Like much of the history of indoor soccer, the American
Indoor Soccer League was born out of the ashes, and has gone through its
share of growing pains. However, as the old saying goes, “out of chaos comes order”.
Coming into it’s fourth season, the AISL is looking to become
a player on the American indoor soccer scene. Not, the big time mind you,
but something more like “off-Broadway”. The AISL wants to be
a place for the American player to show off their skills, and to be a “launching
pad” for the future players in the top flight of American indoor
The AISL story starts back in 1998. After the USL folded their indoor
operations, Paul Lapointe, the owner of the then-Western Massachusetts
Twisters realized that the dream of a “regional” indoor soccer
league was a sound one. Three years later, the Twisters, along with five
other indoor soccer clubs based in the northeast, formed the American Indoor
Soccer League. The competition was tight, but when it was all said and
done, the Massachusetts Aztecs defeated Connecticut Academica to win the
first AISL championship.
However, after that 2002-03 campaign, the AISL went through something
akin to a divorce, when both the Aztecs and Academica broke ranks, joining
the Premier Arena Soccer League, a smaller regional operation. Soon after,
two of the other remaining three clubs, Team Canada and the New Hampshire
Storm, decided to withdraw from the league.
Realizing that time was not on his side, Lapointe decided to put
the AISL on hiatus for the 2003-04 season, as he would look to revamp the
In the summer of 2004, the Cincinnati Excite joined the league, with
the New Mexico Storm soon to follow, bringing the AISL to three members.
Then in late September, the Detroit/Windsor Border Stars made the league’s
dance card complete for 2004-05.
The 2004-05 campaign was, for all intents and purposes, a dogfight
all the way to the end of the season. The Border Stars went “wire
to wire”, as their club, a mix of former young Canadian players mixed
with several NPSL veterans, surprised everyone, taking the regular season
title. However, the identity of the Stars’ opponent in the championship
game would go down to the final game of the regular season, as the Excite
would defeat the Storm in Albuquerque to punch their ticket to the final.
Unfortunately for the Excite, however, the Border Stars would not be denied
the title, taking a 4-1 decision in Windsor.
The 2005-06 season, like many of it’s predecessors, had it’s
share of ups and downs. Before the season began, ownership issues with
the New Mexico Storm and the Detroit/Windsor Border Stars forced the league
to sever it’s ties with the second year teams. However, just when
things looked darkest, a group from Rockford, IL led by former MISL and
NPSL standout Oscar Albuquerque agreed to join the AISL, playing a series
of exhibition games to test interest in both Rockford and Chicago. Then
in early December, the league added a new club in Memphis, who played one
game against the Excite.
On the field, the Cincinnati Excite, denied the league championship
in 2004-05, made it clear that they would not be denied in their sophomore
year. Coach Terry Nicholl’s club dominated the league, winning their
first five games in a row. Their chance for an unbeaten season was ruined
on March 4th, when they dropped a heartbreaking overtime decision to the
Rockford Thunder. However, they would take home a “W” in their
final game in Massachusetts, finishing the season with a 6-1 record, tying
the 2004-05 Border Stars and 2002-03 Massachusetts Aztecs for most wins
in a season.
While the 2005-06 season was not what the AISL expected, it proved
that the league could survive, and it gave “the little league that
could” a solid base for the future.
As the 2006-07 season reaches the starting line the AISL is poised
for growth in the upcoming years. In the past several months, the league
office has been in conversations with several cities for expansion in the
near future. In addition, the AISL has begun marketing partnerships with
Sells Goalkeeping Products and Dubes Custom Soccer Uniforms, and it’s
member teams have set up local partnerships with Dick’s Sporting
Goods, Red Bull Energy Drink, Donato’s Pizza, and more.
The American Indoor Soccer League is committed to quality growth,
and is dedicated to the idea that sometimes it’s “better to
be the tortoise than the hare.” We believe that there is a place
for indoor soccer in this country, and perhaps the future of our sport
is at the grass roots level, in the mid-level markets where an AISL indoor
soccer game would be “the place to be”.