10/15/2008 4:09 PM
- by: Gina DiDomenicis
October 15, 2008 marks the 30th anniversary of professional indoor soccer in the United States. Successful outdoor soccer World Cup games and overseas indoor leagues led to investments in U.S. indoor arenas and professional indoor soccer began. In 1978, Ed Tepper and Earl Foreman, two men who were no strangers to soccer, created the Major Indoor Soccer League.
The first league, in 1978, consisted of six teams, Houston Summit Soccer, New York Arrows, Cincinnati Kids, Pittsburgh Spirit, Cleveland Force, and our own Philadelphia Fever, the first franchise to be created in the MISL.
After the league’s inaugural season, five more teams were added and two divisions were formed: Central and Atlantic. This was only the beginning. Over the course of the league’s span, teams continuously added on, moved cities, or folded their franchises for various reasons, but the MISL continued running.
In the Major Indoor Soccer League, the Philadelphia Fever had early success while playing at their home arena, The Spectrum. They finished their inagural season with an 11-13 recrod, good enough to qualify for the postseason where they knocked off Houston before falling to New York in the best of three game championship. Also in their inaugural season of play, Philadelphia attacker, Fred Grgurev was named MISL Scoring Champion and MISL Pass Master (for assists). That season he posted 46 goals and 28 assists for the team. During the next few years Grgurev moved to the New York Cosmos, then in 1980 to the Rochester Lancers.
The Philadelphia franchise’s first owner was Ben Alexander. He ran the Fever from January 1978 to November 1981, after which Joseph Raymond took over. Raymond remained owner for the ‘81-‘82 season, until in 1982 the Philadelphia Fever folded their franchise in the MISL. The Fever was bought by Jerry Buss, a former real estate developer, who moved the franchise to southern California, and renamed it the Los Angeles Lazers. The Lazers continued for another seven years in the Western Division of the MISL, qualifying for post season three times.
The MISL maintained their namesake for eight years, but was changed to Major Soccer League in 1990. Two years later, the entire league disbanded with the remaining teams moving to the National Professional Soccer League.
In 1996, after 14- year hiatus of not playing indoor soccer, Philadelphia was back, as the KiXX! The KiXX were founded as an expansion team of the NPSL in 1995, despite the constant change. In 2001, the KiXX and five other teams in our league began the new Major Indoor Soccer League. Like the Philadelphia Fever, the KiXX demonstrated early success by winning the MISL championship in the 2001-2002 season over Milwaukee Wave finishing with a 30-14 record, a franchise high. Unlike the Fever, the KiXX continued their success. In the following seasons, the KiXX posted a franchise-best 10 game winning streak in 2002-03 and headed into playoffs, placed second in the Eastern Division in 2003-04, and clinched the 2006-2007 MISL championship, by defeating the Detroit Ignition (the KiXX’s second championship).
The MISL Championship season also included other noteworthy highlights. Veteran Peter Pappas’ had his fourth career shut-out and Forward/Head Coach Don D’Ambra scored his 1000th point and tallied his 100th coaching win. In addition, Pat Morris was named to the MISL All-Second team and will play alongside Ptah Myers and Sandre Naumoski as members of the U.S. National team in the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil.
As we celebrate 30 years of indoor soccer history, the Philadelphia KiXX enter their 2008-2009, their 13th season at the Spectrum. The beginning of the MISL in 1978 launched a new form of soccer and over the 30 year span a number of aspects have changed, a number of franchises have folded, a number of players have retired, but what remains constant are the fans that help to keep the leagues alive. During this time, the MISL drew more than 44 million fans, an average of more than 7,000 per game. Specifically, the Philadelphia KiXX entertain nearly 100,000 fans a year to our action packed games. The KiXX franchise has been more than a soccer team, but part of the community. So, as our dedicated fans, we ask you to join us in celebrating our 30 years of professional indoor soccer.
During the Home Opener for the Philadelphia KiXX, players who made an impact in the city of Philadelphia will be honored.