Canadian Soccer League (1987–92)

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For the current league with the same name, see Canadian Soccer League.
Canadian Soccer League
Canadian Soccer League (logo, 1987 – 92).png
Country Canada
Confederation CONCACAF
Founded 1987
Folded 1992
Divisions 2 Regional (East & West)
Number of teams High of 11, Low of 6
Levels on pyramid 1
International cup(s) North American Club Championship (1990)
Most championships Vancouver 86ers (4 Championships)
TV partners The Sports Network

The original Canadian Soccer League was a Division 1 professional soccer league that operated in Canada during May-Oct from 1987 to 1992. It was a nationwide league that had franchises in six provinces over the course of its history.

The CSL was formed in the aftermath of Canada's participation in the 1986 World Cup finals tournament held in Mexico. Canada was an oddity as a country whose association was able to qualify a team despite not having a domestic professional league, or even a domestically based professional team with the demise in 1984 of the U.S.-based North American Soccer League. Founding league commissioner Dale Barnes voiced sentiment aptly when he said the league is to "bring our players home."

The league gained a leap in credibility when an agreement was reached with The Sports Network to broadcast a CSL Game of the Week, allowing a nationwide audience to view a game on domestic cable TV each Sunday evening. Broadcasts featured play-by-play commentator Vic Rauter and analyst Graham Leggat. The league received sponsorship from Air Canada, Foster's Lager, Hyundai, and Gatorade. Also the league adopted the standard FIFA points system (2-1-0, then 3-1-0) as well as allowing for draws instead of 'Americanizing' the points system with confusing bonus points and two different categories for both wins and losses unlike the NASL or the APSL which was to follow.

Teams[edit]

The Canadian Soccer League showcased 13 teams throughout its six-year history, debuting in 1987 with 8 clubs. The league reached its peak of club participation and national exposure in the 1990 season with 11 clubs, while closing out its final season in 1992 with a low of 6 clubs. Some clubs involved in the league, such as the Vancouver 86ers and Toronto Blizzard, existed prior to the formation of the CSL and would go on to play in other leagues after the CSL's demise in following the 1992 season. Clubs participating in the CSL throughout its six years of existence included:

1987 season[edit]

The league's opening game was played May 26, 1987 in Aylmer, Quebec and saw the hometown Ottawa Pioneers and Hamilton Steelers play to a 0–0 draw in steady drizzle in front 2,500 spectators. The league was divided into an Eastern and Western division for its first four seasons and without divisions in its final two. The Eastern Division in 1987 consisted of Ottawa, Hamilton, the Toronto Blizzard, and North York Rockets. The Western Division comprised the Calgary Kickers, Edmonton Brickmen, Vancouver 86ers, and Winnipeg Fury. Hamilton won their division both in the regular season and in the playoffs, as did Calgary. The final saw the top point-getting team in the regular season, Calgary, defeat the second-best side, Hamilton, 2-1 at home in a winner take all one game final.

Regular season[edit]

The final regular season standings were:

Eastern Division

Team Games Wins Draws Losses Goals Scored Goals Conceded Points
Hamilton Steelers 20 10 6 4 32 22 26
Ottawa Pioneers 20 7 9 4 15 23 23
Toronto Blizzard 20 6 6 8 22 27 18
North York Rockets 20 1 7 12 15 39 9

Western Division

Team Games Wins Draws Losses Goals Scored Goals Conceded Points
Calgary Kickers 20 11 5 4 32 22 27
Vancouver 86ers 20 9 3 8 37 27 21
Edmonton Brickmen 20 7 7 6 27 24 20
Winnipeg Fury 20 5 4 11 25 36 14

Leading goalscorers[edit]

Player Team Goals
Nick Gilbert Calgary 10
Domenic Mobilio Vancouver 9
Jerry Adzic Hamiton 8
Norm Odinga Edmonton 7
Han Kim Winnipeg 7
Jim Easton Vancouver 7

Play-offs[edit]

Home team on top.

