Rock 'n' Roll Soccer: The Short Life and Fast Times of the North American Soccer League.
Plenderleith, Ian. Sep 2015. 368 p. St. Martin's/Thomas Dunne, hardcover, $27.99. (9781250072382).
Breaking from the common view that the original North American Soccer League (NASL) was a gaudy, failed experiment, soccer journalist Plenderleith posits that, although it may have been a product of the “brash, loud, and shameless ’70s,” its focus on entertainment and innovation made it “the league of the future.” Over 17 tumultuous seasons (1968–84), with investors ranging from potato-chip scions and used-car dealers to rock stars, and players mostly borrowed or bargain-hunted from English and other European leagues, the NASL provided lots to talk about - massive tailgate parties, goofy promotional stunts - if not much consistency.
Some teams lasted only a season, while others changed towns along with their names. But Plenderleith makes a compelling case. Scrupulously researched and sourced, with first-person accounts knitted together in an enthusiastic, irreverent narrative, this is a gift to fans of America’s richer-than-expected soccer history. Major League Soccer is growing deep roots (and the new New York Cosmos are playing in the new NASL), but today’s younger fans may read this and wish they were there when the seeds were planted.
— Keir Graff