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Ep. 2.44: Harkes, Ramos & Meola talking "Soccertown USA" (WC90/94)

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of Gay Guys Sam's Army Episode. Two point forty four An extra special episode. We'll get to that in one. Second I welcome in my co host. Eric Gehrig how you doing g great Sam Sunshine in Chicago. Arkansas is a beautiful day in Chicago if not for that Corona thing but whatever so like. I said extra special episode this time because we have a an extra special trio of guests get the stars of the great documentary called soccer town. Usa The recently came out on Youtube tells the story of the US soccer back in the late eighties nineties. Basically when soccer balls officially dropped in this country and the three stars who are true American Soccer. Royalty have been kind enough to join us. It really don't need much of an introduction. I'll give him a quick one anyway. So we have TAB Ramos. Silky EST midfielders the. Us has ever seen now coach of the Houston Dynamo we also got John Harkes. Another longtime star midfielder who now coaches the Greenville triumph in cell and is doing his part to launch the next generation. Us Soccer with a son playing in the Scottish primarily unless Banal. As we get Tony Meola who set? The Standard for American goalkeeping for many years can be found on serious and the newly minted color commentator of the Chicago fire. If and when? Emily gets going so seriously. Can't thank you guys enough for joining us here today. How is everybody doing or good? Thank you are pleasures? All hours really can't thank you enough for joining us here. It's I'm personally incredibly excited about this. Because it's sort of is a little slice of my childhood like the Nineteen Ninety Four World Cup. Which will obviously we'll get into a little more detail later. That was sort of one of the most like Formula Foundational memories of like my entire life So and when my dad? Here's I have you guys on the program today. He's he's GONNA probably should've brought to So number one Too excited for words for that But to to get everybody reason or explanation for what's going on here. The incredible part. Not just the fact that you guys played in the ninety four World Cup. The fact you guys grew up together in a small town in New Jersey called Carney and play together. You know we're friends together. Drew up in became the you know the American Soccer Legends Yard. Today is just the story itself is is insane and people do need to go watch this documentary soccer town. Usa. Because I can't even put into words how how insane this was but to get started off here. I think the first thing we WANNA do because a lot of the people listening are a little bit younger. They probably don't really have a sense of what soccer was like back in the US or in the US back in your day. So let's start with you. Know growing up you guys. Are you guys. I think if I remember correctly Tony and John were became friends. I you guys knew each other first and tab joined relatively soon after is that about right. That's a lie. At least I think it is yet okay. So how did John and Tony? How did you guys become friends in you like initially rivals or was this just like so? I I was the an Sham. The youngest of the group and I played on the the younger Carney Team I grew when I was growing up in John. John and then is older brother who is a couple years older than him. Those were we were. We will what I would call a true club where everybody started met at the same place and we all watched each other's games and and that type of stuff and and probably when I was around Ten or eleven years old is win a tag team in town and decided he was going to play in. That story has been The can tell you that story better night can't about how he got there but yeah so. I knew John. Before Tab but I don't think it was I don't think the time period is all that long all US kind of knowing who were And so to give everybody a sense of win. This was this would have been in the what the the late seventies early eighties tight timeframe. When you put it like that it sounds kind of old. That just killed the whole interview I can. I can world war now. The reason I say that is because you know the the whole landscape of us soccer back when you grow up where it was completely different. You know like I know that the NFL was around it sort of limped on. I think eventually folded in eighty four. So when you guys are sitting around drinking mountain dew or whatever it is you guys were doing as as kids You know was becoming like re sitting around talking about when you weren't talking about girls very talking about like becoming pro soccer players playing soccer together. Was that even like in the conversation if I if I think I would say for me personally. Being professional soccer player was always like my dream. Like that's why I wanted to always so that was always part of my conversation. That's all I ever wanted. You know Tony I guess has a good point there since. Tony was a couple years younger than us. I think he's still is actually probably a younger team so we didn't we didn't we didn't get to play together too much. I know that John Tony played together in high school and at the club level. We were separated a couple of division so is get that chance and just to be clear for this conversation and moving forward tab is the oldest of the is he still he still is the oldest although he still can he could still run probably faster than our but the the other part of it too and just going back to have so highschool for me a freshman euros eighty one In Kearney High and what I remember we talked about being a pro was just exposure that we all had gone over to the cosmos aims and seeing the best players in the world on an all star team basically in our backyard and so a great exposure to that helped us all kind of kind of dream that that that might happen. One day and tab teen the closest Doing that because I don't know if a lot of people really talk about that story storytime as much as it should because tab was going to really be given an opportunity to play with the cosmos coming out of high school and he could probably Expand on that conversation a little bit more but for from our perspective it was like hey one of our guys might get a trip to the show and and go and when the NFL folded in eighty four. It was a disappointing time for all of us. A- tab. I don't know if that makes sense but I think with you being just a little bit older than me. It was like you were the first one to kind of say. Hey He's getting recruited to go to the cost being a trial situation which could have been an amazing amazing stepping stone for him and for all of us in Kearney but that fell through that was that was a big fish employment at the time. I got granted at a high school my senior year and because he the the NFL time was a little bit up in the air. I decided not to sign a contract right away and just train with the cosmos because we didn't know what was going to happen through the spring of my senior year and I wanted to keep my college eligibility if I signed