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NASL Flashback

Just for the fun of it, I offer you a Dips-Strikers game from RFK. (Thanks to the Post's Man U diehard, Christian Swezey, for digging it up.) It is reduced to about 24 minutes and includes some classic commercials, the brilliant baseball announcer Jon Miller on play-by-play, Soccer America's Paul Gardner on color and Ray Hudson in midfield for Fort Lauderdale. Check out the colored penalty area, the 35-yard line, the cartoon graphics, the center-circle logo, the cheerleaders and the in-game commercial breaks. Say what you want about MLS, but we've come a long way in terms of game presentation.

Check it out here.....

By Steve Goff  |  August 30, 2007; 9:54 AM ET
Categories:  Misc.  
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Next: The Lives They Lived


LOL at the Shep Messing chewing tobacco commercial

Posted by: Matt | August 30, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Matt: of course there was a chewing tobacco commercial...after all, it was a "Dips" game. ..I'm surprised it was Shep though - I thought the Cosmos were all about clean living...

(What a tease, btw...the "large format tv" aspect causes the Firewall of Doomâ„¢ to block this. Gotta wait until later to get my dips on.)

Posted by: EdTheRed | August 30, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

The Miller commercial is the one that should be preserved forever. An era of marketing that just won't exist again. Loggers? A bar full of men and men only. With beards and moustaches. Looks like a retro gay bar.

I've seen quite a few of the old Dips matches over the past few years. Anyone who says the level of play in NASL was better than MLS (Wilbon) is nuts.

Posted by: Miller Time | August 30, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Oh, the flashback!

I nearly fell off my chair when the defender played the ball back to the goalkeeper and he picked it up. Yikes.

I remember when Paul Cannell nearly died at WT Woodson HS during a Dips game. He ran into the keeper (I think) and swallowed his tongue.

I remember playing before a Dips game at RFK at a 15-year-old. One of the great soccer experiences of my life.

BTW... was that Tony Quinn on the sideline?

Posted by: Joe Doc | August 30, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse


Talking about how far things have come, the Red Card Blog is reporting that Chicago is hoping to have a shirt sponsorship deal in place for the start of the '08 season.

Goff, any word on DCU shirt sponsorship deal and if we'll have by the start of next season?

Posted by: Keenan | August 30, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I remember going to Dips games and they were specialists at playing the ball back to the keeper. They did it constantly. Even when they were past the midfield line.
Get in a jam, and back it would get booted to the keeper, who would pick it up, then punt the ball to the other team, sometimes right to their goalie.

Posted by: Ron | August 30, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I guess either I or the provider doesn't have the bandwidth coz the thing stops every 10 seconds to buffer.

I love the way Miller keeps referring to the teams as "ball clubs". Poor baseball guy.

And look at those short shorts and collared uniforms.

Ah, the 70s. I feel so old now.

Posted by: Glenn | August 30, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

What is the deal with the 35 yard line?

Posted by: DC | August 30, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Goff, I have two questions about Dallas for you.

1) What's the timetable on Kenny Cooper returning? I thought that he would've been back by now.
2) Any insight on who Dallas is going to move, to make room for Denilson -- and has it not happened yet because they are trying to work a trade?

Posted by: RK | August 30, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

any word on DCU shirt sponsorship deal and if we'll have by the start of next season?

Yes, Five Guys Burgers and Fries. I've been sitting on this information for months and months.

The team is working on it. When I hear something of substance, I will share it. I promise. I don't withhold information.

Posted by: Goff | August 30, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Five Guys is perfect! They purposely do no advertising, and are franchising left and right. And they share the DCU colors.

Posted by: RK | August 30, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Goff, I have two questions about Dallas for you.

1) What's the timetable on Kenny Cooper returning? I thought that he would've been back by now.
2) Any insight on who Dallas is going to move, to make room for Denilson -- and has it not happened yet because they are trying to work a trade?

1. I don't know.
2. No.

what does FC Dallas have to do with the topic of this thread?

Posted by: Goff | August 30, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Five Guys? I've never received timely service from them -).

RE:35 yard line. In the NASL's attempt to increase scoring, the offside rule took effect behind the 35 yard line, not the midfield line.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 30, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

It's just the most recent thread, that's all. I could've posted it on the United thread from yesterday, but older threads tend to get ignored (not necessarily by you, but by the posters).

