New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: Soccer

Carlos Alberto

Carlos Alberto (Soccer.  Born, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 17, 1944.)  Carlos Alberto (Torres) was rated one of the great defenders in soccer during his long career and was selected 73 times for the Brazilian national team.  Alberto joined the Cosmos during the 1977 North American Soccer League season and immediately made a big contribution in the club’s winning the N.A.S.L. championship in Soccer Bowl ‘77.  He played on four N.A.S.L. championship teams in his five-year career with the Cosmos and another season (1981), during which he played with the California Surf, the Cosmos did not win the championship.  From the very first, Alberto made a positive impact on the Cosmos as the team won three of the first four games in which he played in 1977 and then swept through the playoffs in six games to win the title.  Alberto also has the distinction of having played more games with Pele than any other player.  The two were teammates with the fabled Santos team of Brazil before both joined the Cosmos.  From 1977-82, Alberto played in 100 regular-season games with the Cosmos and an additional 26 in the playoffs. He registered just 34 points (including six goals) during those 100 games and added five assists in the playoffs, but Alberto’s contribution was never measured in statistics, but, rather, in his uncanny ability to frustrate the offensive attacking plan of the opposing team.  His game was defense.

Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer (Soccer. Born, September 11, 1945, Munich, West Germany.)  Fabled throughout Europe for his stylish field generalship that really redefined forms of soccer, Franz Beckenbauer was known to soccer fans as “The Kaiser.”  On May 25, 1977, this world-class player came to America to join a New York Cosmos team that already featured Pele and Georgio Chinaglia.  In his first season in the North American Soccer League, Beckenbauer was a big factor as the Cosmos won the Soccer Bowl, emblematic of the N.A.S.L. championship.  For his play that year, Beckenbauer was chosen the league’s Most Valuable Player.  Beckenbauer’s genius was that he made it possible for others to score, not that he scored many goals himself.  In his best scoring season, 1978, he had only 32 points with eight goals.  After four years with the Cosmos (during which the team won three championships), Beckenbauer went back to Europe, but he returned for a final season in 1983.  After the end of his active career, he became the head coach of the West German national team.

Bill Bergesch

Bill Bergesch (Baseball, soccer.  Born, St. Louis, MO, June 17, 1928; died, Stamford, CT, May 10, 2011.)  In 1961, Louis William Bergesch was the second man hired by the embryo New York Mets (road secretary Lou Niss was the first), as scouting and farm director.  But following the Mets’ first season, Bergesch moved to the Yankees in Nov. 1962.  In 1966-67, he helped organize the New York Generals of the National Professional Soccer League (one of two teams playing soccer during 1967 in Yankee Stadium).  Bergesch returned to the Yankees for a second stint in 1977, became general manager of the Cincinnati Reds in 1985, and came back to the Yankees front office again in 1988.  He formally retired May 25, 1994.  Most of his early career (1947-60) was spent in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, and Bergesch signed young righthander Bob Gibson during his years with the St. Louis farm club at Omaha, Neb.

Vladimir Bogicevic

Vladimir Bogicevic (Soccer.  Born, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Nov. 6, 1950.)  Signing with the N.A.S.L. Cosmos from Red Star Belgrade, Vladimis Bogicevic made an immediate impact in the 1978 season.  “Bogie” scored 10 goals in 30 games and helped the Cosmos win their third Soccer Bowl title and second in succession.  He was to play on two more championship teams (1980, 1982) but never reached the 10-goal plateau again.  Instead, Bogicevic became the N.A.S.L. playmaking leader.  He led the league four times in five years in assists (1979, 1981-83) and had a career N.A.S.L.-record 134 assists by the end of the 1983 season.  Bogicevic was chosen a Second Team All-Star his first two seasons and to the First Team the next four as his playmaking skills became easily the league’s finest.

Bob Bradley

Bob Bradley (Soccer.  Born, Montclair, NJ, Mar. 3, 1958.)  Bob Bradley was already a well-known name in New York-New Jersey soccer circles even before being named MetroStars coach after the 2002 season.  The first coach to reach 100 career M.L.S. victories (which he did with the Metros), he joined the expansion Chicago Fire on Oct. 30, 1997, ahead of the club’s first year in the league.  In five seasons, he led Chicago to three division titles and U.S. Open Cup championships in 1998 and 2000.  Bradley’s first Chicago team not only won the U.S. Open Cup but also the M.L.S. Cup, earning him Coach of the Year honors.  His New Jersey connection is Princeton, where he played prior to his 1980 graduation.  Bradley then became head coach at Ohio U. in 1981 (10-5-2) before returning to Princeton as Tigers head coach.  In 12 seasons at Old Nassau (1984-95), his teams won two Ivy League championships.  Bradley was 92-80-15 at Princeton, with three N.C.A.A. tournament berths.  He was twice an assistant coach under Bruce Arena, who became coach of the U.S. National Team.  The first time was at the University of Virginia (1982-83) and the second was at D.C. United (1996-97), where the pair guided D.C. United to the first two M.L.S. championships.  In Chicago, three of his five teams went to at least the semifinal round of the M.L.S. playoffs.  As a player at Princeton, Bradley was a four-time letter winner (1976-79) and was the Tigers’ leading scorer as a senior, gaining All-Ivy honorable mention.  After a little less than three disappointing seasons with the MetroStars (32-31-26, with two first-round playoff exits), Bradley was fired with three games left in the 2005 season and replaced by Mo Johnston.  He then coached the U.S. national team in the 2010 World Cup.