anything in the League folded had now is really in a bad spot so anyway so I I used to go to high school in the morning at Saint Benedict's where I went in my schedule with that I go into the school convocation in the morning and then out the complication I would. I would do my first period class and then I was lead. I would leave giant stadium practice with the Cosmos and then around twelve o'clock. I'd be back in my afternoon class. So that's what I was doing. You know at the time as John says I thought I was. I was on my way but then the NFL folded. And and then you know I had to changed. And so this is the cosmos was this win. Like Palay was playing with that. Who who was all the cosmos back in this in this SORTA era? No all the big names were gone by Anna. It was mostly. I'm trying to think like some of the bigger names like people wouldn't even know to. Leckie bullish player. I'm trying to think Jeff Dorgan we still there Seattle wasn't bogey was rookie. Was still there. Don't you think Davis he? He might have been because he had done the also the team America thing in Washington. Dc and then come back to the cosmos after after team America. So yeah I mean it was a time where I don't think I don't think were many many big players. I do remember when I was there. That Hubert Meyer The goal Gabriel was the one that Kinda took care of me Actually Johan neeskens air because my locker was next to his and those big big Dutch player at the time And I remember. Bergamo was the one that kind of protected me. Every time I went into practice our you know somebody Jack me up because I was a young guy and smallest guy and all that stuff so he would be gay guys you know. Take it easy on this guy. Ever but Yeah it was that lasted a couple months. And then and then after that I had a change glass so Be Basically being sort of a attached to a professional soccer player or soccer team at the time. Was this like were you hatchet in high school. Was this sort of like Your calling card. I mean Saint Benedict's and I really liked that. If you become you know hatchet at Saint Benedict's you're likely to get beat up like a like immediately so it doesn't really work that way over there but but no I mean it was. It was his normal. It was done a normal life getting back and forth Father Edmund Lady. Who's the he's the headmaster at the school? He set up Schedule so that I could could do that and I mean I. I think they're they for the most part. Try to keep you grounded as much as they can. Okay I guess that sort of ties in with with Carney itself. Being People Watch the documentary. It's it's sort of basically what I saw very blue collar town hardworking people you know sort of all the all the think of in in Small Town. Americana I guess With maybe like a slight New Jersey New York bent to it. You know hard ass type thing. Is that about right for Carney? Yeah I think so I think so too. We grew up. We all three of had parents. Who but both working parents? Both of our parents were working I I don't remember a day where it was ever. I would never call anything easy. I thought the documentary did a pretty good job of sort of representing what Carney was. And the people that were there in the passion that they had But we say when when we're talking about this this documentary. We GREW UP IN A. We're really fortunate to grow up in a time. Where Quinn Honesty? Soccer didn't have a landscape at all But we didn't we didn't really know because that's all there was in our town and I just me personally. I just assumed until I started going out of town playing region state teams and regional teams. I just personally assumed that everyone in the country was doing this. You know we could short shortly after you come to realize that no. This isn't the case. Like soccer is not the cool thing to do and other parts and other parts of the country but in our town it was so like we grew up a little bit differently but me. Personally I didn't know we were going to be honest sir. All right So now there's this gap high school up until the Nineteen Ninety World Cup. Which sort of gets things really sort of moving Obviously the Nineteen Ninety World Cup is is huge for American soccer. 'cause like we said the real as you said there really was no landscape for for soccer in the US coming into that But it was a setup for nineteen ninety four when when we were hosting the World Cup. But you know from high school up until you know World Cup qualifying. How when did you guys all get involved with the national team? Scene was all at once or dislike. Let's get these three guys from you know the same city. Let's get him into the national team or was it sort of piecemeal one by one and or they called tavern and tabs like. Yo You need to look at John Hawkes in this big Tony Meola Guy. You're going to get these guys in camp to how did that whole situation workout. I think it was a case by case basis really with each of us different times we a different pathway there. Armenian and being around Newark and Harrison in those areas that Kinda gave is a competitive edge. Because as I said the other night when Tony was like Weiner stay on the number one thing that stayed with my foundation of like competitive edge and so we all had that push in. Look I mean the more exposure. We gotten better we. Did you know winning state titles with a high school going to stay teams regional teams and things like that? It was a different pathway at different times. And I know tab was you know he was reaching Heights You know early in his career on with US national team setups things like that. And so you know as as we started to learn more about that in a different pathway. That was something that we wanted to put on our our radar and fight for So I definitely tell you but getting Tony in was a great story And I think that will help me back. That went up where we had a couple of injuries. Here and there Tony was excelling in the game as he was in both sports actually in baseball as well as a great athlete and bringing him into the team. Everybody knew about him by getting a minute. Believe it was giant. Stadium is right in the more vocal tone is. Yeah so it's kind of an odd story. If you remember so I got cut from all youth. National Teams Probably the last cut and I had a good year the University of Virginia and they were playing the Marble Cup. You guys probably remember those the Marble Jan Stadium and As it turned out just a couple of days before the David Ben. Ali He he got injured against Costa Rica. I believe it was so he was taken off the Marble Cup team. In Jeff DUBEC was second goal people at the time so he was in camp There is a last name was Kenny. I can't remember his name and Mark Dodd. Were basically three and four four three hour. We looked at him and the The American League it was the American Soccer League had their finals that weekend. And those two guys but will Boston I can't remember the team to Colorado team. They made it to the finals so they were out of the Marble Cups. I lived From the hotel which was up in hackensack. I live probably a half hour away and I actually paid for my own hotel room for my first national