Posted by: RK | August 30, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Was Wilbon covering this Dips game, or was he not with the Post at the time?

Posted by: WashPost Coverage | August 30, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

That "play it back to the keeper" tactic was a worldwide blight in the 70s and 80s. The Dips were by no means unique. It really made games unwatchable at times. One of the reasons Leeds were so awesome in the Bremner era is that they would change the pace so well by NOT playing it back, and defenses wouldn't have a chance to reset.

Posted by: Mastodon Juan | August 30, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Billy Bremner, not Paul.

Posted by: Mastodon Juan | August 30, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Shep Messing chewing tobacco? OH BABY!

Posted by: silentbob | August 30, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the flashback. I was hoping to see a Hamm's beer cartoon, but the Miller commercial was almost as good.

Good to see Bill Irwin's name on there. He was a great keeper in his day and a great keeper coach for Clive Charles at Portland and the USMNT. He's largely responsible starting the career of Kasey Keller.

Joe Doc: I remember playing a full field game at Spartan Stadium when I was about 12 or 13 before a Quakes game. The funny thing was that I remember saying to myself, "Man this field is tiny!" Even at that age, there was no difference between throw-in's and corners.

My team was up big, so they stuck me in as keeper to even things out (I was that bad at keeper) and could punt it from goal to goal with one or two bounces. Moral of the story--I hope the Quakes get a new stadium soon, because that is no place for profession soccer, in the NASL or MLS.

Posted by: LeesburgSoccerFan | August 30, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

You know Five Guys is doing well when they are setting up shop all the way out here in Winchester,VA!

Posted by: Keenan | August 30, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I think I saw Anchorman Will Farell in that Miller commercial bar scene. Stay sexy MLS!

Posted by: Felix | August 30, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I've been buffering for an hour ~:[

Posted by: Brendan | August 30, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Wow! I don't whether anyone has yet mentioned it, but this artifact can be dated to the spring of 1978, which is just slightly before my time (I arrived in Virginia in the fall of that year and began to follow the Dips starting in '79). In addition to the 35-yard line and such, you may have heard a reference to bonus points, another NASL idiosyncrasy. IIRC, wins bought you six points, draws counted for three, and then each team got a point for its first three goals on top of that. Thus, a 4-2 result produced nine points for the winning side and two points for the losers.

There was nothing even remotely like the SE/BB/LN. Although the local Latino community was much smaller then than now, obviously, it was still nothing to sneeze at, yet there was virtually no effort on the part of the Dips to reach out to that segment of the market. In fact, the team itself, coached by the English-born Gordon Bradley, was notably Anglophone; apart from the Bosnian Sakib Viteskic and the Hungarian Jozsef Horvath, just about the entire roster came from Anglophone countries (the British Isles, North America, South Africa, and Bermuda). And oh yeah, the Metro didn't run on Sundays, when the Dips played most of their home games.

Posted by: Section 410 | August 30, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

And oh yeah, the Metro didn't run on Sundays

Posted by: Section 410 | August 30, 2007 01:36 PM

Much like the Redskins today...

Posted by: RK | August 30, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Holy crap! That soccer was god-awful. The first goal was nifty, but the overall lack of running, pressure, or skill-on-the-ball was atrocious. I can see why the league folded, cause if that was their product, well it just speaks for itself.

The commercials, on the other hand, were totally brilliant. I've got a wedding present to buy for this weekend, so I'm glad that I saw the Lowenbrau ad now!

Posted by: Champagne of Beers | August 30, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

WOW - I was at that game!! how freaky!

Posted by: BobF | August 30, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Miller's use of "ball clubs" makes me laugh and laugh and laugh some more.

Posted by: Golazo | August 30, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Wow. The commentary hasn't improved a ton since then! There was no commentary before, during or after the first goal, save for the very soft "who scored that?".

Posted by: Beaker | August 30, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I'm welling up watching a little of that video and reading these comments.

Yeah, Senator Craig would have loved that Miller (Tahoe?) Bar.

I too played a small game before a Dips game at RFK. I played goalie and could not believe the immense size of the field.

