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Tony DiCicco

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U.S. WNT History in Germany

The USA and Germany are without question the two most successful women’s soccer nations in the world, each with two FIFA Women’s World Cup titles. The Germans have seven European crowns, and the Americans own four Olympic gold medals.

The series between the two countries dates back to spring 1991, before the first ever Women’s World Cup. Although the teams have met 28 times, just five of those games have taken place on German soil.

In fact, since the turn of the century, the USA has played in Germany just twice, earning 1-0 wins both times.

How tough is it to score on German soil? The USA’s 10 goals in Germany have all been scored by U.S. attacking legends: Michelle Akers, Carin Gabarra, Kristine Lilly, Mia Hamm, Tiffeny Milbrett, Julie Foudy and Abby Wambach.

Here’s a look at the five matches between the teams that have taken place in Germany, where the USA has earned a 4-1-0 record.

May 30, 1991
USA 4, Germany 2
Kaiserslautern, Germany
Head coach: Anson Dorrance

This game – played in front of 3,244 fans - came during a five-match tour of Europe in which the USA defeated France twice, lost to the Netherlands 4-3, defeated Germany and lost to Denmark. It was also the first time the USA had played a unified Germany after facing West Germany twice, in 1988 in Italy and in 1990 in Minnesota. Carin Jennings (now Carin Gabarra) and Michelle Akers scored two goals each in the match that featured 10 starters who would also start the USA’s first-ever Women’s World Cup match less than six months later. The only difference in the lineups was in goal; Kim Maslin-Kammerdeiner started the match in Kaiserslautern, but Mary Harvey would take over the starting job in the nets for the Women’s World Cup in China. The wide-open attacking match featured four goals in the first 19 minutes as Jennings and Akers tallied in the sixth and eighth minutes before the Germans roared back for two goals in a five-minute span, the first from Martina Voss in the 15th and then an equalizer from Bettina Wiegmann in the 19th. Jennings put the USA ahead for good in the 58th minute, and Akers sealed it with her 37th career goal in the 70th. It was also Akers’ 33rd goal in a span of 19 games, the best goal scoring run in U.S. history.

Oct. 9, 1997
USA 1, Germany 3
Duisburg, Germany
Head coach: Tony DiCicco

In a match played in steady rain in front of 7,050 fans, the USA took an early lead through a fourth minute goal from Kristine Lilly, but the Germans battled back for three unanswered goals to record a 3-1 victory and end a 30-game unbeaten streak for the USA. Lilly’s goal came off Shannon MacMillan’s low corner-kick that skipped through the penalty box to Tisha Venturini, who slid to touch the ball back to Lilly for an easy tap in from close range. Germany was coming off its fourth consecutive European title and showed its class with goals from Sandra Smisek in the 27th minute, Pia Wunderlich in the 52nd and 20-year-old Birgit Prinz in the 74th. The match was the first for U.S. captain Carla Overbeck in more than a year as she had taken time off for the birth of a son on Aug. 14, 1997. U.S. Head Coach Tony DiCicco emptied his bench in the second half, giving first caps to Kristi Devert, Jill Stewart and Michelle Demko, the latter earning her only career cap.

Said DiCicco on the match:
“The better team won tonight. We had some early chances that we didn’t put away and Germany made us pay. We have a proud team and they are very disappointed with the result. They have huge hearts, but perhaps we played too much with our hearts and not enough with our minds.”

Oct. 12, 1997
USA 3, Germany 0
Salzgitter, Germany
Head coach: Tony DiCicco

The USA rebounded from the loss to Germany three days earlier with a 3-0 thumping of the hosts in Salzgitter, a small town 40 minutes from Hannover. A capacity crowd of 4,906 watched the match as the smell of Bratwurst wafted up from grills behind one goal. Mia Hamm scored a goal in each half and Tiffeny Milbrett, who terrorized the German defense all day with her dribbling runs, added a third. Milbrett created the first goal in the 31st minute when she collected a ball 40 yards from the net and ran at the German midfield. On a full sprint, Milbrett slashed past two defenders before sending a delicate thread pass to Hamm, who cut tothe top of the penalty box. Hamm sidestepped one defender to the inside, took a hard stride to goal and rolled her left-footed shot into the left corner from 10 yards out. The U.S. added the second goal five minutes before halftime when Shannon MacMillan’s driven corner-kick from the right side found Tisha Venturini at the far post. The U.S. midfielder leaped to head the ball back into the middle for Milbrett’s six-yard tap-in. With a two-goal lead, the Americans possessed the ball and challenged the Germans to come out of their half of the field. When they did, giving the U.S. space in the midfield, the Americans attacked with flair and the final goal came off a great move. A quick series of passes found MacMillan deep on the right wing. Her long cross to the far post was met by Hamm, who headed the ball into the lower left corner past sprawling German goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg for her 80th career international goal in 132 appearances.

Said DiCicco on the match:
“The character of the U.S. team was obvious today. They were disappointed in their performance on Thursday and today, every player was a better player. Tiffeny Milbrett and Mia Hamm put on a show for the Germans, but it was all based on an inspired performance from their teammates.”

