Geoff Aunger in 1997
There is one honour that belongs to Geoff Aunger that no other Canadian soccer player can ever take from him.
Aunger, the Red Deer, Alta. native who was capped 44 times by the national team, was the first Canadian to ever play on an MLS Cup winner, the D.C. United side of 1999 that some would argue is still the greatest team to ever play in the league.
Aunger was one of a handful of Canadians who played in the early years of MLS, with the shootouts to decide games, minigames to decide tied playoff series and, of course, those garish uniforms. Frank Yallop, Iain Fraser and Mark Watson were some of Aunger’s Canadian teammates who also managed to find work in MLS long before Toronto FC was conceived.
“Making it in that league at that time was very difficult,” said Aunger, who now works in New York as a private banker. “At the time, we, the Canadian players, counted as import players. And each team was only allowed three imports. So, unless you had a green card, you were an import and you needed to produce. And that’s why, for players like myself, (Mark) Watson, (Frank) Yallop, (Iain) Fraser, (Rick) Titus and (Jason) Bent it was tough. And, remember that every year, you were playing for next year. Everyone was on one-year contracts. There were no three- or four-year deals at that time.”
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