Coming To America


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Mexico 1976 Olympic Games and 1978 World Cup striker HUGO SANCHEZ (7) of the San Diego Sockers, out on loan north of the border for a second consecutive summer from UNAM Pumas, has a shot at goal with a spectacular overhead bicycle kick against the visiting Tampa Bay Rowdies during the 1980 North American Soccer League match at Jack Murphy Stadium in southern California.
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In the end, not including host nation Canada, nine participants — eight players and one trainer — at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games later returned to the same continent in order to sign with professional North American Soccer League clubs at some point. Half of the players came from the silver medal squad of Poland and, with one exception, would experience the ice hockey-like Major Indoor Soccer League. The first two players arriving, as matters worked out, originated from the Middle Eastern countries of Iran and Israel while most of this group, with the notable exception of Mexico’s HUGO SANCHEZ, were already well past their footballing prime.

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Three-time Iran Olympian PARVIZ GHELICHKHANI of San Jose Earthquakes
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’76 SUMMER OLYMPIANS in the NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LEAGUE
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1978 – Parviz GHELICHKHANI …….. Iran ………. San Jose Earthquakes (NASL)
1978 – Ehud BEN TOVIM ………………. Israel ……. Oakland Stompers (NASL)
1979 – Andranik ESKANDARIAN ….. Iran ……… New York Cosmos (NASL)
1979 – Hugo SANCHEZ …………………. Mexico …. San Diego Sockers (NASL)
1980 – Leslaw CMIKIEWICZ …………. Poland ….. New York Arrows (MISL)
1981 – Kazimierz DEYNA ………………. Poland ….. San Diego Sockers (NASL)
1981 – Claudio COUTINHO …………… Brazil …….. Los Angeles Aztecs (NASL)
1983 – Piotr MOWLIK …………………… Poland ….. Pittsburgh Spirit (MISL)
1984 – Wladyslaw ZMUDA ……………. Poland ….. New York Cosmos (NASL)

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Iran 1976 Olympic Games and 1978 World Cup defender ANDRANIK ESKANDARIAN (2) of the New York Cosmos escapes the challenge of Seattle Sounders striker PETER WARD (9), the once-capped England international out on loan in the North America Soccer League from 1979 and 1980 UEFA European Cup of Champions titlist Nottingham Forrest, during the 1982 Soccer Bowl contested at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California.
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Highly-experienced Poland international midfielder KAZIMIERZ DEYNA signed on to play in the old North American Soccer League following three seasons of English football with Manchester City and went on to score 44 goals in 90 NASL games over the course of four seasons with the San Diego Sockers.

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