U.S. Soccer
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The Captain's Favorite Caps

Gold Cup captain Michael Bradley is set to become the 16th player in U.S. MNT history to reach 100 caps in the team’s tournament opener Tuesday against Honduras. Making the accomplishment all the more impressive is the fact that at 27 years and 341 days, Bradley will become the fourth youngest player in team history to hit the century mark. With the memory of an elephant, the USA's new captain recalled his top five National Team moments.


First Cap: USA vs. Venezuela

A good place to start is my first camp and cap with the National Team when Bruce Arena invited me to be a guest player with the final 23-man roster for the 2006 FIFA World Cup camp. The opportunity to be in that camp before the World Cup was incredible and totally unexpected. I had gone to Holland in January of 2006, started playing more with the reserve team and at the end of the season got a good run of games. I can remember sitting on the bus coming back from one of the last games and hearing I was going to have the opportunity to go into camp before the World Cup. It felt surreal.

I got to Cary and there were Bruce, “Mooch” Myernick and Pierre [Barrieu] and so many guys that I’d watched on TV for such a long time. We worked incredibly hard. Pierre had us running quite a bit – it was hot, it was humid, but for me it was incredible to be a part of it.

We were there for two weeks and at the end, I just assumed they’d go to play the Send Off games and I’d head home for a little bit of summer vacation before going back to Holland for preseason. One day after lunch, Bruce pulled me aside and said in a casual way that he thought I’d done well and he wanted to bring me along for the three Send Off games. Again, it was totally unexpected, but as an 18-year-old at that time, I certainly wasn’t turning down the opportunity. The first game was in Nashville against Morocco and just to be on the bench for that, to feel the atmosphere and be a part of it was special. The second game was in Cleveland against Venezuela and towards the end of the game, Mooch came down and told me to get ready. 

“There might be a chance to get you on for a few minutes,” he told me.

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It was only a few minutes, but here I was thinking that I was just going to be around as an extra number for training and it turned into my first cap. The team won 2-0 and it was certainly a night I’d never forget. Beyond all that, the opportunity to be on the field with these guys, experience everything that they were going through in terms of preparing for the World Cup was incredible.

2009 Confederations Cup

When you talk about what it means to be on a team, to be able to close the door and close off the group from every distraction, our run at the 2009 Confederations Cup was an incredible moment of uniting as one.

The tournament actually started well. We imposed ourselves on Italy in a good way, but then Ricardo Clark is sent off about a half hour in. Even though we’re down a man, we get a penalty and Landon scored to put us up 1-0 just before halftime. We’re down a man, but still hanging in pretty good early in the second half, but then all three goals come. Giuseppe Rossi scored two around Daniele De Rossi’s goal from distance. It was a strange one because we started well and we were getting after them, but we got a tough red card. We lost a tough game 3-1, undeservedly so in a lot of ways.

We followed that up against Brazil where we didn’t have a great start and ended up playing the last 30 minutes of that game down a man when Sacha Kljestan was sent off and we lose 3-0. After two games I can remember feeling hard done by. There had been good moments throughout both games, but obviously through 180 minutes we had played almost 90 down a man. Certainly when you play games at that level you get punished for every little mistake, and as always the vultures started to circle a little bit. It’s easy for everybody to look and say, “This is a big tournament -- the U.S. loses the first game 3-1 and the second game 3-0. What’s going on here?”

It would have been very easy for us to start feeling sorry for ourselves or making excuses. It was the end of the European season and guys were coming off long years, but that wasn’t us. On the inside, there was the ability to look hard at ourselves, look hard at each other and still understand that however small a possibility, there still was a chance to go through. Until someone told us mathematically that we were done, we were going to go down fighting.

On the way to the stadium in Rustenburg for the Egypt game, I looked around and felt like this might have the makings of a special night. We’re playing well and just before halftime Charlie Davies got sort of a scrappy goal to make it 1-0. At halftime, we see Brazil is beating Italy 3-0 already and we’re looking around at each other and saying, “This is there for us. We get the second goal and it’s game on.”

Michael Bradley

By the way, it wouldn’t have mattered when that goal came. It could come in the 89th minute and we would have given ourselves a few minutes to throw it all in to get the third. We got the second – we went on a counter, I slipped the ball to Landon, he cut a great ball and I was able to score. Not too long after, Clint scored on a great header. I remember looking over to the bench, trying to make sure the other game was still 3-0. Pierre and Mike Sorber kept us informed in terms of what was going on with that and at that point it was adrenaline, just finishing the job and hoping the other score stayed the same.

When the whistle blew it was just an incredible night and the culmination of an incredible few days. You go from starting the tournament in a positive way to two tough losses and as a group we started to take some criticism. In a real difficult moment, we managed to look at each other, push ourselves, play for each other and turn things around in an incredible way – in a moment when nobody in the world would have given us a chance in hell.

