It has been four years since Kyle Rote Jr. first burst upon the American sports scene. It was in 1973 as a rookie with the Dallas Tornado that Rote captured national attention by becoming the first American-born player to win the North American Soccer League scoring championship.
Several months later he won ABC's Superstars competition and $53,400. He has since won that event twice more.
But the soccer seasons that followed 1973 were not quite so enjoyable for Rote. His goal total dipped to seven in 1974, five in 1975 and just three in 1976.
Many attributed Rote's problems to the improvement in the quality of the league. The glamorous rookies of 1973 simply couldn't cut it in the NASL of 1976.
But Rote, born on Christmas Day, 1950, when his father, Kyle Sr., was tearing up Southern Methodist Unisity's football opponents, has proved this season that he is not washed up at 26.
He has scored 11 goals and added three assists to date for 25 points for a tie for seventh place in NASL scoring. What's more, the Tornado has the best record in the league - 16-6 and 140 points - and Rote has played a major role.
"We've had an unusual chemistry this year." Rote said by phone from Dallas. "We don't have any really big names but we've won anyway.
"Last year we started fast and then faded. Our coach Al Miller (in his first year in Dallas) has trained us differently so we won't tire in the stretch."
And his own comeback? "Al Miller has been a help." Rote said. "As an American he understands where I've come from, the American sports systeem. Al is always willing to listen to what you have to say. He may not agree, but he'll always listen."
The younger Rote, almost a carbon copy of his father at 6 foot, 185 pounds, with the same curly blond hair and snub nose, didn't play soccer until he was 17 and then took it up for summer recreation.
He excelled immediately, however, and starred for four years at Sewanee College before being drafted by the Tornado and returning to his hometown.
Rote has actively pushed for players' rights since he first entered the league. He led the movement among American players which helped bring about rules limiting the number of foreign players on NASL rosters. Currently he is involved with the movement to form a players association.