American soccer writing, history & data.
The 1995-96 season of the US Indoor Soccer League, technically an amateur division of the USISL, was the tenth in its existence. Only 10 teams played a full schedule with eight more playing limited schedules to fill out the competition. With a lack of northeast teams, the Baltimore Bays played home games against a handful of opponents cobbled together from other USISL teams in that region.
The Atlanta Magic was again the class of the league winning all 12 of its regular season matches. Prior to the playoffs, the Magic were on a 24-game indoor winning streak and a 72-3 indoor record over the past four seasons. But the organization was in trouble. The team hadn't picked up a sponsor since former owner, Sam Chase, was forced to abandon the team prior to the 1995 outdoor season. Players relied on gate receipts and their own money to keep the team going during the 1995-96 indoor season. The Magic would not make the indoor playoffs without help. The team owed the USISL $2,000 in fees, had to shut down its five-person front office, and was playing without a true head coach. A player, Caleb Suri, was acting as coach. Just before the playoffs, Roswell developer Vincent Lu made a sizeable donation to the Magic and thet eam also received help from the Scottish Rite Hospital, Comfort Inn, Fayetteville United S.C., and South Metro Lightning to enable them to make the trip to the championship in Tulsa.
The Sizzlin' Six playoffs were scheduled for February 16 through February 18 at the Expo Square Pavilion in Tulsa. The competition became the Sizzlin' Five when the Knoxville Impact did not make the trip. On February 18, the Baltimore Bays made a major upset beating the Atlanta Magic 10-8 in the USISL final.
The 1995-96 USISL indoor season would be the last for a number of clubs. Two of the three indoor-only franchises folded - the two-year-old Brandon Braves and four-year-old Knoxville Impact. The Dallas Lightning, formerly the Texas Lightning, also withdrew from the USISL following the indoor season.
The Atlanta Magic, the most dominant franchise in the USISL's indoor history, also could no longer continue due to financial concerns. But the biggest loss may have been the Oklahoma City Slickers. That team was the last remaining founding USISL franchise. It had started as the Oklahoma City Warriors in the inaugural 1986-87 Southwest Indoor Soccer League season and had played every USISL season, both indoor and outdoor, since. The Warriors organiztion had merged with the original Oklahoma City Slickers of the Lone Star Soccer Alliance after the 1992-93 USISL indoor season and continued playing in the USISL as the Slickers after that merger. The 1995-96 USISL indoor season would be the last for the Slickers as the organization went bankrupt following the competition.
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