Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
When Canada dominated the USA ...
by Paul Kennedy, June 3rd, 2012 4:18AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

TAGS:  canada, men's national team, olympics


The USA carries a 14-game unbeaten streak into Sunday's game against Canada in Toronto (TV: NBC Sports Network,  Univision Deportes, 7 pm ET). It hasn't lost to Canada in a full international in more than 27 years, but there was a time, in the days of the NASL, when Canada dominated its North American rival.

There was no Gold Cup. There was only World Cup qualifying into which Concacaf divided teams by region.

For three straight World Cup cycles, Canada, not the USA, moved on with Mexico to the final round of qualifying. The low point came three days before Christmas in 1976 when the USA and Canada met in a playoff in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Few Americans got much playing time in the NASL. Their big star was Juli Veee, then playing in Belgian First Division with Lierse. He had fled Communist Hungary, settled in Southern California in 1969, played a little soccer but needed more gainful employment, so he worked at Spahn Ranch, famous as the hideout of Charlie Manson and his family.

Veee, later a big indoor soccer star, tells the story of one day meeting Manson, who asked him what he was doing on the ranch. Veee's response -- "Oh, I'm a Hungarian" -- confused the crazed Manson enough to leave without bothering him.

Most of the other Americans played supporting roles if they started at all on their NASL teams. NASL's rules on home-grown players didn't differentiate between Americans and Canadians, and teams often met their "North American" quota stocking up on Canadians.

Canada had Croatian-born goalie Zeljko Bilecki, who won the NASL in 1976 with the Toronto Metros Croatia, Bruce Wilson, later named to the Concacaf Team of the Century, Robert Iarusci, a four-time Soccer Bowl champion, and the Lenarduzzi brothers, Sam and younger brother Bob, then only 21.

Perhaps the best-known player from the 1976 Canada team was the late Brian Budd -- a World Superstars champion so dominant that ABC invoked the "Budd rule" to exclude him from the competition as a three-time champion.

Budd scored in the first  half, while Bob Lenarduzzi, now the Vancouver Whitecaps president, and Bob Bolitho added late goals and Canada won 3-0.

Four years ago, Canada got the better of the USA again, tying in Fort Lauderdale and winning in Vancouver to eliminate the Americans before they even played their fourth and final game of their qualifying group.

Canada qualified for the World Cup for its first and only time in 1986 but had no time to build upon its achievement. In the fall, Canadian soccer was reeling as four players were implicated in match-fixing scandal that broke out at a tournament held in Singapore.

By then, the NASL had also folded. The USA handled the collapse of the NASL much better than Canada did. Both national teams had relied in the early years on players from ethnic ranks. By the late 1980s, the U.S. national team had begun producing players coming through the growing youth and college ranks.

The turning point in the fortunes for the USA and Canada is no longer considered a full international, but the Olympic qualifier held at the St. Louis Soccer Park in late May 1987 involved two teams fielding full national teams according to the FIFA rules of the day.

Canada had won the first leg, 2-0, at home, but the Americans came back to win the second leg, 3-0.

Only one of the Americans, Chico Borja, had ties with the defunct NASL. The rest of the players were young college kids from places like UCLA, Virginia, Clemson and Indiana.

With no place for them play professionally, the USSF took the bold step of paying its national team players to keep them together.

The U.S. national team was off and running, leaving its neighbors to the north in the dust.

1 comment
  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: June 3, 2012 at 12:02 p.m.
    Well, that was then. Interesting to learn the history of these 2 teams, however. Their win against us in the Olympic qualifying tournament shows that Canada may be ready to tighten the gap, which I think would be great. Today's game, however, I'm expecting to see a Scotland-style dismantling by our guys. I expect our midfield to dominate possession and create gobs of good chances. I expect our defense to not be tested significantly. With Dempsey and Donovan starting together for the first time under JK and with Gomez and Altidore up top, we should see some quality scoring chances. I think Mo Edu needs to sit to make room for Altidore and Dempsey. Midfield should be Donovan Bradley Torres Dempsey with Gomez and Altidore up top and whatever back 4 JK wants to throw out there. Also, I think Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando should get one half each to make sure they have some game reps in before qualifiers start next week. Tim Howard really doesn't need this game....

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Soccer America Confidential
Whitecaps own up to their shortcomings in 2016    
The plight of defending champion Portland has been a running saga all season yet its foe ...
Drogba and Saputo show the power of 'big personalities'    
Players on big salaries often bring along big egos as well. Montreal owner Joey Saputo has ...
What was the value of the USA's bumpy win in Cuba?    
The USA's 2-0 win in a friendly over Cuba on Friday marked its first return to ...
Paul Arriola takes advantage of opportunities for USA    
On and off the field, fast starts are normal for Paul Arriola. He scored a goal ...
Options could lead to makeover of U.S. midfield    
Strong performances by several players in friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand could create a logjam ...
Bob Bradley steps into a tough new world    
Last season, 11 of 20 Premier League clubs changed managers, including major stars such as Louis ...
New NASL owner expects to see difference in how league operates    
The interlocking and overlapping elements of North American pro soccer are among the issues facing owners ...
So far, Jordan Morris' decisions have been the right ones    
U.S. forward Jordan Morris turned down a move to German club Werder Bremen, which is rooted ...
MLS Playoff Watch: Breaking down the Eastern Conference's battle of bubble teams    
With a month of the regular season to be played, no Eastern Conference team has clinched ...
Strenghtened Sounders set aside distractions to focus on postseason quest    
The midseason arrival of Nicolas Lodeiro and the return to fitness of Roman Torres has bolstered ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives