The Atlanta Chiefs was a soccer team based in Atlanta, Georgia that played in the NPSL and NASL from 1967 to 1972. Their home fields were Atlanta Stadium (1967–1969, 1971–1972) and Tara Stadium (1970). The club was the brainchild of Dick Cecil, then Vice President of the Atlanta Braves baseball franchise who was the Chiefs' owners. Cecil was intrigued with the 1966 World Cup in England and decided that a professional soccer team would add valuable events for Atlanta Stadium. He proceeded to travel through Europe and Africa signing players including Phil Woosnam, Vic Crowe and Peter McParland of Aston Villa as well as Kaizer Motaung who went on to found Kaizer Chiefs FC, who now play in the South African Premier Soccer League. The Kaizer Chiefs name and logo were inspired by those of the Atlanta club.
|Full name||Atlanta Chiefs|
|Founded||1967 (original team) |
1979 (reformed team)
|Dissolved||1973 (original team) |
1981 (reformed team)
|Ground||Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium |
Omni Coliseum (indoor)
|Capacity||51,383 (AFC) |
|Owners||Atlanta Braves, Inc (1967–73), |
T. Cousins & C. Sanders (1973),
Ted Turner & Dick Cecil (1979–81)
On August 9, 1966, Atlanta Braves, Inc., received a franchise in the newly created National Professional Soccer League. A month later, the corporation hired Phil Woosnam as the team's first head coach which did not gain its name, "Chiefs", until January 8, 1967. By the end of February 1967, Woosnam had brought numerous players to Emory University for trials. After he selected his players, Woosnam led the team through several exhibition games before the Chiefs opened their first season with a 1–0 loss to the Baltimore Bays on April 16, 1967. Following the 1967 season, the NPSL merged with the United Soccer Association to form the North American Soccer League. Atlanta won the 1968 NASL championship. That season, the Chiefs famously twice beat Manchester City after the English Division One side's manager Malcolm Allison described the local talent as "Fourth Division" standard.
Although Atlanta was never home to any of the biggest stars in the league the team did produce one of the most important figures in league history. Phil Woosnam went from the bench as head coach of the Chiefs to the boardroom as the commissioner of the league. He presided over the most critical period in NASL history between 1968–1970 when both attendance and the number of clubs dropped dramatically. He saw the league through to its golden years in the late 1970s when ageing stars from around the world played televised matches in packed stadiums across the country.
Following the 1968 NASL season, the league was in trouble with ten franchises having folded. The 1969 season was split into two halves. The first half was called the International Cup, a double round robin tournament in which the remaining NASL clubs were represented by teams imported from the United Kingdom. The Chiefs were represented by Aston Villa. The team tied for third in the Cup with a 2–4–2 record. For the second half of the 1969 season, the teams returned to their normal rosters and played a 16 game schedule with no playoffs.
While the Chiefs were one of only a few clubs to survive that critical 1969 season, they lasted only a few more years. The club renamed itself the Atlanta Apollos after it was sold to the owners of the Atlanta Hawks in 1973 and played at Bobby Dodd Stadium that season.
The Atlanta Chiefs name and logo (altered slightly) were revived in 1979 when the Colorado Caribous franchise moved to Atlanta, with Cecil and Ted Turner as owners. The team again played at Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium for three seasons and also at Omni Coliseum for two NASL Indoor seasons until folding after the 1981 season. Players for the Atlanta Chiefs included Brian Kidd, Adrian Brooks, Keith Furphy, Victor Nogueira, Paul Child, Mark MacKain, Mark Jakobowski, Lou Cioffi, Tony Whelan, Carl Strong, Webster Lichaba, Graham Tutt, Jomo Sono, Bruce Savage, Louis and George Nanchoff.
|Year||Record||Regular Season Finish||Playoffs||Avg. Attend.|
|1967||10–9–12||4th, Eastern Division, (NPSL)||Did Not Qualify||6,961|
|1968||18–6–7||1st, Atlantic Division||NASL Champions||5,794|
|1970||11–5–8||2nd, Southern Division||Did Not Qualify||3,002|
|1971||12–5–7||1st, Southern Division||Runners-up||4,275|
|1972||5–3–6||3rd, Southern Division||Did Not Qualify||5,034|
|1973||3–7–9||3rd, Southern Division||Did Not Qualify||3,317|
|1979||12–18||4th, Central Division, National Conference||Did Not Qualify||7,350|
|1980||7–25||4th, Central Division, National Conference||Did Not Qualify||4,884|
|1981||17–15||1st, Southern Division||First Round||6,189|
|Year||Record||Regular Season Finish||Playoffs||Avg. Attendance|
|1979–80||10–2||1st, Eastern Division||Division Finals||5,069|
|1980–81||13–5||1st, Eastern Division||Semi Finals||9,611|
|NASL Championships (1)
NASL Regular Season Premierships (1)
Division Titles (5)
Coach of the Year
Rookie of the Year
League Goal Scoring Champion
League Scoring Champion
All-Star First Team Selections
All-Star Second Team Selections
All-Star Honorable Mentions
U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame
Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame
- Atlanta Chiefs to take on Dallas in Rome Sunday
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2013-10-07.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)