Great teams: 1986 Toronto Blizzard

Toronto Blizzard had been one of the best known and strongest teams in the North American Soccer League after they were formed in 1979. They were Soccer Bowl runners ups’ in 1984. In 1986 they won the National Soccer League championship with many of their former NASL players starring for them.

The NASL folded in April 1985. Later in 1985 the Blizzard owners York-Hanover Sports Enterprises bought the Dinamo Latino club in the National Soccer League. Before the 1986 NSL season they changed the name of the club to Toronto Blizzard.

Some of the best Canadian talent turned out for the club in the 1986 National League season. The team was coached by Dave Turner who had been Blizzard’s head coach and assistant coach in their NASL days.

Paul Hammond was their goalkeeper. He had started his career with Crystal Palace in the Football League before starring in the NASL. After playing for Tampa Bay Rowdies, Houston Hurricanes, Seattle Sounders and Team America he joined Toronto Blizzard for the 1984 season. Hammond was the leading goalkeeper in the NASL in 1984.

The defence was led by former Welsh junior international Paul James and Randy Ragan. Both had played for Blizzard in the NASL.

The forward line was led by Marco Abascal, Cameron Walker and Luis Lufi.

The star of the team was Patrick “Ace” Ntsoelengoe. Being from South Africa he had his soccer career partly damaged by the politics of the 1970’s but found a way to show his exceptional abilities by playing in the NASL.

On Sunday August 3 Blizzard played against touring Italian side Avellino. The Italians won the game 1-0 in front of 8,000 spectators.

Toronto Blizzard won the National Soccer League championship but lost to Toronto Italia in championship playoff final.

They won the NSL National final by beating Vancouver Columbus 2-1 on September 28. Hector Marinaro and Lyndon Hooper scored the Blizzard goals.

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