Chico Chacurian (right) made an enormous impact in soccer in the tri-state area. (Photo courtesy of the Connecticut Youth Soccer Association)
National Soccer Hall of Fame member Efrain “Chico” Chacurian of Connecticut has passed away. He was 94.
Chacurian, who died last Friday, has a lifelong passion for the game.
He signed his first pro contract with Racing Soccer Club (Argentine First Division) at 15 and eventually emigrated to the United States, moving to New York. He played with the U.S. national team in 1953-54, earning four caps. In his final international, he scored a goal in a 3-2 win over Haiti. Until his death, Chacurian was the oldest living player to have scored a goal for the national team.
Chacurian played in the metropolitan area for years, winning MVP honors for the New York Armenians. He also performed for the Hispano (American Soccer League), New York Swiss (German American Soccer League, now the Cosmopolitan Soccer League) for eight seasons and the Bridgeport Italians. He retired as a player at the age of 53, but finished with the beautiful game quite yet.
He entered the coaching ranks as an assistant at Southern Connecticut State University, coaching there for ten years.
In 1972, as a first-year freshman coach at Yale University, Chacurian guided his team to an undefeated season (10–0), posting seven consecutive shutouts and defeating the Yale varsity team. Chacurian eventually worked with the men’s and women’s Yale soccer programs before becoming head coach at University of Bridgeport after serving as an assistant coach for six years.
Chacurian also won five league titles as the coach of Bridgeport Vasco da Gama from 1974-80. He was one of the founders and owners of the Victory Soccer Schools. He also made an impact in youth soccer and the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association as regional head coach for the Olympic Development Program, scouting and evaluating players year-round.
He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1992 and was also inducted into six other sports and soccer Halls of Fame, honoring his coaching and playing careers.
A soccer field was named after him at Short Beach Park in the Lordship section of Stratford, Conn.
After moving to New York, Chacurian met and married his wife, Florence, and moving to Stratford Conn. in 1958 where they raised their three daughters, Janet, Louise, and Nancy.
Chacurian first was a watchmaker and then a lithographer.
He also is survived by one grandson, Brandon Hall of Norwalk, Conn. three granddaughters, Amanda Iwanski of Naugatuck, Conn. Rachel Makowski of Naugatuck and Alyssa Iwanski of Boston as well as a great-grandson, Declan Makowski. Chacurian was pre-deceased by his parents, two sisters, and four brothers.
A celebration of his life will be held at Bessemer Hall at 2200 North Ave. in Bridgeport, Conn. Friday March 1, at 6 p.m.