John Kowalski (pictured far left) was the top coach of the USMNT futsal group that completed 2nd within the 1992 World Championship (image courtesy of US Soccer)

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Thirty years might seem to be a very long time to some, however by way of constructing a nationwide soccer program and growing a profitable sports activities tradition, only a technology in the past is just not a very long time.

Three many years in the past, america Males’s Nationwide Soccer Workforce and america Soccer Federation operated with very restricted assets and virtually zero credibility on the worldwide panorama of the world’s hottest sport.

Issues began to alter, however it took time, perseverance and a few very devoted and sensible soccer minds to assist construct issues, piece by piece.

Pittsburgh soccer teaching icon John Kowalski was one of many architects of america’ nationwide males’s soccer program, which helped convey American soccer from an afterthought to the world stage to a good and aggressive footballing nation.

These primitive years, nonetheless, offered vital hurdles for US Soccer and Kowalski.

For instance, after a visit to Brazil whereas teaching america males’s nationwide futsal group, Kowalski defined how lean issues actually had been.

“At the moment, we had a set of uniforms. We went to an away recreation in Brazil. Two gamers exchanged shirts, and I got here again and the Federation gave me loads of stench that I do not had no management over the gamers,” Kowalski mentioned.

“And the subsequent group that has to go, which was a girls’s group, we had been buying and selling a set of uniforms for males, girls, youth. The gamers had been paid 5 to 10 {dollars} a day. As coaches, we We had been paid $110 per day labored.

Round this time, Kowalski additionally turned the top coach of a brand new varsity soccer program at Robert Morris College within the late Eighties, after his expertise because the Pittsburgh Spirit supervisor in the course of the top of the indoor membership early to mid Eighties. .

Taking up any position inside america Soccer Federation that required his providers, he stepped in to assist present teaching management simply as the game was about to start its ascent to unprecedented development on this nation. Carrying a pedigree of success in teaching the indoor recreation after a formidable run with the Spirit, US Soccer named Kowalski to guide the US nationwide futsal groups in 1989 and 1992.

His achievements on the first-ever FIFA Futsal World Championships stay unmatched, as they’re mentioned to be the very best of any U.S. males’s nationwide group ever to complete in a FIFA competitors.

In 1989, Kowalski took the tight-budget USA group to the FIFA 5-a-Facet occasion within the Netherlands, utilizing a mixture of promising younger American gamers in addition to a handful of veterans.

Three years later, Kowalski led america to their highest FIFA rating, a runner-up end on the 1992 World Championships, dropping 4-1 to Brazil within the ultimate.

VIDEO: 1992 USA-BRAZIL FINAL

RELATED: America’s Biggest Workforce Of Them All?

After two top-three finishes at back-to-back World Indoor Championships, Kowalski was named a FIFA Worldwide Futsal Teacher, a part of a choose group of coaches on the time thought of the highest coaches. indoor play.

Kowalski’s group in 1989 was the first-ever American group to win a FIFA medal. And the 1992 group, which competed in Hong Kong, is the one American males’s group to ever seem within the ultimate recreation of a world championship.

He’s additionally the one American coach to have led American groups to the CONCACAF championships in indoor soccer (1996) and outdoor, helping American nationwide group coach Bora Milutinovic when america received the Gold Cup 1991.

“It was very particular to be a part of that first Gold Cup successful group and to be an assistant with Bora,” Kowalski mentioned. “Particularly as a result of it was the primary.”

Earlier than Milutinovic turned head coach, Kowalski was the USMNT’s interim coach in 1990-91, main america to victories over Olimpia of Paraguay (South American champions in 1990 and world champions golf equipment), Canada and a draw with Mexico.

Kowalski went 1-1-0 as USMNT interim head coach in 1991.

He was additionally in command of one other “unofficial” match on November 16, 1988, however with loads of opposition headliners when the USMNT confronted Mexican membership Guadalajala, higher often called the “Chivas” throughout a pleasant recreation in Santa Ana, CA, in 1988.