Did anyone play "Place the Ball" in one of the NoVA Journal newspapers? You could win free tickets to a Team America game if you placed an X correctly in a soccer picture which had the ball image removed. (How they did this before computers is beyond me.) You'd clip the pic and mail it in. Anyway, we used to think we were so smart since we always won. I'm sure they just wanted to give away tickets.

I'm swimming in nostalgia right now!

Posted by: EssEff | August 30, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Hey EssEff, yes, I remember playing "Place the Ball" in the Journal! Funny thing is, I never won. Hmmmm...

Other memories:
- watching Rob Olson play for Team America
- Meeting Pele -- yes, THAT Pele -- at WT Woodson when he played for the Cosmos and Woodson was the Dips' home field. I convinced the locker room guard to let me in with my Kodak 110 (!) camera and another player took a picture with me and the great one himself. My kids still don't believe me, because I lost the photo. I'm such a nimrod.
- Getting busted by DC police roving the upper (and closed) levels of RFK Stadium on motorcycles. All my buddies got away, but not me. The officer had me sit in one of the chairs and -- I'm not kidding -- asked me to put on his helmet and pretend I was him. Then he took off on his bike, looking for my cohorts. 10 minutes later -- and still shaking -- I put the helmet down on the seat and split, only to find my friends laughing hysterically at my expense. Imagine the souvenir I would have today, if I had the nerve...

OK, back to work.

Posted by: Joe Doc | August 30, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

And oh yeah, the Metro didn't run on Sundays

Posted by: Section 410 | August 30, 2007 01:36 PM

Actually that hasn't changed at all! It doesn't really run on most weekends. And many weekdays for that matter.

Posted by: Glenn | August 30, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Good times. At the time, as a kid, I had no idea how much the NASL was making me a soccer fan. When you're a kid, you have no idea what you are going through, you are just having fun. Of course, the playing boom also helped. Beckham is now inspiring our best player ever somewhere.

Other memories. Me and my friends going to RFK to see Team America and shouting "Meatball" at Tony Crescetelli. Crazy kidz.

Didn't that Bill Irwin score a goal off of a punt?

Posted by: EssEff | August 30, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Yup, it's just like Wilbon said. 30,000 fans on average....yup.

Posted by: spectre | August 30, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

No, that was Jim Brown that scored off a punt - in Atlanta IIRC - It wasn't a televised game, but I think crack George Michael was able to scrape up a grainy Zapruder like version to show the clip. I think it bounced in front of the keeper and over his head in the goal.

Great memories - forgot how fast Mokojoa was - What a great name!!!

Posted by: Henchlow | August 30, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for sharing the video. I guess we were so thrilled to see ANY soccer on TV back then we were willing to put up with such awful production. Another shocker was seeing Jon Miller with so much hair on TOP of his head; it all seems to have migrated to the sides.

Posted by: Doug | August 30, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Other memories. Me and my friends going to RFK to see Team America and shouting "Meatball" at Tony Crescetelli. Crazy kidz.

Posted by: EssEff | August 30, 2007 03:56 PM

Someone thought Tony was worth a Wikipedia entry (, which incidentally links to an entry for Sonny Askew, who is still in the Ballmer area.

Posted by: Section 410 | August 30, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Miller also said "pop up."Very funny. He had a lot of hair back then. Musthave been the Vitalis.

Posted by: Nogra Rover | August 30, 2007 8:39 PM | Report abuse

The best part about that really was the commercials...I'm pretty sure the spokesman in the American Express traveler's checks commercial was later on Seinfeld as George's boss at the Yankees, Mr. Wilhelm.

Posted by: Ricky B | August 30, 2007 9:58 PM | Report abuse

This was great!!! Reminded me of how that type of broadcast and the condensed soccer shown on public tv (Soccer Made in Germany and All-Star Soccer) was the only way to see soccer at all unless my parents piled us all in our van and we made it to RFK to see the games.

Did you hear the "Lets Go Dips" in the background? Remember the guy who walked around the stadium with his drum leading that cheer?

Yes, Billy Irwin did score a goal off of his punt. It bounced right in front of the other keeper and went in.

I was always #9 because of Paul Cannell. I still have my autographs from Tommy O'Hara and Bill Irwin.

And I so remember that Shep Messing chewless tobacco commercial.

