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L.A. Once Had A Championship-Winning Jewish Soccer Team

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Los Angeles had a championship-winning Jewish soccer league in the '70s.

The Maccabi Los Angeles was a Jewish soccer team and a part of the Greater Los Angeles Soccer League, VICE reports. They played at the Jackie Robinson Stadium in West L.A. and wore blue and white uniforms. They were a successful team, winning five National Challenge Cups (a soccer tournament similar to the FA Cup in England that is now called the US Open Cup) between 1971 and 1981. The only other team to win five times was Bethlehem Steel, from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The soccer team was formed by a group of Israeli expats in the '60s, but began competing in 1971. The team members weren't all Jewish; some were recruited to join. One member, Eric Braeden, told VICE that he had played a Nazi captain on a World War II show called The Rat Patrol, but played on the soccer team on the weekends. Originally from Germany, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams of becoming an actor. He isn't Jewish, but said he joined the team because the team promised the players a little money for each game they played. Michael Meyer, who is Jewish, told VICE that "players played for a lot of different teams. Sometimes we got a little more money from this team or that team and it didn't matter very much." Moshe Hoffman, originally from Israel, joined the team when manager Eli Murmur, also originally from Israel, offered to pay for him to get a degree in engineering from San Fernando Valley State College.

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The team's last victory was in 1981 against the Brooklyn Dodgers. In their final game, they lost to the New York Pancyprian Freedoms in 1982. Funding the team became more challenging, and they shifted their focus toward programs for kids.