team. Can't because giant tab get said the Bob Gansler I'd already been in once With with The panagoulias about three two or three years before that for one camp and I paid my own way into To the national team camp at a camp for a couple of days and then forty minute against FICA chip dubec knows for cross and he gets injured. And I'm the only guy left like an American to play I can. I joked with Joe Mechanic. Who is a goalkeeper `small attempt? Do you remember what you said to me? As I was running I literally. I'm running on the field of punk from New Jersey in giants stadium. Forty three thousand people. And he's yelling at Punchy punted. It didn't want me to catch anything. It didn't want me to roll anything out. And that was his advice to me and I'm thinking to myself I'm in man has no confidence whatsoever. And that's really how my national team career started Was Me paying for a hotel? We end up winning the Marble Cup and mayhem from there. I guess but that bet. My story was a little bit different than than John Attach. They WORKED THEIR WAY UP. Getting a hotel paid for them. I ended up paying for my hotel as good stuff Okay I guess the so we can. We can just sort of assume that you guys went the normal route stabbing John. The sort of you know you started young and just work your way up like can you? I don't know who wants to take this. But can you. Sorta set the stage for us. But what what was playing for the National Team. Back in the In this day how is this different than like? What THE WHOLE SETUP. The whole situation that that You know you guys are obviously all pretty familiar with with what you're soccer's all about now. How is it different? Twenty years ago thirty years ago. Let's take this one. This is that was good. I was hoping not because you know. I can't even imagine like the feelings of being on the national team back then. It was just so much different because it was just like. It was almost like the only team you could be on. It was like no other team that you could be on so like but it was at the same time. It was a bunch of younger guys for the most part so it wasn't really like anyone that you had been watching on TV and all of a sudden you're on the national team with these guys like most of the time we got in the National Deem. It was either other guys that were in college with us or it was guys. We had no idea who they were. You know I mean I don't know how they can describe it but it was just really like okay. You made the national team. Who's on the roster? You look at the rest of you like I don't know anyone here. I know he goes through okay and he goes to whatever just a like a different world. See like people you know. Obviously people most people in the country have no idea. We are in terms of the playing side of the game. They would never be today. People complain as we mentioned before about how far? Mls may be from the L. I mean in your home. The national was like you know like it didn't even exist. It was just like a bunch of friends playing together. It was crazy you sort of make it sound like it was like a real upper level high school all star team. What it sounded maybe college I mean it was. It was definitely better than that certainly better than that in what helped us was. We had the analogies that you know nobody on the team was afraid of. Anyone knows different times different times. It was no task big enough because at the time I think I think I can speak to these other guys like we didn't really care who we played like. I don't think we played different if we played Germany or we played Barbados. Like it was like let's go now. Everybody is kind of same so that that that that you know that was. That was something that got us through. Maybe not seeing. What the hell we were doing. Because I agree with that. One hundred percent and when tab sane is it was kind of. We were at the early stages of the growth of soccer in our country. I don't know these guys. I can't speak for them but I remember Following the eighty five fifteen that was trying to qualify they lost Costa Rica. And I think that game was out in Torrance. California and Rick Davis was on that team. I remember you know then then kind of beforehand getting draw Before that they beat Trinidad and Tobago twice home and away. I remember jury actually scoring in a qualifier eighty-five for that. I think one nil and thinking. Wow that'd be nice to be part of something like that. And then they didn't they failed to qualify and then came like the next stepping stone for all of us is like is there going to be a transition of new players coming through a new generation of guys and I think that's when the door started for for ourselves our generation of players. It's like okay. You know is going to get the team. He wants to take him to the Olympics. Eighty eight so this qualifying for that and so there was that process of doing well in your university in town was at NC state you know I was at Uva. There was a couple of good quality players. And I think it was a testing for many a not just for us as players. It was a testing ground for federation for National Team Process of. Is there ever going to be a time that we get back to that world stage in the eighty five team? I think and I talked to a lot of different guys since that time. They all thought that was the group because they were very good group They a lot of experience and they're were mixed with indoor roses while as outdoor pros but a lot of guys over coming from the old in. Esl as well so from our perspective it was like a new opportunity for the younger guys comes to improve themselves and you know we got to the Olympics which was fantastic mediate. We got that selection process air In the we did quite well. I wasn't great but again it was still unknown to our country. We had an TAB. Will back me up on this. We still had a lot of reporters asking us what a goal was at that point when we were going to so Korea and so you know from there like look. You're doing well in your university. You're hoping that our game can grow and we can get a little bit more professionalism and organization within our federation but the American Soccer League was a little bit smaller at that time and it wasn't like we were competing and playing week to week. You know every week we had to do it on our own. So we ruled on the May issue all five Memorial Cup without a mule. Troll leak is think about that and perspective and with ten minutes history of the game on day like the premier what were twenty five year anniversary right now primarily is over one hundred fifty years plus so you you gotta keep it in perspective grossly game in our country but we were part of it and we we like Tub said and Tony. We all went into it just with a greedy attitude of how we don't play street every day and played at the courts and winner. Stay on we were competing and everything. And that's how we went into it. So I think that helped push to that next level and gives it self confidence and we had a lotta great support in our town. You know from our parents and coaches you know it was really well well-supported so that gave us a great push to