Just a link to some worthwhile lunchtime reading for American soccer fans, and indeed, anyone who wants to understand a little more about how the US men’s national team has gotten where it is today (which is a hell of a ways from where it was in the 1980s, lest we forget): a superb piece on ESPN Soccernet by Tom Friend on David Vanole, a rather obscure goalkeeper crucial to America’s qualification for the 1990 World Cup:
The United States is a World Cup regular now, in the midst of its sixth consecutive appearance. But back in the stone ages — i.e., the late 1980s — its national team was on the brink, held together by a goalkeeper and his flag.
No one is saying that David “Dino” Vanole is the sole reason the U.S. is in South Africa this month, playing in high-stakes games of soccer. But the people who saw him psyche up teammates and psyche out Neanderthals; the people who heard his jokes and rhymes; the people who covered their eyes when a 1989 penalty kick was headed straight for his throat … think he deserves much of the credit. That he should be on the Mount Rushmore of U.S. soccer.