Philadelphia Atoms

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Philadelphia Atoms
Full name Philadelphia Atoms
Nickname(s) Atoms
Founded 1973
Dissolved 1976; 45 years ago (1976)
Stadium Veterans Stadium (1973–75)
Franklin Field (1976)
Philadelphia, PA
Owner(s) Thomas McCloskey
Head Coach Al Miller
League NASL

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.


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.


Year Record Regular Season Finish Playoffs Avg Attendance
1973 9–8–2 1st, Eastern Division NASL Champions 11,501
1974 8–11–1 3rd, Eastern Division Did Not Qualify 11,784
1975 indoor 1–1 3rd, Region 1 Did Not Qualify
1975 10–12 4th, Eastern Division Did Not Qualify 6,848
1976 8–16 4th, Eastern Division, Atlantic Conference Did Not Qualify 5,912


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