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An Oral History of Major League Soccer's Frenzied First Season

An Oral History of Major League Soccer s Frenzied First Season Complex


After years of planning, Major League Soccer’s  inaugural season finally began when D.C. United met the San Jose Clash at San Jose State University’s Spartan Stadium. To add some star power to the proceedings, the league secured Melrose Place star and former college soccer player Andrew Shue to lead the ceremonial coin toss. That fateful night in the Golden State, Clash forward Eric Wynalda scored the first goal in MLS history, a wonderful piece of individual skill that earned San Jose a 1-0 victory and Wynalda 1996 MLS Goal of the Year honors.

At the time of MLS’ launch—which landed on the same life-altering weekend when Richard Gere’s Primal Fear snatched the No. 1 spot at the box office from Robin Williams’ The Birdcage—soccer was an afterthought in the United States. Even though the 1994 World Cup had been a resounding success (it’s still the highest-attended World Cup in history), the notion of a professional soccer league becoming part of mainstream sports culture in America seemed about as likely as America Online and its beloved Instant Messenger fading into obscurity.

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Wow, Major League Soccer has been around almost 20 years.

That time seems to have flown by.

I wonder when we'll next host the World Cup. I guess earliest possible bid is 2026.

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