Sunday, February 12, 2006


Sunday - February 12, 2006

Professional soccer in North America is starting to see signs of stability, a necessary ingredient as the game increases in popularity with the public, the business world and the media.

Long gone are the Toronto Blizzard, the New York Cosmos, the Toronto Metros, Toronto Italia, Hamilton Steelers and numerous other exciting teams that attracted large crowds for many years when high level soccer found itself in a golden era during the second half of the last century.

Still playing today, Vancouver Whitecaps of the USL’s First Division is one example of a high profile team that stayed around. Others are CPSL teams Toronto Croatia which launched in 1956 and London City. Toronto Croatia are celebrating longevity with a May pre-season visit to Zagreb and Split in Croatia, while on February 14 London City celebrates 33 uninterrupted years in the tough, pro Second Division, to continue a love affair with Southern Ontario fans that goes back to St.Valentine’s Day, 1973.

Despite the rough and tumble of the competition, London has also played a strong role in player development, a mandate initiated by their founder, Max (Markus) Gauss who was honoured for this and other work in soccer as the first person from the sport to be inducted into the London Sports Hall of Fame.

The induction came last year, the year grandson Ryan Gauss launched a high level women’s team, soon to realize what a cruel game soccer can be after recording an impeccable 10 wins out of 10 games played in the Women’s Canada Cup, his team failed to win the trophy in the final many believed was a snap.

London City GM Harry Gauss, son of Hall of Famer Max, is best known in recent times for sending several players to Europe – a good example of Canadian player development paying off. His team has won the CPSL-sponsored Open Canada Cup and was a finalist last year, but he has yet to hit the bull’s eye with the CPSL overall Championship.

“It’s hard to go for the big win and at the same time give so many young talented players the chance they deserve,” he reasons. But as the club starts year 34 with an upcoming kickoff in May and the first home game in the regular schedule on June 2, that’s precisely what Harry Gauss is aiming to do.

But the first celebration on February 14 follows the announcement of the 2005 MVP, Rookie of the Year and the Most Dedicated Player.

It’s dedication that’s kept one of Canada’s best known teams going for such a long time.


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