)
Orange Bowl Miami 15,507
Soccer Bowl (1975–1983)
1975 Tampa Bay Rowdies Portland Timbers
Spartan Stadium San Jose 17,483
1976 Toronto Metros-Croatia Minnesota Kicks
Kingdome Seattle 25,765
1977 New York Cosmos Seattle Sounders
Civic Stadium Portland 35,548
1978 New York Cosmos Tampa Bay Rowdies
Giants Stadium East Rutherford 74,901
1979 Vancouver Whitecaps Tampa Bay Rowdies
Giants Stadium East Rutherford 50,699
1980 New York Cosmos Fort Lauderdale Strikers
RFK Stadium Washington, D.C. 50,768
1981 Chicago Sting New York Cosmos
0–0 (2–1, p.)
[note 3]
Exhibition Stadium Toronto 36,971
1982 New York Cosmos Seattle Sounders
Jack Murphy Stadium San Diego 22,634
1983 Tulsa Roughnecks Toronto Blizzard
BC Place Vancouver 53,326
Soccer Bowl Series (1984)
1984 Chicago Sting Toronto Blizzard
Comiskey Park Chicago 8,352
[note 2]
Varsity Stadium Toronto 16,842
  1. ^ No final was held. Kansas City finished first in the regular season and was awarded the championship.
  2. ^ a b Result on games won, as a best-of-three series
  3. ^ From 1977 through 1984 the NASL had a variation of the penalty shoot-out procedure for tied matches. The shoot-out started 35 yards from the goal and allowed the player 5 seconds to attempt a shot. The player could make as many moves as he wanted in a breakaway situation within the time frame. NASL procedure during this era called for the box score to show an additional "goal" given to the winning side of a shoot-out.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "NASL CLUBS TO COMPETE FOR 'THE CHAMPIONSHIP'". Archived from the original on March 3, 2014. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c North American Soccer League. "NASL 1968-1984 Yearly Results". North American Soccer League.
  3. ^ Wilbon, Michael (September 23, 1980). "Soccer Bowl '80 Leaves District Officials Applauding". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  4. ^ "NASL changes Soccer Bowl format". St. Petersburg Times. September 27, 1983. p. 6C. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  5. ^ "October 1, 1984 – Chicago Sting vs. Toronto Blizzard".
  6. ^ "USA-MLS-NASL".
  7. ^ Steve Dimitry's Extinct Sports League. "North American Soccer League (1968-1984) NASL". Steve Dimitry's Extinct Sports League.
  8. ^ "NASL / North American Soccer League Championship".
  9. ^ "This Day In 1981 : Soccer Bowl Edition | Chicago Fire Confidential". Archived from the original on September 20, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  10. ^ "The Year in American Soccer – 1977". Archived from the original on January 23, 2010. Retrieved June 21, 2013.

External links[edit]