INDOOR SOCCER IN THE WORLD CUP
Today's indoor soccer history quiz:
What do Landon Donovan, Carlos Alberto and Kaz Deyna have in common?
They have played indoor soccer in North America and made their mark in the World Cup.
Donovan performed with the San Diego Sockers during the 2019 Major Arena Soccer League season after a storied outdoor career with the U.S. men's national team and several club sides, including the LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes (Major League Soccer).
Carlos Alberto, who captained Brazil to the 1970 World Cup championship, saw action with the New York Cosmos for one indoor season.
And Deyna, who starred for the Sockers for several championship seasons, played an important part of Poland's third-place finish at the 1974 World Cup while winning after winning the 1972 Olympic gold medal.
With the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar set for Nov. 19, we're going to take a look at some 35 players, one referee, and one player turned assistant coach, that have been on rosters in what many soccer observers claim is truly The Greatest Show on Earth.
Most of those players competed in the first incarnation of the Major Indoor Soccer League a couple of generations ago, when the league was the only viable professional league in the United States in which players could earn a living.
Four players have competed in the MASL and another in M2.
Here is the growing list of individuals, many from Canada, Mexico and the United States, who have been to a World Cup:
Landon Donovan (2002, 2006, 2010)
If you don't know who he is, then shame on you. Donovan enjoyed a fabulous career for club and country. For the USMNT, Donovan is the all-time World Cup leader with five goals, including the dramatic score he recorded in the waning minutes of the 1-0 victory over Algeria at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He won a record six MLS Cups. The league's MVP award is named after him. He is Major League Soccer's all-time scoring leader and is tied with Clint Dempsey on the U.S. men's national career goals list with 57 goals apiece. Donovan, who has scored 145 goals and assisted on an MLS-record 123 tallies. In 2019, Donovan played some indoor soccer for the Sockers, scoring five goals in eight appearances.
Guillermo Franco (2006, 2010)
A naturalized Mexican citizen who was born in Argentina, Franco was a forward for El Tri in consecutive World Cups. He competed in only home matches for the Monterrey Flash in 2014-15, producing 12 goals and six assists, helping the Mexican club to its first MASL crown. Franco also played outdoor soccer for San Lorenzo and Velez Sarsfield (Argentina), Monterrey and Pachuca (Mexico), Villarreal (Spain), West Ham United (England) and the Chicago Fire (MLS). He scored seven goals in 25 appearances for Mexico from 2005-10.
Jermaine Jones (2014)
The son of an American father and German mother, Jones was born in Frankfurt and played a good portion of his career in the Bundesliga before he was cleared by FIFA to play for the U.S. national team in 2009. He wound up making 69 appearances for the side, scoring four goals, through 2017. One of those goals was an equalizing score in a 2-2 draw with Portland at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The USA advanced to the Round of 16. Jones put together a 20-year career that included stints at Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen, and Schalke 04 (Germany), Blackburn (England) and Besiktaş (Turkey). After playing for the New England Revolution, Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy in MLS, Jones played two seasons for the Ontario Fury (MASL) during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns, scoring 10 goals and adding 10 assists.
Humberto Suazo (2010)
Suazo played one game for the Monterrey Flash during the 2017-18 season, recording four assists. A dangerous striker in every competition in which he played, the Chilean international retired with a host of club and international honors. That included two appearances at the 2010 South African World Cup, helping his South American side reach the knockout round. The bald-headed Suazo garnered a reputation as one of the best forwards in Concacaf. As Monterrey's (Mexico) all-time leading goal-scorer, Suazo helped the team to a pair of LIGA MX crowns and three Concacaf Champions League titles. He played 60 times for Chile, striking for 21 goals.
Adolfo Bautista (2010)
After a 17-year outdoor career, Bautista played 11 games for the Chicago Mustangs in M2 during the 2015-16 campaign. He was lethal, connecting for 18 goals in 11 matches and was even nominated for the rookie of the year award at the age of 36. An attacking midfielder, Bautista was on the Mexican roster for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He finished with 11 goals in 38 international games for El Tri. On the club level, Bautista also played for the likes of Pachuca, Guadalajara and Queretaro in his home country, and Chivas USA (MLS).