July 22, 2000
USA 1, Germany 0
Braunschweig, Germany
Head coach: April Heinrichs

Midfielder Julie Foudy scored the only goal of this game in the 57th minute as the USA earned a well-deserved 1-0 victory to take the championship of the DFB Jubilee Tournament, which also featured China and Norway. It was the first meeting between the USA and Germany since the historic quarterfinal match of the 1999 Women's World Cup, a match in which the U.S. women came back twice from one-goal deficits to win 3-2. The Americans needed no such comebacks in front of 6,050 energetic fans in a match that was one of Michelle Akers’ last for the USA; Akers came on as a 58th minute sub and would play just five more games before retiring. The match was also notable for a scary moment in which defender Kate Sobrero was sandwiched between charging U.S. goalkeeper Siri Mullinix, who came out of her goal to punch a free-kick away, and an onrushing German forward. Sobrero, already playing with a mask to protect a broken nose suffered just prior to departure for Europe, was knocked unconscious. She rose and walked off the field under her own power but was replaced by Danielle Slaton and was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons. With the U.S. defense putting the clamps on the German forwards, the Americans dominated territorially for most of the match but had to continually absorb repeated German counter-attacks. The U.S. goal came after the Americans had come out strong after halftime, pinning the Germans inside their own half. The goal sequence started when defender Christie Pearce, who battled all day long with German forward Birgit Prinz, once again clashed with the 5-10 striker, jamming her body between Prinz and the ball as Prinz tried to beat her on the dribble. Prinz ran up Pearce's back and bundled into her, committing what looked to be an obvious foul, but the referee allowed play to go on. Pearce recovered to tap the ball backwards to Slaton, who immediately fed Shannon MacMillan on the right flank. With the German players still yelling for a foul on Pearce, and Prinz in a heap on the ground, MacMillan hit a perfect bending ball behind the defense to Foudy at the far post. The ball flashed by German goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg, who turned to face Foudy, but the U.S. midfielder tapped the ball back across the German goalkeeper's body, rolling it into the goal at the right post.

Said Heinrichs on the match:
"The most pleasing thing about winning this tournament for the U.S. team was the quality of competition we faced. We used this tournament to simulate our first round in the Olympics, and if this was the Olympics, we would be through to the next round. It was three incredibly difficult games. Three games that sapped us of every ounce of energy we had. For us to play Norway and then China, just as we will do in the Olympics, and then finish with Germany and get the results that we did was a tremendous accomplishment."

Oct. 29, 2009
USA 1, Germany 0
Augsburg, Germany
Head coach: Pia Sundhage

In a match where Germany certainly had the better of the play, outshooting the USA 17-7, the Americans pulled out a gritty win on a 34th minute goal from Abby Wambach and some world class defending by the back four of Heather Mitts, Amy LePeilbet, Rachel Buehler and Lori Chalupny, as well as some excellent goalkeeping from Hope Solo. The match was played in front of an electric crowd of 28,377 singing and chanting fans at Impuls Arena, which would host matches of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. It was the first international match at the stadium and also set a record for the largest crowd in the venue’s young history. Some poor German finishing certainly benefited the USA as well, but the Germans tormented the USA down the left flank early on. Fatmire Bajramaj got around the U.S. defense three times in the first half and dribbled straight at the near post. Each time, she laid a short pass into the six yard box, but on all three occasions, the U.S. defenders somehow managed to intercept the ball. The crosses flew into the U.S. penalty area from both sides of the field for much of the match, but a supremely confident Solo and her defenders managed to repel almost every one. The services on which the Germans did get a head or a foot invariably went high or wide. The U.S. goal came clearly against the run of play, and it stunned the sell-out crowd. The stage was set for a classy bit of finishing from Wambach after midfielder Yael Averbuch, in her first start for the The National Team and just her third cap, looped in a cross from the left wing. German defender Saskia Bartusiak got a foot on it but cleared poorly, and the ball spun up in the air. Wambach got good position under the falling ball and beat charging German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer to nod a header into the net from near the penalty spot. It was Wambach’s 101st career international goal, moving her past Tiffeny Milbrett into fourth place on the USA’s all-time goal scoring list behind Mia Hamm (who attended the match), Kristine Lilly and Michelle Akers. Immediately after the goal, a German attack resulted in a cataclysmic collision between Solo, Lori Chalupny and Birgit Prinz, but Solo came up with the ball and Prinz was called for the foul. The play was representative of the way the U.S. players put their bodies on the line all night to keep Germany off the scoreboard.

Said Sundhage on the match:
“It was a really good game, and Germany is a really good team. I said before the game that we would be winners regardless of the outcome, but I am very happy about the Abby Wambach goal and that we did some good defending today…I give credit to the back four and Hope Solo in the goal and the team defending. I am Swedish, but there is something to be said about the Americans. They are winners. Their attitude is fantastic and that is one of the reasons why we won today. Playing in front of this big crowd is unique and it’s good for me personally and all the players. So today, I am very happy.”

ussoccer.com Q & A with former Women’s National Team Head Coach Tony DiCicco

Tony DiCicco played three sports growing up before choosing to focus on soccer. It’s a good thing he did. The Connecticut native and Hall of Fame coach has made an enduring impact on the game in the United States.

DiCicco played in the American Soccer League and made a single appearance for the U.S. Men’s National Team in 1973 as a goalkeeper. After his plyaing days were over he transitioned to coaching and began to build his career on the touchline.

He worked for ODP and for the U.S. Youth National Team program for several years. He later earned the opportunity to serve as the goalkeeping coach in 1991 when the U.S. WNT won the first FIFA Women’s World Cup. When Anson Dorrance retired as WNT head coach in 1994, he supported DiCiccio as his predecessor.

DiCicco coached the WNT from 1994-1999, compiling an outstanding record of 103-8-8. During his time as head coach, he led the team to win the gold medal at the 1996 Olympic tournament. This tournament was not only the first Olympic event for women’s soccer but it was also held in the United States. Three years later he led the team to victory at the unforgettable 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup held in the United States.

