Soccer Pivots Toward the Light

If there was a month when American soccer – and Washington along with it – pivoted toward the light, it was July 1988. With the professional outdoor game under water and now Major Indoor Soccer League beginning to circle the drain, the soccer community was in dire need of good news. It arrived in the wee hours of Independence Day.

The world’s game had long struggled to gain a firm foothold in America, and FIFA sought to remedy that by awarding the 1994 World Cup to the United States. Washington state residents are particularly anxious because Seattle’s Husky Stadium is among the venues under consideration for matches. Still, word of that decision would be 2-3 years away. If there was anything the soccer community would again have to exercise, it would be patience.

For young players, however, the World Cup represented a goal, finally something to shoot for. Included in the U.S. bid was a promise to re-launch a professional league. The national team, which hadn’t played in a World Cup since 1950, would require added investment, if it was to hold its own amongst the globe’s giants in six years’ time.

By the end of the month, there would be other telltale signs that the highest levels of the sport were on the rebound. More than 10,000 attended the final two FC Seattle home games, combined before that, the club gatherings had numbered around 1,500. Some of it could be attributed to nostalgia (a Seattle Sounders reunion game), rivalry (Portland being the opponent in the doubleheader) and the attraction of playing for a championship (the Storm beating San Jose convincingly). Whatever, there was definitely a buzz again.

In Tacoma, the Stars started July on life-support. Despite drawing record crowds while reaching the league finals in 1987, they had been bleeding millions of dollars during their first five seasons, and now MISL, which had helped push the NASL off the cliff four years before, now wavered on the precipice. Less than a week after the World Cup announcement, Tacoma followed three other teams over the brink. Or so it seems.

Less than a month later, a new ownership group emerges, pumping new life into the Stars. They bring back their iconic star, Preki, and re-hire Alan Hinton as coach.

On the collegiate front, the state continues to gain respect. Colleen Hacker’s Pacific Lutheran pushes past intracity rival Puget Sound and wins the first women’s collegiate championship, at the NAIA tournament.

With Division I in-state programs relatively under-funded and women’s programs non-existent (Washington State coming online in 1989), Washington’s top players are leading other programs to success. Shannon Higgins propels North Carolina to another NCAA crown and Kasey Keller is among a cast of locals who help Portland reach the men’s finals. Michelle Akers, whose Central Florida is eliminated by UNC in the quarterfinals, is voted national player of the year.

Brent Goulet is the top scorer for the U.S. Olympic team which reaches the Seoul Summer Games, and Keller is joined on the U20 National Team by Chris Henderson and Clint Carnell.

Season Record
10-2-0, 1st place Western Soccer Alliance champion
Coach
Tommy Jenkins (2nd year)
All-League
Grant Gibbs, Jeff Stock, Peter Hattrup, Eddie Henderson
Top Scorer
Peter Hattrup (6 goals)
Season Record
27-29, 4th MISL West Quarterfinals
Coach
Alan Hinton (3rd year), Jimmy McAlister (1st year)
All-League
Preki
Top Scorer
Preki (53 goals)
Women's Collegiate Champions
Pacific Lutheran, NAIA
Men's Collegiate Postseason
Seattle Pacific, D2 quarterfinal
Women's Collegiate Postseason
Pacific Lutheran, NAIA champion
Men's Conference Champions
Whitworth, NCIC
Women's Conference Champions
Pacific Lutheran, NCIC
NWAC Men's Champion
Skagit Valley d Edmonds, 1-0
WIAA Boys Champion
4A-Thomas Jefferson, 3A-Mount Rainier, 1A-Seattle Christian
WIAA Girls Champion
4A-Kennedy 3A-Mountlake Terrace
President
Gerald Larson
Member Associations
33
Players
75,097 (b: 56,632 g: 18,465)
Largest Attendance
17,251, Tacoma Dome, MISL All-Star Game
Largest Amateur Attendance
6,427, Memorial Stadium, FC Seattle v FC Portland, WSA regular season

1988: Soccer Pivots Toward the Light

As professional leagues struggled, suddenly news of the World Cup coming to America creates a buzz again.