A SPECIAL WORLD CUP
Kaz Deyna (1974)
Regarded as one of the finest if not best Polish player of all-time, Deyna scored three goals while helping his side to a third-place finish at the 1974 World Cup. While captaining the Poles in Germany, Deyna found the net in the 7-0 win over Haiti, an insurance goal in a 2-1 victory past Italy and the first tally in a 2-1 triumph over Yugoslavia in the next round. That success was sandwiched in-between a pair of scintillating appearances at the Summer Olympics as the attacking midfielder captured a gold medal at the 1972 Summer Games, while connecting for a tournament-best nine goals, and a silver medal in Montreal four years later. Deyna went on to star for the San Diego Sockers in the NASL and MISL (1981-87), winning five championships. He died in a car accident at the age of 41 in 1989.
U.S. NATIONAL TEAM
Desmond Armstrong (1990)
Armstrong and Jimmy Banks were the first Blacks to perform for the USA in a World Cup, at Italia 90. He played in all three U.S. matches there. Armstrong made 81 appearances from 1987-94. His indoor career included stints with the Cleveland Force, Baltimore Blast (both MISL) and Washington Warthogs (Continental Indoor Soccer League). Armstrong, a member of the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame, was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2012.
Jimmy Banks (1990)
Banks wore the Red, White and Blue jersey 36 times in his international career, including a start against Italy and Austria at the 1990 World Cup in Italy. He was a mainstay and popular player with the Milwaukee Wave in the American Indoor Soccer Association from 1987-93. Banks passed away at the age of 54 in 2019.
Fernando Clavijo (1994)
Born in Uruguay, Clavijo became an influential player in indoor and outdoor soccer besides playing 61 times for the national side. A naturalized citizen, Clavijo started three of four matches for the USA at the 1994 World Cup. At the age of 38, he was the oldest player on the team. Clavijo won four MISL titles with the New York Arrows (one) and Sockers (three). He also played inside for the Los Angeles Lazers (MISL) and St. Louis Storm. A member of the Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame Clavijo, who was inducted into the NSHOF in 2014. He died at the age of 63 in 2019.
Eric Eichmann (1990)
Eichmann was a member of the USA squad at Italia '90, after helping the team qualify for its first World Cup in 40 years. The forward played in 29 contests for the U.S., scoring four goals. Indoor, Eichmann competed for teams in three indoor leagues - Wichita Wings (MISL), Warthogs (CISL) and St. Louis Ambush (National Premier Soccer League).
Frank Klopas (1994)
Klopas started his professional career with the Chicago Sting (MISL), connecting 62 times in 140 games, before going outdoors for good with AEK Athens in 1988. He eventually made his way onto the USMNT, scoring 12 goals in 39 appearances. A member of the U.S. squad for the 1994 World Cup, Klopas wasn't used in any of the four games by head coach Bora Milutinovic. That was a head-scratching decision, considering Klopas was on fire prior to the competition. Klopas coached the Chicago Storm in MISL’s second incarnation from 2004-06.
Paul Krumpe (1990)
Another player who started his career with the indoor Sting, the defender was a member of the U.S. side at Italia '90, but never saw any action. He played 24 times for his country from 1986-91, scoring once.
Tony Meola (1990, 1994, 2006)
As one of the youngest goalkeepers in World Cup history at the age of 21, Meola backstopped the U.S. at Italia '90 and then as captain at USA '94. He also was a back-up keeper at the 2006. The Kearny, N.J. native went onto make 100 appearances in a USMNT career that spanned from 1988-2006. After the World Cup, Meola played for several teams, including the Fort Lauderdale Strikers (APSL), Long Island Rough Riders, winning the 1995 U.S. International Soccer league crown, NY/NJ MetroStars, Kansas City Wizards and the New York Red Bulls. The 2000 MLS season was a stellar one for Meola, who was league and MLS Cup MVP and goalkeeper of the year for champion Kansas City. Indoors, he played with the Buffalo Blizzard (NPSL) in the 1994-95 campaign and the New Jersey Ironmen (Xtreme Soccer League) in the 2007-08 season. He was inducted into the NSHOF in 2012.
Hugo Perez (1994)
After the North American Soccer League went under after the 1984 season, this talented midfielder continued playing indoor with the Sockers in the MISL through the 1989-90 campaign. Perez, the current El Salvador national head coach, tallied 107 times in 125 matches for San Diego. His lone World Cup appearance came as a starter in the 1-0 loss to eventual champion Brazil in the Round of 16 at USA '94. The 1991 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year, Perez made 73 appearances and scored 13 goals in a national team career that spanned from 1984-94. He was inducted into the NSHOF in 2008.