get to that next platform it makes sense. It's sort of you know it brings home just how different it must have been for. You guys know you didn't have obviously twitter let alone the Internet. You didn't have the Internet so it's not like you know you had people You didn't have information about your opponents in about what you guys were coming up against. But also people didn't have any information on you eight and have you know the twitter Twitter Harto is like you know breaking or basically calling you shit like everyday like these kids that are like seventeen eighteen plane in the World Cup. These are the U Twenty World Cup. it was just a totally different world back then. Now what about like Offi say you won the marble borough we can jump in Lieu Ninety World Cup qualifying just a second but like sort of set the stage when you would go out as like a team after you want. Something he'd celebrate the Marlboro Cup. Was it like Peop- did anybody know who you were at this point? I'm not quite sure to be honest. We I mean I think it was a group of players that you know in these guys. Were around that team a lot more than I was but it was a group of guys that just had their head down. You know most of the guys or I should say most of a lot of them. Were just trying to find places to train in between camps and working second jobs or first jobs if you will and this was kind of a hobby a lot of cases for guys. Because they didn't there was no end to the There was no light at the end of the tunnel or us in for a Lotta guys. There was no league as you mentioned sell. Just got down. Going to Europe for most players was was dream You know I'm like John. I saw the group in Nineteen eighty-five loosen the Costa Rica. I can remember watching the game. I can remember watching candidate play in the World Cup thinking like I'd love to do that. One day having zero idea that you know I would ever be part of it In here are four years later all of a sudden you're part of this thing and I had an easier route to the national team with regards honors APP. Said he really didn't know a lot of guys added. No the Brian Bliss of the World Jim Gabbara of the world brank delays. And you know I mean the list goes on Jimmy banks and guys like that. These guys were all there before. I was lucky when I walked into after two guys. I knew and I would think you know they tell you better than I was if you knew two guys in a national team when you walk in for the first year probably in pretty good shape. That's pretty good. Yeah I was lucky though I walked in and and these I was gonNA feel comfortable. Because at the time as the cycle turnover from I guess nine hundred eighty five qualifying creating six and then eighty-eight with the Olympics these guys in As the cycle turnover it was becoming clear that John Tab were beginning the takeover all the leadership roles in that group. You know so I I was walking and I was lucky. Apps said it for for thirty years that I was lucky to go in there and have two guys. That would look out for me. You know it's important. I I would imagine at some level. It's still important with the national team. When you go to a new club team you gotTa have guys to. Hey this is what you do. This is how you do it. I'm not sure that I always followed the information that the game because I was pumped from New Jersey but I I certainly listen to them and You know probably helped me more than I than I even think. It did got a question. Now that we're getting to the ninety World Cup Having having been through everything we talked about. And you guys can take this but go on from the college game and not. A lot of those guys tab and You know and you guys qualifier in Trinidad Tobago. Knowing how much is on the line and kind to be an official water. And Calgary hit said shot Talk about that experience on Trinidad and then obviously realized the magnitude of what you guys accomplished ever not done that for forty years of soccer nation. And kinda you know kind of paving the path to a new beginning. Can you just talk about that experience going through an experience and then it one of the like must've been insane the asking me guys take it? Okay Yeah my my thought about it. Was You know we really? I don't think and this is just my feeling but I don't think as qualifying was going by that we were necessarily thinking all along. You know we're going to qualify. We're going to qualify GONNA qualify. It was more like it was more like survival mode. Let's stay in it. It was more like we're staying in it and listening in and we haven't lost at home in. We're still ended in a tie here in tie there you know and it was just like man it was just it was a dogfight you know it was a point at a time you know. We started the qualifying process with loss away. At Costa Rica in the final stage. We started with loss away. We never lost again. So we lost a way Costa Rica. We never lost another game but I think once we got through Trinidad and we qualified. I don't think we were realizing at the point that we're we're not losing any games about we'd be like hey we you know. Maybe we don't belong me we belong. We don't belong. We belong but we're staying in it and we're getting points and now winning. You know winning one on the road. We're tied at home. But you know the kind of games that nowadays you say okay. Well you gotTa go to Honduras and win the Game University. That's that's hard it back then. We didn't think that they could get where we're going next. Let's go you know like we didn't think about the environment you didn't think about anything at least I didn't. You know I was like okay. Where do we play next salvator kids in NO SALVADOR? You didn't think the environment people are GonNa treat you like this or that light and then we got the Trinidad that game that you're talking about and it was really mayhem when when we got there and you know people have talked about this game so much but it's the one game I recall. I mean these guys have better memory than I do. Because I recall recalling the team before and I didn't even watch the team before they didn't qualify. But you know like I'm thinking of that game. It was just crazy people trying to the stadium and it was like a stadium was they call it the blue because there was no you can see stairs you can see people hanging out stop so it's people everywhere but I tell you know there's very few big games or you come out. You feel like okay. We're we're GONNA take this one but in that one and I've said this many times I think these guys have hurt me before and I don't know how they felt necessarily in the Tana walking out but we're walking out and you know. Obviously you know how it is the tunnel. I think it's one of the best things. Soccer has off of one of the things I always love in that I can enjoy a little bit as it goes now but is not the same is when there's nothing like for me like when you're in the tunnel and yeah the whole stadium full waiting. It's time to come out like that's such a great feeling. You know like when you make that connection with the fans in the stadium and like now now it becomes the event like all this