Defensive Standout: Ian Bridge
Teams: Seattle Sounders, Vancouver 86ers, FC La Chaux-de-Fonds (Switzerland)
POB: Victoria, BC
Goals: 13 (in NASL)
Player & Mentor
Ian Bridge was born in Victoria on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, a region which has always had a strong pedigree in soccer. Several names have come from that town (including Bruce Wilson and George Pakos as well) that also played soccer for Canada.
Bridge was a tall defender who lacked foot speed in comparison to some, but more than made up for that with an excellent sense of positioning and a terrific sense of composure on the ball.
He rarely wasted possession, preferring to calmly play the ball out of danger as opposed to unceremoniously hoofing it out.
He began his career in the NASL with the early incarnation of the Seattle Sounders, with whom he played 100 matches, then moved on to the Vancouver Whitecaps where he made 24 appearances in the team’s final go round in the penultimate year of the original NASL.
Bridge’s talent was apparent enough that it earned him five seasons with Swiss outfit FC La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Two of those years saw Bridge playing in the top tier of Swiss football.
Probably the peak of Bridge’s career was with Canada and their sole qualification for the World Cup, in 1986.
Though the team would lose all three matches to France, Hungary, and Russia, Canada acquitted itself well and Bridge started all three matches in the centre of defence.
The loss to France was a respectable 1-0 result on a late 79th minute goal by classy French striker Jean-Pierre Papin. Bridge finished his international career with 34 caps and 5 goals.
Since the end of his professional career, Bridge has been highly involved in coaching.
He has guided the University of Victoria in his hometown, Canada’s women (U-17, U-19, senior squads) and the Victoria Highlanders, a semi-pro team in the North American fourth tier USL’s Pacific Development League.
From personal experience, having had the opportunity to play against Bridge over the past few years in our local league, Bridge still has the great touch and is a gentlemanly opponent.