The Ambush are the latest chapter in the long and eventful history of professional indoor soccer in St. Louis. Following are some of the significant events in that history.
The Major Indoor Soccer League awards a St. Louis franchise to Marvin Mann on July 31, 1979. The home opener was an overwhelming success, drawing over 18,000 to the Arena (right) on December 14, 1979. Pat McBride, a former star at St. Louis University and professionally with the St. Louis Stars of the North American Soccer League, is the team’s first coach. The Steamers host the first MISL All-Star Game, drawing 16,892 fans. Even though they finished with a 12-20 record, fans embraced a roster packed with local talent and the team averaged 14,060 fans per game for the season. McBride is named MISL Coach of the Year.
The Steamers are sold to a local ownership group headed by Cardinal Hall-of-Famer Stan Musial, and including Joe Garagiola. Ben Kerner, who formerly owned the St. Louis Hawks of the National Basketball Association, is hired to run the day-to-day operations of the club. Don Ebert (left), Tony Glavin and Slobo Ilijevski join the team. Ebert leads the team in goals (46) and points (64) and is named MISL Rookie of the Year. Steve Pecher and Tony Glavin are named to the All-MISL team. The Steamers win the Central Division crown and advance to the league championship where they fell to the New York Arrows in a 6-5 heartbreaker title game before 17,206 fans at the Arena. During the post-season, Pat McBride left in a contract dispute and Al Trost, who, like McBride, played at St. Louis University and for the Stars, is named coach.
A record 19,298 fans packed the Arena to watch the Steamers host the Denver Avalanche. The Steamers win their second straight division title and again make it to the MISL Championship finals and lose to New York in the fifth game of a best-of-five series. Slobo Ilijevski (left) is named MISL Goalkeeper of the Year. Ebert scored 52 goals, the first time in club history a player hit the 50 mark. Average attendance soared to 17,107 per game, the franchise record.
The Steamers struggle at the beginning of the season with a 5-9 start that gets St. Louisan Al Trost is fired as coach 14 games into the season. Trost replaced by Irishman Dave Clements. Under Clements, the team was 21-13 the rest of the season. Tony Glavin scored 50 goals and 18 assists. The Steamers are eliminated from the playoffs in the first round by the Wichita Wings. A 19-year old named Daryl Doran is drafted. Average attendance is 14,693.
The Steamers capture the Western Division crown and advance to the league championship for the third time in four seasons, where they lose to Baltimore in five games. Slobo Ilijevski is again named MISL Goalkeeper of the Year. Steamers midfielder Sam Bick joins Ilijevski on the All-MISL team. The Steamers host their second MISL All-Star Game. A crowd of 16,312 watch the Eastern Division defeat the Western Division, 8-6. Average home attendance for the season is 13,992. After the season, the team is sold to a group headed by Tom Bowers, who also filled the position of team president.
The Steamers are eliminated by Kansas City in two straight games in the playoffs. Many players are said to be unhappy with the strict Clements’ no-nonsense approach. After the season, Bowers fires Clements and rehires Pat McBride as coach. Average attendance is 12,711 per game.
Nebo Bandovic joins the team and scores 33 goals in 29 games. He played with an emotion-charged style that energized both the team and the fans. Bandovic scored a club-high six goals in a game against Baltimore and added seven more in the playoffs. The club finishes in fourth place in their division and their record dipped below .500 (23-25) for the first time in team history. Midfielder Doran made his mark. He did not score until the 12th game of the season, but scored 31 by the season’s end. The Steamers were eliminated by San Diego in the first round of the playoffs. Average attendance falls to 10,189.
The beginning of the end. After a rough start, McBride is fired and replace by Tony Glavin. Glavin trades two of the franchise’s most popular players, Don Ebert and Steve Pecher. The team finishes with a dismal 19-33 record and average attendance dips to 7,038 per game.
