Tony Meola will go down as not only one of the greatest American goalkeepers, but one of the best American players of all time.
Meola burst onto the MLS scene at the league’s birth in 1996, starring in goal for the New York Metrostars. He made 90 appearances from 1996-1998 and led the league in shutouts with nine in its inaugural season.
After the 1998 season, Meola was traded to the Kansas City Wizards where his success continued. In 2000, Meola had a career year in which he swept nearly every honor available. In addition to winning the league’s Most Valuable Player award and Goalkeeper of the Year, he proved a dominant force between the pipes for KC on their road to winning the 2000 MLS Cup. He led the league with 16 clean sheets and was named MLS Cup MVP.
After an injury kept Meola out of goalkeeping duty following the 2004 season, he was re-acquired by the Metrostars (now the New York Red Bulls) in June 2005. Meola was named to the MLS All-Time Best XI following the 2005 season, and he would make 35 appearances for New York from 2005-2006 before leaving MLS for good in 2007.
Before the formation of Major League Soccer in 1996, Meola played briefly in England for Brighton & Hove Albion and Watford. He also played in an indoor league from 1994-1995 for the Buffalo Blizzard. He would return to the indoor ranks in 2007 for two years when he suited up for the New Jersey Ironmen before ultimately retiring in 2008.
Meola was a staple in goal for the United States National Team for 18 years, debuting for the Red, White, and Blue in 1988 against Ecuador. He earned his 100th, and final, cap in 2006.