USA’s DiCicco will be missed
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Tony DiCicco (pictured) is shown above addressing the audience during his induction to the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame on May 30, 2012. (Photo: Jose Argueta/isiphotos.com)

NEW YORK -- The passing of Tony DiCicco at 68-years-old on Monday stunned the United States soccer community in so many ways because he was one of the sport’s most beloved figures.

Besides guiding the U.S. women to the 1996 Olympic gold medal and to the 1999 Women's World Cup, he brought several unique gifts to the game.  DiCicco had a knowledge of soccer second to none, was a master motivator and a gifted communicator.

For example, after the Americans survived a classic 3-2 quarterfinal thriller with Germany in the 1999 Women's World Cup, DiCicco went to the press box to watch the Brazil-Nigeria encounter in the second game of a doubleheader in Landover, Maryland, rather than sitting in the stands or a special box.

He held court with the writers, talking about the game at hand, while noting players’ strengths and weaknesses and strategic moves.

“We mourn the loss of one of the most influential coaches in U.S. Soccer history,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati commented.  “Tony’s passion for the game as a coach, administrator and broadcaster was always evident and his relationships with everyone in the soccer community distinguished him as a compassionate and much-loved man.

“U.S. Soccer will forever be thankful to Tony for his vast contributions to the game.  We extend thoughts and condolences to his family and to the many people who were positively impacted by him during what was a remarkable life.”

Inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2012, DiCicco also directed the U.S. to the 2008 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup crown.  He was the Women's United Soccer Association commissioner (2002-03) and a TV commentator.

DiCicco is survived by his wife Diane and four sons -- Anthony, Andrew, Alex and Nicholas.