  Quarterfinals     Semi-finals     Final
                           
  West     1W  Calgary 4  
  2W  Vancouver 2     2W  Vancouver 3    
  3W  Edmonton 1         1W  Calgary Kickers 2
      1E  Hamilton Steelers 1
  East     1E  Hamilton 1    
  2E  Ottawa 1     3E  Toronto 0  
  3E  Toronto 2  

League all-star team[edit]

1988 season[edit]

For 1988, the Montreal Supra was added to the Eastern Division. The Ottawa franchise changed their name from the Pioneers to the Intrepid. In a repeat of the previous season, regular season leaders met in the playoff final with the top team, Vancouver defeating second-best Hamilton, again runners-up, by a score of 4-1. Calgary went from being champions to second worst team in the league, with a mere 6 wins in 28 games.

Regular season[edit]

Eastern Division

Team Games Wins Draws Losses Goals Scored Goals Conceded Points
Hamilton Steelers 28 18 6 4 64 28 42
Toronto Blizzard 28 7 13 7 44 31 29
North York Rockets 28 10 8 10 40 39 28
Ottawa Intrepid 28 8 9 11 32 43 25
Montreal Supra 28 8 8 12 36 44 24

Western Division

Team Games Wins Draws Losses Goals Scored Goals Conceded Points
Vancouver 86ers 28 21 6 1 84 30 48
Winnipeg Fury 28 9 7 12 33 46 25
Calgary Kickers 28 6 6 16 39 70 18
Edmonton Brickmen 28 4 5 19 33 74 13

Leading goalscorers[edit]

Play-offs[edit]

  Quarterfinals     Semi-finals     Final
                           
  West     1W  Vancouver 86ers 3  
  2W  Winnipeg 2     2W  Winnipeg 1    
  3W  Calgary 1         1W  Vancouver 86ers 4
      1E  Hamilton Steelers 1
  East     1E  Hamilton 1    
  2E  Toronto 2     3E  Toronto 0  
  3E  North York 1  

League all-star team[edit]

1989 season[edit]

1989 saw a tenth team added to the league, the Victoria Vistas. Naturally, the Vista joined the Western Division which re-established a balance of teams in each division, with five each. After the previous Calgary team folded, a new team that was community owned named themselves the 'Strikers'; the change though could not avert disaster as this second franchise folded upon the season's conclusion. Vancouver was dominant again, losing but two regular-season matches en route to a second straight victory over Hamilton in the championship game. The 86ers went 46 consecutive games from the previous season into this one without losing, which is a record for a professional sports team in Canada or the United States.[1] The Steelers reached the final despite relinquishing their Eastern Division title to Toronto.

Regular season standings[edit]

Eastern Division

Team Games Wins Draws Losses Goals Scored Goals Conceded Points'
Toronto Blizzard 26 16 6 4 48 27 38
Hamilton Steelers 26 15 7 4 56 28 37
North York Rockets 26 12 9 5 35 23 33
Ottawa Intrepid 26 7 8 11 41 46 22
Montreal Supra 26 3 9 14 26 46 15

Western Division

Team Games Wins Draws Losses Goals Scored Goals Conceded Points
Vancouver 86ers 26 18 6 2 65 33 42
Edmonton Brickmen 26 9 3 14 44 55 21
Calgary Strikers 26 8 3 15 36 56 19
Winnipeg Fury 26 6 7 13 35 51 19
Victoria Vistas 26 4 6 16 32 53 14

Leading goal-scorers[edit]

Play-offs[edit]

  Quarterfinals     Semi-finals     Final
                                       
  West     1W  Vancouver 86ers 5 4 9  
  2W  Edmonton 3 0 3     2W  Edmonton 3 0 3    
  3W  Calgary 1 0 1         1W  Vancouver 86ers 3    
      1E  Hamilton Steelers 2    
  East     1E  Toronto 1 0 2    
  2E  Hamilton 1 1 2     3E  Hamilton 1 2 3  
  3E  North York 1 0 1  


  • Quarter-finals
  • Edmonton 3 at Calgary 1
  • Calgary 0 at Edmonton 0
  • Hamilton 1 at North York 1
  • North York 0 at Hamilton 1
  • Semi-finals
  • Vancouver 5 at Edmonton 3
  • Edmonton 0 at Vancouver 4
  • Toronto 1 at Hamilton 1
  • Hamilton 2 at Toronto 1
  • Finals
  • Hamilton 2 at Vancouver 3

League all-star team[edit]

1990 season[edit]

Before the season, Kitchener and London were added.