Giorgio Chinaglia

Giorgio Chinaglia (Soccer.  Born, Carrera, Italy, Jan. 24, 1947.)  Giorgio Chinaglia, the crowd-pleasing goal scorer, was the leading scorer in the history of the North American Soccer League.  He scored 193 goals in 213 league games and added another 49 in 41 playoff games.  During his eight-year career with the New York Cosmos, Chinaglia set virtually every scoring record possible as the Cosmos won four N.A.S.L. titles (1977-78, 1980, 1982).  Joining the club in 1976 when it was based in Yankee Stadium, Chinaglia scored five goals in the final home game that season.  He led the N.A.S.L. in scoring five times in eight years, setting a single-season record of 79 points in 1978, when he scored a record 34 goals.  Chinaglia scored the winning goal in the Cosmos’ 1977 and 1978 Soccer Bowl triumphs.  During the playoffs in 1980 he scored seven goals in a game against Tulsa.  That year, he scored a staggering 40 points in seven playoff games with 18 goals.  A strong, physical player with a powerful, accurate shot, Chinaglia was a superstar with his Italian League club, Lazio, before joining the Cosmos.

Bill Cox

Bill Cox (Soccer.  Born, New York, NY, Nov. 8, 1909; died, Mt. Kisco, NY, Mar. 28, 1989.)  William Drought Cox was probably the man who restored soccer to a status as popular sport in the United States after it virtually disappeared from the American sports calendar during World War II.  Cox led a group of investors who founded the International Soccer League in 1960 and invited major club teams from nations around the world to play annually in New York each summer.  For six years, first at the Polo Grounds (1960-61) and then at Randalls Island (1962-65), Cox and the I.S.L. put some of the world’s better club teams on display.  Success by the I.S.L., which drew crowds upwards of 20,000 in New York and then branched out to Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, and other venues, aroused the interest of the financial backers who launched two pro soccer leagues in 1967.  A year later, those two groups merged to form the North American Soccer League, in which Cox was at one time a club owner in Hartford, Conn.  Cox was involved in numerous other sports ventures around the New York area, including the ownership of the Brooklyn Football Dodgers in the All-America Football Conference in 1946-47. He then sold the club to Branch Rickey, head of the Dodgers baseball team.  In 1943, Cox purchased the Philadelphia Phillies but was forced to sell the club by Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis, when it was learned that he wagered on the team. Cox claimed he did not know of the restriction against betting on his own club to win.

Rikki Dadason

Rikki Dadason (Soccer.  Born, Mossfellbaer, Iceland, Apr. 26, 1972.)  Ivy League career leader in goals (50), Rikhardur Dadason was also a member of Iceland’s national team (1991-93).  During his freshman year at Columbia, Dadason was hampered by a knee injury sustained the year before and scored only three goals in five varsity games.  But in 1993, he poured in a school-record 24 goals in 15 games (plus five assists).  Heavily marked thereafter by every opponent, Dadason scored 10 goals in 1994 and 13 in 1995.  He finished with 111 points (including 11 assists) in 47 career games.

Buff Donelli

Buff Donelli (Soccer and college football.  Born, Morgan, PA, July 22, 1907; died, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Aug. 9, 1994.)  Because he was a big fan of Buffalo Bill, Aldo Theodore Donelli earned his peculiar childhood nickname, “Buff,” that remained with him his entire life.  One of the most successful college football coaches of his time, Donelli was a standout soccer star who represented the United States in the 1934 World Cup matches in Rome.  In that series, Donelli scored the only goal for the U.S. team against the host Italians in the loss that eliminated the U.S. from competition.  In an earlier round, he earned worldwide headlines by scoring four goals in the U.S. victory over Mexico. The headlines read “Donelli 4, Mexico 2.”  Even though he hadn’t played regularly in about six seasons, Donelli was asked to rejoin his former Pittsburgh team, the Morgan Strassers, in the National Cup final at the Polo Grounds in 1942, and did.  During his long college football coaching career, Donelli was head coach at Duquesne (then a major power in the sport), Boston U., and Columbia.  In 1941, he coached both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Duquesne for part of the season before N.F.L. Commissioner Bert Bell forced him to choose between the two.  Donelli picked Duquesne, but coached the Rams in 1944 when the club was located in Cleveland (the Rams moved to Los Angeles in 1946 and to St. Louis in 1995).  In four seasons at Duquesne, Donelli’s record was 29-4-2.  At Boston U., he led the Terriers to post-World War II respectability and coached the legendary Harry Agannis (the “Golden Greek”).  Donelli succeeded Lou Little at Columbia in 1957 and coached the Lions to the Ivy League championship in 1961.

Eddie Firmani

Eddie Firmani (Soccer.  Born, Capetown, South Africa, Aug. 7, 1933.)  Perhaps the finest coach in the history of the North American Soccer League, Edwin Firmani guided two different teams to a total of three Soccer Bowl titles and one of them to an indoor crown as well. Firmani earned a near-legend status for his job with the 1977 Cosmos when he inherited a club from Gordon Bradley that seemed laden with talent but lacked cohesiveness. In less than half a season, Firmani not only brought the Cosmos home second in their division but guided them through a 5-0 playoff series for their first Soccer Bowl title and second N.A.S.L. Championship.  That season, Firmani also earned the distinction of being Pele’s final coach as the most famous player in the history of the sport retired at the end of the 1977 season.  In 1978, Firmani coached the Cosmos to a 24-6 record that matched the N.A.S.L. record for wins in a season and then guided them to a second straight Soccer Bowl championship, their only such feat in the history of the illustrious club. Previously, Firmani had coached the Tampa Bay Rowdies to the 1975 Soccer Bowl title and also to the 1976 NASL indoor crown.  He was replaced by Prof. Julio Mazzei on June 12, 1979, but the Cosmos were later eliminated in the semifinals.  As a player, Firmani had an extensive career in Europe with England’s Charlton Athletic (twice) and with three Italian League clubs – Internazionale Milan, Genoa and Sampdoria.

About This Dictionary

The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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