SECAUCUS, NJ - The MetroStars announced today that they have acquired World Cup veteran goalkeeper Tony Meola off waivers.
Meola, 36, was waived by the Kansas City Wizards on March 2, 2005 and was not selected by any MLS team. Kansas City declined their rights of first refusal on Meola therefore he was placed on waivers last Tuesday and made available to all teams.
"Tony's commanding presence, on and off the field, is what has made him an American soccer legend," said MetroStars President and General Manager Alexi Lalas. "But he has some unfinished business with the MetroStars: winning a championship. This is not only a homecoming for him, but a reckoning."
One of the greatest all-time American goalkeepers in United States soccer history, Meola has appeared in more games for the U.S. National Team (99) than any other goalkeeper. He is second in Men's National Team history to Kasey Keller for the most wins in U.S. History (37) and is second all-time with 32 career shutouts for the U.S. He made five appearances for the National Team in 2000 and 2001, recording a 3-1-1 record with 2 shutouts. Meola captained and played every minute of all four games in the '94 World Cup, including a 2-1 win over Colombia to advance to the second round.
"I am very excited to bring Tony back to the MetroStars," said MetroStars Head Coach Bob Bradley. "He is excited and motivated to join us at this time and we all feel strongly that Tony will make a big contribution as we continue to progress through the second half of the season."
The Kearny, New Jersey native also owns a distinguished Major League Soccer record, as he was a named five-time All-Star (1996-1998, 2000, and 2002) in his 10-year career, that included stints with the MetroStars and Kansas City Wizards. He ranks first all-time in Major League Soccer history in shutouts with 48 and tops the goalkeeper chart in minutes played (17,516), games played (194), saves (886), and catch/punches (595). Meola is fourth all-time in wins with 80 and fifth all-time in save percentage (.734). He also owns the single-game record for saves with 15.
"I am thrilled to be coming home to New Jersey to play for the MetroStars," said Meola. "This is an area that is near and dear to my heart and it will be great to play in front of my hometown fans again. I am also very excited to be playing with Zach Wells. He's a great young goalkeeper and I know that we will learn a lot from each other."
During the 2004 season with the Kansas City Wizards Meola posted his MLS all-time leading 49th career shutout. Meola reached a milestone with his second consecutive shutout and 50th career shutout in a 1-0 win vs. CLB (4/17). In 2004, Meola made his 200th career appearance at DC on May 15, becoming the first ever goalkeeper to appear in 200 matches and 12th player overall in MLS history.
In 2002, Tony posted a 6-5-5 record during the regular season. He missed nearly two months while with the U.S. National Team at the 2002 World Cup, the third World Cup team he has been a part of in his career.
Meola had his finest year as a professional in 2000 after battling back from a devastating knee injury in 1999. He helped Kansas City to its first MLS championship in 2000 while posting a 15-7-9 mark during the regular season. Earned League and MLS Cup MVP honors, Goalkeeper of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Pepsi Best XI and was named to his fourth MLS All-Star team. Set a new MLS record for shutouts in the regular season with 16 in 31 games and added a record five more shutouts in the postseason.
In 1998 Meola, with the MetroStars, led MLS in saves (164), was 3rd in catch/punches (110) and faced the most shots (236). He was named Soccer America 1998 Goalkeeper of the Year.
In 1996 Meola was chosen as MetroStars team captain, a role he held for each of his three seasons in New York. He was the top-rated goalkeeper by Soccer America.