But when asked, DiCicco described a different event as his greatest coaching accomplishment. Below he shared his thoughts on his career.

ussoccer.com: Where did your passion for the game of soccer begin?
Tony DiCicco: “My passion for soccer probably started later than most. Freshman year in college I played soccer, basketball, and baseball. Eventually baseball and basketball dropped off and soccer became my game.

“I had the opportunity to play for the U.S. MNT in 1973. I never was capped but I played against Lazio from Italy. I also sat on the bench when we played Bermuda and when we played Poland in ’73. I had success in the game and I had passion for the game. For me, team sports are so sacred. I loved being part of a soccer team and playing in the American Soccer League and having teammates from Africa, Scotland, or Brazil. You create an amazing chemistry with your teammates and get an amazing education from the game.

“After I finished playing I always knew that coaching was something that I would do. I was already coaching youth teams at the time. I got the opportunity to get involved with ODP as a goalkeeper coach and I later started to work with Youth National Teams. Eventually Anson Dorrance asked Bob Gansler (1990 Men’s World Cup coach) for a goalkeeper coach for the WNT and Bob said ‘Why don’t you try DiCiccio?’ That started a great relationship with that team. I was in the right place at the right time. In 1994 when Anson retired he asked me to take over the team and convinced U.S. Soccer to give this goalkeeper coach a chance.”

ussoccer.com: The first Olympic event for Women’s Soccer was held in 1996. This was the first time that the team was really on the world stage for women’s soccer and had to deal with the media perspective that comes with that. Can you talk about going in to the tournament, getting ready for it, and seeing it all building?
TD: “The team actually didn’t know if there was going to be an Olympic competition for women’s soccer until maybe two or three years before the ’96 Olympics. When it was announced by FIFA and the IOC, it was a tremendous inspiration and motivation for our players. Having the Olympics held in Atlanta was also a tremendous motivation.”

ussoccer.com:
The semifinal game against Norway in some ways avenged the USA’s loss to them in the World Cup in ’95. Can you talk about that game and the preparations going in to it? It was a huge moment for this team.

TD: “It was a huge moment for me as a coach because in the ’95 World Cup, Norway dominated us. I don’t think we had a shot in the first half. The game ended 1-0 and at the end we hit the crossbar a couple times but they were clearly the better team and deserved to win and advance. That was a great Norwegian team and they went on to win the championship against Germany in the final.

“I had been preparing the team to do two things in this game. One was having Tiffany Roberts man mark Hege Riise, a great player for Norway a more recently a former U.S. WNT assistant coach. Tiffany is so athletic and she shut down Riise and made it difficult for her to play. Our nickname for Tiffany was ‘The Little Animal.’ I also moved Michelle Akers in to the midfield where she had an incredible game. This was something that Norway wasn’t really prepared for.

“Our team had come a long way from losing to Norway in ’95 and then dominating Norway in ’96. Again, it was a close game, but out shooting them 28-8 in the Olympics, and winning in golden goal.”

ussoccer.com:
When did you decide to make the tactical change of moving Michelle Akers to midfield? Is that something that you knew you were going to do if you faced Norway?

TD: “My coaching staff and I decided to do it earlier in ’96. We went to Brazil for an event. I spoke to Michelle and said ‘I want to move you in to the midfield.’ She walked away from me because she looked at it as a demotion; she thought ‘I’m not good enough to play up front anymore.’ The next day I met with her again and I said, ‘look, I think you can help us there but I also think I can extend your career.’ Then it made sense for her.

“So we kept layering that in with the notion that we would launch it in a key game in the Olympics. She is probably the most technical player that’s ever played for the U.S. She could deliver a ball inside right foot, inside left foot, outside right foot, outside left foot. Receiving balls under pressure was no problem for her. She was amazing. So our ability to distribute through her as well as her ability to dominate that area was awesome.”

ussoccer.com:
Let’s move to the ’99 World Cup. First, how did you handle all of the distractions in this tournament?

TD: “We were aware right from the start that we needed to be the sales force behind this event. We worked closely with Nike, with U.S. Soccer, and with the organizing committee to make sure we had a balance of when players needed to be available for promotional events and when they needed to be at training. We made it work and players understood that they needed to sell the tournament. We understood if this event was going to reach its potential, we were going to have to keep winning and we were going to have to share in the responsibilities of selling the event.

“David Letterman picked up on it and asked for Brandi Chastain to appear on his show and I knew we had to let her go. It turned out David Letterman fell in love with Brandi and with the team, and he promoted it every single night of the event. That Women’s World Cup took on its own energy and won over America.”

ussoccer.com: As a coach, when an event grows like that, does that change your mindset or what you’re doing and what you need to focus on? Is there a balancing act of dealing with all these external factors and still coaching the team?
TD: “It does change things. As coaches we have to make sure that when the players are with us they’re focused; but we also have to let them go. As the event unfolded, we really had to lean on our sports psychologist, Dr. Colleen Hacker, because I think we were all feeling the pressure. We knew we had to win to keep the event building. So we coined phrases like ‘Pressure is a Privilege,’ and ‘It’s not Pressure, It’s an Opportunity.’ But there was pressure there; I felt it for sure. I tried to make sure the players didn’t. They loved the big event but they also knew that there was a lot riding on every game.”

ussoccer.com:
Moving to the quarterfinal against Germany. Take us through that game. It’s not as famous perhaps as the final but nonetheless a game our fans should probably remember.
TD: “The most difficult game was the quarterfinal against Germany. We were playing against the Germany dream team.

“We went down to Germany within the first five minutes and ended up going into halftime down 2-1. The first thing I had to do was just settle our players. I wasn’t pleased with the way we were playing. I knew that after halftime I was going to send them out and we were just going to pressure them all over the field. But I didn’t want to tell them at halftime, I wanted to tell them right before the whistle blew. So we went out and I called Kristine Lilly and said to pressure as much as we can.