Joe Farrell becomes the new owner. Bandovic suffers a knee injury. The team struggles again and finishes with a 18-38 record. The team that came in with a roar eight years earlier goes out with a whimper as 4,839 fans showed up for the final game on April 15, 1988. Following the season, the club folds and the MISL terminates the Steamers franchise.
No professional indoor soccer team in St. Louis.
Indoor soccer returns on July 6, 1989 when San Jose businessman Milan Mandaric announces he will bring the Storm to St. Louis. Denny Long is named chairman of the board and Don Popovic is named coach. The Storm finishes with a 24-28 record.
The Major Indoor Soccer League changes its name to the Major Soccer League before the 1990-91 season. Preki helps the Storm to a 32-20 record but St. Louis loses to San Diego in playoffs. Dr. Abraham Hawatmeh is named chairman of the board.
Popovic is fired at midseason. St. Louis plays its last game on April 5, 1992, beating San Diego at The Arena before 16,959. The Storm finishes in last place with a record of 16-24 but leads the league in attendance with an average of 10,269.
The MISL folds and Hawatmeh brings the Tulsa Ambush to St. Louis and the National Professional Soccer League. Doran is named coach in January. The Ambush finish 19-21 and lose to Kansas City in the division finals.
The Ambush win the National Division but lose to Cleveland in finals.
Goalkeeper Jamie Swanner joins the Ambush. The team dominates the playoffs and sweep the finals against Harrisburg for St. Louis’ only title.
Boasting four 100-point scorers, the Ambush finish 24-16. St. Louis sets attendance records for a game (17,603) and season (182,043). The Ambush lose to Kansas City in the conference finals.
Injuries to Kevin Hundelt, Swanner and Doran hamper the team. The Ambush finish at 27-13 but struggle in the playoffs and lose to Kansas City.
Mark Moser (left) and Joe Reiniger (right) lead a potent offense with 273 points. St. Louis finishes at 27-13. Milwaukee defeats the Ambush in the finals.
Lee Tschantret helps the Ambush to a 21-19 record. He is injured in the finals against Cleveland and the Ambush struggle and lose a close series. Following the season, Doran, Moser, Hundelt and some members of the front office staff leave to work for the Steamers, who will begin play in 2000 at the Family Arena in St. Charles as members of the World Indoor Soccer League.
The Ambush finish at 11-33, the worst in franchise history. The club folds after its lease is terminated by Kiel Center.
The Steamers name is revived as a new WISL franchise. The ownership group consists of Brian Matthews, Carol Matthews, Charlie Wiegert and John Brison. Michael Mannion is named president. Daryl Doran is a player and head coach. The Steamers get off to a rough start as the Family Arena experienced a union boycott and a controversy over a scoreboard failure at the home opener. The Steamers finish at 9-15 and lose in the semifinals to Monterrey. Attendance for the Steamers at the Family Arena was disappointing.
Mannion leaves the franchise and is replaced as president by Patrick Barry. The Steamers improve to 11-13 but still struggle at the gate. A Daryl Doran bobblehead giveaway is a PR nightmare as the bobbleheads don’t arrive in time for the game, a fact fans were told only after they arrived. The Steamers play well in the playoffs but lose to San Diego in the semifinals. Meanwhile, the National Professional Soccer League of which the Ambush were members, changes its name by reviving the old Major Indoor Soccer League moniker.
The WISL essentially folds, and it’s three remaining teams; the Steamers, the Dallas Sidekicks and the San Diego Sockers, join the MISL. The Steamers, however, faced a financial crisis and needed additional investors. The MISL announced in July that the Steamers would take the 2002-03 MISL season off while searching for investors. The St. Louis area was without a professional indoor soccer team for only the second time since 1979.
June 9: The Steamers and the MISL announce the club will return to the field for the 2003-04 season with new investors. The new investor group, Steamers Marketing, LLC, consists of John Brauch, Bill Franzen, Jim Host, Patrick Oldani, Mike Shanahan Jr., CDM Properties, Daryl Doran and Larry Albus. The formation of the Steamers Soccer Foundation is also announced. In addition, the league announces that the Steamers will host the 2004 MISL All-Star Weekend.
