Former WNT Head Coach Tony DiCicco and Mexico Captain Monica Gonzalez Visit Guatemala with Sports Envoy Program
CHICAGO (Feb. 24, 2015) – Former U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Tony DiCicco is in Guatemala City as a member of the U.S. Department of State Sports Envoy Program. DiCicco is joined by former Mexico Women’s National Team captain Monica Gonzalez.
As part of the program, which runs through Feb. 26, DiCicco and Gonzalez will meet with local sports figures and conduct clinics with local children.
DiCicco and Gonzalez kicked off the week with a meeting between U.S. Embassy staff, representatives from the Guatemalan Ministry of Culture and Sports and other organizations. The pair then led a clinic with more than 80 children at the Roosevelt Sports Complex in Guatemala City before staging an afternoon session in another part of the city.
Tuesday kicked off with a clinic involving nearly 100 children before heading to a motivational talk with middle school students about the impact of sports and values. In the afternoon, DiCicco and Gonzalez met the Guatemala Women’s National Team players and coaches.
DiCicco returns to the U.S. on Wednesday, Feb. 25, while Gonzalez continues to conduct clinics with children in Jalapa and Guatemala City until Feb. 26.
As head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team, DiCicco led the team to the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup title and the 1996 Olympic gold medal. With a 103-8-8 record from 1994-99, DiCicco won more games than any coach in U.S. WNT history. He also guided the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team to the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup title in 2008, with a team that boasted current WNT players Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux, Meghan Klingenberg and Alyssa Naeher.
In partnership with the SportsUnited division within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Soccer players, coaches and administrators have visited more than 24 countries since 2006. The athletes have offered soccer clinics for thousands of boys, girls and coaches. Athletes and coaches use sport as a tool to teach important values and life skills such as respect, teamwork, inclusion, acknowledgement of rules, discipline, and self-confidence. Most recently, former U.S. MNT defender Tony Sanneh and former WNT defender Zola Solamente visited Bolivia.
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
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
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
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
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
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.”
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.”
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.
Date of Birth
Aug 5, 1948