Toronto Blizzard (1986–93)
- This article is about the second Toronto Blizzard that played from 1986–1993. For the original team of the NASL, see Toronto Blizzard (1971–84).
The second iteration of the Toronto Blizzard emerged from the folding of the North American Soccer League. It played in the Canadian Soccer League from 1986 to 1992 until the CSL folded in 1992. The Blizzard attempted to play in the American Professional Soccer League, but folded the very next season in 1993 after poor financial prospects and lack of attendance.
National Soccer League
In 1985, less than one year after the original Toronto Blizzard ceased operations due to the failure of the North American Soccer League (the club had never actually folded), Blizzard owners York-Hanover purchased Dynamo Latino of the semi-professional Ontario-based National Soccer League (established 1926) with the intention of renaming them the Toronto Blizzard. While NSL regulations did not permit the name change in the midst of the season, the name Toronto Blizzard was part of the NSL in 1986.
Under former assistant coach Dave Turner, the club won the League Championship and the NSL Cup while Toronto Italia won the Play-Off Championship. The Blizzard roster featured former NASL stars Paul Hammond, Randy Ragan, and Paul James.
The Blizzard played only one season in the NSL in preparation to join the fledgling Canadian Soccer League in 1987.
Canadian Soccer League
|League||Canadian Soccer League|
The Toronto Blizzard joined the Canadian Soccer League in its inaugural season of 1987.
In 1990, despite finishing the regular season on top of the CSL's Eastern Division standings, the Blizzard were eliminated in the first round of the play-offs. In 1991, the Blizzard lost in the Championship Final to the Vancouver 86ers despite two world class long range goals by Canadian International Branko Segota. It was the 86'ers fourth straight league championship.
Prominent players for the CSL Blizzard included Scott Landry, Carl Fletcher, Iain Fraser, Pat Onstad, Pat Harrington, Edhino, Petr Rada, John Fitzgerald, Stevie Gill, Trevor McCallum, Tony Pignatiello, David "Budgie" Byrne, Luis Lufi, Marco Abascal and Paul Peschisolido who would be sold to Birmingham City of the English First Division at the conclusion of the 1992 season.
The CSL folded after the 1992 campaign when the Toronto Blizzard and Vancouver 86'ers left the league to join the American Professional Soccer League (then down to only four franchises).
American Professional Soccer League
The CSL Toronto Blizzard joined the American Professional Soccer League in 1993 playing out of their old North American Soccer League home, the University of Toronto's Varsity Stadium. Due to financial difficulties and abysmal attendance, the team was forced to move to the city of Toronto owned Lamport Stadium roughly three quarters of the way through the season.
The 1993 Blizzard finished fifth in the regular standings (10 wins and 14 losses), failing to make the play-offs. The team featured Fernando Aguiar, Raul J. Vieira, Lyndon Hooper, Eddy Berdusco, Paolo Ceccarelli, Stevie Gill, Ian Carter, Carl Fletcher, Juan Carlos Ramirez-Gaston, Amadeo Gasparini, Kevin Holness, Frank Lofranco, Frank Cardona, Hector Marinaro, Sean Samuels, Nigel Sparks and was coached by Pedro Kozak.
Blizzard owner Karsten Von Wersebe had taken the club from the CSL to the APSL in hopes that the league would be awarded USA Division One status as FIFA had demanded that a national Division One quality soccer league exist in the USA as a condition of being awarded the 1994 FIFA World Cup. When the U.S. Soccer Federation instead decided to create a new league, Major League Soccer, it was a heavy blow to Von Wersebe and the struggling Blizzard. The club folded immediately at the conclusion of the 1993 season.
Resurrecting the Blizzard
When plans for a Canadian United Soccer League made the news in 2001, the Toronto Blizzard (with a new group of owners) were rumoured to be in the running for a franchise. When the CUSL concept faded away, so did any thoughts of a Blizzard resurrection. When Toronto was awarded a Major League Soccer franchise in 2005, some thought that the team might be named the Blizzard. However, the team ended up choosing to be called Toronto FC.