October 11: The Steamers officially returned to action, defeating the Kansas City Comets in their first regular-season game.
October 25: Professional indoor soccer returned to the St. Louis area as the Steamers defeated the Comets in their home opener at the Family Arena.
December 14: The long-awaited Page Avenue Extension (Route 364) opens, bringing St. Louis County traffic into St. Charles County just 3/4 mile south of the Family Arena. Steamers officials hope this will help the lagging attendance at the Family Arena.
February 27-29: Steamers host the 2004 MISL All-Star Weekend. MISL USA All-Stars defeat MISL International All-Stars in a 10-1 blowout at the Family Arena in St. Charles. Attendance is just over 4,000. Daryl Doran makes his 13th All-Star Appearance playing on the MISL USA squad. MISL Legends defeat Steamers Legends 9-4 in the Legends Game following the All-Star Game.
March 29: Office staff receives the following notice, which was also published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “ Due to a lack of additional investment capital, the Steamers as an organization will dissolve following the current MISL season. There is a slim possibility that new investors will be brought on board but currently that is pure speculation.”
April: Patrick Oldani, a member of the Steamers Marketing group, begins a crusade to find new investors to keep the Steamers alive.
May: Oldani meets Michael Hetelson while participating in the Gumball 3000 road rally.
September 9: St. Louis meets the Steamers’ new owner/investors at a press conference held at the Savvis Center in downtown St. Louis. Real estate developer Wally Smerconish and marketing executive Michael Hetelson, both from Philadelphia, unveil the new Steamers logo and announce that the team would be moving to the Savvis Center for the 2004-05 season. The two also announced plans for a reality television program starring the Steamers.
October 29: Professional indoor soccer returns to downtown St. Louis when the Steamers play their first ever game at the Savvis Center. In a closely fought battle, the Steamers fall to the Baltimore Blast, 8-7 in overtime.
December 11: Steamers player/coach Daryl Doran, who holds the record of most professional indoor soccer games played, reaches another milestone when he plays in his 800th game when the Steamers face the Milwaukee Wave in Milwaukee.
January 20: At a press conference held at Savvis Center, Steamers president Michael Hetelson announces that the club has acquired the rights to Lindsay Kennedy, a female player from Maryville, Illinois.
January 25: Lindsay Kennedy begins working out with the team.
February 11: Kennedy is added to the active roster.
February 12: “Red Card”, the reality television program about Steamers’ owners Michael Hetelson and Wally Smerconish, debuts in St. Louis on KPLR-TV, WB-11.
February 19: The Steamers lose 7-3 to the Milwaukee Wave at Savvis Center. The crowd of 13,798 is the largest for indoor soccer in St. Louis in over five years and the largest in the league on the season. History is made when Lindsay Kennedy enters the game at 13:44 of the fourth quarter and becomes the first woman player in MISL history and only the fourth woman ever to play on a men’s professional indoor soccer team.
March 24: The MISL announced that regardless of which teams make it to the Championship Series, the series will be held in Milwaukee and St. Louis.
April 12: The MISL and ESPN announced that the MISL Championship Finals would be televised live over ESPN2.
April 23: The Steamers clinched a playoff spot when they defeated the Chicago Storm 4-2 at Savvis Center in the last regular-season game. With a 35% increase in attendance for the season, the Steamers ranked third in the league, up from last place the previous season.
April 29: In a playoff double-header at Savvis Center, the Steamers dropped Game One of their series to the Milwaukee Wave and the Cleveland Force defeated the Philadelphia Kixx.
May 1: The Steamers were eliminated from the playoffs when they were defeated 6-5 by the Milwaukee Wave.
May 21: After the Milwaukee Wave won Game One of the Championship Series over the Cleveland Force in Milwaukee, the two teams came to Savvis Center for Game Two, which was televised live on ESPN2. Both games were heralded as among the most exciting in indoor soccer history, with the May 21 game at Savvis going into double overtime before Milwaukee pulled out a 10-9 win to capture the league championship in an 84-minute epic duel.