Preki, whose given name was Predrag Radosavljevic, was a rarity, a game-changer in both the indoor and outdoor games. A naturalized citizen after he was born in Serbia (the former Yugoslavia), Preki first forged his reputation indoors. he ripped the nets 209 times in 247 games for the Tacoma Stars (MISL) from 1985-90. The 1989 season was a special one for Preki, who was voted league MVP and the same honor for the all-star game, also winning the scoring championship, and recording the most assists. He also was a lethal goal-scorer for the St. Louis Storm (MISL), recording 113 goals in 91 matches from 1990-92 and tallying 67 goals in 32 contests for the San Jose Grizzlies (CISL). He turned his talents outdoors and was just as spectacular, winning the MLS Golden Boot and MVP in 1997 and 2003. That led to being called up to the U.S. national team. He scored four goals in 28 matches and made two appearances in the 1998 World Cup. Preki is a member of the NSHOF and the Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame.
John Stollmeyer (1990)
Like many of his 1990 World Cup teammates, Stollmeyer needed to pursue indoor and outdoor soccer at the same time. He was the 1986-87 MISL rookie of the year with the Cleveland Force. The midfielder-defender played 101 games and scored 29 goals over two seasons. Stollmeyer also was a member of the USMNT at the same time. He played 31 times internationally, including two matches at Italia '90. He started the USA's first World Cup encounter in 40 years, a 5-2 defeat to Czechoslovakia and came off the bench in a 1-0 loss to Italy.
Steve Trittschuh (1990)
Trittschuh played indoors and outdoors throughout his career. The center back made his professional debut with the St. Louis Steamers, scoring five goals in 37 games. After getting time with the USMNT, he played outdoors with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Sparta Prague (he was the first American to participate in the European Cup), Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Montreal Impact, and finally with the Colorado Rapids and Tampa Bay Mutiny in MLS in his later years. He also competed with the St. Louis Ambush and Tampa Bay Terror (both NPSL). Trittschuh, who scored twice in 37 international appearances, started the USA's first game at Italia '90. He is a member of the St. Louis Sports, St. Louis Soccer and SIU-Edwardsville Halls of Fame.
David Vanole (1990)
Vanole, who was Tony Meola's back-up at Italia '90, played one indoor game - with the Wichita Wings during the 1987-88 MISL season. He also performed outdoors with the Los Angeles Heat, San Jose Earthquakes and San Francisco Bay Blackhawks. Vanole passed away at the age of 43 in 2007 after serving as goalkeeper coach for the UCLA men and women's teams, Washington Freedom (Women's United Soccer Association) and D.C. United and New England Revolution (both MLS).
Mike Windischmann (1990)
At Italia '90, Windischmann, as a calm and consistent force on the backline, captained the first U.S. team that competed in the World Cup in four decades. He went on to represent the USA in 51 international matches. He holds the USMNT mark for consecutive games played (36). Windischmann, who played indoors with the Los Angeles Lazers (MISL) in 1988-89, also was an important member of the U.S. squad at the 1989 and 1992 FIFA Futsal World Championships. The Americans finished third and second, respectively. He was inducted into the NSHOF in 2004.
CANADIAN NATIONAL TEAM
Pasquale de Luca (1986)
A member of the 1986 squad, de Luca did not play in Mexico. He represented Canada 19 times, scoring once. De Luca, a defender, played two NASL indoor seasons with the Edmonton Drillers and three campaigns with the Cleveland Force (MISL), totaling 19 goals in 110 matches.
Paul Dolan (1986)
Dolan backstopped the Maple Leafs at their Mexico '86 opener, holding an imposing French side that reached the semifinals off the scoreboard until Jean Pierre Papin scored in the 79th minute in 1-0 result. Dolan played 53 times internationally from 1984-97. He manned the nets 11 times for the Tacoma Stars (MISL) during the 1987-88 season. Outdoors, he performed for the Edmonton Brick Men, Vancouver 86ers and Hamilton Steelers. Dolan was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004.
Gerry Gray (1986)
Gray, who played twice in Mexico in 1986, enjoyed a 12-year career with several indoor and outdoor teams as a midfielder. Inside, Gray performed for the Vancouver Whitecaps, Golden Bay Earthquakes and Cosmos (all three NASL), Chicago Sting, Tacoma Stars, St. Louis Steamers and Kansas City Comets (all four MISL). Retiring from indoor soccer after the 1989-90 season, Gray finished with 148 goals and 203 assists in 349 games. He represented Canada 35 times and was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame in 2001.