preparation brags all other stuff but the moment you walk out of the tunnel like that. That's like the best you know and and I remember that day like us standing next to the trend that Blair and they they seriously looked scared. You know and we should have been scared because it was their place it was like they had all their people and I felt like wow. We're going to take these guys like I felt like it was easy. This is our game and I'm not sure how these guys felt that the moment but it was one of those if you read though the fact that you looked at them and they were like frozen and that was at that point. I thought you know. I'm not one to be overconfident. Ever but I felt we got these guys you know. Somehow we're going to do this but that was your moment where I thought for the first time we're going to qualify. That's just my personal feeling like the rest of the time. When she's the battle we survive but that moment for me was the first moment and it was. It was awesome. I think there's two kinds of people. There's the people in the tunnel who are like you were excited and loving it and feeling the vibrations probably from the stadium. And then there's people like me would just like shitting their pants and it is probably two kinds of people so John. Where were you on this on this spectrum? Walking into that stadium John was shared scared not scared. That was not the question trust. I don't think we were ever scared. Like tabs. Said I do was something about Our mentality of that even if we came up against somebody that maybe as a team might be better than us we still had to metality of saying like we're going into the unknown. Who Cares who they are and tab referenced? Early in the conversation about it didn't matter for playing you know in Tegucigalpa. Were playing against Germany in. Germany gives us a next opponent. Whoever it is in that game I think the only time I got a little bit and wouldn't say nervous or anything is when our bus was pulling into that stadium. If you guys remember. I'm sure they do. It seemed like people were climbing walls to get over the stadium walls into the stadium because it was painted a C. Read it was painted for the strikeforce. At the time everything was read and even going back a little bit when we arrived at the airport. Guys who people there from turns Bagel breeding us. I don't know if they're treating us. There was such a nice nation but it wasn't an intimidating. It was just more about said the excitement and the opportunity to go out there and show them on their own. Pitch a very hard big pitch. That was dry and hot but I never fear never. I don't think we ever had fear and I think that drove us a lot of games to get results to be fair. I think it's funny when you listen. Listen to you guys and I thought I was too much too young to have fear right. I just thought I just I went through qualifying at three shutouts in a row was part of it. The two weeks before that game in Trinidad or the week before it qualified to get to the NCAA finals in those about play. A final and all of that stuff was happening coming up in college like I was just confident. But it listening tab. Talk about the group. I I've always said there's one thing that sticks out there. There's so many things happened in that game but there's one thing that sticks out to me and it's the very last play of the game when the referee blows the whistle and I can put myself on the field exactly where I was. There is a ball that goes to their goalkeeper and he rolls it out to a centreback. And he's I dunno ten yards on their side of midfield and I'm thinking to myself okay. There's one last ball getting pumped in the box and if you go back and watch the game you can't see defensive part of but if you go back and watch the game at midfield. The guy was almost scared to put the ball in the vox and he ends up the referee. I think finally said screw it. I'm blowing the whistle. Because this guy he literally takes three or four touches in his standing there in his frozen and that's how the game ends and I can remember. I was already about the penalty. Spot thinking he's GonNa dump the ball in the box and it's going to come in here. I'M GONNA come and get it in the game's going to be over and the guy was so scared to actually put the ball in. The vaccine ended up with his feet so from start to finish. I felt that way again. I was I was a punk and I the from New Jersey and I just thought I. We're GONNA win this game. What but that play will forever stick out in my mind because I can remember exactly what I was thinking. That was going to happen. That never happened in Incredible go back and watch it. That's how the game ends. That's when the referee and you'll see the referee. He was somewhere right in the middle of the field in my in my sight line and I think he's gone. This is not gonNA kick it so I'm just going to end the game here and that's how it ended and we qualified for the World Cup when he was on the saga town. I actually watched it. I'm like the REF looks at them. The guys like I'm like is this Guy GonNa kick. It wouldn't kick the ball. I could not. It was almost as if he frozen. It's it's incredible on never forget. It was literally like you guys are done. I'm just crazy phone. Speaks to John said later disappears. I think I think they were in disbelief. we had scored thirty thirty first. Something around there Macau you know and the from there was more about how he gonNA grinders since competed Wayne Back. Down from anything. And there's a couple of scary moment served guy in box. Made the call with US but Tony. Anytime that I had Tony on the field behind me just gave me a sense of confidence of like. We're okay there and now he's got to figure out. How are we gonNA to create something going forward and having for me as a joint guy that knows tab really wellm played with them in the club? Team and stuff was a lot of times of where tab was a guy on the pressure. We need somebody to release pressure with the ball and he was a guy to do that so we had to kind of a good backbone through that team there with between the three of us in an understanding and if there was ever going to be a time where we needed to grind down games. We we knew how to do it. We could fight for that and that was never i. Don't think is if you think differently but I don't think it was ever a doubt there and we were going to go down there shocked and we're GonNa take it to him. I don't think there was and it's a January breaking up But it sounded like you said there might have been a penalty. Kick call in the Against US I don't know I heard that the Johnny Doyle Johnny have been a little bit more than might have been today's game. I think it's at all I remember seeing this tab. Send the next have given him his wallet and I was like. Wow that worked. Exactly 'cause that moment lasted revenue. Is there little coming your whistle blowing up the bill to my God okay. So you guys weren't scared in qualifying. Now let's go to ninety you guys head over to Italy. You guys are playing against. I mean even if you don't even if you're young a young from New Jersey even if you don't really