U.S. Soccer

Reyna, Meola among four set to be inducted into National Hall of Fame

Reyna (ISIphotos)

Prior to Wednesday night's match between the U.S. men's national team and Brazil, a quartet of individuals who helped build the foundation for both men's and women's soccer in this country will receive their due.

Claudio Reyna, Tony Meola, Desmond Armstrong and Tony DiCicco will be inducted into the National Hall of Fame, and longtime journalist Grahame Jones will be honored as well, at a ceremony at FedEx Field before the friendly.

While New Jersey natives Michael Bradley and Tim Howard will help lead the United States into battle Wednesday, their predecessors and N.J. natives Reyna and Meola were two of the more influential players of the past two decades of U.S. Soccer. Reyna captained the national team and was a four-time World Cup veteran, earning 112 caps in 13 years of international play. Meola also hit the 100-cap mark and was a part of three World Cup teams, including the 1990 team that broke this country's 40-year drought of competing on the grandest stage. 

DiCicco, meanwhile, coached the U.S. women's national team to Olympic gold in 1996 and the World Cup title in 1999, while Armstrong amassed 81 caps and was also a key part of the 1990 team with Meola.

What are some of your favorite memories of the inductees?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Michael F. SBI Mafia Original

    One of my lasting memories is being in the stands at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea when we beat Portugal. When the final whistle blew, Reyna came over to the stands and was asking for an American flag to be handed to him. And then, looking like the Captain America that he was, Renya walked the field draped in the Red, White & Blue. Great player. Great American.

    My lasting memory of Meola couldn’t have been more opposite. I was in the player’s lounge after a Metrostars game against the Revolution in Boston. I was the guest of a Metro’s player. This is where the players eat and relax after the game with family, friends and even the other team. I never met Tony but followed his career as we were the same age came both from NJ. I decided to introduced myself, as I was next to him in the buffet line. “Hi Tony, you played a great game today. I’m Michael.” and I reach out my hand to shake hands. With the most condescending look you could imagine, he looks down at me (literally and figuratively), smirks, then turns away. Not a word. Not a “Nice to meet you.” Nothing. Nada. Zilch. In my book, he’s a D-Bag plain and simple. Hope the Hall changes their mind before the ceremony! : )


  • al17

    I’m just shocked that Tony DiCicco wasn’t in aeons ago. Is it due to the period of time he stopped coaching and being inducted?


  • 4now

    That spectacular near post extension dive save against the Czech Republic in the first match of the 1990 World Cup pretty much summed up US Soccer at that moment – athletic, spirited, driven, and grossly naive. Tony nearly broke his collar bone on that save he was so out of position, and the Czechs scored on the ensuing corner, I think.

    Regardless, real charisma, real raw talent and a hugely important figure in modern US football.

    Makes me think of David Vanole, actually. Another American hero.


  • 4now

    As a counter-point. I grew up playing at Kearny Thistle FC, and Tony would come over on his spare time and help us train. He gave me one of his GK glove bags as a gift and was always incredibly generous.


  • drew11

    What is the “National HOF”? Is this a US Soccer property? Why are they still inducting members with the physical HOF closed and most everything boxed up in storage?

    This HOF situation is really a disgrace and needs to be addressed.


  • Doug

    Not a stretch at all. African American soccer players, like me, had nobody who looked like us come along until him. I remember watching Italia 90 as a 10 year old and seeing someone who looked like me was a validation that i made the right decision to play soccer while everyone else was playing basketball, football, and baseball. Well done Des.


  • Doug

    My favorite memory of Claudio Reyna was watching him in the NJ State finals for St. Benedicts. Even as a kid watching in the stands, you could tell he was a class above everyone.


  • Hopper

    My favorite Meola memory is when he tried out for the NY Jets after the 1994 World Cup and slipped during a kickoff in a preseason game.


  • Mike

    For me, Reyna is still the most gifted player we’ve ever produced. Had he not been derailed by injuries he would have really become world class.


