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Quaranta continues his remarkable comeback

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The look on his face said it all. After scoring the first goal in last night's Gold Cup match, the emotion surged over Santino Quaranta, the D.C. United midfielder. It's been a long road back for the player whose playing career, not to mention his international career, seemed all but over. Last night, his ascension continued in dramatic fashion, as his first-ever international goal helped the U.S. overcome a scrappy Honduran side.

"The guy's battled through a lot, and he deserves this. I think it's incredible," said former United teammate and starting USMNT goalkeeper Troy Perkins.

It was an understandably emotional night for Quaranta before the goal, as he started in front of his home crowd at RFK Stadium. Instead of the usual Black-and-Red fans were accustomed to, it was the white kit of the U.S. Playing on the right side of the midfield, Quaranta got off to a slow start as he tried to work through some pre-game emotions.

"It was a very special night for me personally, but to be back wearing the jersey was probably more special. Just to be back on the field with the team, and to listen to the anthem was very emotional for me. It’s been such a fun and long road back."

As the game progressed, Quaranta settled down, linking up well with teammates and providing a solid compliment to Robbie Rogers. His steady play provided some relief in what was at times a shaky performance from the midfield.

With the game tied at 0-0, Quaranta completed the rest of the fairy tale with a stunning 75th minute strike. It was set up after some incisive build up between substitutes Benny Feilhaber and Charlie Davies. A Feilhaber pass found Davies at the top of the box, who laid off the ball into the path of a streaking Quaranta, who smashed it past the hopeless Honduran keeper. After lashing home his goal, Quaranta slid towards the U.S. supporters, and the look on his face told it all.

"It's hard to explain. It was special," Quaranta said after the game. "To be able to do it in front of my wife and my two kids is very special."

The 24-year-old midfielder was named the man of the match after the game. He was a man with a much different perspective than his last cap in January 2006.

"This means a lot to me. To be able to play for your country — before, it didn't mean as much to me as it does now."

It's been a tough three year battle for Quaranta, but Wednesday night it seemed to come full circle — getting another cap in front of his home crowd and netting the game winner against Honduras. Fitting for a player who began his professional career at RFK Stadium, to breathe new life into an international career once thought in ruins.

What do you think about Quaranta's comeback? Can you see him working himself onto the World Cup roster?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Tino was very easily the best starter last night. The only guys who came close were Cherundolo and Beckerman, who got forward and defended well. The subs were all great (well, Coop needed to strike that pass from Davies sooner, but looked good still), and Tino was able to work well with them. I don’t get where you guys are getting this “mediocre” and “unimpressive” crap. He was the only guy who stood out to me before the subs came on. He does the little things that make the difference, and his crosses were all beautiful. Stop hating because he took Holden’s spot. Appreciate his talent, because he has a ton of it.

  2. I hope Quaranta really comes good.

    When you are 16 and the best anyone around has ever seen at that age, you think you’ve got it made. Suddenly instead of just getting a drivers license, you get a chance to become a pro athlete, screw this high school BS! You’re big time.

    I can’t help but think he would have done better personally to stay in school, and if he had the aptitude, even go to college.

    What’s tragically messed up in the US is that when young people do that, stay in school, they don’t have as good soccer development opportunities. They play physical run and gun HS soccer, then funky college soccer they need to recover from to go Pro.

    Giving up education is a lot to ask of players whose “Pro” salary may be less than $35K a year.

    Quaranta has played a bit in MLS, and having mastered some demons is starting to come on a bit at that level. If he’s to develop to a high potential, the kind of potential worth pulling a kid out of high school for, he needs to do much, much more. He should be striving for Real Madrid quality.

    It’s a ladder to be climbed rung by rung with a million pounds on one’s back, but no one who hasn’t climbed that ladder can tell us what it looks like from the top. Or how hard it was.

    If USMNT is the players’ ultimate goal, then the USMNT will never be all that good, our best players must set much higher aspirations to achieve their full potential.

    I’m cheering for Quaranta, and it is good to see him on the ladder, but it is premature to guess what rung he can get up to, especially since it is a matter of great personal effort to climb. Getting the feet firmly onto each rung is the first measure, and it looks like he has that now

  3. Sorry, but Santino has become a hero of mine (I actually said a prayer for him before the match when I got to RFK), not just because I am a DC United fan, but because he is an example of never giving up, and to always keep fighting! You need guys like that on the WC roster. Heydude is the only one so far IMHO…I say if Santino continues to have a season like he is having up until South Africa, that he is DEFINITELY a possibility on the WC roster. Keep it up Santino!