know what you're going up against Italy you know you're Italy's in your group You know you've got Czechoslovakia. They were obviously a tough squad Austria yet. Three top teams. What was the the mood heading into? The World Cup was just like okay. We made the World Cup and this is like huge for the US because we needed to have a stepping stone for ninety four. We made it and let's just go to do what we can in or were you guys. What was the heading into the Ninety World Cup for me? I just I was naive. I just thought we would compete. The first game was a little bit of a shock. game you know we. We adjusted a little bit. We actually thought we competed well in the third game but I mean it was lessons learned for for me for my standpoint. Good Living Kinda reliving. This whole thing. you know recently leave thirty years now too. I Credit Bob Gansler of all the people. Because in hearing his comments airing how he built that team he basically said Nine thousand nine hundred. I'm building this team for nineteen ninety-four like this is going to be the core guy so there were probably guys that that he could have taken In that group that he didn't take because he thought this group would be able to compete nineteen ninety four at least do something and he just wanted to give us that experience so I credit him for sort of preparing us but I look got her ass kicked in the first game because we were naive We probably we've probably you know I don't even remember what tactics were but we clearly got are wrong and we adjusted and and I think I think we are in some stripes against Italy Be Honest and then from there. Was this kind. Everyone needed to get better And I don't know if you guys remember. I'm sure they do one thing that sticks out in the World Cup after the last game and we had been in sort of isolation if you will determine now right we'd been in this camp forever and really no one there and then we finally get to see our families after everything is over and they brought us into room in Warner fricking. Us shocker. That's I'm completely blasted us as if we were getting ready to. We should have been team to win the World Cup but personally for me. It was a little bit of a wakeup call. Said Yeah we need to get better. Although I didn't I wasn't sure about timing of it after that but I don't know if you guys remember sitting in that little hot room are outside the glass door eating food and we were just getting our asses rift by our president going over for three Info Cup. But I remember 'em you gotTa remember you know. We went to somehow. I think he thought we should have won. All our games but it would have been the equivalent of like a bunch of friends in Europe coming in and played in the NBA. So like I mean you know it was just some guys shooting baskets in the corner and they're going to go play the Chicago Bulls Kinda like that. That's that was us. So yeah but I'm sure we ignored his his speech. And we just moved on your lay it out for people who weren't alive then or or weren't the aren't up on it so it was one to five was the checked vodka sore. Obviously as you said they came out in taxes weren't great. Whatever happened Italy guys? Only one won or lost one zero or zero wants. Obviously you guys competed with them and they they made it to what they lose the final of that World Cup. They made a pretty far. I'm pretty sure Italy Italy finished third thirty lost okay and then Austria so John What stands out to you that World Cup. What memories do you have? I think from from my perspective. We went in very naive into the per game We're bunch of young kids. I without that international experience much. We were kind of isolated fine It would have been nice to have games against European teams. But we weren't able to do that and I think that check Check Sake sorry back in the day. Not Czech Republic Czechs. Some game was an eye-opener I don't think an I don't. I can't remember if we actually went in with any tactics to be fair. I think it was like hey guys. Let's end properly. I knew we knew that we saw some video on them. Based on VHS. And can you. Can you fix videotape please? Because we can't really see too well But it was not a lot of a professional high greed scouting system in place either I think we competed and we learned and we learned quickly. And we got a little bit of You know frustrated in training. I remember Couple of guys getting after it in training with each other and pushing and shoving And I think that was when we really understood how much we care about what we were doing. And regardless of the gazette the villa sport and the papers that were writing up on us that it's going to be ten or eleven nil against Italy. We went in there again with another chip on our shoulder and we competed extremely well playing against some of the best players in the world easily at that time in a host country the had so much history in the game and an Olympic Stadium. Enroll we we. We came out and played and there was a specific sequence. Indict game that I remember and I think that we're all very proud of we went twenty three passes consecutively against Italy keeping the ball and it almost looked like they were kind of like backing off and giving us a little bit more space after that. They sure they hit the post on the penalty. Tony did well to. I think it was right building and I think You know whatever it is they could have put it in. They didn't but they scored early but we count came back and we played pretty well. Tab put a ball in behind and I made a run an a and I tried to bring it back across the first half to the opposite side of the post but I think that was kind of a way of starting to find a little gaps in be in behind them and it started to open up a little bit. Someone hard tackles from our back four. Were very good and we played well. We played very well and what I remember. Is that game kind of putting us with a great deal of respect in a in a foreign country where they were laughing at us twenty four hours previously. Now it was like Ana we've got hope. Let's go into the Australian game win it Which we were unlucky not to because we created a lot of great chances in that game as well. We did well in. Italy was a big turnaround for us in our self belief. It sounds like you know the the Italy game is maybe taking too big of a picture view of it but it sounds like it was basically a launch point for the ninety four World Cup Ritz basically a turning point the whole program. You guys have now shown you actually can play We've already qualified for ninety four going into it since host. You know were you guys just like a totally different thing where you guys were like okay. Now we know we've been here. We've been to ninety. We've played three games. We showed everybody we can actually play soccer Was it a totally different? Sort of vibe coming into the ninety four World Cup Yeah I mean it was a different world now. We were professional players and although we were not the top players in the world we now we can compete with anyone because we were we were. We were real professional Blair's and we had at its good. We had already gone through some