Richard Melvin, the Director of Franchise
Development for the American Soccer League,
spends the day in Birmingham meeting with
Chamber of Commerce officials and touring the
city. Melvin is also the owner of the ASL's
Carolina Lightnin', one of ten teams currently
playing in the outdoor league.
"We're very much interested in locating a
franchise here. There seems to be a tremendous
amount of interest in Birmingham to bring
professional soccer in," Melvin said.
When asked about the Super Soccer League,
Birmingham Bandits were a member of in 1978,
Melvin said, "I remember the league, and I
remember its' problems. We're not that kind of
operation. We've been around a few years. The
league was incorporated in 1923." The ASL is the
longest-running professional sports league in
Since its beginning, the American Soccer League
concentrated on the New England/New York/New
Jersey/Philadelphia area, but in the early
1970's it expanded into the Midwest.
In the late 1970's, during the boom years of
the North American Soccer League, it opened a
division along the west coast. This ambitious
plan proved too expensive for the league, and
franchises dwindled until their final season in
Before their last season, the ASL was
planning to move indoors, but the league
While the league may have folded, the
Carolina, Jacksonville, Dallas and Oklahoma City
franchises joined the newly formed United Soccer
League, which played until 1985.