You ride this high, thinking you’re headed home after three games to then doing something that everyone thought was impossible and you get rewarded with a semifinal against Spain. They’re European champions and they’re on a 35-game unbeaten streak. In the build up, we felt like if we did the things that had gotten us there – closing opponents down, playing together, and being mobile and dynamic – we had a chance. We always talk about our blend of work, commitment, athleticism, physicality and mobility and how when we get that part right, there’s not a team in the world that enjoys playing against us. From the beginning that night, that was the case. We closed down, we did it together, and the next guy was always ready. When we won balls, we played forward quickly. When we were mobile we caused them trouble. Jozy got us the first goal to go up 1-0 in the first half, in the second half Benny Feilhaber comes on and makes a great play and Clint is there to score.

I can remember thinking, “We’re doing this -- we’re getting ourselves to a final.”

At that point you’re trying to just finish the game off – everybody had put so much into it. We had really taken care of the game in an incredible way and the focus and commitment from every guy was just to finish it off. I remember towards the end the ball popping loose and not even thinking twice about going for it. There was a ball not too far away from me and I needed to win it so we could finish things off. I went to the ground, getting some of Xabi Alonso as well. Still to this day I think he laid on the ground a little too long. The referee decides to give me a red card, and I went from this feeling of excitement and pure joy to walking off the field realizing I’m going to miss the final. After everything we’d been through the previous few weeks, I’m not going to be on the field for the final.

I was emotional after the game and if I could do it again certainly wouldn’t choose to handle things the way I did. That said, the feeling of being robbed of the chance to play in one of the biggest games of my life – that part wasn’t going away. When I think back on my career to this point, that is certainly one of the lowest points: being in training for the next few days, watching guys prepare, but knowing I was going to play any part. You wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

I realized in that moment something my dad always told me was, “It’s a man’s game.” It’s a cruel game at times, but the strongest, the bravest players don’t let that part stop them. I did my best to help in any way I could to get us ready for the final. Obviously watching from up in the stands, we started really well in the first half with two incredible goals from Clint and Landon, but we allowed them to get back to 2-1 too early in the second half. The rest is history.

2010 World Cup


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World Cups are incredible, really. You spend years trying to get there, years preparing, years imagining what it’ll be like. You spend years trying to fine tune every little part of your team to make sure that when you get to the World Cup, you give yourself the best chance. When you get close, for months you prepare for that first game. After the draw you know your group, but you prep for that first game. In our case our first game was England and all things considered, the 1-1 draw was a great result. You know that your chances to advance from the group at the World Cup go way up or way down depending on whether or not you can get points from that first game and we felt good like we’d put ourselves in a good position to do that.

Game two comes and before you could even blink, we’re down 2-0 and in the locker room at halftime. Of all the years I’ve played in the national team, of all the games I’ve played, that might have been the most emotional I’ve seen a locker room. There were a number of us who basically looked around and said, “Not today. This isn’t how this ends.  We’re not going home today.”

We went back out on the field in the second half and we played like it. There was a feeling amongst every guy on the field and on the bench that we were going to give everything we had to get back in the game. If the whistle blew before we were fully back in it, then they were going to have to drag us off the field. We’d given too much and worked too hard to have it go like that.

The second half was a great example for any team in terms of how to play from behind: how to chase, how to close down, play balls forward, move together, change tempo and keep going. Landon scored a great goal and we were able to continue to press and get after them.

I was able to get the second when Stevie Cherundolo played a great ball forward. Jozy was strong and headed it down well for me. I remember just trying to keep my legs moving as fast as I could to get there before the goalkeeper. Even after bringing it to 2-2, that didn’t slow us down because we scored a third and should have won. Maurice Edu scored a header and to this day, I don’t think anyone knows what the ref was calling to disallow it.

When I think about what it means to play on the National Team and what it means to be a part of something different and special, these are the kind of days that I think of. You walk into the locker room after the game, look around and every guy knows that in that moment, this is different than everything else we’re a part of. Whether anyone else on the outside notices or not, those are special days.

It’s not to say yelling and screaming is always the answer, but on that day that’s the way it went. From the second we walked into that locker room at halftime, there was only one way that game was going and we set ourselves up for the dramatic win against Algeria a few days later to win the group.

Scoring two goals against Mexico in 2010 World Cup Qualifying

Mexico is the game that’s different. For all of us as fans, players and competitors, there’s no other way to describe it. Part of the reason that the National Team means so much to me is because in a lot of ways this is the team I grew up supporting. MLS was just getting going when I was real young. You could watch games from Europe and I did, but I can remember putting ESPN on to watch the National Team. I remember watching games and thinking to myself, “I’d give anything to have one chance to play for that team one day. For me, to this day it’s a dream come true. I’m playing for the team I watched and supported as a little boy.

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I remember watching the first USA-Mexico qualifier in Columbus in 2001. My dad was coaching in Chicago at the time and Chris Armas and Josh Wolff played. Wolff came on as a sub and scored the first goal. In 2002, I woke up in the middle of the night to watch the World Cup Quarterfinal and you could just tell those games were just different and there was something more to it. I watched in awe at what it meant to play for the National Team and especially what it meant to play against Mexico.

Like in 2001, the first game of the 2009 hexagonal was against them and I thought to myself that it was surreal. At that point I’d played a friendly against Mexico in Houston, but it wasn’t the same. This is the real deal. I’m getting a chance to play in a qualifier against Mexico in Columbus and everything that means. In the build-up, I thought to myself that I wanted to make an impact. I wanted to make a difference in a game that I had watched on TV so many times.