Us cops which we had already beaten England we had I think ideally We had beaten Ireland's We actually we actually stopped. Ireland's like something like forty some game a streak of not losing on. We beat them at home three one. Then we'd be again. That was a good Ireland team so we had already. We had already been getting results. We had guys playing in Europe. We had guys came from Europe to play. You know guys like like Thomas Dooley and waverly had gotten a lot experience overseas Ernie Stewart. You know There were other guys that are now. We're joining the team. And I think I think it was. It was just completely different team. I I always say like you know the Ninety World Cup. We're sort of tourists for the first time you know with our cameras like going to walk up in ninety four was that was we went to compete with went to win. Games. The we went to prove people wrong and support our country on the map and we did that So the the game that everybody thinks of from the ninety four World Cup? I mean there's actually two We'll get to Brazil. Colombia is the one that everybody you know in our generation in the generation after already know about as being the sort of big I duNno coming out party for American soccer. Maybe um you know coming into the World Cup. They were one of the favorites and You guys ended up winning. That game was on goal that everybody knows about from you know the Escobar thirty for thirty. It's not from before then You know what was was that like a a turning point at all for you. Did you realize that sort of okay? This is like I. I realized big it was people. Were Picking Columbia potentially to win the World Cup and You know we had gotten a point in the first game against Switzerland in this was a turning point and I me personally. I realized right away that this would be one game. Everyone remember. Now there's a backstory after People remember that game for other things that may have happened after that with the The unfortunate that killing of Escobar when he went back to Columbia but I like to look at it as sort of a just the onfield stuff in fact that it it woke up Really the world this aid that for me Americans at a minimum we did. We can't take them lightly. I I don't know too. Many people were saying this is the best team in the world even though they beat one of the potential favorites in the tournament. But at least at least I felt that we had gained a lot of respect around the world at that point in that game as a matter of fact myself and Marcelo. Bu-but never we didn't even get to eat with the are the two players that were chosen to take the drug test. After the the entire team went back to the hotel or selling. I got back. You know to two and a half hours later. We almost didn't get dinner on the way back but there so we didn't even get to celebrate because they took you when you when you used to do the drug tests there. They took you straight in the field into the room. Got To celebrate with team and that was Marcelo we always talk about it that we never really got to enjoy that moment with our teammates but we had enough fun. I guess for the debt all right so just lay out what happens to you tied. Switzerland the first game You beat Colombia. Obviously the famous Second Game Internet Actually Losing Romania. But still moving on dancing to the knockouts where you get. Brazil. I mean Brazil is Brazil. Everybody's like you know. Everybody knows. Brazil ended up winning the World Cup and they had a great team so we knew you know we probably drew had the worst draw week a get on into the into the into that round. But but hey you know. We're taking our chances. We had been in big games before and we had won some big games before already. So why not this one so we approached it. I think the same way we approach. Selah Games you know. Obviously we had to be a little bit more careful. I remember the tactics being a little bit more conservative for that game than we had another games for the most part. I don't think it was an approach in the embarrassment part that I don't think that was part of the picture at all. I think we were way past that and remember we played. We played Brazil up in Connecticut Ilbo reading and we lost one. Nil Up there and we actually played pretty well We played one other time the year before but going into a game and we were kind of behind the eight ball ready John. John was unfortunately suspended for that. I've done I think you've got. You've got a yellow card for standing in the waller or ride to pick. I can't remember what happened so walls. I thought right buddy but it was one of those ones where you randomly got picked right. Yeah we're standing in the wall with a sober Mike and the two men wall from a wide area thirty five yard out on an angle and Haji. Who's over the ball is? He was complaining because he didn't have a lot of players in the box. And the referee came over. Think of which we didn't any pulled out his yellow card and gave it to me exhausted closest one to him so I picked up one against Switzerland. You know on the pitch and I think the guys come back me up here. They brought in grass in hexagonal shapes from outside into the Pontiac Silverdome and it was pretty slippy. it was very humid. I slipped into chop shop in the midfield and got a yellow and so I got one in the first game on the surge so I was out against Brazil. Unfortunately so I'm stander supporting team and pushing them on and Yeah it was. It was hard to sit and watch that one. But that's all part of it that's football and of course we we lose tab right to the elbow and we lose the one the one guy on our team that could break down defense in one play like the one guy we had. That could possibly do that. And and You know it was It was really really really difficult for us but but I think we we. We had to chance. I remember. Time is duly putting one like a yard away to chances early to score in that game. If I recall correctly we had a couple chances. I think it was a ball. That duly hits across the goal at Balboa has really close to you know sliding into get Yeah there was a couple of chances we created in the first half who was a very even as a very Game I had a question about that and not the bringing up. Some sure you've talked about it enough but you know that that happens on eight year old kid. I'm watching that. I'm like totally shook but you being on the inside was that. Was there a back with you in Leonardo where you pissing them off from the game or do you think that? Brazil doing their due diligence and like a Rama's gotTa go like. Can you walk us through that? Not to make you relive it. But I don't really have a problem. Reliving it as a matter of fact most people come up to me now that talk about my playing days they will talk about that more than anything else. Which is all right. I guess you know better than not at all. But now we actually hours laying at Betty's at the diamond and they're not always Houston Valencia and he was a really creative Blair. Not a dirty Blair at all not known for any type of fouling or anything. Like that any reactions. Like that I think was just a heat of the moment You