Right Field

Phil Woosnam, Pioneer of North American Soccer, R.I.P.

Phil Woosnam, the man who set the foundation for David Beckham and others in the United States, died last week at 80. Born in Wales in 1932, he had a teaching career before turning professional at 26, playing for Manchester City. He later went on to play for West Ham United and Aston Villa, among other clubs, ending his playing career with the Atlanta Chiefs. He served as head coach of the U.S. National Men’s Team in 1968 and then, from 1969 to 1983, as commissioner of the North American Soccer League. During Woosnam’s tenure with the NASL, soccer greats such as Pelé, Bobby Moore, Johan Cruyff, and Franz Beckenbauer came to play in the U.S. He was also instrumental in helping the U.S. win the bid for the 1994 World Cup.

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