The opening of Livestrong Sporting Park marks a new era for professional soccer in Kansas City, which dates back more than three decades. The Kansas City Spurs were NASL champions in 1969, a turning point in the history of American pro soccer. The NASL was down to five teams -- Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City and St. Louis -- after 12 teams took part in its initial season.
When the Spurs won in 1969, few noticed. “The whole thing was really a growing experience,” said U.S. international Willy Roy, who starred on the Spurs in 1969. “A learning lesson for everybody.”
The Spurs led the league in attendance -- with a whopping average of 4,273 fans at the old Municipal Stadium. They featured players from all over the world, but they blended together.
“I shared that with the whole team and the people who supported us,” said Uruguayan Pepe Fernandez, who was the league MVP and now at 67 runs an indoor soccer facility in Everett, Wash. “We were young and enthusiastic; you like what you’re doing. Then I get paid for that. You can’t get anything better than that.”