September 21: Team president Michael Hetelson announces that Omid Namazi, who guided the Cleveland Force to the Championship Finals in May, will replace Daryl Doran as Head Coach of the Steamers for the 2005-06 season. Doran moves to the front office as vice president of corporate sales and alumni relations.
October 20: Zoran Savic is announced as team president. He most recently served as Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Head Coach of the Kansas City Comets.
March 26: The Steamers clinched the MISL Regular Season Championship and home field advantage in the 2006 MISL Championship Series.
March 27: Namazi’s contract is extended through the 2006-07 season.
April 1: History is made twice during a game between the Steamers and Milwaukee Wave at Savvis Center. The Steamers retire Daryl Doran’s number 7 at halftime, and a specially designed banner is raised to the rafters at Savvis Center. During the second quarter of the game, forward Joe Reiniger scores his 600th professional indoor soccer goal. He is only the eighth player in the history of professional indoor soccer to do so.
April 8: The Steamers finish the season as the Regular Season MISL Champions with a 23-7 overall record and 14-1 at home. They are the number one seed in the Championship Series.
April 15: The Steamers defeated the Chicago Storm 7-1 in game one of the semifinal round of the MISL Championship Series in Chicago.
April 22: The Steamers move on to the finals by defeating the Chicago Storm 9-2 in game two of the semifinal round at Savvis Center.
April 28: The final round of the MISL Championship Series opens at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore. The Steamers lose to the Blast, 4-2.
April 30: The Championship Series moves to Savvis Center for game two of the final round, televised on ESPN2. The Steamers dominate the Baltimore Blast 4-1 before a raucous crowd of 16,061. With the series tied at one game each, the teams play a “Golden Goal” sudden-death period to determine the league championship. Baltimore scores at 6:33 to become the 2006 MISL Champions.
September 7: Savvis Center, home of the Steamers since the 2004-05 season, was renamed Scottrade Center.
September 22: Following several months of discussions with potential new investors, the MISL announces that the Steamers are placed on inactive status for the 2006-07 season. MISL Commissioner Steve Ryan says the league will continue efforts to return a team to St. Louis.
No team in St. Louis.
The PASL-Pro league is launched, playing in smaller venues in Glen Carbon, Granite City and Ferguson. The St. Louis Illusion, owned by former Ambush star Jamie Swanner and his wife Karen, makes their debut, finishing second in the Eastern Division with an 8-8 record. Several former Steamers players make appearances in a handful of games. The Illusion also won the 2008-09 United States Open Cup for Arena Soccer tournament.
The Illusion finish in last place in the five-team Eastern Division with a 6-10 record.
The Swanners sell the PASL franchise to Matt Williams, who renames it Illinois Piasa (pie-a-saw). The Piasa finish in first place in the Pro Frontier Division with a 9-3 record.
February 11: The Piasa finish the 2011-12 PASL regular season with a 6-10 record in the Eastern Division and lost in the playoffs to the Detroit Waza.
June: Chris Economides of the MISL says St. Louis is a “primary target” for an expansion team.
December 14: Web domains stlouisambush.com and stlambush.com are registered.
February 16: The Piasa finish the 2012-13 PASL regular season in fourth place in the Eastern Division with a 4-12 record.
May: St. Louis Ambush Twitter and Facebook pages appear featuring an update of the 1990′s logo. Team owner Andrew Haines begins posting on his Twitter page and Facebook page. A news conference is set for June 18 to officially announce the franchise.
June 14: The MISL announces that the St. Louis Ambush will begin play at the Family Arena for the 2013-14 season.
June 18: St. Louis meets the new Ambush ownership group during a press conference at the Family Arena. It is also announced that Daryl Doran will return as Head Coach.
November 22: The MISL returns to St. Louis when the Ambush hold their home opener before 7,109 fans at the Family Arena and defeat the Pennsylvania Roar, 17-4.