Mar 30, 2020
When 32-year-old Willy Roy and two of his NASL St. Louis Stars teammates were acquired by the still-yet-to-play expansion Chicago Sting in February 1975, the club had just four signed players and a hit movie-inspired logo to its name.
No one knew what to expect, and Chicago’s twin pro soccer flame-outs less than a decade earlier – the White Sox-owned USA/NASL Mustangs (1967-68) and the Roy-led 1967 NPSL Spurs – didn’t exactly inspire confidence the Sting would be any different.
Indeed, the passion project of prominent Chicago commodities trader and youth soccer parent/convert Lee Stern floundered early and often during its first few seasons under first-time coach (but Manchester United playing legend) Bill Foulkes.
Despite a division title in 1976 – the first with the retired Roy as Assistant Coach – the Sting was largely uncompetitive during its first few seasons. Crowds were abysmal, as the team shuffled games between Soldier Field, Comiskey Park, and Wrigley Field each summer. By early-season 1978, the Sting was off to a ten-game losing streak and the worst attendance in the entire 24-team NASL – averaging just 4,188 fans a match.
Over the objections of then-GM Clive Toye, owner Stern elevated Roy to interim, then permanent head coach – and the rest, as they say, is history.
National Soccer Hall of Famer Roy joins for Part Two of our extended conversation – as we focus on the rise of the Sting into one of the NASL’s most exciting, attractive and memorable sides – and an indelible part of Chicago’s rich pro sports history.