In 1973 CLAY BERLING, the founder and Publisher of SOCCER AMERICA, the largest soccer publication in the USA, wrote in a letter to Wildcat’s owner and manager Paul Ingram, that the Connecticut Wildcats was “the best professional soccer team in America.” Between 1973 and 1974 Berling went on to publish more articles in Soccer America about the Wildcats than any other domestic or foreign team.
Although the Wildcats had 3 players playing on the USA National team and the Wildcats captain was also the USA National team captain, what Mr. Berling found most noteworthy about the Wildcats was that it was a team made up entirely of American citizens ( 80% born in the USA). This was an unheard of occurrence at a time when some other Pro teams had as few as 10% of their players having Americans citizenship.
A copy of Berling’s letter, along with press releases, player interviews, and significant memorabilia accompany a rich historical account of the Connecticut Wildcats in Ingram’s soon to be published book. The book follows the Wildcats from formation to generating record-breaking attendance at Hartford’s Dillon Stadium, to the final dissolution of the American Soccer League and the tremendous influence the former Connecticut Wildcats players have had in helping form US Soccer as we know it today.
Wildcats had a state of the Arts office on 100 Constitution Plaza. On a clear day we could see Springfield, Massachusetts from our office Window.
Soccertes, macot of the Wildcats, almost thought he was seeing double when Garo Yepremian, star soccer-style place kicker of the world champion Miami Dolphins, was standing next to Wildcat’s Vice President Bill Kiritsis.
After the CT Wildcats successful 1973 season, Pepe Pinton GM of the NY Cosmos and owner of “Granite All State Soccer School” as well as a Restaurant chain, and Paul Ingram of the Wildcats, contemplated starting together a Pro soccer team in New Hampshire. Picture is of Pinton in front of one of the final stadiums in considerations; however, they could not find an appropriate location and too much funding would have been required to invest in stadium up grades. More in the Wildcats book.
Lamar Hunt said about the Wildcats to Paul Ingram: “I believe you to be the youngest self made owner of a Professional Team, of all sports, in the US.” Being young with less business experience might NOT have been a good thing. Perhaps it caused the beginning of the downfall of the Wildcats.
When Wildcats Super Star Ben Brewster and Hubert Vogelsinger, the new Boston NASL coach (a long time acquaintance of Ingram), came to talk with Paul Ingram about a possible move by Ben from the Wildcats to Boston, Ingram felt a dilemma. In his heart he wanted the best for Brewster, even if it meant for him to go to Boston. Ingram admitted later, “ The decision to let Brewster go to Boston could very well have been my biggest mistake in running the Wildcats.” Part of the deal of the sale was a home game for the Wildcats against Boston, all proceeds to go to the Wildcats. This would be an historic first game of an ASL team against an NASL team with Brewster playing his first game for Boston against his old Wildcats; it had the potential for a sold out stadium. Whether this decision to let Brewster go had very little, or a lot, to do with the downfall of the Wildcats will be in the Wildcats book.
In losing Superstar, All American, High scorer Brewster, there was the concern of becoming less competitive in pro-soccer. To compensate for this loss, Ingram signed Louis Sebastian, a high scorer in Belgium’s highest level of pro-soccer, as well as Jan Klosek, a forward from the top Polish League in pro soccer. This was a major change in Ingram’s “Core” principal belief; he founded the Wildcats as an “American team with American Players”. (More in the Wildcats book.)
After the CT Wildcats, Ron McEachen became the Head Coach of Middlebury College in Vermont, and then Head Soccer Coach of the University of Vermont. After that he joint the Coaching staff of the New England Revolution MLS Pro-Soccer Team. Presently he is the Head Soccer Coach of Skidmore College in N.Y.
Quotes of Ron McEachen about his Connecticut Wildcats Coach Rene Koremans:
“Rene was a very focused and driven young man. He was on a mission to bring soccer to a higher level in the United States and his passion was infectious to all of those around him. He assembled a group of mostly American players who might not have been the best technically, but players who could fit his system of play and were able to put the play of the team above all individual glory.”
“We were a very close knit team, both on and off the field. Rene worked us very hard and there were times that we thought we couldn’t go on any further, but indeed we broke through barriers and became better in more ways than just the physical aspects of the game . ”
“Rene made us all better with the demands he placed on us each and every training and match situation. We always went into matches knowing that we were well prepared and motivated to work and play our best for Rene and the Wildcats. He had our utmost respect for his preparation, focus, passion, and ability as a player. I had the pleasure of playing with him in our midfield and he was a clever, athletic, quick and very hard working player from whom I learned much.”
“Rene was my role model as a coach. I took copious notes on his talks and training sessions and have used them throughout the years as a soccer coach here in the US. He really was the first person/coach from whom I learned every day about the game. He set the tone for my coaching philosophy and I’ m certain he did so similarly for others on the team.”
“Rene was a great influence on many people during his time in the states and I believe that everyone he touched was a better person for having spent time with him. I will be forever indebted for the lessons he taught me during our time together.”