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The North American Soccer League - at its peak in the late 1970s - presented soccer as performance, played by men with a bent for flair, hair and glamour. More than just Pelé and the New York Cosmos, it lured the biggest names of the world game like Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer, Eusebio, Gerd Müller and George Best to play the sport as it was meant to be played-without inhibition, to please the fans.
The first complete look at the ambitious, star-studded NASL, Rock 'n' Roll Soccer reveals how this precursor to modern soccer laid the foundations for the sport's tremendous popularity in America today. Bringing to life the color and chaos of an unfairly maligned league, soccer journalist Ian Plenderleith draws from research and interviews with the men who were there to reveal the madness of its marketing, the wild expectations of businessmen and corporations hoping to make a killing out of the next big thing, and the insanity of franchises in scorching cities like Las Vegas and Hawaii. That's not to mention the league's on-running fight with FIFA as the trailblazing North American continent battled to innovate, surprise, and sell soccer to a whole new world.
As entertaining and raucous as the league itself, Rock 'n' Roll Soccer recounts the hype and chaos surrounding the rapid rise and cataclysmic fall of the NASL, an enterprising and groundbreaking league that did too much right to ignore.
Plenderleith (For Whom the Ball Rolls), a 20-year veteran of sports journalism, chronicles the rise and fall of the NASL, America's first major foray into the "beautiful game." The NASL's commissioners met with immediate road blocks from the group's adversarial beginnings in 1967 68, but they managed to guide their upstart league through more than 15 years of tumultuous, flamboyant, and FIFA-flouting play, starring "bad boy" players who captivated American fans. Boasting stars like Pele and overnight celebrity clubs like the New York Cosmos and fan-favorite Minnesota Kicks, the NASL burned bright and enjoyed the company of literal rock stars like the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones. Though the league would eventually crumble from the fiscal strain of poor management and lack of national enthusiasm, it nevertheless influenced soccer around the world in a number of ways, which Plenderleith expounds upon while drawing from more than a century of sports history. While the prose is dry and best read in short sessions, Plenderleith has compiled an intriguing history packed full of trivia that's certain to fascinate soccer fans.