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Caligiuri brings soccer knowledge to Maui

July 12, 2012 - Robert Collias
I remember Paul Caligiuri as a soccer pioneer, back when the sport was begging for a spot on the American sports' consciousness. In 1990, the U.S. made it to the World Cup tournament for the first time in 40 years on Caligiuri's goal in a 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago. Then, he scored America's first World Cup in that 1990 tournament, setting the stage for the 1994 World Cup on American soil when the sport started to take off in our country.

My soccer-playing son was 3 years old for the 1994 summer of the U.S. hosting the World Cup, now he is a college graduate. That tournament lit a fire for a soccer-coach dad and led to some of my most cherished memories of my son and daughter playing AYSO soccer.

A defender, Caligiuri scored only five goals for the U.S. National Team, but he has two of the biggest in U.S. history — no doubt about it. Major League Soccer was a direct result of that 1994 World Cup tournament and some of the more recent memories for me are sitting in Jeld-Wen Field with my kids, now 21 and 18, watching the Portland Timbers play in a European-type atmosphere.

Caligiuri was on Maui for the last three days, giving his time and knowledge to the 100 or so kids in attendance at the Team Direct Soccer camp organized by old friend Dion Ruidas. Caligiuri sat down for a 20-minute interview during his lunch break Tuesday — no doubt he would have gone longer, but I had enough to write five stories already. And then when I needed some pictures, he grabbed some kids on lunch break and asked them, "Do you guys want to shoot?"

The results of all of that can be found here in a story that was a lot of fun to write. Caligiuri rattled off names like Tab Ramos, Tony Meola and John Harkes, all of whom brought back pleasant memories for me. For him, they were teammates, comrades in battle on the world stage.

He talked of the U.S. men winning a World Cup someday, as the American women have done twice. Caligiuri knows the youth players today are the future of the game in a country that is still in its soccer adolescence — he gave Maui a little taste of what it will take to grow the game he lives for and it was pretty cool to observe.


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