American soccer writing, history & data.
After a successful opening season as an relatively informal alliance, the Western Soccer Association returned for the 1986 season as a true league. The purposed of the league was to give American players the chance to play outdoors as each team was required to start at least nine Americans in their starting lineups. Peter Bridgewater of the San Jose Earthquakes was named the first president of the league. In early July, Bridgewater returned to England for surgery and turned over his duties as president to Bill Sage of the Seattle team.
The Victoria Riptides did not return from the prior season but the three other clubs, F.C. Portland, San Jose Earthquakes, and the renamed F.C. Seattle Storm, were joined by four new clubs.
An independent club during the previous year, the Edmonton Brick Men was originally an independent club community-owned by the Edmonton Professional Soccer Society. Weeks into the season, the team was purchased by the Edmonton Trappers, a Triple A baseball franchise owned by Peter Pocklington.
Newly-formed Hollywood Kickers were led by president, Hugo Salcedo, and was backed by the Tag Heuer watch company. The Los Angeles Heat was another new team which had already formed a reserve squad, Los Angeles United S.C., that played weekends in the semi-pro Southern California League during the 1985-86 season.
The WSA was a professional regional league with each team having a budget of $300,000 to $400,000 per year. Most players were paid $1200 per month. The Kickers paid a base salary but players received extra money if they were activated for the week's game. They also received bonuses for wins and draws and if attendance at matches were over 3000. The Los Angeles Heat signed former Brazilian national team player, Francisco Marinho, for a reported $30,000 over the three-month season but he was never actually able to play.
On the other side of the scale, the San Diego Nomads was a team back financially by the La Jolla Nomads S.C. The team raised the necessary money to compete through 77 founding members. The team was composed entirely of amateur, American-born players, all under 23 years-old. Most prominently on their roster was U.S. Men's National Team player, Paul Caligiuri. Coached by former Portland Timber players, Clive Charles and Bernie Fagan, F.C. Portland was also a hand-picked team of mostly local amateurs owned by Art Dixon.
The Hollywood Kickers easily won the season title by eight points over F.C. Portland and F.C. Seattle Storm. Paul Caligiuri was named league MVP and also USSF's male U.S. Soccer Player of the Year.
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