“We started the second half very well. Brandi Chastain scored a goal off a corner kick. It was an awkward half-volley that tied the game. If you see Brandi’s celebration it’s all about relief. Later in the game, Joy Fawcett scored off another corner kick and we went up 3-2. Then we had to survive Germany because they kept coming at us. Brianna Scurry stayed calm, kept us together and we survived an outstanding Germany team. To me, that was the most difficult game.”

ussoccer.com:
On to the final. How did you choose the Penalty Kick takers for the shootout?
TD: “The night before the final, Jay Hoffman, Lauren Gregg and I sat down to talk about penalty kicks. Brandi Chastain and Michelle Akers were our two best penalty takers. Brandi had been taking most of our penalties for the last two years but then she got scouted. She took them right footed and always went to the goalkeeper’s right. So in the Algarve Cup, we played China in the final. We had a penalty, the score was 1-1 and she missed it because she was scouted. After the Algarve Cup I told Brandi that she needed to start shooting them to the goalkeeper’s left and she struggled with that. So I asked if she wanted to try taking some left footed and she agreed. I knew she just needed to let the goalkeeper see something different. So she would practice them right footed to the goalkeeper’s right and left footed to the goalkeeper’s left.

"So when we were discussing who would take penalties the night before the final, we already knew chances were Michelle Akers would not be in the game. She just wouldn’t be able to survive the full 90 minutes plus two overtimes. We came up with the players we wanted and the only question mark was that Lauren Gregg had Brandi sixth and Julie Foudy fifth. I said ‘No I think Brandi has to take a penalty.’ Her nickname was Hollywood. She wanted to be in that setting. She probably dreamed of taking penalty kicks in a World Cup final her whole life.

“When the overtime was finishing, Lauren gave me the list and she still had Julie fifth and Brandi sixth. I said, I like the list, but I need you to go up to Brandi and see if she wants to take a penalty and see if she’ll take it with her left foot. And she did. Now most people never heard that story because when she scored the penalty kick she took off her shirt and that became the story. But that just shows you the confidence of that woman. In the World Cup final, she took the fifth penalty kick with her less-preferred foot. She was very good with both feet, but she liked to take her penalties righty. She took it lefty though, hit a perfect penalty, and the rest is history.”

ussoccer.com:
In 2008 you coached the U-20 WNT in their World Cup. What was it like taking charge of that team?
TD: “The 2008 U-20 World Cup for me personally was my greatest coaching achievement. I took over that team and it wasn’t in a good place. College coaches weren’t giving their players to the U-20 effort because the U-20 World Cup was going to take place during the NCAA tournament. The first thing I had to do was convince coaches [the National Team] was a better player-development environment than playing in college. Coaches started to understand playing for the U.S. is a little bit different than playing for your college. How often do you get a chance to test yourself against the rest of the world, especially in a discipline like soccer that’s a world game? We didn’t get every player, but slowly the players came around and the players we got absolutely wanted to play for the U.S.A.”

ussoccer.com: Tell us about the emergence of Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux.
TD: “The second challenge with that team was that it was a good team, but it wasn’t a great team. We were lacking one of the great qualities the U.S. should have in every event: athleticism. We needed speed so we went out and started looking for players. We were still working to get Sydney Leroux approved by FIFA to become a U.S. international player because she was on the Canadian team for the Russia U-20 event two years prior.

“We found Alex Morgan, brought her in and she had an okay camp. The truth was, when we were deciding who we were going to bring in to the next camp, it was between her and another player and we picked the other player. I kind of was leaning towards Alex but this other player had scored two goals against the Canadian full team when she played for us, so I figured I had to give her a chance. Then the other player turned us down because she decided to stay with her college team. I called Alex that afternoon and when she came back in we had a little talk. I said, ‘Alex you did well in the last camp but I need you to score goals. Not just be a good player, I need you to score goals.’ It kind of just set her free and she started scoring goals and she hasn’t stopped yet. I hope she doesn’t.

“When we went over to Chile for the U-20 World Cup, Alex put on a show against France. She drew a couple of great saves from the French goalkeeper and she hit the post. I put Sydney in in the second half and Syd had a great assist for Alex on our first goal. From then on, those two just took off. No one had an answer for those two.”

ussoccer.com: You were inducted in to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2012. Can you talk about how it felt to receive that honor?

TD: “I think it was a little bit of relief when I got inducted in to the National Hall of Fame. There’s not a coaching category, there’s a Builder category. When you think of the amazing builders out there, I wasn’t sure I would be inducted. So to go in with Tony Meola, a friend of mine, as well as Desmond Armstrong and Claudio Reyna, and to be part of this amazing coaching community, including Anson Dorrance, is very rewarding and I’m very humbled by it.”

ussoccer.com:
Lastly, what advice do you have for young coaches who are just starting out?
TD: “Well young coaches, number one, have to get coaching education. U.S. Soccer coaching schools are a great tool. Get yourself around good coaches and use these networks to learn from your colleagues Make sure you take the time to observe the best coaches. It isn’t the Xs and Os that make you special; it’s how you impact players. I was able to observe Anson Dorrance. I had to do it my own way though because I couldn’t be Anson. But when you put yourself around great coaches and you see what makes them special and how they impact and inspire players, you can create your own way of doing it. That’s how you can reach your top level as a coach.”

National Soccer Hall of Fame Induction 2012 Presented by Eurosport to be Held May 30 in Landover, Md.

