Kyle Rote, Jr.
- Position: Forward, Class of 2010
Dallas Tornado (NASL - 1973-1978)
Houston Hurricane (NASL - 1979)
Kyle Rote, Jr. was one of the leading U.S.-born players in the North American Soccer League during the 1970s and the only American-born player in the league’s history to win the scoring title.
Drafted No. 1 by the Dallas Tornado in the NASL’s first college draft in 1972, Rote debuted in 1973 as the league’s top scorer with 30 points (10 goals, 10 assists), Rookie of the Year and an Honorable Mention All-Star. Known for his athleticism and skill in the air, Rote scored a header in a 1-0 win against the New York Cosmos in a 1973 playoff semifinal to lead the Tornado to the championship game, which they dropped to the Philadelphia Atoms. In 1974, he was a part of an NASL All-Star team that faced the Red Army of Moscow club in an indoor match at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens.
Rote played with Dallas through the 1978 season, and led the team in scoring in 1973, 1975 and 1977 before leaving prior to the 1979 season as the Tornado all-time leading scorer. He was obtained in the offseason by the Houston Hurricane in a transaction involving the highest purchase price ever paid for an American soccer player.
Promoted by his team and the NASL as a home-grown star equal to the international soccer heroes of the day, Rote drew considerable attention to soccer among American sports fans during his career. The son of former Southern Methodist and New York Giants football star Kyle Rote, he represented soccer in the made-for-television ABC Wide World of Sports Superstars competition for four years from 1974-1977. He won his preliminary competition all four years and the final event in 1974, 1976 and 1977 beating 100s of the world’s greatest athletes like O.J. Simpson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Lynn Swann, Julius Erving, Roger Staubach and winners of three Olympic decathlon gold medals. He was the first to win the event three times, and one of only three people to win the event at least three times.
Rote earned five caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team from 1973 to 1975. He debuted off the bench in a 1-0 win against Poland on Aug. 12, 1973, and started the next match for the U.S., a 1-0 win against Bermuda in Hartford, Conn., in September. Before his hometown Dallas fans in 1974, he started in a 0-1 loss to Mexico in 1974. In March of 1975, he joined the U.S. team on a European tour, earning his final cap off the bench in a loss to Poland. He also took the field for the U.S. against Italy in an exhibition that was not an official FIFA match.
Rote was originally a football player at Oklahoma State, but transferred to the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he began a varsity soccer career. In three seasons and just 35 games, Rote scored 47 goals and recorded 16 assists. He was the Team MVP all three years and captained the Tigers as a junior and senior.
While active as a player, Rote stepped upstairs to the broadcast booth to serve as color commentator for CBS in the 1970s. Slated to be the soccer commentator for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow before the U.S. boycott, during the 1980s he worked on-air for ESPN, USA Network and CBS broadcasting MISL and other events.
Highly regarded as one of sports most respected men, shortly after retiring Rote moved to the business side of sport and in 1984 founded Athletic Resource Management. He continues to serve as a consultant for the agency that has represented some of sports biggest names on the field and sidelines including Bill Parcells, Nick Saban, Reggie White, Scottie Pippen and others.