by Derick Pasternak
When I first arrived in Seattle in 1998, I was introduced to HAAW, the President of which was the late Zoltan Mako. Zoli informed me of the rich soccer history of Hungarian expatriates in this area. At the time he and many of his ex-teammates were still alive; I wish I had inquired more about their exploits. But given my abiding interest in the sport, seasoned by my amateurish attempts at playing, and the more credible close-to-twenty years as a professional referee, I have continued to pay serious attention to it, as season ticket holder of the Seattle Sounders since 2010.
A few weeks ago we had occasion here in Seattle to watch the heroics of Daniel Sallói, Hungarian expatriate. Unfortunately he represented the winners of the game against the Sounders (Kansas City), having contributed to the win by scoring a goal. Daniel came to the US from Hungary as an exchange student and had much of his soccer career in Kansas City, except for a short stint back in Hungary with Vasas SC. Anyway, he seems to be staying in the US.
Another expatriate from Hungary, whom we saw in Seattle a few years ago, played for the Chicago Fire. With a name like Nemanja Nikolić one has to wonder whether he is really Hungarian. He was born of a Serb father and a Hungarian mother in Senta, then part of Jugoslavia, now Serbia. When Serbia seemed to have no use for his talents, he invoked his dual citizenship, and after a while joined Videoton of Székesfehérvár, with which he won a national championship. He was also chosen to be on the Hungarian national soccer team in 2013 and has continued to play for them, including the recent 2-2 tie game against Germany in the Euro championship this year. Nemanja returned to Hungary in 2019 and plays for Fehérvár, which is the successor team to Videoton.
There is no doubt that a person by the name of Dzsenifer Marozsán must be Hungarian by birth. Indeed she was born in Budapest, but moved to Germany as a child with her soccer playing father. She grew up in Saarbrücken, where she became a professional player and has reached world-class level, including winning a gold medal with the national team of Germany at the Rio Olympics. Currently Dzsenifer plays for the OL Reign (Tacoma, WA) of the National Women’s Soccer League, on loan from her European Club, Olympique Lyon of France. The OL Reign started as the Seattle Reign (play on words!) but moved to Tacoma, and is now owned by the French club.
Does anyone know of other players in the Puget Sound region with Hungarian connections?
(if so, email to: firstname.lastname@example.org)