Azcurra on the fringes of hitting it big
a team that's young, short on experience and amidst a rebuilding
process, it's not unusual to find a veteran player that stands
out among the pact.
professional sports, only an elite few ever make to the top
level and in the case of veteran Toronto Croatia goaltender
George Azcurra, hitting it big time has always been one step
ahead of him.
all started back in 1987, at the age of 13, when Azcurra decided
to play his first organized game of soccer. Before long, he
found himself moving up in the ranks of amateur soccer and at
the age of 19 was being coveted by colleges south of the border.
losing the Ontario Cup Final of the Ontario Soccer League back
in 1992, when he was a member of Mississauga United, Azcurra
was recruited in the fall of '93 by Mercer County Community
College in Trenton, New Jersey of the National Junior College
his first year of play, he helped his squad capture the region
19 NJCAA championship. The following year his squad made the
nationals and finished in third place, but Azcurra had the best
season of his young career. He won goalie of the year in the
NJCAA and that accomplishment led to his recruitment by seven
Division One universities in the National College Athletics
eventually accepted an offer from Boston University and the
rest his history. He helped their squad capture back to back
American East Championships in 1995 and '96 before graduating
with a degree in computer science.
a distinguished career in college and university, Azcurra went
pro in the summer of 1997, signing with the division three Rhode
Island Sting Rays of the USISL; now know as the United Soccer
Leagues. After playing two years with the Sting Rays, he decided
to return to Canada.
the spring of '98, he participated in tryouts with the Toronto
Lynx of the A-League before being cut. Then the summer of '98
turned out to be uneventful, as he took a step back in his pro
career, by accepting a starting role with amateur club Woodbridge
Sora of the OSL. But it was not long before the Toronto Croatia
came calling for a starting goaltender, and Azcurra jumped on
the opportunity and officially joined the team in 1999.
five years later, at age 30, Azcurra is still the starting goalie
and his accomplishments in the CPSL have caught the eyes of
many. He won the goalie of the year award three times in the
past five years, in 1999, 2001 and 2002. He was also a finalist
for the award in 2000 and many around the league felt that he
should have won it in 2003.
through these accomplishments on the pro level that have garnered
him attention from elite clubs overseas. He tried out in the
winter of 2001-02 for Southend United, a Third Division club
in England. Due to his lack of experience at the national level,
he fell short of a spot on the team. He then participated in
tryouts in Portugal with Santa Clara, a first division Portuguese
team, but poor timing along with the fact the club already had
three goaltenders played a major part in his trip being cut
that hasn't stopped him from realizing his dream to one day
play professionally full time overseas.
an opportunity arises to go overseas and play pro, I would certainly
entertain it," said Azcurra. "Until that time, I will
continue to play pro here in Canada and would like to remain
in soccer in some capacity."
hope it's with the CPSL.