  • TheFrenchOne

    hmmm … i’m not sure we want to go down that road of making race a factor for getting HOF consideration. I’m not saying he wasn’t an important player for the USMNT. 81 caps, obviously he was solid, but to me he just doesn’t make the cut. i was 18 during the 1990 WC and remember him as well. just a difference of opinion


  • Michael F

    Also, Reyna being named to the Best 11 at the 2002 World Cup. Even with injuries he was World Class.


  • @JohnSivolella

    Every summer during high school in Springfield, NJ, my friends and I (mostly HS players – but all kinds of kids, really) would play pick-up soccer games on the football field on Meisel Avenue.

    We played literally each weeknight – it was a great escape and a way for friends to hang out. The road fronting the field was somewhat busy, so all types of folks would stop by and play (e.g. a back-up placekicker for the NY Giants, random players recently arrived to the States (couldn’t speak English), etc.).

    Really wonderful memories – always hot, humid NJ early evenings, carefree playing the beautiful game with friends.

    We had developed a deep and abiding love and respect for the game having been fortunate enough to be playing soccer and living in NJ when the Cosmos were at their height.

    One July, a boy named Claudio started to show up – he was 10 years younger than we were, but his dad, Miguel, and uncle, Ozzie (that’s the phonetic spelling that I remember), brought him down religiously for the next two summers to play.

    Over time, it became apparent he was clearly gifted – at what, 6 & 7 years old? We let him play because he actually could keep up and add value (not much slack given there…). Claudio was aggressive and could somehow see the field. And his dad had played semi-pro in Argentina – according to him – so we always talked about the game and they were cool to have around.

    They had moved to Springfield, apparently lived near Route 22, and became part of the fabric of those nights playing soccer – and the memories that weave those nights together.

    We would always lament jokingly that, if the US had had a competitive team (in 1980 and ’81 we weren’t even close) and ever played in a World Cup, Claudio would be there! But alas, we thought, it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.

    Life, however – like the game of soccer – is quite beautiful and surprising at times.

    Claudio Reyna went on from that simple field, and those carefree nights, to indeed play for – and captain – a US national team that played in multiple World Cups. He played in the Bundesliga we had all watched on Soccer Made in Germany, in The Firm we had all read about with awe, and in the Premiereship – which didn’t exist yet (we grew up watching one-hour versions of First Division games on PBS).

    It’s one of those serendipitous moments in life – you look back and are thankful for having been there. We all played soccer with, and contributed in a small way to, a soccer great – a deserving member of our national Soccer Hall of Fame.

    Amazingly, watching little Claudio play soccer, and getting kicked in the shins by him, doesn’t seem all that long ago.

    I do my best almost daily to pass along a love for the game of soccer to my children – it’s a legacy that they will hopefully enjoy for their entire lives. Soccer is an international language, something that ties the entire world together – you can drop a ball, or a facsimile of one, on the ground anywhere in the world and start playing. And for those few moments on that pitch, everyone is playing as one. I wish for my children that they become part of that world fabric.

    Congratulations to Claudio and his fellow Soccer Hall of Fame inductees. They were pioneers of a sport in our nation that – from what I’ve seen over the years on the playing fields across the NE US – is producing superb players and has a very bright future.


  • KEEP

    I don’t go back that far, but really enjoyed watching them at UVA(Reyna and Meola).


  • Chan

    Thanks for this post. My son was practicing on that very field on Meisel Ave yesterday. It’s awesome to know that a future Hall of Famer played on that field. I still have not met Claudio to talk, but my son got his autograph at a RB game. He was happy to meet the kids during pre-game warm-up. Congratulations to Claudio, Tony and the rest of the inductees, and thanks for the memories!


  • Nate

    Reyna made the whole team better – he was the pace setter, the conductor, the puppet master, or whatever other insufficient term you want to use. Such a joy to watch!


  • Doug

    Like it or not, race is the under current of everything. Im not saying he’s in the HOF because he was black, but im sure it didnt hurt when it came to the voters voting. He represents something that no one else will ever do again. First black USA player to play in a World Cup. Your point is well taken TheFrenchOne


  • Eurosnob

    John, thanks for posting this – it gives a good insight into how Claudio developed as a youth player.


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