Stars Are Born Again
August 4, 1988

Tacoma is officially readmitted to MISL. Jim Manza, Fife restauranteur, heads a new group of investors who negotiate with the City of Tacoma for $400,000 in concession revenue, flexible Tacoma Dome scheduling and a waiver of dome rental fees and staffing charges.

FIFA Reps Tour Husky Stadium
April 17, 1988

FIFA technical group completes a weeklong inspection of Husky Stadium, which is included in U.S. bid for 1994 World Cup. Paul Stiehl, head of US organizing committee, claims natural turf can be successfully laid over existing artificial surface. UW athletic director Mike Lude wants assurances that the sand, gravel and sod won’t damage the football field.

Preki MVP as West All-Stars Win
February 17, 1988

A Tacoma Dome crowd of 17,251 sees West, behind Preki’s hat trick, beat East, 9-3. Preki scored twice in the first quarter, after which West lead, 4-0. Preki is voted MVP over teammate Steve Zungul, who scored twice. Another Stars representative, Mike Dowler, makes 15 saves. It’s the second-largest crowd in MISL All-Star history.

Raiders Reclaim State Title
May 28, 1988

Thomas Jefferson reclaims AAA boys title, beating defending champ Cascade on penalties after drawing, 3-3. The Bruins score three times in the final 13 minutes to lead, 3-2, before the Raiders tie in the final minute. `In the history of high school state championships, this game has to be put down in every book,'' said Jefferson Coach Jim Judson.

FC Seattle Blasts Quakes for Championship
July 30, 1988

After not scoring during the regular season, Bob Bruch scores twice in first eight minutes of the WSA championship match as FC Seattle smashes San Jose, 5-0, before 4,321 at Memorial Stadium. It’s the fifth straight win for the Storm, who leave the following day for a five-match tour of England and Scotland.

Pacific Lutheran Wins National Title
November 20, 1988

Pacific Lutheran becomes the state’s first women’s collegiate champions, taking the NAIA title, 2-0, over Hardin-Simmons, in Abilene, Texas. Laura Dutt and Sonya Brandt score for the Lutes, and Gail Stenzel gets her 15th shutout. Brandt is named the tournament’s most outstanding player, and PLU’s Colleen Hacker is voted coach of the year.

World Cup Coming to America
July 4, 1988

At 4:21 a.m. Pacific Time, FIFA executive vice president Harry Cavan announces from Zurich that the 1994 World Cup will be coming to the U.S. Morocco and Brazil finish second and third in the balloting. A gathering of soccer community leaders and players gather with local media at Seattle Pacific University, where coach Cliff McCrath predicts soccer will take “center stage” in the nation by 2000. Husky Stadium is among 18 stadia in 16 cities under consideration to host matches.

Eagles Draw, Go Out on Aggregate
June 2, 1988

In the second leg of their Champions Cup series, Seattle Mitre Eagles hold Mexico’s Cruz Azul to a scoreless draw in a steady rain at Memorial Stadium. The Eagles finish with a 15-5 advantage in shots, 8-1 in corner kicks. Attempts by Paul Retchless and Peter Hattrup hit the post and crossbar, respectively. Most of the estimated 500 fans root for Cruz Azul.

Cruz Azul Crushes Seattle Amateurs
May 11, 1988

Cruz Azul, featuring five Mexican internationals, drubs Seattle Mitre Eagles, 9-0, in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup. The Eagles’ flights are delayed and connections missed. Instead of arriving the night before, their bus arrives at the stadium 20 minutes before kickoff, in 100-degree heat.

Touring FC Seattle Draws at Hull City
August 16, 1988

Tad Willoughby scores twice as the Storm’s England tour ends with a 2-2 draw at Second Division Hull City. FC Seattle had lost to Oldham (2-0, 2nd), Middlesbrough (3-0, 1st) and Sunderland (3-0, 2nd) and also drawn, 2-2, at Lincoln City (4th).

Sounders Beat Timbers in Reunion
July 9, 1988

In the first Sounders reunion game since 1982, the Seattle alums beat their Timbers counterparts, 1-0, behind Roger Davies goal. The game is held prior to the Seattle-Portland Western Soccer Alliance fixture. Among former NASL players returning are Davies, Tommy Hutchison, Jimmy Gabriel, Frank Barton, Steve Buttle, Tony Chursky, Ray Evans, Pepe Fernandez, Dave Gillett, Tommy Jenkins, Jimmy McAlister, Neil Megson, Tommy Ord, Mark Peterson, Roy Sinclair, Mike Ivanow, Adrian Webster, Jack Brand and Peter Ward.

