Who can argue the importance of history’s teachings? The thing is, we have to work a little bit to maintain those links. You need two things, essentially.
First, you need someone to create the history. When you’re talking about American soccer, you’re talking about the game’s domestic pioneers, about the legion of players, coaches, officials and ambassadors. There’s a ton of history linked to the old North American Soccer League. If you’re old enough to remember 13-channel TV, you know well of the wacky and way-before-its-time N.A.S.L. If you’re younger, well, that’s what Wikipedia is for. Go ye and learn.
Thankfully, there are resources for studying the sport’s wonder years in our country. And that brings us to the second required element in maintaining the treasure trove of memories and memorabilia: you need connectors to the past, people who help maintain the pathways so the rest of us can wander back and take a gander whenever we get the notion.
Dave Wasser is one of those important connectors.
Dave was a soccer fan in the 1970s in the Cosmos salad days. So naturally he was also an N.A.S.L. devotee. Later in life he began his own little traipse through history, collecting videos of the original broadcasts of NASL games. It soon became something of an obsession and he now has more than 350 DVDs of N.A.S.L. games. The list really is quite impressive. His site is here.
Want to see Johann Cruyff and his L.A. Aztecs destroy the old Seattle Sounders by a 7-1 margin back in 1979? Get in touch with Dave. He’ll probably talk your ear off about it before shipping off a copy of the match for little more than the cost of postage. A year later, the Sounders were one of the best of N.A.S.L. They met the powerful Cosmos that year. Dave’s all over that one, too. The list goes on and on.
This list of Dave’s, his favorite all-time N.A.S.L. matches, is a great place to start for anyone who wants to learn a little more about the spectacular rise and all-too-predictable crash of the North American Soccer League. (R.I.P.)
This is no profit maker for Dave, who lives in Austin now. He’s been collecting and swapping these videos for years – and if he’s profited enough to purchase an enchilada plate at his favorite East-Austin Mexican food joint, I’d be shocked.
Dave got in touch with me recently because he was excited to have found something that, for him, is pure historical gold. He located a remarkable video of a Manchester City-Atlanta Chiefs match played at Atlanta's Fulton-County Stadium in 1968. Video going that far back is a rare beast indeed. This one even features a player named Phil Woosnam, who would go on to become commissioner of the North American Soccer League.A YouTube clip of that match is here.
(And the nice folks from California who helped Dave transform the old technology to DVD are here.)
Give Dave a shout; all the contact info is on his website. And send the man a gift card from Starbucks or something. People like this are important; otherwise, the deeds great and not-so-great of the past will never live on as they should.