Claudio Reyna, Tony Meola, Desmond Armstrong and Tony DiCicco will be Inducted
as the Class of 2012 Ahead of Men’s National Team Match Against Brazil

CHICAGO (April 17, 2012) – Former U.S. Men’s National Team stars Claudio Reyna, Tony Meola and Desmond Armstrong and former U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Tony DiCicco will be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame on May 30 in Landover, Md.

The National Soccer Hall of Fame and U.S. Soccer will hold Induction 2012 presented by Eurosport at FedExField ahead of the U.S. Men’s National Team game against Brazil. The exact start of the Induction will be determined in the near future. Following the invite-only ceremony, new inductees, Hall of Fame members and invited guests will attend a reception. Current Hall of Famers, as well as the Class of 2012 inductees, will be recognized on the field before kickoff.

Both men elected on the player ballot made a significant contribution to the Men’s National Team and had successful club careers both overseas and in the USA. Reyna, a four-time World Cup veteran, had an impressive career in Europe, playing for Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Rangers, Sunderland and Manchester City. Meola holds second place all-time for most U.S. goalkeeper appearances and was a mainstay in Major League Soccer, earning MVP and Goalkeeper of the Year awards with the Kansas City Wizards.

Armstrong, elected on the veteran ballot, was a stellar defender for the U.S. Men. During an eight-year National Team career, he competed in the 1990 World Cup and the 1988 Olympic Games.

DiCicco was elected on the builder ballot and was recognized for his record-breaking tenure with the Women’s National Team, posting 103 victories in 119 matches and leading the squad to the FIFA Women’s World Cup title at home in 1999.

The U.S. MNT will kick off against five-time World Cup winner Brazil at 8 p.m. ET. More than 40,000 tickets have been sold for the match, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2, ESPN3 and Univision. The match will be the team’s last friendly in the U.S. before it begins 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Established in 1950, the National Soccer Hall of Fame is dedicated to the sport of soccer in the United States by celebrating its history, preserving its legacy, inspiring its youth and honoring its heroes for generations to come.

Reyna, Meola Elected to National Soccer Hall of Fame Class of 2012

CHICAGO (Feb. 29, 2012) – Former U.S. Men’s National Team captain Claudio Reyna and three-time FIFA World Cup veteran goalkeeper Tony Meola have been elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame Class of 2012 on the Player ballot.

Joining the players in this year’s class are Desmond Armstrong on the Veteran ballot and Tony DiCicco on the Builder ballot.

Reyna, eligible on the Player ballot for the first time, was named on 96 percent of the ballots. Meola, also a first-time eligible Player inductee, was named to 90 percent of the ballots. Armstrong was cast on nearly 54 percent of the Veteran ballots and DiCicco was named on 61 percent of the Builder ballots.

The Class of 2012 induction ceremony will likely be scheduled for this summer and details will be announced at a later date.

Reyna, who currently serves as U.S. Soccer’s Youth Technical Director, played for the U.S. National Team for 13 straight years from 1994-2006 and was a member of four FIFA World Cup teams. He earned 112 caps while scoring eight goals and recording 19 career assists. Reyna also had a 13-year career in Europe, playing for Premier League sides Manchester City and Sunderland and the Scottish Premier League’s Glasgow Rangers.

“It’s an incredible honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame,” said Reyna. “Soccer has been my life from the moment I could walk. You don’t think or play for these type of recognitions but it is a tremendous honor and I want to thank my former teammates, former coaches and everybody else close to me, especially my family, who supported me – from those who drove me all over as a youth player to my wife and children who have been here my whole career. From a player’s standpoint, it kind of caps things off for me, so it’s definitely an honor and something that I’m proud of.”

Meola was a member of three U.S. World Cup squads, serving as the team’s No. 1 goalkeeper for the 1990 and 1994 FIFA World Cups and then as a reserve in 2002. In 12 years, between 1988 and 2006, Meola earned 100 caps and 32 shutouts (second all-time behind Kasey Keller), while recording 37 victories. Meola was one of the top goalkeepers in Major League Soccer, highlighted by his 2000 campaign with the Kansas City Wizards that included an MLS Cup, MLS MVP, MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and MLS Cup MVP accolades.

“It’s certainly the greatest honor you can have in your chosen profession, to be mentioned in the same breath as the great people that were before you and one day the great ones that will come after you,” Meola said. “I’m certainly humbled and I’m honored, and I’m thrilled to think that somebody actually thought I was worthy of it.”

Armstrong garnered 81 caps in 73 starts in his eight years with the National Team from 1987-1994. His 2,128 minutes in 1993 rank second all-time for one year behind only fellow 1993 defenseman Mike Lapper (2,205). He played in all three matches during the USA’s trip to the 1990 FIFA World Cup.

DiCicco set an unprecedented standard, posting a Women’s National Team-record 103 victories in 119 matches during his head coaching tenure from 1994-1999. DiCicco memorably led his squad to the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship against China on July 10 in front of a sellout crowd of 90,185 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

For all the eligibility and election criteria for the Player, Veteran and Builder ballots, please visit ussoccer.com.

