The Philadelphia Atoms were an American soccer team based out of Philadelphia that played in the North American Soccer League (NASL). They played from 1973 to 1976, at Veterans Stadium (1973–75) and Franklin Field (1976). The club's colors were blue and white. The club was succeeded by the Philadelphia Fury in 1978.
|Full name||Philadelphia Atoms|
|Ground||Veterans Stadium (1973–75)|
Franklin Field (1976)
|Head Coach||Al Miller|
The Atoms were founded by Philadelphia construction mogul Thomas McCloskey in 1973 at the urging of Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Tornado owner Lamar Hunt. Playing a largely American line-up, they won the NASL title in their first year of existence by defeating Hunt’s Dallas club 2–0. After this championship match, Philadelphia goalkeeper and Delaware Valley native Bob Rigby became the first soccer player to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
The Atoms could not sustain the success of their first season as the club missed the playoffs in each of their remaining three NASL campaigns. Attendance began to flag and, after the 1975 season, the team was sold to a group of Mexican clubs, which included Club Deportivo Guadalajara. Fielding a primarily Mexican side (almost 30 years before Chivas USA would try a similar approach in Major League Soccer), attendance continued to wane and the club folded after the 1976 season.
Although Clive Toye reports in his recent book that the franchise was sold to an ownership group from Montreal, he apparently confuses the fate of the next Philadelphia NASL team for that of the Atoms; the Atoms were, in fact, going to be relocated to San Antonio by their Mexican owners, who planned to replace the San Antonio Thunder franchise (which itself had just relocated to Honolulu to play as Team Hawaii). This plan never came to fruition, and the Philadelphia franchise was placed into receivership by the NASL.
The franchise was removed from receivership two years later when the Philadelphia Fury began their three-year run in Philadelphia in 1978.
The Atoms were also part of what is considered by soccer historians to be the birth of modern indoor soccer in the United States. On February 11, 1974 they hosted the Soviet Red Army team at the Spectrum in an exhibition match. That night, 11,790 roaring fans watched the reigning league champions hold their own into the final period before the Russians finally pulled away for a 6–3 victory. The following year the NASL staged its first league-wide indoor tournament, and within a few years both the NASL and the MISL were playing full indoor seasons.
|Year||Record||Regular Season Finish||Playoffs||Avg Attendance|
|1973||9–8–2||1st, Eastern Division||NASL Champions||11,501|
|1974 indoor||1–1||friendlies only||n/a||9,057|
|1974||8–11–1||3rd, Eastern Division||Did Not Qualify||11,784|
|1975 indoor||1–1||3rd, Region 1||Did Not Qualify||no home games|
|1975||10–12||4th, Eastern Division||Did Not Qualify||6,848|
|1976 indoor||1–0||friendly only||n/a||4,234|
|1976||8–16||4th, Eastern Division, Atlantic Conference||Did Not Qualify||5,912|
NASL Division Titles
NASL Rookie of the Year
NASL Coach of the Year
NASL Leading Goaltender
U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame
All-Star First Team Selections
All-Star Second Team Selections
All-Star Honorable Mentions
- Al Miller (1973–1975)