Rams 35th Straight Win is Sweetest
May 28, 1988

Led by Ben Erickson and Todd Haley goals, Mount Rainier runs unbeaten streak to 35 games by winning AA title, 3-0 over Spokane’s West Valley at Memorial Stadium.

Big Crowd Welcomes Back Stars
November 4, 1988

A crowd of 12,218 greets the resurrected Tacoma Stars on opening night. The Stars, featuring Schmetzer brothers, Brian, Andy and Walter, lose to Dallas, 6-5, in triple overtime. Peter Ward scores three goals for Tacoma. Walt Schmetzer is stretchered from the field in the fourth quarter with a season-ending knee injury.

Storm Clinches First Place
July 17, 1988

John Hamel scores twice in the final 20 minutes at San Jose win to clinch the WSA regular season title for FC Seattle, 3-1, and home-field advantage in the championship game.

Promotion/Relegation Comes to NCSC
January 29, 1988

The Northwest Collegiate Soccer Conference votes to adopt a two-division men’s format, with the Olympic Division comprised of the top six teams from 1987 and the Cascade consisting of the remaining six. Following the 1988 season and from thereafter will be promotion and relegation.

Hinton Returns to Coach Tacoma
August 9, 1988

Alan Hinton returns to coach born-again Stars, six months after being dismissed by former owners. His contract of $72,000 is nearly $50,000 less than what he was paid the first time around.

Stars Staring at the Brink
June 15, 1988

Tacoma Stars seek $500,000 from new investors by June 30 or they will either fold or suspend operations. The Stars lost $1 million the past season and nearly $9 million since starting in 1983.

Akers Named Collegiate Player of the Year
January 20, 1988

Michelle Akers, who prepped at Shorecrest and now plays for Central Florida, is named the college player of the year by the NCAA and the National Collegiate Soccer Coaches Association of America. Also named to the Division I All-America team were Lori Henry of North Carolina (Shorewood), Colorado College's Kerri Tashiro (Interlake) and Shelley Separovich (Shorecrest), and California's Kathy Ridgewell (Evergreen).

England, El Salvador Win Amputee WC
September 5, 1988

England rallies from a 3-0 halftime deficit to beat defending champion El Salvador, 4-3 in the indoor final of the Amputee Soccer International World Cup at the Woodinville Soccer Center. In the outdoor final at Shoreline Stadium El Salvador defeated Seattle, 3-0. Teams from four nations compete in the third annual event. The English national team features three former pros.

Storm Rallies to Beat Portland in OT
July 9, 1988

Peppering Portland with a league-record 33 shots, FC Seattle rallies to win in overtime, 3-2, before its largest crowd in four years – 6,427. Peter Hattrup’s goal in the 13th minute of extra time seals it and clinches a playoff berth.

Washington-Powered Pilots Reach NCAA Semi
December 3, 1988

Freshman goalkeeper Kasey Keller of Olympia is among several Washington state players who lead the University of Portland to the NCAA Division I finals in Bloomington, Indiana. The undefeated (21-0-0) Pilots, who also feature WA products Garrett Smith, Jason Russ, Wade Webber, Jim Weber and Robb Sakamoto, are the first Northwest program to advance that far. Portland loses to eventual champion Indiana, 1-0, in the semifinal.

After 5 Seasons, Stars Close Shop
July 8, 1988

Following an unsuccessful, last-minute season ticket drive with an objective of 2,000 new sales, the Tacoma Stars fold. They are joined by Chicago and, since the season ended, St. Louis and Minnesota. “The grass-roots support for this team was tremendous,'' said board chairman Lowry Wyatt. ''But the business marketplace was just not able to support this size of an operation.'' 'It's an incredible loss,'' said Nancy Mendoza, a 13-year resident of Tacoma who organized 100 volunteers in an effort to meet the goal of selling 2,000 season tickets. ''The Stars provided the energy that a community needs to move forward. Now we just have to regroup.''

