Legendary Goalkeeper Tony Meola on What America Needs To Do
Meola played for the U.S. Men’s National Team on three world cup rosters and earned the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award in 2000 is impressed with how the MLS had grown in the past decade but would like to see more soccer-specific stadiums built across America. What else does this world-class soccer expert think? We asked …
The Changing Face of American Soccer Series
Tony Meola is an American soccer legend. As the goalkeeper who protected the goal for the USA in three FIFA World Cups — 1990, 1994, and the 2002 World Cups, Meola was a pivotal force for the Red, White and Blue.
In 1996, the year the MLS kicked off, Meola was drafted by the MetroStars — the team
We spoke with Tony Meola while he was in St, Paul Minnesota for USA’s opening match of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup. While Meola was onsite for the match, he worked with the Allstate “Day for Play” — the initiative that gives cities around the country an opportunity to discover and celebrate the love of the beautiful game.
nterview with Tony Meola
Diane Scavuzzo: What is one of the most important goals for soccer in America today?
Tony Meola: We need to continue to grow the game. It is fun to see the growth of the game in America and we are more committed to young players than ever before but …
We need to do more to promote young soccer talentTony Meola
Diane Scavuzzo: What should we be doing?
Tony Meola: Players who are good enough need to be playing in meaningful games. We need today’s young players to be playing in professional games. Several MLS clubs have stepped up but is it where it needs to be? Not yet.
Ultimately, we need our young players to be getting minutes on the field.
It is not a flaw in the system, but when there is money to invest … the first thing that often comes to mind is buying foreign players.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is your advice for young players?
Tony Meola: You must live your dream. It almost sounds trite to tell kids that but you have to have a dream first. Then you have to follow it.
Today we are seeing young players make smarter choices than ever before.
The most important thing is to be on the field and play.
The only way to get better is to play the game.
It doesn’t matter where you are training — there is no one formula for becoming a professional.
Diane Scavuzzo: What about kids who grow up dreaming of playing in Europe?
Tony Meola: Many kids dream of playing in the Champions League or other European leagues. The Germany teams are now in tune with American players and those who train in the Netherlands come out very tactically aware.
Diane Scavuzzo: Will MLS’ push for Player Compensation change this dream for today’s youth players?
Tony Meola: It was too easy before for clubs from Europe to
comeand pluck kids for free.
We need the MLS to be compensated for their efforts, this is part of the evolution of soccer, and this will not stop the best players from signing contracts abroad.
There are many MLS clubs that care about developing players are doing a good job. FC Dallas is a great example.
Diane Scavuzzo: So many of your former teammates are now responsible for the future of American soccer. For example, you played with Peter Vermes, the General Manager / Head Coach of Sporting Kansas City …
Tony Meola: Yes, Peter really cares and takes pride in developing the American player — Chris Henderson at Seattle Sounders is another person focused on
Diane Scavuzzo: What was your favorite moment in front of the net?
Tony Meola: It is hard to pick one moment, but if I have too, it is the moment that changed the face of the game. The Trinidad game when Cal (Paul Caligiuri) scored the goal that got the US back in the qualifier for the World Cup.
Diane Scavuzzo: What was it like? That goal is considered one of the most important moments in U.S. Soccer history. It is one of the “100 Moments” and got the U.S. MNT’s into the 1990 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
Tony Meola: It was great, but there was still a lot of time left in the game and we had a lot of work to do. And, we got it done — perhaps October 2017 was retribution.