30 years of Milwaukee Wave soccer

Bradley Center, Milwaukee Wave, MISL, Nostalga, Soccer, US Cellular Arena

(A little patience, please.  I am posting this LIVE from the US Cellular Arena from an Android tablet just after the conclusion of the Milwaukee Wave Alumni game, and before the MISL game between the Wave and the Rochester Lancers.  No links and probable spelling errors.  THIS IS TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT!)

The Milwaukee Wave is the longest current surviving  soccer team in North America.  From their beginnings in November 1984 at the Milwaukee Auditorium, to the heydays of the '90s at the Bradley Center, to the past decade at the Arena, the Wave has given their fans 6 titles and lots of memories in 30 short seasons.

As the Wave did in 2009 during their 25th Anniversary Season, the Wave again opened their field to many of the players who donned the blue and kelly green and white and red and now black throughout the years.

This afternoon, players from the '84-'85 season such as Matt "The Animal" Clark and Dave Hodgson and Tom Alioto played with recent retirees Joe Hammes, Johnny Torres, Troy Dusosky and Michael King.

But those weren't the only players of days gone by; Tim Alioto, Ed Puskarich and Tom Isirov represented the late '80s and early '90s, and Steve Morris, Brian Loftin and Jason Rienzi represented the late '90s.  About 40 players in all took the field.

The fun, however, wasn't watching a bunch of grey, pot-bellied gimpers run around for an hour chasing a bag of wind (even if the BLUE team beat the WHITE team 27-15 using current MISL scoring rules).  The fun was watching guys you remember passing to other guys you remember... Michael Richardson to Jason Willin, Tyrone Gordon (nobody said only former Wave stars were invited) to Nathan Sabich.  The fun also including racking the brain to remember if those guys actually played together, like Richardson and Willin.

From a personal standpoint, I got a kick of what was also sort of a mid-90s Milwaukee Rampage reunion (Side note; the Rampage was an outdoor team that played from 1994 thru 2002 seasons, winning two A-League titles... and your beloved blogger worked the press box for all nine seasons).  Three players from the 1995 Rampage - Dan Green, Jon Szczepanski and Willan - all played in today's Alumni game.  Other Wave alumni that were also Rampage alumni that played in the game today included Morris, Loftin, Lovelace Ackah, Steve Provan and his brother Jake.

As I've mentioned in other blogs related to the Wave, the current state of indoor soccer is bleak.  The MISL can't grow to more than seven teams (and can't seem to retain five teams across any two seasons).  The teams that are alive have been in "controlling expenses" mode (meaning bussing across the country, shortening the schedule and yearly salary cuts) for the last 10 years or so.

Think if it this way... at 30 seasons, the Wave is not the new kid on the Milwaukee sports scene.  Games are affordably priced and played mostly on the weekends.  Current adults (like me) went to games when we were younger and attendance averaged over 8,000 per game, we brought our kids, and they (at least my kids had better) bring their kids.  So why is the average attendance in the MISL around 5,000 per game (including the Wave)?

I don't work for the Wave, so this is not a promotional post.  But there are six regular season games left after tonight, and the (likely) playoffs in mid-March.  So get to a game.

It would be a damn shame to lose the sport and the team, and deprive so many people of the memories that I had over the past 30 years, that I got to relive this afternoon.

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