Greg Ion (1986)
Ion played six times for Canada from 1983-86. The midfielder forged an indoor career that saw him perform for the Los Angeles Lazers, Minnesota Strikers, Chicago Sting, Kansas City Comets and Tacoma Stars in MISL from 1984-92 and the Portland Pride (CISL) in 1993. Ion collected 139 goals and 209 assists in 389 matches. He also played as a sixth-attacker goalkeeper 39 times in his career, including on 29 occasions for Tacoma during the 1990-91 season.
Bob Lenarduzzi (1986)
One of the all-time greats of Canadian soccer, Lenarduzzi distinguished himself indoors and outdoors. He played most of his career with the outdoor Vancouver Whitecaps (31 goals in 288 appearances) from 1974-84. He also played indoors with the Los Angeles Aztecs and Whitecaps (both NASL) and the Tacoma Stars (MISL) in 1984-86. Lenarduzzi, who represented Canada at the 1984 Olympics, competed at the 1986 World Cup en route to 48 international games and five goals. He coached the Vancouver 86ers to four Canadian Soccer League titles and the Canada national side (1993-98). Lenarduzzi, a NASL North American player of the year, is a member of the Canadian and National Soccer Halls of Fame.
Tino Lettieri (1986)
Known for bringing his stuffed parrot Ozzie into the net, Lettieri tried to make sure nothing else entered the goal behind him during a star-studded career. The goalkeeper played twice for Canada at Mexico 86. He performed his indoor heroics for the Minnesota Kickers and Vancouver Whitecaps (both in the NASL indoors) and Minnesota Strikers (1987). He played 121 times for the Strikers. He also stood out outdoors with the Kicks and Whitecaps, being named 1983 NASL North American player of the year. Not surprisingly, Lettieri was elected to the Canadian National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2001.
Dale Mitchell (1986)
Mitchell was one of those players who could put the ball into the back of the net on a regular basis, regardless of where he played. He competed against the Soviet Union in Mexico and competed in 22 World Cup qualifiers during his career. He played nine indoor seasons for the Kansas City Comets, Baltimore Blast and Tacoma Stars (all MISL), ripping the nets for 434 goals and adding 306 assists in 445 contests. Outdoors, the forward also starred for the Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers, Montreal Manic, Vancouver 86ers and Toronto Blizzard. Mitchell, who scored 19 goals in 55 international appearances, was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame in 2014.
Terry Moore (1986)
The defender was on the World Cup roster but did not see any action in Mexico. Moore played for the San Diego Sockers, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Tulsa Roughnecks (all NASL indoor), and their outdoor sides. At the time of the World Cup, he was playing for Glentoran F.C. (Northern Ireland). Moore, who made 11 international appearances, was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005.
David Norman (1986)
Before playing three times for Canada in Mexico, Norman had seen action for the Vancouver Whitecaps' indoor and outdoor squads. The defensive midfielder tallied 16 goals in 23 matches in the 1983-84 NASL indoor campaign and collected eight goals in 61 games for the Tacoma Stars for two seasons. He also played for the Winnipeg Fury, Calgary Kickers, Edmonton Brick Men and Vancouver 86ers in Canada and was capped times for the Canadian national team, scoring once.
Randy Ragan (1986)
Ragan's indoor career lasted 17 matches for the Toronto Blizzard during the 1980-81 NASL indoor campaign as the midfielder-defender scored three times. He played in all three matches at Mexico '86. A member of the Canadian Olympic team that reached the 1984 quarterfinals, Ragan, who played 40 times for his country, was inducted into the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame in 2002.
Branko Segota (1986)
At the tender age of 17, Segota broke into indoor soccer with a bang, scoring 25 goals and adding 22 assists for the 1978-79 MISL champion New York Arrows. He went on to play for three championship sides. He helped the Sockers to six more titles, giving him a record nine indoor crowns. By the time Segota finished filling the net, he had accumulated 524 goals and 437 assists. He also filled the net for the St. Louis Storm (MISL), Las Vegas Dustdevils (CISL) and Baltimore Spirit (NPSL). Segota went to have a fabulous career indoors and out. As a rookie with the Rochester Lancers, he was voted the Professional Soccer Reporters Association rookie of the year. He also performed in the NASL for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Golden Bay Earthquakes. Segota, who played three games at Mexico 86, put on the Canadian jersey 20 times, scoring three goals. He is a member of the Canadian Soccer and Indoor Soccer Halls of Fame.