2012 Player Ballot Results
Claudio Reyna            96.08 %
Tony Meola                 90.20
Marco Etcheverry        58.82
Joe-Max Moore           57.84
Shannon MacMillan     49.02
Carlos Valderrama      43.14
Cindy Parlow              36.27
Peter Vermes              35.29
Chris Armas               34.31
Jason Kreis                 30.39
* Only includes top 10 in votes received

2012 Veteran Ballot Results
Desmond Armstrong   53.66 %
Teofilo Cubillas           51.22
John Doyle                 51.22
Glenn Myernick           48.78
Linda Hamilton            43.90
Shep Messing              39.02
Mike Sorber                39.02
George Best                31.71
Brian Quinn                26.83
Bill McPherson            14.63
Steve Trittschuh          14.63

2012 Builder Ballot Results
Tony DiCicco               61.22 %
Francisco Marcos         48.98
Chuck Blazer               44.90
Bob Bradley                 40.82
Don Garber                 40.82
Sigi Schmid                 38.78
Fritz Marth                   20.41
Dr. Robert Contiguglia 16.33

Class of 2012 National Soccer Hall of Fame Q & A

CHICAGO (Feb. 29, 2012) – The National Soccer Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2012 on Wednesday, featuring former U.S. Men’s National Team captain Claudio Reyna and three-time FIFA World Cup veteran goalkeeper Tony Meola on the Player ballot, former National Team defender Desmond Armstrong on the Veteran ballot and former U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Tony DiCicco on the Builder ballot.

ussoccer.com caught up with all four inductees to talk about the honor and reminisce on their past accomplishments and U.S. soccer paths:

National Soccer Hall of Fame Player Inductee CLAUDIO REYNA
On being inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame:
“It’s an incredible honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Soccer has been my life from the moment I could walk. You don’t think or play for these types of recognitions, but it is a tremendous honor and I want to thank my former teammates, former coaches and everybody else close to me, especially my family, who supported me – from those who drove me all over as a youth player to my wife and children who have been here my whole career. From a player’s standpoint, it kind of caps things off for me, so it’s definitely an honor and something that I’m proud of.”

On entering the Hall of Fame, the likes of which include many of his former teammates and coaches:
“As the years go on we’re continuing to develop so many good players who have had long careers with the National Team and with their club teams. It’s great to see. I had the honor last year of presenting Earnie Stewart, who is a very good friend of mine. Tony Meola and Desmond Armstrong were very good players on the National Team when I first started my career in the beginning. To see them get in is nice. I imagine there will be many more former and current National Team players who will receive the same honor.”

On the development of the sport over the course of his career:
“For me at this stage, I’m 38 years old and I can think back over the years where this sport was when I first started off. The growth of the professional league, our National Team and the interest in the sport has been incredible. Whatever part I played in that, it’s nice that I was in this cycle that was able to help the sport develop, along with the other players, coaches and people who have invested in the sport throughout the years. It shows that we as a country are now taking the sport more and more seriously.”

On the continued growth of the National Team:
“I think even the guys on the National Team now will look back in 15 to 20 years and say the same thing that I have: They won’t believe how far the sport has grown from their time. It’s hard to realize that when you’re in the present and playing. I thought when I was in the 1994 World Cup that it couldn’t get any bigger or better, but it has in so many different ways. Now I’m sort of on the other side of it, looking to develop our future players and future coaches and help them get better. I’m trying to pass on all the experience I’ve had within the U.S. and of course playing in Europe for so many years so we can close the gap with the best teams in the world.”

National Soccer Hall of Fame Player Inductee TONY MEOLA
On the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame:
“It’s certainly the greatest honor you can have in your chosen profession, to be mentioned in the same breath as the great people that were before you and one day the great ones that will come after you. I’m certainly humbled and I’m honored, and I’m thrilled to think that somebody actually thought I was worthy of it. That makes it more special, that people who are obviously knowledgeable about the game, that have followed the game and spent their entire life in the game like I have who voted for me. I can only say thank you to them for the opportunity to be part of the group.”

On his experiences with the U.S. Men’s National Team:
“I was fortunate to have played 100 games with the National Team. I could write a complete book just on my experiences there. I guess I didn’t realize until later on in my career what those early days meant for the sport of soccer, how important they were in our development, how important they were in generating interest in the U.S. National Team and in soccer, and in general in this country. But when you’re playing, that’s not necessarily something you’re thinking about. You don’t think about being in this position 20 years down the road. You’re just thinking about playing and being the best you could be and helping your team, and that’s the way I looked at it. This is a reward, I suppose, for doing that in a way people thought was the way it should be done.”

On being part of three World Cups:
“To be part of three World Cups is a dream come true, and then for me I think that the neatest thing – given my heritage and my background – about the World Cups was that I always said if I had to pick two countries to play a World Cup in when I was a kid, the two I would have picked would have been Italy and the United States. Somehow that all worked out, and for me, that’s one of the most amazing parts of my career, that it worked out that way. I couldn’t have drawn it any better, really. If I had to pick the most memorable game in a World Cup, it was for sure the game against Colombia in Pasadena, where U.S. Soccer and the U.S. National Team was finally thought of, after that game, as a group that could compete all the time. I’m proud to have been part of that team, part of that group of guys, who were so willing to and so determined to make an impact not only in U.S. Soccer, but around the world. That was sort of one of the goals of that group and I’m happy to have been a part of that.”

On the challenge of being a U.S. MNT goalkeeper:
“For goalkeepers, there’s only one spot to be occupied and for so many years, I was able to be part of that and had some colleagues that were there with me in Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller and down the road a little bit, Tim Howard. These are guys that not only helped our National Team get better, but I think we all made each other better at the end of the day. For me, that’s pretty impressive company. I’m honored to be part of that group and to have played a part in the development of U.S. goalkeepers, and I think it’s something that I hope we can recapture and have that many and that kind of group of guys competing for the same position for a long time.”

