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June 24, 1972 – Boston Astros prepare for Pele’

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When Lowell’s John Bertos started the Astros in the mid-1960s, he acted as owner, coach and goalkeeper. Bertos had to be resourceful, as the team moved from Fall River, to Boston to Worcester, competing in the American Soccer League from 1969 until 1975, when the team finished as co-champion of the league. Bertos brought in talented Brazilian players, such as Decio Brito, a former Pelé teammate at Santos FC and brother of Seleçāo star Brito. Bertos, whose son, Mike, was a standout at Boston University, went on to coach Lowell High School’s soccer team in the ‘80s.

In late June 1972, the Astros played an ASL game before 800 spectators, then drew a similar crowd for an exhibition against Santos FC and Pelé.

June 24, 1972 – Boston Astros 5:1 Delaware Wings at Everett Memorial Stadium (Att.: 800)

Gambian Charlie Thomas, a former Harvard star, scored the first goal off a Clair De Boer rebound. Itamar Alves broke a 1-1 halftime deadlock in 49th minute. Myles “Dusty” Richard (now coach at The Brooks School, where he guided players such as Charlie Davies and Mike Fucito) was the Astros’ only U.S.-born player, according to Bob Monahan’s story in The Boston Globe.

June 30, 1972 – Boston Astros 1:6 Santos FC at Nickerson Field (Att.: 1,000)

Pelé scored three goals “before departing in a police car at the 24-minute mark” of the second half. Fog, high ticket prices ($10) and a “false radio report that the game had been canceled” likely contributed to limiting the crowd. Heitor “Boom Boom” Barbosa’s 44th-minute goal equalized. Alfonso Celso Garcia Reis “Afonsinho” put on a halftime juggling exhibition. Afonsinho “owns his own contract” and sued for the right to wear a beard and long hair on the field,” according to M.R. Montgomery’s story in the Globe. Indeed, Afonsinho had become the first Brazilian player to own his own pass, essentially the country’s first free agent.


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