Regular season standings[edit]

Eastern Division

Team GP W D L GF GA Pts
Toronto Blizzard 26 18 3 5 52 15 39
Montreal Supra 26 13 11 2 30 12 37
Hamilton Steelers 26 10 9 7 44 35 29
Kitchener Spirit 26 8 7 11 30 36 23
North York Rockets 26 7 9 10 34 36 23
Ottawa Intrepid 26 2 9 15 21 49 13
London Lasers 26 2 7 17 26 68 11

Western Division

Team GP W D L GF GA Pts
Vancouver 86ers 26 17 3 6 69 26 40
Victoria Vistas 26 12 7 7 42 32 31
Winnipeg Fury 26 7 11 8 22 37 22
Edmonton Brickmen 26 6 14 6 20 44 18

Leading goal-scorers[edit]

Playoffs[edit]

  Quarterfinals Semifinals Final
                                       
  1  Vancouver 86ers 2 2 4  
7  North York Rockets 0 1 1  
  1  Vancouver 86ers 2 6 8  
  4  Victoria Vistas 2 1 3  
2  Toronto Blizzard (AET/PSO) 1 0 (4) 1
  6  Kitchener Spirit 0 0 (3) 0  
    1  Vancouver 86ers 6
  5  Hamilton Steelers 1
  3  Montreal Supra 1 0 1  
5  Hamilton Steelers 2 1 3  
  5  Hamilton Steelers 1 3 4
  6  Kitchener Spirit 0 3 3  
4  Victoria Vistas (AET/PSO) 2 1 (5) 3
  8  Winnipeg Fury 1 1 (4) 2  
  • Quarterfinals
  • Victoria 1 at Winnipeg 4
  • Victoria 2 at Winnipeg 1
  • Victoria 1 at Winnipeg 1 - 5-4 Victoria Penalty
  • Vancouver 2 at North York 0
  • North York 1 at Vancouver 2
  • Kitchener 0 at Toronto 1
  • Kitchener 0 at Toronto 0 - 4-3 Kitchener Penalty
  • Montreal 1 at Hamilton 2
  • Hamilton 1 at Montreal 0
  • Semifinals
  • Vancouver 2 at Victoria 2
  • Victoria 1 at Vancouver 6
  • Hamilton 1 at Kitchener 0
  • Kitchener 3 at Hamilton 3
  • Final
  • Hamilton 1 at Vancouver 6

After the season, Victoria, Edmonton, Ottawa and London folded.

League all-star team[edit]

1991 season[edit]

The CSL had suffered the loss of Victoria, Edmonton, Ottawa and London the previous season, but expanded into the Maritime provinces for the first time with the Nova Scotia Clippers, who made a reasonable performance their first season, coming in right behind Montreal. The regular season once again belonged to the Vancouver 86ers, who were only the second team to win 20 regular season games. In the playoffs, North York easily disposed of Nova Scotia and Hamilton won a split series with Montreal, 3-0, 3-4 and 1-0. In the semifinals, Toronto defeated North York 2-0, 1-2 and 1-0, while Vancouver won on goals aggregate after a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 victory against Hamilton. The Championship game was a high scoring affair, with Vancouver beating Toronto 5-3.

The CSL had always had financial problems, and sometimes it seemed a miracle when the league could pull through to see another season. this year the financial pinch became particularly acute. The Nova Scotia experiment failed, and the Clippers folded at the end of the season. Hamilton, an original league member, also folded, along with Kitchener. Sadly, this was to be the next to the last season for the league.

Before the season, Nova Scotia was added. Kitchener changed their nickname to Kickers.