On the development of soccer in the United States over the years:
“I’m not sure a lot has changed from a soccer standpoint. I still look at the ’94 team and what we did, and I look at the group I was with in 2002 and what we did. The U.S. team’s always going to be able to compete. Everyone talks about winning the World Cup. Well, there aren’t a lot of countries that can say they’ve won the World Cup. I think a lot of things have to go your way. You’ve got to get some luck along the way. There are great players now, for sure. There were great players then, and in some regard, the players back then had a much more difficult road. There were some players prior to me coming on who had no place to play, they were looking for places to train in order to stay fit and to stay sharp and then had to go and compete at the international level. The players are at a little bit of an advantage now and we as MLS players and guys that played overseas had a little bit of an edge because we had a place to work on our trade every day. But there’s no question there were great players then and there’s great players now. I think the pool of great players has gotten bigger now. If you’re a National Team coach, you have a lot more guys to choose from than you did in the past and that’s just the development of our sport in general, and now we have different avenues for guys to play in.

“I love the direction the game has gone, I love the development of young players and being able to go overseas and play in the biggest leagues in the world and make money and enjoy success. Every time I read about that, I think about our group that kept the ball rolling in the sport, and now these guys are making the ball roll a little bit faster. Twenty years from now, hopefully guys will talk about them and talk about how they helped further their career because of the guys before them. It was a responsibility that I took seriously. It’s one of the reasons I decided to come back to the United States and play here instead of stay overseas is because I took the role of developing the sport seriously, and it meant a lot to me.”

National Soccer Hall of Fame Veteran Inductee DESMOND ARMSTRONG
On honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame:
“It means for me that I’m part of the representation of a generation that has not been forgotten, just somewhat overlooked. We were the group that helped to start this run of soccer success in America, so it’s a great honor to be recognized for that.”

On joining the Hall of Fame with Tony Meola, Claudio Reyna and Tony DiCicco:
“Specifically for Tony Meola and Claudio, they represent the start of this run for the USA qualifying for the World Cup ever since 1990 and also the continuation of the success of American players in Europe - Claudio in particular. He was the impetus for the next generation of American players to be successful in Europe and then come back and give back to the American game. To be in that class is a tremendous honor. For Tony DiCicco, to be in the class with him, he’s a representation of the Women’s game for the 1991 Women’s World Cup (then known as the Women’s World Championship, when DiCicco was assistant coach), that group of women speaks of pioneers, which I believe I’m a part of that generation. We were pioneers, both on the Men’s and Women’s sides. And of course for the Women, Tony represents the greatest success for soccer in America.”

On his most memorable moment on the U.S. Men’s National Team:
“I think the Olympics for me, the ’88 Olympics, was the highlight of my career. I was at the peak of my performance as a player, I believe. This was before I broke my leg – I broke my leg directly after the Olympics and was able to make it back to the 1990 World Cup, which was momentous, as well. I just feel as though that ’88 Olympic team – and again that generation of players, which included John Harkes, Tab Ramos, Christopher Sullivan, Peter Vermes, Frankie Klopas, John Doyle, Steve Trittschuh and the like. I think that generation was the generation that really pushed us forward and brought us toward 1990 and the qualification of the World Cup in 1990. I think that was my greatest moment, which is back in the black and white days of television. That was a great experience, the most momentous for me. And then as we move forward all the way up into ’94, to be a part of the generation that brought the World Cup to the United States for the first time and only time at this point.”

On the development and increasing popularity of soccer during his career:
“I think for us, leading up to 1994, we started to get growing coverage. When I came up through college – I was in college from ’82-86 – NASL was still around but it went under in ’84, two years into my college ranks. So from ’84 to really 1990, there was sporadic coverage of soccer on a national scale. It was difficult to see games, there was no real support for us no matter where we played outside of St. Louis, which was at that time the hub for the U.S. National Team, right in the center of the country, so to speak. Whenever we played out in California, it was sort of like playing away from home because we typically played a Hispanic team, if not Mexico. The support for them was more than it was for us, the Americans. From that to the progressive stages of ’94, when people started to get wind of what the World Cup really was because it was here on our ground and then pushing forward to 2002, which is Claudio’s team, he was tremendous in that World Cup. I think that generation really identified to the world that we had progressed, that we had moved forward. We had more Americans playing in Europe at that time that came back and played in the World Cup and then pushing forward from there, the coverage that we’ve gotten even to 2010, the most recent World Cup, where they showed on television every World Cup game as opposed to just the American games. It has grown exponentially from the time that I played, which is almost ancient history.”

On the increasing growth of soccer in America:
“I think we’ve turned a corner. With the presence in MLS, I think we’ve turned a corner in regard to 1) the exposure, but also 2) the product that we’re putting on the field, which then feeds into the National Team, where the National Team is not the only product that we’re marketing to the general sports community. We’re marketing MLS, or professional soccer, as well as the exposure of other professional leagues around the world that we have access to. Whereas 10 years ago, we didn’t have that type of access of seeing top matches around the world and thus be able to compare our own professional league to those other top levels. I think that now we have a growing generation of soccer enthusiasts because guys like myself, in terms of my age range, we have kids that came up playing soccer. That resonates within one’s household, and thus we have many, many more soccer enthusiasts because we had many more soccer participants that now translated into being able to view that product that is out there through MLS. It’s sure to continue to grow as a major sport in the country.”

National Soccer Hall of Fame Builder Inductee TONY DICICCO
On the exclusive honor of being inducted as a Builder:
“Unfortunately or fortunately, there isn’t a coach category so I wasn’t sure I was ever going to get voted in because there are great builders and a great list of builders in this year’s group of candidates. I’m delighted that I was recognized not only as a coach, but as somebody who has helped build the sport here in the United States. It means a lot to me because, if you look at the list, when I joined, there were incredible builders in that list and to have only one person each year be inducted is an incredible honor for me and my family and my teams.”