The nostalgia is overwhelming!!!!

Posted by: Mary | August 30, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Is it safe to drink Miller High Life before you drive a Semi loaded with 30 tons of lumber down an icy mountain road?

Posted by: 20002 | August 31, 2007 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Wilhelm in Seinfeld was played by Richard Herd. The American Express spokesman was the much more famous and successful Karl Malden. He was apparently trying to look like police Lt. Mike Stone, the character he played in the popular 1970s TV cops and robbers show, The Streets of San Francisco.

Posted by: Doug | August 31, 2007 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Ahhh, the nostalgia! It made me go and pull my Alan Green autographed game jersey out of the closet and show it to my kids. I still remember how mad I was at my mother when she (GOD FORBID) washed it and partly faded the signature. Now that it's been in storage for 20-some years, thank zthe Lord she didn't pay any attention to my wishes at the time...

Great stuff, Goffinho. Thanks a bunch for the fun and the memories!

Posted by: Throwin | August 31, 2007 2:29 AM | Report abuse

Miller referred to a "pop-up" and he also referred to a cross as a "liner", I believe.

Paul Gardner's frown at the beginning set the tone for his performance as color analyst, the subtext of which seemed to be how ashamed he felt to even be there.

Going to those games, I remember very well that the "Quiet Side" was on all sides.

I believe it was Shep Messing who said back then, "It is hard to take seriously a team that calls itself the 'Dips'".

Posted by: Ron | August 31, 2007 6:47 AM | Report abuse

I remember going to a Diplomats soccer camp at American University in the early 70's. I met Ian Bain, Kurt Kuykendall, Johny Kerr and the coach of AU (can't remember his name). Four day camp something like $25.

Posted by: Ol' Shin Guard | August 31, 2007 8:19 AM | Report abuse

I got through about 6 minutes before it froze up. I didn't hear Paul Gardner whining about the lack of latino players. Are we sure that was him? I wonder when he really stared grinding that axe. I also didn't know he talks like Robert Shaw. Query - was Jon Miller wearing a toupee ala Howard Cosell?

Miller time commercials were classics. Great stuff.

Posted by: MR Caretaker | August 31, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Isn't that footage from "Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York?"

I rented the DVD from Netflix and they had about 4 or 5 match highlights like that one, including one with the Dips.

Posted by: James R. | August 31, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I finally watched the clip. Apart from what's been stated, the other thing that struck me was the attire of the ball girls - gym shorts and tube socks. Yikes! We once thought that was sexy.

Profound silence when Ft. Lauderdale scored, and the the murmur ("Who scored that?"). Too pathetic.

Notice how beer (and aftershave) commercials back then featured working men in their 30's while now they show partying boy-men and hot chicks in their 20's.

Not sure why "ball club" is a big deal when we still talk about club v country, FC, AC, etc. It's just an American expression.

My only NASL experience was a Rowdies-Cosmos match on the (then) artificial turf of Florida Field in Gainesville. I can't remember what they were doing in G'ville or the year (the late 70's were a blur since there was lots of grass in the stadium - although none on the playing surface).

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | August 31, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I remember shaking hands with Chico Borja after a Team America game in the Lot 8 tunnel and thinking "I'm never washing this hand again!"

I still have loads of the Winston gate freebies they handed to me as a 3rd grader... don't think I ever got a free pack of cigs (which were handed out), but I definitely recieved a lot of marketing gear for that age!

Posted by: grumpy | August 31, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

The quality of play didn't look any better than MLS.

The sad thing is I remember most of those commercials. Pretty scary when you can sing the Lowenbrau jingle word for word and you haven't seen one of those commercials in 25 years.

Posted by: Publius | August 31, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Miller's use of "ball clubs" makes me laugh and laugh and laugh some more.

Posted by: Golazo | August 30, 2007 02:11 PM

I also thought I heard an organ in the background like baseball. Too funny! Thanks for posting it.

Posted by: DCU4EVER | August 31, 2007 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Ugly. Ugly hair. Ugly shorts. Ugly play. Ugly goal celebrations. Ugly high fives. Ugly field. I laughed my ass off and loved it.

What the hell was TVS?

Posted by: Brendan | August 31, 2007 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Section 410 | September 1, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

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