know like I try to magnum with the back. You and the ball got stuck between his legs and then when I came around I bullish. Shirt bullish reacted by throwing an elbow. And because I'm already a little bit shorter and on top of it. I was leaning down as I grabbed the shirt. He threw the elbow. I'm sure it'd be didn't know you were sitting me in the head. And he threw all maybe thirty sitting me and the Jesse right on the by the temple and so it's like something that went down but now I think he never had like a hard feelings or anything like that because I I knew him as as the person he was and he wasn't a dirty Blair so for me it was you lose your head. Sometimes I did it many times playing. I lost my head. Some certainly not gonNA sit around and blame somebody else with losing their because it can happen in the game. You know it's competitive. You want to win and sometimes that happens or sure. Did he ever reach out to you after the game or the World Cup? How many I mean we've become basically friends for the last twenty years every world cover usually on radio shows together or guild. Send me some been or or call me or like that. Yeah so it's been it's been like a like a relationship since okay. Well you guys you know. This is back in ninety four. You guys are all still involved in soccer. You're still doing things You've moved on moved up. You know in in from there but what was your life. What was it like the life? Was there any differences like the doors open from the ninety four row copper was? They're just like it's not like twitter. Not like you got one hundred thousand followers like out of thin air or you know your instagram blue or something like that. But how did your life sort of your lives change after that ninety four? World Cup and and being sort of the centrally stars you actually stars the people everybody knew in the US. I assume you know I think Jump in here real big. I think again it was more of a proving grounds for us that you know we were given the World Cup and will a team where we're going to be from ninety in having Tony referenced. Earlier we gone through the US cups in the Summers Building Up. Our team and trying to at least establish will be worse. A an identity and You know it never stopped being a proving grounds trust because after ninety four. We got invited to cope. America Ninety five and an hooded by. And you know basically you know where tabs from in we went down there and had to prove again like what did we learn who were we as a as a as a nation and we extreme did extremely well there and especially against. I and we did that in in really difficult conditions because we were at time Kind of in a CBA kind of figuring out collective bargaining agreement or a an agreement for that tournament. You know within the Federation and so. We went in there and competed very well and be chilly. You know went through the round speed Archer Tina which was an unbelievable game. And I still don't think enough people in the US about that game you know You know who is on the pitch for Argentina and and you know the way we did that was always a proving ground trust and I don't think that ever stopped because our pre our perspective you know which having Tony and myself. He's very rare impede on back to back World Cups like that. And then our help forming league in their own country and getting a an a major league soccer off the ground and it's a it was just a constant every year we have to prove ourselves and and help grow the game in our country and I think that's when our generation did You know we've want to push it up there because we respected. It didn't want any other nation to kind of look down upon us. We took pride that I think. That's that's kind of an ongoing thing instill is today. World World Cups are are life changing and it doesn't matter what you do their life. Changing in a World Cup at home is even use even bigger experienced that you have and it's a bigger life changer if you will and You know for me. I Never I personally. I didn't in a no the two guys you're talking through the we didn't think about. We just want play soccer so we wanted to do. It's all I WANNA do it. Every day you know just the now we were in the game in different ways and That's all we everyone do. And and we were just sat me. I was lucky to be part of this particular group at this particular time and learn so much From this but yeah it changes your life as you would probably imagine it would every World Cups GonNa Change every players like ads. I mean it's a legacy it's to bring it full circle three kids from from New Jersey. Who basically you know help take to the US to two World Cups And succeed in do great things in at least one of them and then build a league. Almost radio help startling from from zero that you know. I don't think people who are now. You know that's the cool thing to do on twitter to to sort of you know Oh. Mls It's not the premier league. It's the well ego I mean. Emily has come a long ways and You guys were part of that so you know. I think it's just it's a it's a testament to to the people. You guys are in the careers you've had and the success you've had so They owe everyone owes US exactly. What's going on you tell your players? You're you're the you're the one out do this Yeah we'll honestly. We could go on your careers I've taken from you know for long enough at this point You guys obviously. You played in emily for years and years Tab In John. You guys dabbled in in Europe and Mexico with grace for awhile DEB. So obviously you guys were huge ingrowing. Mls and to where it's gone now and obviously where it's going in the future Can't thank you enough. I'll thank you. I'm not getting paid by molested this boy. I'll thank you and thank you for nineteen ninety four as well Anything else you gotTA. Gee I don't I mean I met I mean I was. I was ten years old molest Fan. I went to the All Star game at all. You guys stop and kind of you guys helped develop my dreams to be a pro so I think that's that's awesome. You guys definitely the way for your soccer in our country They I mean I think you realize how magazine of it but it's a it's a critical thing it's cool to hear your story about the courts grown up as stuff's awesome Talk to guys for hours. But it's it was averaging time yeah seriously get you develop my dreams of being approach to. They didn't actually come true. But the you know whenever I tried give him a shot by the way another another ninety guy. Brian Bliss signed me. So you guys really you guys. That roster's fantastic. Betsy was clearly the best player so perfect. Will EVERYBODY GO CHECK OUT? The documentary sits called soccer town. Usa It's on Youtube Great documentary you guys with the stars can't thank you enough for jumping on obviously continued success. Hopefully we'll see you have coaching out there in the very near future John Tab and obviously we love to hear from will continue to hear from you Tony on all the very different All the various you know content channels. You're you're mastering at this point. So guys kit. Bacon off for jumping on regaining

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