Mike Sweeney (1986)
Sweeney made a career out of playing in the great indoors, performing for the Edmonton Drillers (NASL), Cleveland Force, Minnesota Strikers and Baltimore Blast (all MISL) and the Cleveland Crunch (NPSL). A midfielder-defender, the British Columbia native played 345 indoor games, recording 94 goals and 144 assists. He also performed for the Edmonton Drillers, Vancouver Whitecaps and Golden Bay Earthquakes in the outdoor NASL and with the Toronto Blizzard in the Canadian Soccer League. He participated in two games in Mexico, becoming the first Canada player to be red carded at a World Cup, against Hungary. Sweeney made 61 international appearances in a 14-year international career, scoring one goal. In 2002, he was inducted into the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame.
Carl Valentine (1986)
One of the best players to come out of Canada, it seemed that every game was Valentine's day to shine. Valentine played in all three games at the World Cup. He forged his reputation as a hard-working and crafty forward, scoring 44 goals in 165 matches for the Vancouver Whitecaps (NASL) from 1979-84, helping the team to the NASL title as a rookie. After the league's demise, Valentine played two seasons with West Bromwich Albion in England before returning to North America. He completed his career with the Baltimore Blast, Kansas City Comets and Tacoma Stars (all MISL), from 1988-92. Valentine was adept at filling the net (259 goals) or setting up teammates (239 assists) in his 375 indoor matches. He was capped 31 times for Canada, scoring once. In 2003, Valentine was inducted into the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame.
Igor Vrablic (1986)
Vrablic started his pro career playing eight games and scoring twice for the Golden Bay Earthquakes (MISL) in 1983-84 before turning to outdoor soccer with the Earthquakes and Toronto Blizzard (NASL) and R.F.C. Seraing (Belgium) and Olympiacos F.C. (Greece), among other outdoor squads. A forward, Vrablic, represented his country at the 1984 Olympics and in Mexico. He scored 12 goals in 35 full international matches.
NEW YORK COSMOS
Carlos Alberto (1970)
Yes, the captain of the great Brazilian 1970 World Cup champions played indoors in North America. He played 15 games for the New York Cosmos during the 1981-82 NASL indoor season, scoring one goal and assisting on nine others. His overlapping strike from the right back position, which punctuated the 4-1 final win over Italy has been shown on many a highlight reel and video the past five decades. He was a vital figure for the Cosmos, as the skillful defender helped the team to four NASL titles while earning five all-star selections. Carlos Alberto played in 53 international matches, scoring eight goals. Inducted into the NHSOF in 2003, Carlos Alberto passed away at the age of 72 in 2016.
Andranik Eskandarian (1978)
Eskandarian played 29 times for Iran, including at the 1978 World Cup. He scored an own goal in a 1-1 draw with Scotland. The defender went on to star and play 142 times for the New York Cosmos (NASL), helping the team win three Soccer Bowl championships. He performed one season each for the Cosmos indoor and New York Express teams. He is the father of Alecko Eskandarian, who played for three teams in Major League Soccer. Alecko was MVP of the 2004 MLS Cup, securing a brace in a D.C. United triumph.
A long-time standout with the Baltimore Blast, Wichita Wings and Dallas Tornado, Stankovic never participated in a World Cup, but was an assistant coach to Ghana head coach Milovan Rajevac at the 2010 competition in South Africa. Ghana eliminated the USMNT in the Round of 16, 2-1. Spanning 532 indoor games over 18 years, Stankovic scored 305 goals and contributed 296 assists. Stankovic also was named to the 1985 MISL all-star team and to the league's 10th-anniversary all-decade team. He was inducted into the Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame in 2013.
This likely is not a complete list. There may be some other players out there that we missed. If we do discover other North American indoor players with World Cup ties, we will update the story.
Michael Lewis, the editor of FrontRowSoccer.com, can be followed on Twitter at @SoccerWriter. He can be reached via email at Michael@FrontRowSoccer.com. His book Alive and Kicking: The incredible, but true story of the Rochester Lancers, recently was published. It can be purchased at https://tinyurl.com/2p8rzhpy.