Former U.S. national team goalkeeper Tony Meola, captain Claudio Reyna and defender Desmond Armstrong were inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame on Wednesday, along with former women's national team coach Tony DiCicco.
The four were honored before the United States' exhibition game against Brazil, as was longtime Los Angeles Times soccer writer Grahame L. Jones, who was given the Colin Jose Media Award.
Meola made 100 appearances for the United States and was the starter at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups — the first two trips for the Americans since 1950 to soccer's showcase event. He broke down in tears during his acceptance speech as he talked about Lamar Hunt, the late owner of Kansas City's Major League Soccer franchise. Meola was a part of Kansas City's MLS champions in 2000 and its U.S. Open Cup title in 2004.
"He was a gentleman," Meola said, sobbing.
Meola also playfully talked about growing up in youth baseball and soccer programs in New Jersey and how he kept trying to convince coaches he should be a center forward.
"I'm just trapped in a goalkeeper's body," the husky Meola said.
Armstrong, also a member of the 1990 World Cup team, made 81 international appearance. He spoke emotionally about his seven children in the audience. He talked about the days when there was little money for training gear in the U.S. national team program.
"For us it was just a white T-shirt with no U.S. Soccer emblem," he said. "We used to steal these things."
DiCicco coached the American women to the 1996 Olympic gold medal and their second World Cup title three years later. He credited players such as Mia Hamm — who was sitting in audience — Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain and Briana Scurry with the team's success.
"Did I actually do anything?" he said.
Reyna was unable to attend the ceremony because of a family matter.
The hall building in Oneonta, N.Y., closed in February 2010.