OBITUARY: Alkis Panagoulias (1934-2012)

Greek-American Alkis Panagoulias, only the second full-time U.S. national team coach in history, died on Monday at his home in Vienna, Va., at the age of 78.

Panagoulias had first made a name for himself as the coach of the Greek-Americans, the New York club that he coached to three straight U.S. Open Cup titles in 1967, 1968 and 1969.

He then moved to Greece and coached the Greek national team to its first appearance in the European Championship in 1980. He would later coach Greece at its first World Cup in 1994.

He was named the U.S. national team coach 1983 and was tasked with the job of coaching Team America in the NASL. Team America was "owned" by Robert Lifton and played at Washington's RFK Stadium.

But many key national team players -- notably Rick Davis -- refused to leave their clubs for Team America, and it lasted only one season.

Werner Fricker's election as U.S. Soccer president in 1984, replacing Gene Edwards, brought a change in direction for the U.S. Olympic team at the Los Angeles Games.

Manfred Schellscheidt had spent the spring preparing for the Olympics with an all-amateur team, but Fricker chose to bring in Panagoulias and send a pro team to the Olympics.

The three U.S. games drew huge crowds at the Rose Bowl and Stanford Stadium, but the Americans failed to advance out of their group.

Panagoulias' main task was to attempt to qualify the national team for the 1986 World Cup, but its run ended in the semifinal stage of qualifying with a 1-0 loss at home to Costa Rica.

It was one of the darkest periods in the history of American soccer. The NASL had collapsed months earlier, and the U.S. Soccer Federation was insolvent.

Panagoulias' last game in charge of the national team was a 5-0 loss to England at the Los Angeles Coliseum in June 1985.

Greece’s players will wear black armbands during its Euro 2012 quarterfinal match against Germany in Poland on Friday.

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