  4. If you don’t think Tino is an upgrade over Sasha at midfeild, your out of your mind…He should definately make the WC roster for RSA

  5. The whole point of the story was Tino’s return from addiction and being waived out of the league. DCU took him on a last chance try-out in 2008 and the rest, as they say is history. DCU also did the same thing with Jaime Moreno (injury not addiction) in 2004 and we know how that turned out.

    In the past Tino acted like a jerk. He was young, addicted and if anyone remembers, suffered through a number of botched “sports hernia” surgeries that probably helped put him down the wrong road. I was glad to see him leave DCU in 2006, I’m also very happy to see him return and was very happy for his success last night. If you don’t get that story, I’m really sorry for you because it’s not about 2010, it’s about whether you, the reader, have any empathy for another’s struggles and success.

  6. Quaranta was not poor for the first 70 minutes of the game. He served two incredible crosses to the far post to Rogers, one of which Rogers fluffed by trying to volley instead of use his head. In another instance, he sent Rogers (or maybe Pearce) through on a run after showing some excellent control in tight quarters. He also just missed scoring on that diving header. Sure, he was dispossessed at times, but he was fine for the first 70.

  7. Great story, but he was ineffective during the game until after he scored. I think Stuart Holden should have gotten the start because of his ability to hold the ball (which was something US lack until benny got in), and to take players on. Anyway I’m happy for him.

  8. Tino’s life was pretty much derailed and headed down the toilet. Now, he’s back in the national team picture and scores a goal in his club’s stadium in front of family and friends.

    Yeah, that’s a nice comeback story. And anyone who can’t see that is one heartless idiot. Primoone, I’m looking right at you. And yes, your joke was dumb and uncalled for.

  9. Quaranta look very poor the first 65 minutes as did much of the USA team. Bradley’s changes, Quaranta, Ching, Parkhurst, were very underwhelming. Fielhaber and Davies gave a little lift to a drab affair, and they joined Marshall and Perkins as the only 4 quality players on the pitch, of either side.

    The FSC color commentator called just about every Honduran player ‘great’. You might want to turn the sound off.

  10. Primoone, you’re way off base… EJ would’ve blown that one.

    Don’t think Conway and Parke took steroids BTW. Wasn’t it a supplement from GNC. Those guys got a raw deal.

  11. The point of the story is the comeback story from suicide and playing professional soccer high… to being in excellent form and playing for the national team.

    This is not the he is the next best thing since Freddy Ad- wait, how has that turned out so far (only kidding).

    I don’t think he will make the squad next year for South Africa, but if he continues to progress the way he has done in the last year, he has a chance and then he will certainly play a significant role from ’11-’14.

  12. Parke and Conway took steroids, guys. remember all the hullaballoo about steroids? the name Bonds, Barry ring a bell? if you can’t see the difference between steroid use and an addiction to opiates, then, well. sheesh.

    After he was cut by New York in 2007, he went to the league and asked for help with his addiction. this is a much more complete version of the story (also from Goff, I don’t know why the short one is posted all the time everywhere: ) and of course, he tested positive for cocaine once (under the CBA, the first test apparently leads to weekly at home testing for a while) but then moved onto painkillers (which are obviously not banned, since professional athletes are almost unable to function without them) Brett Favre, you’ll recall was addicted to opiates.

  13. @ Patrick They didn’t release the whole schedule. They just released the beginning.

    And people need to realize the Holden isn’t a right midfield. He can play there, but he really is a CAM who can defend proficiently. I have to admit biased due to my love for DCU, but for the role we are talking about Quaranta fits better than Holden in this role as the late sub to play in the right mid. Quaranta prominently plays right mid for DCU although he isn’t necesarilly a natural winger. Quaranta is more creative than Holden and is a better crosser. Let’s be honest though both quaranta and holden are tested international players, but so far they both had good performances in their one recent cap. Quaranta’s came at a much better opponent albeit a b Honduras team is much better than Grenada. Thusly at this point I rate Quaranta higher internationally than Holden

  14. You guys have to be kidding about this. Performance-enhancing drugs are banned because using them is cheating. They aren’t physiologically addictive*, people use them because they want to gain an unfair advantage in the game, not because they are addicts or depressed.

