Friday, January 19, 2007

OBT: Dave Vanole

"David Vanole was one of the pioneers at the start of a new era for U.S. Soccer. I remember very well his impact on the team at the 1988 Olympics and in helping the United States end a very long World Cup drought in 1989. He should be remembered for that right alongside the other early stars of the sport in our country."
-- U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati on David Vanole, who died on Monday at age 43.


Back in the late 1980s, a group of young players brought American soccer out of the hinterlands.

Most accounts of that era highlight names such as Paul Caligiuri, Tab Ramos and John Harkes.

But anyone close to the U.S. national team in those days will never forget the large, jovial goalkeeper who brought a big smile and small American flag to field.

Called "Dino" by his teammates, David Vanole played in five qualifying games for the 1990 World Cup - three wins and two ties.

Early in the campaign, he saved a last-minute penalty kick against Costa Rica to preserve a 1-0 win for the USA. Vanole played two more games - making crucial saves in a 2-1 win over Guatemala - and the USA went on to qualify for its first World Cup in 40 years.

He stayed on the bench at the World Cup finals in Italy - Tony Meola had won the starting spot late in the qualifying campaign. But crucial to seasoning the American team - made up almost exclusively of players without pro experience - for the World Cup qualifiers were the 1988 Olympic Games.

Vanole started every Olympic qualifying game and all three games in South Korea, which included ties with Argentina and the host.

Vanole became part of the national team after helping UCLA to the 1985 NCAA title.

After his playing career, which included stints with the Los Angeles Heat (WSL) and San Francisco Bay Blackhawks (APSL), Vanole coached college, youth national team and pro ball.

Most recently, he served as goalkeeper coach for MLS's New England Revolution (2004-06).

For six years, Vanole served as assistant coach at his alma mater, for both men's and women's UCLA teams. He mentored goalkeeper Matt Reis, star of the Bruins' 1997 national championship team, and reunited with Reis at the Revs.

In 2003, he was goalkeeper coach at D.C. United, whose starting keeper at the time was Nick Rimando, also a keeper under Vanole at UCLA.

Vanole was assistant coach of the U.S. men's U-20 team (1997-99) and of the U.S. women's team (1999-2000), including at the 2000 Olympic games.

He was assistant coach of the Women's United Soccer Association's Washington Freedom in 2001-03.

Vanole died on Monday at age 43 in Utah, where he was on a family ski trip, of an apparent heart attack.

Late last year, Vanole's father, Ray, also died of heart disease.

David Vanole is survived by his wife, Kerry Tatlock.

Services will be held in New York City Jan. 20 and Manhattan Beach, Calif., Jan. 28.

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