Mexican captain Monica Gonzalez pictured above shaking hands with USWNT captain Kristine Lilly at an October 2005 international at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston. Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, in issue one of XI Quarterly she talks to Jeff Kassouf about her experiences as an American-born star for the Mexican national women’s soccer team.
“I can tell you right now, I never would have gotten 89 caps [with the U.S.].” Gonzalez says. “Never.”
Photo Credit: Scott Bales/YCJ
The Tacoma Tides, a new professional team in Washington state admitted to the American Soccer League for the 1976 season. They were named via a public contest. The Tides finished second in the Western Division, but folded at the end of the year.
Source: Tacoma Public Library
Kyle Rote Jr., pictured in Dallas on March 2nd 1974 (AP Photo). He had been the top scorer in the NASL the previous year for the Dallas Tornados (the first and only American to achieve this feat), his rookie season. With his All-American good looks and a $25,000 prize in his pocket as the surprise winner of ABC’s Superstars TV show, Rote Jr. was the league’s big hope for a marketable American star. “He is becoming soccer’s Great American Hope,” Sports Illustrated wrote at the tailend of the 1973 NASL season.
Rote Jr. was the son of Kyle Rote, a legendary Texas high school football All-American and star for the New York Giants. Rote Jr. seemed set to follow in his father’s footsteps to the NFL, taking a football scholarship at Oklahoma State, until his life took a twist: he left his free ride at Oklahoma, quitting football and enrolling at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. He played soccer instead, something he had come to late in life, as Sports Illustrated explains:
Kyle Rote Jr., the soccer player, came to his sport relatively late in life. His successful preoccupation with more typical U.S. games kept him athletically active until he was 16. That year, 1967, he and other members of the Highland Park football team tried soccer as a summer conditioner. One afternoon they learned what the game really was about. Their teacher was Ron Griffith, an Englishman from Blackpool who had come to the U.S. as a sports correspondent for a Scottish newspaper and was in Dallas to cover Dundee United, the Dallas entry in the old United Soccer Federation. Driving by the high school, Griffith was astounded to see a group of Texas teen-agers playing soccer in the midsummer heat. They were doing it all wrong, of course. He stopped the car, rushed over and in 45 minutes of Lancashire dialect tried to cover the fine points of the game. Griffith has been enmeshed in the Dallas youth soccer program ever since.
“At first we were kind of offended by this guy with a funny accent who was butting in,” Rote recalls, “but we soon saw by what he taught us that we could really improve. He explained that we should kick the ball off the side of the foot instead of the toe. He told us how to make the two-handed throw in from the side and even showed us the overhead scissors kick. We found out the game could be something more than a conditioner.”
The following summer Griffith organized a tour of Britain for 28 young soccer enthusiasts, and Rote’s interest deepened. He also played in a summer league in Texas before entering Oklahoma State. One year at Stillwater was enough for him to question if he enjoyed big-time football.
“My dad had as much to do with my thinking on this as anything,” says Rote. “He had always needed an escape from football. We had a cottage out on Long Island where he used to go to write music and poetry and to paint. He drilled into me the importance of having a vocation outside of football, because football might not last long. After a year in an athletic dormitory enjoying the rich life—plenty of spending money, steak every night, that sort of thing—I realized I probably didn’t have the self-discipline to live that way and still get any kind of an education.”
Elsewhere in the press, Rote Jr. attributed his move to a rather more radical streak, as he told the St. Petersburg Times in February 1974: “I think it was a rebellious reason that I chose soccer instead of football. I wanted to do things my way and not be stereotyped by my father’s reputation,” he said.
Though his career did not quite hit the stratospheric heights expected when the above photo was taken, he went on to score a total of 42 goals in 142 games for Dallas in the NASL, enjoying a solid career.
Rote, though, became as much known for his loyalty as for his ability; in 1979, he was traded to Houston from Dallas, a decision that broke his heart.
“I always wanted to stay with the same team throughout my career,” Rote told the Ocala Star-Banner at the time. “The tenor of professional sports is such today that fans have trouble being loyal to a team because the players seem to be chasing money everywhere. Why should they support a guy who could go somewhere else for a few more dollars?
“Teams on the whole and players need to have loyalty and responsibility to the fans. That’s why it’s a big disappointment to me to be sold to another team.”
Rote went on to explain how close he had become to the Dallas soccer community (“Not just a physical home but a spiritual and cultural home”), adding that “As a soccer player, you develop close ties with the community, more so than in any other sport. Other sports don’t need to do it. With the NASL and the Tornado - and now the Hurricane - the fans are not faceless.”
Rote Jr. retired after one season with Houston, and later founded a successful sports agency, along with a short spell as a coach in the Major Indoor Soccer League during the 1980s. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2010.
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Pelé in the United States - not in the NASL, but playing for Santos against the NPSL’s Oakland Clippers in a friendly at the Oakland Coliseum on August 30th, 1967, in Oakland, California.
Here he is driving past the Clippers’ Trond Hoftvedt to score in the first half, later scoring again in the second half to lead Santos to a 3-1 victory in what was described as a “record crowd” of 29,162 in Oakland. (AP Photo)
New York Nationals and New Bedford Whalers at Polo Grounds, N.Y. - circa 1928. The teams were competing in the American Soccer League; that season, the New Bedford Whalers reached the Championship game, losing to the beautifully named Boston Wonder Workers. The New York Nationals lost in the first round of the playoffs to Bethlehem Steel.
Source: New York Public Library Digital Archive
14 April 2012: Match balls are set up for pregame warmups. The Carolina RailHawks played the Atlanta Silverbacks to a 4-4 tie at WakeMed Soccer Stadium in Cary, NC in a 2012 North American Soccer League (NASL) regular season game.
George Best playing for the LA Aztecs, 1977.
Source: Los Angeles Public Library
Youth players in Tacoma’s Municipal Soccer League, November 1936. The Mayor, George Smitley, is pictured in the middle.
Source: Tacoma Public Library