Regular season standings[edit]

Team GP W D L GF GA Pts
Vancouver 86ers 28 20 4 4 69 31 64
Toronto Blizzard 28 14 8 6 57 33 48
North York Rockets 28 13 6 9 50 36 48
Hamilton Steelers 28 14 10 4 42 38 46
Montreal Supra 28 11 10 7 41 38 40
Nova Scotia Clippers 28 7 14 7 29 53 28
Kitchener Kickers 28 4 17 7 28 56 19
Winnipeg Fury 28 4 18 6 26 57 18

Leading goal-scorers[edit]

Playoffs[edit]

Quarterfinals: North York 4 at Nova Scotia 0

               Nova Scotia 1 at North York 5
               Hamilton 0 at Montreal 3
               Montreal 0 at Hamilton 4
               Montreal 0 at Hamilton 1

Semifinals: Toronto 2 at North York 0

               North York 2 at Toronto 1
               North York 0 at Toronto 1
               Vancouver 1 at Hamilton 1
               Hamilton 1 at Vancouver 2

CHAMPIONSHIP: Toronto 3 at Vancouver 5

Best of 3 Best of 3
2 Toronto Blizzard 2 1 1  
3 North York Rockets 4 5  
3 North York Rockets 0 2 0   One Game
6 Nova Scotia Clippers 0 1  
  2 Toronto Blizzard 3
Best of 3
Best of 3   1 Vancouver 86ers 5
1 Vancouver 86ers 1 2
4 Hamilton Steelers 0 4 1  
4 Hamilton Steelers 1 1  
5 Montreal Supra 3 0 0  

After the season, Hamilton, Nova Scotia, and Kitchener folded.

League all-star team[edit]

1992 season[edit]

The CSL barely limped into the 1992 season, staggering under the weight of their ever-present financial problems. The London Lasers returned from a one year leave of absence. However the financial picture did not improve during the season, and with declining attendance and red ink continuing to mount, the league called it quits after the season. This brought an end to the first truly national Canadian league. This was a major blow for the Canadian Soccer Association, as the CSL had been enormously successful in providing Canadian players with a higher level of competition than had been previously available since the demise of the North American Soccer League. Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver joined the American Professional Soccer League, while North York and Winnipeg, with fewer financial resources, joined the semi-pro Canadian National Soccer League.

Final league standings[edit]

Before the season, London was added.

G W D L GF GA PTS
Vancouver 86ers 20 11 3 6 42 28 36
North York Rockets 20 8 6 6 25 20 30
Winnipeg Fury 20 8 1 11 27 42 25
Montreal Supra 20 6 7 7 29 24 25
London Lasers 20 6 7 7 25 32 22
Toronto Blizzard 20 6 6 8 28 29 21

Play-offs[edit]

  Semi-finals Final
                         
1  Vancouver 86ers 1 1 2  
4  Montreal Supra 1 0 1  
    1  Vancouver 86ers 0 1 1
  2  Winnipeg Fury 2 1 3
2  North York Rockets 1 0 1
3  Winnipeg Fury 1 1 2  

After the season, the league folded, along with the London franchise. Teams from Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto joined the American Professional Soccer League while North York and Winnipeg joined the semi-pro National Soccer League (which changed its name to the Canadian National Soccer League in 1993).

Leading goalscorers[edit]

All-Star Team[edit]

List of CSL Teams[edit]

Team City Total Seasons Seasons Highest League Highest Play-off
Toronto Blizzard Toronto, Ontario 6 1987-1992 Example Example
Hamilton Steelers Hamilton, Ontario 5 1987-1991 Example Example
North York Rockets North York, Ontario 6 1987-1992 Example Example
Ottawa Intrepid Ottawa, Ontario 4 1987-1990 Example Example
Montreal Supra Montreal, Quebec 5 1988-1992 Example Example
Vancouver 86ers Vancouver, British Columbia 6 1987-1992 Example Example
Edmonton Brickmen Edmonton, Alberta 4 1987-1990 Example Example
Calgary Strikers Calgary, Alberta 3 1987-1989 Example Example
Winnipeg Fury Winnipeg, Manitoba 6 1987-1992 Example Example
Victoria Vistas Victoria, British Columbia 2 1989-1990 Example Example
London Lasers London, Ontario 2 1990, 1992 Example Example
Kitchener Spirit Kitchener, Ontario 2 1990-1991 Example Example
Nova Scotia Clippers Halifax, Nova Scotia 1 1991 Example Example

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The 1989 Vancovuer 86ers". BC Sports Hall of Fame Inductees. Retrieved 5 April 2013. 
  2. ^ http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/year/1990.html#CSL The Year in American Soccer, 1990. Canadian Soccer League
  3. ^ http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/year/1991.html#CSL The Year in American Soccer, 1991. Canadian Soccer League

Sources[edit]