VIDEO VAULT | A look back at Las Vegas' first venture into minor league soccer
LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) —
It was announced last week that the United Soccer League is exploring the idea of a franchise to play at Cashman Field. This would not be the first time Las Vegas was home to minor league soccer.
Back in 1984, one of many attempts at professional sports here made its home at the then-new Thomas & Mack Center.
"There was great enthusiasm," remembers Mike Henle, who spent much of his career as a newspaper sportswriter. "It was a core group. It wasn’t a packed house by any means, but it was great for the kids, you know."
Henle was rooting for the "Las Vegas Americans" – a promising new minor league soccer team.
"Well at the time we thought that one would go, because 'Wildcat' Bill Morris was behind it and he was a pillar of the community," explains Henle.
Morris, the owner of the Landmark Hotel, had put together a deal with the Major Indoor Soccer League.
"And I think they've demonstrated their attitude that they do not consider Las Vegas to be a second class citizen," Morris said at a 1984 news conference. "Insofar as having a major league franchise here as baseball and basketball have."
A key was gathering top talent like Alan Mayer.
"There’s a ball inside," narrated the play-by-play announcer. "Alan Mayer collects it off the wall as McCarob came out, Alan played McCarob perfectly."
"[Mayer] was a goalie and he was the manager too, I think," says Henle.
"It's going to be a unique challenge," Mayer told the media before the season started. "So I'm just going to go out there and do the very best I can."
Mayer was the boss, but there was no question who the star was.
"Finally, Juli Veee from way outside, probably close to 85 feet out buries one into an open net," said the announcer. "His 31st of the year, and the hat trick for the captain. And for "Double Deuce Triple E..."
That was how he was typically introduced, with his game number for the Americans and the extra vowel in his last name.
"Watch this," started another play-by-play. "He plays the boards for himself, gets around his man Max Thomas and then beats Manning to the far post."
"He was the star for scoring," says Henle. "And I remember he was from Hungary and he was the hero of it."
Juli Veee and Alan Mayer thrilled the fans at the T&M, but there just weren't enough of them in the stands. In a story repeated many times in many Southern Nevada sports, the Americans folded after just one year.
"I thought it would go on and when it ended I was shocked and sad both," sighs Henle.
The Americans were expelled from the MISL because of financial troubles and the league folded in 1992. Another indoor soccer team--the Dustdevils--played at the MGM for a couple of years in the early ‘90s before they ceased operations too.
Will outdoor soccer work here, where indoor soccer has not? Fans of the sport will keep an eye on what happens with the future of Cashman Field.