    Hard recreational drugs are banned because they kill you and destroy your life. Not much of a comparison.

    Does anyone know if MLS still has this lax policy for non-pot hard drugs? Pretty crazy.

  15. Have to agree it’s a great story of redemption for Quaranta. I’m very happy for him. It’s not so much about making the 2010 squad. Being on the field and contributing was obviously a tremendous achievement for him.

    To mention, as a couple of posters have, a couple guys who ran afoul of the steroid policy is to completely belittle what Quaranta put himself, his friends and family through for many years. As he’s admitted, he’s fortunate to be alive. Some of you guys are capable of posting some pretty crass comments here.

  16. Couple points… Torres not a Left Winger, he’s an AM or CM. Rogers should have the Wing backup on the Left side for LD, unless Bob is a moron and gives flexibility up front to shift LD up.

    Santino could do the same for the right, but its early and if he does well he’ll get a chance, but there are several others that will have their interests to Backup Demps. Holden looks very promising, without having to make the ‘comeback’

    Feilhaber will be a good 2nd-3rd option on right since CM seems like its on lock-down lately but he is close to being that 2nd started after Bradley.

  17. I doubt Quaranta, although a good player, can overtake a winger’s spot with Dempsey and Donovan starting and Holden and Rogers coming into the mix. I would love to see Holden and Rogers battle it our for the second half rigt wing spot, since Donovan won’t come out.
    I think Quaranta may be in the mix more after the World Cup, but I don’t see this as BIG a story that people are making it out to be, good for him that he is healthy, but I admire the guys that never got themselves into that kind of trouble, and I agree that Parke and Conway were vilified while Quaranta just had “problems.”

  18. Great story. Great finish. Very similar player to Dempsey who has a chance to fight his way onto the roster for South Africa.

    I’ll tell you what, though – it’s nice to have these debates now. Time was we had 4 good mids, and no hope if they got hurt. The amount of depth that has come along this cycle is becoming evident.

    I know we didn’t have alot in the Confed thanks to some injuries – but we all know alot of the guys on this Gold Cup team probably would’ve been on our “A” roster back in the day.

    Them having to compete to make it that far, and to stay there, will only benefit us down the road.

  19. Meuller also makes a good point. Two and a half years ago, there was probably a greater chance Q would be in a gutter somewhere right now rather than playing the best football of his life. That, first and foremost, is why this is such a great story. Good on Tommy Soehn and United for giving the kid a second chance, and good on Santino for making more of it than anybody expected.

  20. Tino did a lot of stuff off the ball that people aren’t mentioning. He tracked back to cover for Dolo’s runs forward, he marked people on set pieces, and he had at least a few deep clearances. To say he had a bad game is a bit silly. His ability to cross from the wing position, as well as his defensive abilities and skill (if not Deuce-like flash) on the ball make it impossible to write him off for next summer. Is he a lock? Of course not, but he’s been the best player on a team that’s contending this year, and he’s got the skill-set and attitude to make the team. I think at the very least, he’s got to be in the pool for camps, especially given the atrocious form of wingers not named Dempsey or Donovan lately.

  21. Perhaps I should point out that Ives has nothing to do with this story. Not unless he’s calling himself Travis Clark these days.

  22. off topic, but did anyone notice the ESPN schedule for EPL games they’re boradcasting in england? They dont broadcast a game after November. People will forget all about ESPN by December. If they picked these games, they did a poor job.

  23. I don’t care if he makes the 2010 team or if he didn’t play well last night. It’s still a great moment for a player that rebuilt his career and even more importantly his life. He scored the winning goal in a big event in front of his home fans and family…it’s a brilliant story!

  24. Quaranto has battled through alcohol and drug addiction. I think he tested positive for cocaine in an MLS drug test, but wasn’t suspended because it was his first positive test. He’s also admitted to being addicted to painkillers.

    Why did Parke & Conway get so much crap for mistakenly using a bad substance and everyone avoided talking about this guy when he got busted? Lame!

  25. STOP WITH THE HYPE!!! Come on Ives its just one game where he struggle most of the match, and was at the right place at the right time to take the shot. And scored it.

  26. but seriously folks…If I was a scout looking at his particular contributions for the night, I would have a hard time finding anything impressive about that performance.