Stars Bring Back Preki
September 20, 1988

Preki, 24, returns to Tacoma, taking a pay cut from his $75,000 salary. Portgual’s Estra De Amdadora had signed him to a three-year contact during the summer but the Stars negotiated his release.

Finnair Supplants Cozars
April 30, 1988

Finnair Mavericks end the four-year reign of Cozars as state women’s champions. Bonnie Broughton scores the only goal in the final.

Hinton Out, McAlister In for Stars
February 23, 1988

With a 17-18 start following a runner-up finish the year before, Tacoma Stars fire Alan Hinton and replaces him with Jimmy McAlister, 31. The team, reportedly rife with dissension in the locker room, goes 10-11 the remainder of the regular season.

Sixty Acres Expansion Rejected
July 21, 1988

King County Parks rejects the Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association’s request to construct another 12 fields on county-owned land in Redmond’s undeveloped Sixty Acres Park. LWYSA already has 19 fields for 13,000 youth players.

Storm Beats Boro, Former Coach
June 11, 1988

Former Sounders star and FC Seattle coach Bruce Rioch brings recently-promoted Middlesbrough of the English first division to Memorial Stadium to play the Storm as part of a four-match U.S. tour. Seattle wins, 2-1, on goals four minutes apart by Chance Fry and Eddie Henderson.

Terrace Girls First to Repeat
November 19, 1988

Mountlake Terrace becomes the state’s first repeat WIAA girls champion at any level, beating Olympia, 6-0, at Renton Stadium. Janelle King caps her 12-goal postseason with a hat trick in the AA final. Kennedy (20-0-1) defeats Issaquah, 1-0, for AAA girls title. Dee Dee Robertson scores the only goal.

WA's Higgins Leads UNC to Threepeat
November 20, 1988

Kent’s Shannon Higgins scores three goals to lead North Carolina to its third straight NCAA title, 4-1 over North Carolina State in Chapel Hill. Higgins, the Tar Heels’ leading scorer with 13 goals and 17 assists, is named the most valuable offensive player after four goals and two assists in the semifinal and final.

This will help the Storm. They need to play this type of soccer when we come in and when they come out to England. They are the best in the Northwest by quite a ways.
Bruce Rioch, Middlesbrough manager and former FC Seattle coach
We've spent our money on tours instead of salaries.
Bill Sage, FC Seattle president
I'm sad for the sport, I'm sad for the players and I'm sad for the community.
Jimmy McAlister, Tacoma Stars coach after the original ownership group folds the club
We played Cruz Azul to a standstill and dominated the game. If not for some unlucky breaks it could have easily been 4-0, Seattle.
Mike Mikacenic, Seattle Mitre Eagles manager
We don't draw the biggest turnouts with the Storm, but we have a core of real soccer people. It's nice to get out of the carnival atmosphere of indoor soccer. I guess I'm a purist.
Jeff Stock, who leaves the Tacoma Stars to play with FC Seattle
(Peter) Hattrup adds another dimension up front. He is a player who loves a one vs. one situation. I think he could become one of the stars of the league.
FC Seattle coach Tommy Jenkins
We don't have the deep pockets. We've got to run the team like a business and stay within our budget.
New Stars part-owner Jim Manza after signing Alan Hinton to coach for far smaller figure than his former salary
It's hard not getting paid, but at least we're going to be around next year.
Chance Fry, former pro now playing for FC Seattle
We want to win this thing, even without the luxury of fans. I don't miss all the pressure the coaches exerted on us. I find amateur soccer really refreshing, playing for the joy of the game, not the money.
Eddie Krueger, former pro now electrical engineer playing for Seattle Mitre Eagles
The trickery of Preki, the strength of Zungul, the cunning of (Erik) Rasmussen. They put on a super show.
Alan Hinton, Tacoma Stars and MISL West All-Star coach
Eddie (Henderson)'s been a revelation to us. 'Everybody expects something exciting to happen when he gets the ball.
Tommy Jenkins, FC Seattle coach, on the Storm’s celebrated new catalyst
There’s a great need for quality soccer fields. So many of the fields are simply dirt and gravel.
Washington Youth Soccer manager Mike Snodgrass
On this Day in History