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The story of the Metros-Croatia soccer championship win

Forty-two summers ago, Canadian soccer fans were, like today, watching a team with Croatia in its name do something special.

The pro soccer team that struggled to draw fans and make money won it all in 1976

In August 1976, the Toronto Metros-Croatia team returns home to Canada after winning the NASL championship. 0:53
Forty-two summers ago, Canadian soccer fans were, like today, watching a team with Croatia in its name do something special.

That squad was the Toronto Metros-Croatia, a struggling franchise in the 20-team North American Soccer League.

Ongoing struggles

The Metros-Croatia team had difficulty drawing fans and staying afloat as an organization — it was financial need, in fact, that drew investors into the mix who insisted that the word "Croatia" be appended to the name of the pre-existing Metros team.

That name change happened in 1975, a year before the Metros-Croatia squad had its successful playoff run.

And yet, in 1976, the NASL remained so frustrated with the franchise over the name change that the team's playoff-bound trajectory occurred with "anything but league blessings," according to a Toronto Star report.

A brewery had tried to buy the team, but the owners didn't want to sell. That frustrated the league, too, as CBC reporter Joe Cote explains in the clip below.

A brewery wanted to buy the Metros-Croatia soccer team, but the owners didn't want to sell. 0:24

Taking down the Kicks

In the end, the Metros-Croatia put together a 1976 season that included a multi-game winning streak that helped them make it to the final.

In August 1976, members of the Toronto Metros-Croatia soccer team return home after winning the NASL championship. (CBC News/CBC Archives)

And when they got there, they made it count. 

On Aug. 28, 1976, the Metros-Croatia beat the Minnesota Kicks — a great name for a soccer team, for sure — by a score of 3-0.

Unlike the World Cup match that will unfold in Moscow, the Toronto-based team played its championship game in Seattle.

When the Metros-Croatia returned to Canada the day after their win, they were greeted by a crowd of hundreds of fans at Toronto's Pearson airport.

Fans wait to greet the members of the Toronto Metros-Croatia team, a day after the soccer squad won the 1976 North American Soccer League championship. (CBC News/CBC Archives)

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