    Not to take anything away from the kid because i think he is a talent and has some heart to get back into the swing of things after battleing some personal demons. But having said that from a pure scouting point of view…he didnt impress. Yes he did score a goal but if you think about it…it was perfectly laid off and handed to him by davies..a complete gift that even Eddie johnson would have trouble blowing. He did run quite a bit but gave posession away too much as well as showed some misplaced individual dribbling skill wich frankly led to wasted oportunities to get a cross in. He was incosistant with his first stint at DC..inconsistant with the Galaxy…lets see him for another 2 seasons progress and grow then lets take a look at him.

    Remarkable come-back this is not Ives. You are a bit off-base

  27. The problem with Santino has never been his ability- its always been about his maturity. If he’s gotten his head straightened out, I think it would be naive to write him off for 2010. Purely on talent and creativity, he is one of the best players America has ever produced. He brings something different to the game than most of our field players, and I think you saw that in flashes last night. I completely agree that if he is on form, and his head is straight, he is probably the best Dempsey backup we’ve got. Perfect change of pace late in the game when Bob goes to move Deuce up top (as became habitual in the Confed Cup).

  28. Okay, Manny, that story didn’t actually tell the whole story. The “dark place” he talked about was a drug addiction, that he’s now been clean from for 2 years.

  29. Quaranto has battled through alcohol and drug addiction. I think he tested positive for cocaine in an MLS drug test, but wasn’t suspended because it was his first positive test. He’s also admitted to being addicted to painkillers. He has a tattoo of the date he became sober somewhere on his arm. Great story and I hope he keeps it up. I wish him all the best. It’s the story of a 16 year old turning pro and falling down the wrong path but he’s able to pick himself back up.

  30. 1. Quaranta missed initial games due to a hamstring problem. Since then, he’s been DCU’s best and most consistent player. He’s played some A-mid, a lot of outside mid and some forward. He’s played the best soccer of his life this season.

    2. I’d not be so quick to write him off for 2010. I think the backup to Dempsey is either Quaranta or Holden. I think Holden is quite a talent. But I have a hard time seeing Kljestan, Gaven or Thorrington outplaying either of these guys (especially given Kljestan’s current form and recent international performance). You could say Feilhaber (who’s lined up at outside right a few times) but I think Feilhaber is a CM for this team (and part of the final CM pool of Jones, Bradley, Feilhaber and either Edu or Clark). I think on the left outside mid spot, the battle to backup Donovan is between Rogers, Torres and DMB. On paper that sounds impressive but DMB needs to rebuild his career and Torres and Rogers are still about potential and promise.

    3. I agree that performance here (Gold Cup) doesn’t get you on the “A” side. But it might get you an invite to camp for the Mexico WCQ and then if someone gets hurt or you impress, you’re on the game-day roster or even the subs bench. And suddenly, 2010 isn’t so unrealistic.

    Here’s the thing about Quaranta…yeah, it seems like he’s been around for ever, he’s been a pro for 8 years. Except he’s the same age as: Chad Marshall, Jonathan Bornstein, Brad Guzan (ie: guys that we see as “young” with a lot of growth in their career) and this is the best, most consistent soccer he’s ever played. Maybe he won’t be on the 2010 side. But it’s great to have finally seen him start to mature and manage his gifts. It gives you hope for Adu and Eddie Johnson.

  31. Tino is like Dempsey, closer to a striker but not really a striker or a winger. I think he would be an excellent back-up for Dempsey if he continues to improve. Last night he was at a distinct disadvantage not having been to any national team camps and having played with the team for only a week. Hopefully he will continue to be able to play and practice with the NATS.

    I’d love to see him take the role Adu had last night and put Logan on the wing for the next game.

  32. @Mentz

    We have too much competition in the middle of the park but we are severely lacking on the wings sans Dempsey. If Quaranta continues to play well for United and gets caps under his belt, I could see him being a surprise addition. ‘Tino could be a very good, late game sub. You could slide Dempsey forward and have ‘Tino come in a cause problems downthe flanks.

  33. Great performance by Quaranta last night. The kid definately deserves a shot to be in the 23 man roster for SA. I think Santino would be a great option off the bench for the right side of the midfield…

  34. Nice story but its the Gold Cup “B Rosters”. No way he makes the WC2010 roster. We have too much depth in Midfield (wow thats nice to say)


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