On his time as Women’s National Team head coach from 1994-2000, when he won 103 of 119 games:
“It was a unique group because of how they worked together, how they invited in talented new players that were potentially going to take their position and then how they raised their game so that those young, talented players did not take their position. I think that’s why that group of players played as long as they did. But they also had a much bigger sense of responsibility off the field and they continue to do that as spokeswomen for the game, when you look at players like Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Michelle Akers and Carla Overbeck, and the whole group of them. The truth is I never had a disciplinary issue in the five years that I coached the team. Having coached three years in WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer), and I coached the U-20 Women in 2008 and teams before and after that, that is incredibly unique. It was a team that had one common goal and our motto was ‘Win Forever.’ They showed that and they did it with class. They did it with the way Americans love the sport to be played – any sport to be played – with hard work and flair and exciting play and a find-a-way-to-win type of mentality. From that team, this tradition that our U.S. Women still have emerged. I think the last international game they played (against New Zealand on Feb. 11) they scored two late goals and won. I think that tradition of finding ways to win, and of course we saw that last summer in the World Cup, and coming back at the death in games is something that began with our Women’s National Team in the ’90s and continues today.”

On the 1999 Women’s World Cup win and 1996 Olympic gold medal:
“In both of those situations, we were in residency, so I always looked at it as the journey in residency, building the team and fine-tuning the team and finding the special players that are going to make us better. The nucleus was pretty much in place, but finding those one or two players that were going to help us win. That journey was incredible. It was an everyday thing, we got together and it was wonderful. The other part of it was the event – the event has kind of a life of its own. In the Olympics in ’96, it was incredibly rewarding because we played fantastic soccer.”

On his role in increasing the popularity of women’s soccer in the country:
“My role was to not get in the way of the players. We had great players with great motivation. [Former head coach] Anson Dorrance had set the tone on the mentality of the U.S. Women. I tried to get us to play a little bit differently, different systems, and show some variety. I converted Brandi Chastain, one of the great forwards, into an outside back and Joy Fawcett into an outside back. They became the two best attacking outside defenders in the world for five years and beyond. Even after my time, they were incredible players for the USA. I think I gave us a little bit more sophistication in play, I found some players like Christie Rampone, who now I’m amazed at how good she’s become over the years. I think my biggest contribution was to stay out of the way and let these players have the freedom to do what they do so well on the field, just give them a structure and let them do what they’ve prepared to do for a lifetime. My job was to create the structure for them to play their best and display their signature abilities, and what I tried to do was just piece the puzzle together so that one player’s special skills complimented another player’s special skills and so forth throughout the team.”

U.S. Under-20 Women Fall to Top Clubs in England

CHICAGO (August 4, 2008) - After a training camp in New Jersey from July 23-28, in which the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team downed the W-League’s New Jersey Sky Blue by a 5-1 score, the team headed to England, where it dropped matches to the Everton Ladies (1-0) and the Arsenal Ladies (3-1).

Against the Sky Blue on July 26, the USA got an early goal from Alex Morgan, who also added one with 15 minutes left in the game, plus individual scores from Gina DiMartino, Amanda DaCosta and Kiersten Dallstream for the final margin.

The U.S. team then headed to Europe and faced Everton on July 30 almost right off the plane. Everton’s lone goal came in the 80th minute but the Americans hit the post twice after beating the ‘keeper during the game.

Two days later against Arsenal, one of the top women’s clubs in the world, the USA played well, but fell behind, 3-0, as superstar Kelly Smith scored against the run of play, the USA gave up a penalty and then a goal off a corner kick. Alex Morgan pulled a late goal back with three minutes left.

“I was actually quite pleased with this game,” said DiCicco of the Arsenal result “The effort was fantastic and we were probably the better team on the day except in the important statistic of finishing. It is very good for our players to play against seasoned veterans, women who are 27, 29 or 31 years old. This is a game we can build on and will.”

The U.S. team will finish the trip with a match against Chelsea on July 5. The U.S. will then head home as the bulk of the team will prepare for their college pre-season camps, although there will be some U-20 activity during the college season.

DiCicco is preparing his side for the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup to be held in Chile in December. The 16 teams that will compete for the U-20 world title this year are:

Asia: China, Japan, North Korea
Africa: Congo DR, Nigeria
Europe: England, France, Germany, Norway
CONCACAF: Canada, USA, Mexico
Oceania: New Zealand
South America: Brazil, Argentina
Host: Chile

An integral figure who put women's soccer on the map in the U.S. and globally, Tony DiCicco built an impressive run as the U.S. Women's National Team head coach from 1994-1999. He led the USA to its first gold medal in the 1996 Olympics and most notably was at the helm of the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup champion team that defeated China.

As the U.S. Women's head coach, DiCicco won a staggering 103 games - nearly 90 percent of his matches - in compiling a 103-8-8 international record. DiCicco is the only American coach to win a Women's World Cup, an Olympic gold, and a.U-20 Women's World Cup (2008).

DiCicco's 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup team increased the popularity and prominence of women's athletics as more than 90,000 people were on hand at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., to witness the thrilling victory against China. Nearly 18 million people viewed the match on television - the most-watched women's soccer match in U.S. history.

The Wethersfield, Conn., native coached the U.S. goalkeepers in the first edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991, helping lead a defense that posted three shutouts and defeated Norway in the final.

He was the founding commissioner of the Women's United Soccer Association from 2000-2003, then coached the Boston Breakers of Women's Professional Soccer from 2009-2011.

As a player, DiCicco was an All-American at Springfield College and he took his game to the professional ranks for five years, playing for the American Soccer League's Connecticut Wildcats and the Rhode Island Oceaneers.

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