Woosnam expects two of the eight clubs to break even next year, which might be crucial progress, and sees steady expansion toward a league of 16 teams in 1974-75 and even more by 1980, the year in which the host nation for the 1986 World Cup will be named.
His suggestion that the U.S. may be allowed to stage the World Cup competition then is probably quixotic, but his domestic predictions could well prove less extravagant. When he says, for example, that Vancouver, British Columbia and Seattle are poised to pick up new franchises—which still go for the giveaway price of $25,000—his argument is supported by the extraordinary growth of the game among young people from both sides of the border on the West Coast. In February and March of next year 1,000 teams of Washington boys (ages seven to 19) will play 1,000 teams from British Columbia in a two-match series in Vancouver and Seattle.
Dallas and Atlanta report a similar upsurge. In Dallas, Lamar Hunt, who must be the quietest millionaire in Texas, has put his profits from oil and his expertise as a sports promoter behind the Dallas Tornado. "Assessing the depth of interest in soccer is like trying to nail jelly to the wall," he says. "I really like the game, but that's not the reason I'm in it. I see no reason why it should not be as big as American football. It's a great game. Unlike our football or basketball, it doesn't call for an exceptional physique. You don't have to be a bull or a giraffe to play it. It's the ordinary man's game and, despite all its subtleties, there is a beautiful simplicity about it."
Amid all the speculation about soccer's future in this country, the men who are actually kicking the ball here and now remain the most fascinating elements. Most of them are still Europeans, searchers edging toward exile because of something deeper than their limitations as performers at home. They are a unique breed, somewhere between remittance men and missionaries. They play to a standard that is perhaps comparable with the top of the Third Division or bottom of the Second Division in England, but their style is very different. The English clubs at that level play with brusque, often hurtful pragmatism. The expatriates here give themselves more time, so that their displays of technique are sometimes lavishly entertaining.
For Dallas, Luiz Juracy, a chubby Brazilian of seemingly inviolable balance, plays superbly whenever he can overcome his Methuselah complex. In the second match he stopped listening for the creaking of his 33-year-old bones long enough to shoot two devastatingly precise goals, one with each foot. His contribution and that of Tornado's Yugoslavian Goalkeeper Mirko Stojanovic—who made a lunging save on a shot by Atlanta's black forward, Freddie Mwila, in the last of the three games—ensured that the title went to Texas.
Dallas lost the first playoff match 2-1, then won the next two 4-1 and 2-0. "We actually had more trouble in the semifinal," says Dallas Coach Ron Newman, once a hustling winger with Portsmouth and, ironically, the Atlanta Chiefs. "One match with Rochester went to sudden death. It lasted 176 minutes, a world record. The referee threw away his watch and took out his calendar. Only the Americans could call that sudden death. We reckoned if we could survive that, we could survive anything."
Newman is a good representative of his game. It, too, is a survivor, and America had better get used to the idea.