|Full name||Antonio Jose Suarez|
|Date of birth||February 2, 1956|
|Place of birth||Havana, Cuba|
|Place of death||Charlotte, North Carolina, United States|
|1977–1978||Appalachian State University|
|1979–1980||Belmont Abbey College|
|1981–1983||Cleveland Force (indoor)||9||(4)|
| * Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Antonio Jose "Tony" Suarez (February 2, 1956 — April 18, 2007) was a Cuban-American soccer forward. He played professionally in the American Soccer League and Major Indoor Soccer League and was the 1981 American Soccer League Rookie of the Year.
Suarez was born in Havana, Cuba. In 1972 his parents, Roberto and Miriam Suarez, left Cuba and relocated their family in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Suarez attended Myers Park High School. He graduated from Myers Park in 1974, enrolled in Appalachian State University, then transferred to Belmont Abbey College, where he received a B.A. in Business Management.
Charlotte is the most populous city in the U.S. state of North Carolina. Located in the Piedmont, it is the county seat of Mecklenburg County. In 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population was 859,035, making it the 17th-most populous city in the United States. The Charlotte metropolitan area's population ranks 22nd in the U.S., and had a 2016 population of 2,474,314. The Charlotte metropolitan area is part of a sixteen-county market region or combined statistical area with a 2016 census-estimated population of 2,632,249.
Myers Park High School is a high school in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Appalachian State University is a comprehensive, public university in Boone, North Carolina.
Suarez had an unsuccessful initial tryout for the Carolina Lightnin' of the American Soccer League. He was put in the lineup for the team's second game; however, after a series of injuries decimated the roster. He was an immediate hit with the crowd who embraced him as "a hometown kid." Suarez became known for his "toothy grin and shoulder-length hair," according to Charlotte Observer sports reporter David Scott. Suarez scored nine goals in his first 12 games and ended his first season with 15 goals. Suarez' style, according to Scott, was to "knock the ball past defenders, run it down, then put it in the back of the net. Or he would chase down a pass behind the defense, slip the ball into the goal and race off to celebrate." He was named the 1981 American Soccer League Rookie of the Year.On August 11, 1981, he signed a two-year joint contract with the Lightnin' and the Cleveland Force of the Major Indoor Soccer League worth just over $100,000. The contract stipulated that Suarez would play two outdoor seasons for the Lightnin' and two indoor winter seasons on loan to the Force. Suarez began the 1981-1982 MISL season in good form, scoring four goals in eight games only to injure his left knee in late 1981. He sat out the 1982 outdoor season, then rejoined the Lightnin' for that team's final season in 1983. While playing with the Charlotte Gold of the United Soccer League in 1984, Suarez injured his right knee, ending his professional career.
The Carolina Lightnin' was an American soccer club based in Charlotte, North Carolina that was a member of the American Soccer League. The Lightnin' played home matches at American Legion Memorial Stadium. Attendance at home games averaged 6,000 spectators. More than 20,000 attended the September 1981 match against the New York United in which the Lightnin' won the American Soccer League championship by a score of 2–1.
The United Soccer League was a professional soccer league in the United States in the mid-1980s.
Suarez regained the public spotlight in 1991 when he received a 22-month prison sentence for conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute. At the time, he said he hoped youth would learn a lesson from his mistakes.
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