In the late 1970s Johan Cruyff came to America, playing two exhibition games for the New York Cosmos and then in three tumultuous NASL seasons for the Los Angeles Aztecs and Washington Diplomats that helped shape the Dutch legend’s future.
In issue one of XI, Pieter van Os and Leander Schaerlaeckens tell that story in full for the first time in English:
Legendarily hubristic, cocksure, singularly combative and ruthless, Cruyff was forever embroiled in power struggles or embarking on ideological crusades. If his talent for manipulating a ball and orchestrating an offense was immense, it was (and is) dwarfed by his capacity for inciting conflict and playing mind games.
But the Dips didn’t know any of that yet. In 1980, all they knew was that they’d landed the player considered one of the greatest of all time for his second season in the now-defunct North American Soccer League.
Subscribe to issue one of XI now and receive over 100 pages of long-form essays, glossy photography and illustrations telling the story of North American soccer in your mailbox for only $7.99