We would like to pay tribute to our dear friend and business partner, Tony DiCicco, the founder and driving spirit behind SoccerPlus who passed away on Monday June 19th after a six month battle with cancer.
Tony was one of the most respected and well liked members of the US soccer community. His accomplishments in the game were matched by his humility, generosity, and selflessness off the field. Tony was a brilliant soccer mind, an educator, and a true gentleman.
Lynn Berling-Manuel (NSCAA CEO)– “Tony’s passing is an incredible loss to our game. We have lost a friend. He adored his wife and sons and our thoughts are with them. He’s touched so many people’s lives. As Director of the NSCAA Goalkeeper Academy, he taught hundreds of coaches who will always be in his debt. And he will be revered by players across the spectrum — from nine-year-olds who had their first soccer camp experience with him to national team stars who played in World Cups for him. There will not soon be another like him.”
“The loss of a legend like Tony will be personal, in different ways, for so many,” said NSCAA Director of Coaching Education Ian Barker. “For me, of all the people I have interacted with working at the NSCAA, Tony DiCicco stood out as someone who gave of his time to people when there was little obviously in it for him. A man of his experiences and accomplishments always considered other people important and he was always sharing his passion and wisdom of the game. We shall miss the colleague and we will miss the man even more.”
Mia Hamm -“Great coach, amazing man! We were so fortunate to have him be our teacher/leader. His lessons and love will never leave us.”
Julie Foudy-“Tony was one of the finest to grace this planet. His spirit will indeed live in us all Anthony. I smile thru the tears. His impact, immense.”
Brandi Chastain-“Tony had a grace in the simple way, He didn’t make things overly complicated. He would come in and say, ‘You can do it, you’ve got this, go get it.’ Those words were just enough to make us go, ‘Yes, we can!”
Leslie Osborne-“Love and prayers to your family! What an amazing man and mentor. So thankful I had the opportunity to play for him”
Cat Whitehill-“Tony was an amazing coach,mentor,and friend. Even more,he was an amazing man and father.I will miss him.”
Heather O’Reilly-“An absolute pioneer of the game. Today is a very sad day. Integrity. Passion. Love. Everyday. We owe it to Tony. ”
Tony was the President, Founder and Technical Director of SoccerPlus Goalkeeper School and SoccerPlus FieldPlayer Academy. He was the former Head Coach of the US Women’s National and Olympic Soccer Teams and the Head Coach of the US U20 Women’s National Team. In 2008, in his return to international soccer, he coached the US to the FIFA U20 World Cup Championship in Chile. He had previously lead the Full National Team to the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Championship, the largest women’s sporting event in history. And in 1996, he coached the US Women’s Olympic Team to the first ever Gold Medal in Women’s Soccer.
Tony was raised in Wethersfield, Connecticut and attended Springfield College in Massachusetts, where he became an All-American Goalkeeper. After college, he had a distinguished professional career throughout the 1970s in the American Soccer League (ASL) with the Connecticut Wildcats and Rhode Island Oceaneers, while simultaneously teaching Physical Education in Bellows Falls, Vermont. In 1973, he played for the US National Team.
He also earned a Masters from Central Connecticut State University, as well as his United States Soccer Federation “A” License and the Advanced National Diploma from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
In 1982, DiCicco founded SoccerPlus Goalkeeper School and ran the first camp, a weekend goalkeeper clinic in Uncasville, Connecticut. Thro
ughout the 1980s, SoccerPlus Goalkeeper School and SoccerPlus Specialty Store, a retail store with two locations in Central Connecticut flourished.
In 1991, then-Head Coach of the US National Team, Anson Dorrance brought Tony in as a Goalkeeper/Assistant Coach. He traveled with that team to the first Women’s World Championship in China. Two years later, he was brought in as an Assistant Coach for the US U20 Men’s World Cup Team who competed in Australia in 1993.
When Dorrance stepped down as Coach of the US Women’s National Team, Tony was appointed as the Head Coach and remained in that position through three World Championship events, the 1995 Women’s World Cup, the 1996 Olympics and the 1999 Women’s World Cup. After winning the Bronze medal in Sweden in 1995, the US Women won the next two events, both on US soil.
The 1999 Women’s World Cup was the largest women’s sporting event in history, with the final drawing 90,185 people to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and an estimated 40 million television viewers.
Following the World Cup in 1999,Tony co resigned with an overall record of 103-8-8, at the time the highest winning percentage in US Soccer History. He remains to this day, the coach with the most victories all-time. During his tenure, the US Women’s National Team won 5 Consecutive US Cup Championships and the 1998 Pan Am Games.
Following his retirement from US Soccer, Tony became the founding Commissioner of the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) from 2000-2003. Following the WUSA’s suspension of operations, DiCicco remained an outspoken and strong advocate for the need of a women’s professional league in the United States.
He has worked as a TV Analyst and color commentator for NBC during the 2000 Olympics as well as ESPN and Fox during the 2003, 2007 2011, and 2015 Women’s World Cups, as well as other various events.
In 2003, he founded a youth club in Connecticut, SoccerPlus Elite, where he has served as both the Technical Director and a coach for various age groups. To supplement the on-the-field training for SoccerPlus Elite and other local student-athletes, DiCicco founded the SoccerPlus Education Center, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to “enrich lives through soccer.”
In 2006 he became the Technical Director for the adidas ESP Program and the Director of the Goalkeeper Institute for the NSCAA where he also serves as a Senior National Staff Coach. In addition, he has at various times served on the USYS Region I Staff for both boys and girls.
To create a top of the pyramid for SoccerPlus, in 2007, he became the owner and Head Coach of the SoccerPlus Connecticut Reds of the WPSL and in their inaugural season, the team won the US Women’s U23 national championship.
In 2008, in his return to international coaching, he coached the US U20 Women’s National Team to the FIFA World Cup Championship in Chile. The USA’s first championship in the event since 2002.
He served as Head Coach for the Boston Breakers of the WPS from 2009-2011. DiCicco has also served on a Technical Advisory board for US Soccer along with former National Team coaches Anson Dorrance, April Heinriches and former National Team player Carin Gabarra.
Tony lived in Wethersfield, Connecticut with his wife Diane. The couple raised four boys, Anthony, Andrew, Alex and Nicholas. In his spare time, Tony enjoyed the outdoors, golf, skiing, reading and spending time with his family.
Tony – we will miss you dearly and the game of soccer owes so much to you. SoccerPlus will continue to honor your legacy and we will always try to “Catch them being good”!