Former Higher St. Clair and College of Tampa participant Peter Smith turned solely the second Pittsburgh participant to characterize the USMNT prior to now 50 years, within the ultimate 10 minutes of this recreation.

The opposite Pittsburgh-area participant who broke into the USMNT, across the similar time, was former Mt. Lebanon, Pitt, and Pittsburgh Spirit standout John O’Hara.

“A number of these Chivas gamers had been a part of Mexico’s 1986 World Cup squad,” Smith recalled.

“And loads of the fellows in our squad had been key gamers within the 1990 World Cup squad: Tab Harksey, (Mike) Windicschmann, Eric Eichmann, Paul Krumpe. John was proper in the course of that.”

In 1993-94, Kowalski was head coach of the US U-20 MNT, which included many gamers who would later play for america or enter skilled play, together with Clint Mathis, John O’Brien and Jovan Kirovski in addition to Chris. Klein and Jay Heaps.

Quick ahead to now, and Kowalski, who obtained the Walt Chyzowych Lifetime Achievement Award on the United Soccer Coaches Conference in 2018, who additionally coached in MLS (Tampa Bay Mutiny within the late 1990) and USL/A-League, as the primary Riverhounds coach, he lastly left a 45-year profession within the soccer teaching ranks when he left Robert Morris’ girls’s program after the 2019 season.

From Poland to Pittsburgh, teaching legend Kowalski resides the ‘American dream’

Kowalski is optimistic about america males’s nationwide soccer group regardless of a few of the setbacks of the late 2010s and having a younger squad on the World Cup in Qatar.

“We’re making enormous progress in soccer even though some folks do not give us a lot credit score,” Kowalski defined. “The expansion is big. To see the place the Federation was, the place the Federation is, what number of hundreds of thousands extra children and persons are taking part in and it is actually within the mainstream now.

Whereas Kowalski was a pioneer coach in one other period, he significantly appreciates the immense development of america Soccer Federation.

“Now uniforms are not a difficulty and coaches and gamers are paid respectable salaries – and in some instances hundreds of thousands of {dollars},” Kowalski mentioned.

“It is good to know that I used to be concerned within the constructing phases and the adjustments that happened within the Nineteen Seventies, 80s and 90s had been unbelievable. The amenities, the soccer pitches, hundreds of different youngsters play, extra referees, it is on TV – it is turn out to be a mainstream sport. And we nonetheless have a protracted technique to go.”


SOUNDING OFF ON SOCCER WITH JOHN KOWALSKI & PETER SMITH, PLUS BONUS INTERVIEW: ENGLISH PERSPECTIVE WITH JAMES MEARA

For extra with John Kowalski and Peter Smith, you should definitely take heed to this particular version of the Sounding Off on Soccer podcast as they discuss intimately about their USMNT experiences within the Eighties and Nineties, and share their ideas on the subsequent USA-England. recreation to come back on Friday. Moreover, John Krysinsky speaks with Riverhounds Academy East supervisor and former England skilled participant, James Meara, who shares his ideas and ‘England’ perspective forward of Friday’s large World Cup match.




John Krysinsky has coated soccer and different sports activities for a few years for numerous publications and media. He’s additionally the writer of ‘Miracle on the Mon’ – a e-book concerning the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the membership, notably the early years at Highmark Stadium with the main and centered narrative of a exceptional recreation that helped present a spark for the franchise. John has coated sports activities for Pittsburgh Tribune-Evaluate, DK Pittsburgh Sports activities, Pittsburgh Sports activities Report, served as a colour commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and labored with OPTA Stats and broadcast groups for US Open Cup matches and the Worldwide Champions Cup in america. . Krysinsky additionally served as head males’s soccer coach at his alma mater, Level Park College, the place he led the Pioneers to first-ever successful seasons and first playoff berths (1996-98); Northern Catholic Boys Head Coach (2007-08), Shady Facet Academy Boys Affiliate Head Coach (2009-2014).


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