By Dave Litterer of The US Soccer History Archives, with supplemental materials by Steve Holroyd
The MISL changed its name to the Major Soccer League before the start of the 1990-1991 season. For the first time in a number of years, the MSL returned the same teams for the new season. The MSL retained its 52-game schedule, the most arduous calendar ever seen in US professional soccer, matched only by the original ASL during the mid-1920's. The major surprises this year were the resurgance of the Cleveland Crunch in their second season, to take the eastern Division title, and the crash of two-time divisional champs Baltimore. Despite the stability in the franchise lineup, continuing financial woes plagued the league, leading to greater concern about the viability of a number of franchises.
The MSL continued its successful tour of Europe, with the Baltimore Blast defeating Oldham Athletic, an English 2nd division team, by a whopping 6-1. Perennial overachiever St. Louis won the FIFA-sponsored New Year's Indoor Tournament in Zurich, Switzerland. St. Louis became the first American team ever to complete in this tournament, now in its 10th year, and finished with a 4-1-1 record, as well as the Champion's Cup. The league also launched its new two-year television contract with SportsChannel and a Sunday game of the Week schedule. The All-Star game was held in conjunction with the College Indoor Soccer Showcase, which was followed by the collegiate draft; 23 players active in the Showcase were among those drafted. The All-Star game itself, held February 13 in Kansas City was a high-scoring affair, going into overtime, and ultimately won by the East 9-8. Game MVP Chico Borja, tied an MSL record for scoring five points off of three goals and two assists.
The MSL playoff semifinals saw St. Louis defeat Tacoma in a see-saw battle, with St. Louis taking the first game decisively 9-2, before struggling to a 3-4 overtime loss, followed by another overwhelming 9-2 victory. Kansas City meanwhile defeated Wichita 6-0 and 9-8. In the divisional finals, division winners Cleveland and San Diego prevailed, although not without a struggle. San Diego defeated St. Louis 9-6, 5-4 (OT), 4-5, 11-4 and 7-4 in the best of seven series. Cleveland meanwhile, defeated Kansas City 7-2, 7-5, 6-7 (OT), 5-4, 4-5 (OT), 6-8, and 7-6. The championship series was won by San Diego, who took its fourth consecutive league title, in defeating Cleveland 8-4, 3-4, 6-5, 5-7, 6-1 and 8-6.
A major concern for MSL was attendance which took a noticeable drop this season, down more than 1,000 per game to a 6,566 per game average. To reduce anticipated expenses, the league voted to contract the schedule to 40 games for 1991-92, and concluded a new collective bargaining agreement with the players.
Kansas City Comets
San Diego Sockers
St. Louis Storm
St. Louis defeated Tacoma 9- 2, 3-4 (OT), 9-2
Kansas City defeated Wichita 6-0, 9-8
San Diego defeated St. Louis 9-6, 5- 4 (OT), 4-5, 11-4, 7-4
Cleveland defeated Kansas City 7-2, 7-5, 6-7 (OT), 5-4, 4-5 (OT), 6-8, 7-6
San Diego defeated Cleveland, 8-4, 3-4, 6-5, 5-7, 6-1, 8-6
The league changed its name to Major Soccer League in 1990.
After the season, Kansas City folded.
Leading Scorers: GP G A TP Tatu (Dallas) 51 78 66 144 Zoran Karic (Cleveland) 47 73 48 121 Preki (Tacoma) 52 68 53 121 Jan Goossens (Kansas City) 41 53 58 111 Hector Marinaro (Cleveland) 45 63 44 107 Thompson Usiyan (St. Louis) 51 64 38 102 Leading Goalkeepers: Min Svs GA GAA W-L Victor Noguiera (San Diego) 2828 569 206 4.37 31-16 Cris Vaccaro (Tacoma) 2685 470 208 4.65 22-22 Zoltan Toth (St. Louis) 2099 519 176 5.03 25-10 P.J. Johns (Cleveland) 2127 531 180 5.08 25-10 Kris Peat (Wichita) 2070 435 186 5.39 14-21 1st All-MSL Team: G - Victor Nogueira, San Diego F - Tatu, Dallas F - Zoran Karic, Cleveland M - Preki, St. Louis D - Kevin Crow, San Diego D - Fernando Clavijo, St. Louis Most Valuable Player: Victor Nogueira, San Diego Coach of the Year: Trevor Dawkins, Cleveland MISL Scoring Champion: Tatu, Dallas Sidekicks MISL Pass Master (most Assists): Tatu, Dallas Sidekicks Defender of the Year: Kevin Crow, San Diego Goalkeeper of the Year: Victor Nogueira, San Diego Sockers Rookie of the Year: David Banks, San Diego Sockers Newcomer of the Year: Paul Peschisolido, Kansas City Comets Championship Series Player of the Year: Ben Collins, San Diego Sockers Championship Series Unsung Hero: Glenn Carbonara, San Diego Sockers