Mar 23, 2020
Though he was born in Germany and still retains the distinctive vocal stylings to prove it, National Soccer Hall of Fame player/coach great Willy Roy has always been a Chicago kid in both heart and heritage.
A post-WWII transplant to the Windy City at the age of six, Roy became a standout youth and young adult player in his adopted hometown – and by the mid-1960s, was honing his scoring skills and drawing national attention in the hard-nosed, Chicago-based National Soccer League with the multi-title winning club Hansa.
A few call-ups to a rag-tag US National Team soon followed (eventually notching nine goals in 20 caps over nine years and two World Cup qualifying cycles) – and, ultimately, an invitation to play with the Soldier Field-domiciled Chicago Spurs of the new 1967 National Professional Soccer League. One of only eight US citizens across ten franchises, Roy became the NPSL’s second-leading scorer (17G, 5A), made the league All-Star team and won Rookie of the Year honors.
When the NPSL merged with the rival United Soccer Association to form the successor North American Soccer League the following year, Roy followed the relocated Spurs to Kansas City – and by 1971 had cemented an anchor role with the NASL’s American-heavy St. Louis Stars, commuting regularly from Chicago to do so.
But it was an eventual move to the league’s expansion Chicago Sting in 1975 – first as a player, then as an assistant coach, and finally as head coach (ten games into the 1978 season) – where Roy cemented his legacy as one of the NASL’s winningest coaches, including two memorable championship seasons (1981, 1984) that long-time Second City sports fans still remember fondly today.