To be able to win a game and get off on the right foot in the hexagonal and to get two goals against our biggest rivals in a game like that is unforgettable. 

Costa Rica/Mexico in 2013 Final Round Qualifying

Unlike how we began the 2009 hexagonal, we didn’t start 2013’s very well, losing away to Honduras 2-1. I remember sitting on the plane on the way home back to Miami and thinking that our next two games are Costa Rica home and Mexico away. You get to the hex and you realize there’s not much room for error -- you have to win your home games and then you’ve got to still find days where you can take points on the road and it’s not crazy to think you lose in Mexico or against Costa Rica. If you push those two games aside, you really need points in the other games.

We come into camp in Denver before the Costa Rica game and this article comes out with anonymous sources talking about the team and not being happy with the way things are done and thinking this isn’t ideal in any way. We’re getting ready for the biggest game we’ve played in a few years and we’ve got all sorts of this stuff flying around. Like I’ve touched on with a lot of these other moments, the thing that always makes me most proud to be a part of this group is when things really get tough, we have always found a way to close the door and look at each other and find the right way to push each other, not let anything bother us and simply take care of business.

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We really embraced the idea that the World Cup was our dream and we weren’t going to let anybody or anything throw us off track. The days leading up had been good. We were ready to play a big game in front of an American crowd in Denver. We get to the stadium, walk out on the field and it’s snowing, but it’s really not that bad. From the time we went back to the locker room and back out for warm ups, it was a complete whiteout. We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy night. The Costa Rican players didn’t want to play and at a certain points they were begging the ref to stop the game as we were encouraging him to keep things going.

 Days like that are less about soccer and more about who can find the right ways to take care of things in the game. On a night with miserable conditions, we found a way to take care of business and get the points we needed.

A few days later, we are away in Azteca, and for anyone who follows us or soccer in our region, you know how difficult a job that is: to go to Azteca in a qualifier and take points. We were able to keep a strong mentality and played in all ways a really good game. We gave very little away and maybe had an opportunity ourselves, but in a real professional way we were able to take care of business and walk out of there with a point. That week was a real turning point for us. You start in a poor way in Honduras and come back home knowing the pressure is on and that you need points.

Against the other two best teams in our region, we were able to take four points and that really set us up for a good summer and helped us qualify for the World Cup in Brazil.


US Soccer

Remembering the Legacy of Walter Bahr

Walter Bahr was an American soccer icon, a renaissance man and one of the most beloved figures in the history of the sport in the United States. He excelled at the game at several levels, most notably as a member of the history-making U.S. Men’s National Team that upset England 1-0 at the 1950 FIFA World Cup. 

He also was a successful coach at Penn State University and became an ambassador of the game, heading the U.S. delegation for many international matches and competitions. He also was the patriarch of an athletically talented family that included three sons who played professional soccer and a daughter who was an all-American gymnast.

Bahr, who was the last surviving member of the 1950 U.S. team that stunned England and the rest of the world, passed away on June 18, 2018. Few, if any other players, enjoyed the influence Bahr had over his many decades being associated with the beautiful game.

ussoccer.com spoke with several colleagues, former players, opponents and people that Bahr inspired over the years about Walter Bahr, the man, and his influence in American soccer over seven decades.

He inspired countless players, coaches, fans, media and people through several generations. His impact went further than just another participant in the beautiful game.

JP Dellacamera, long-time soccer play-by-play announcer: “Walter Bahr is one of the true legends of the game, one of the true gentlemen of the game. As great a soccer personality as he is, he's probably a better human being. No one would say a bad word about Walter Bahr. When you think about the legends of the game, his name obviously comes to mind. Last survivor of the 1950 World Cup team, a very successful college coach, had three sons that played the game at the professional level. A great ambassador for the game. One of the classiest people I've ever met in the sport.”

Al Miller, who directed the Philadelphia Atoms to the 1973 North American Soccer League championship, played against Bahr in the Philadelphia leagues: “Walter was unique from this standpoint – sometimes you become famous because of timing not because of a long time career of doing great things like a Pele or a [Franz] Beckenbauer. Walt was the guy on the front end of the goal that beat England. So he got enormous fame in America for that. Not what he should have gotten in those days. Certainly over the years, the legend grew bigger and bigger.”

Hank Steinbrecher, former Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of U.S. Soccer: “If you could pick your dad, he would be the kind of dad you would want to pick. He set such an example for all of us. Just to get to know him and hang around him. He was really modest, as funny as he could be. Loved a good laugh. Completely dedicated to what he was doing. He was a very, very good player. Look at his sons. They say like father, like sons. He's got some great boys who have done some great things.” 

Walter Bahr

Jerry Moyer, who played at Penn State from 1981-84: “Other than my father, he is a male figure that has had the most impact on my life. He's such an amazing man who has changed so many people's lives, mine being one of them.” 

His son Chris Bahr: “You let guys play. You see it in all sports. There's over-coaching. That's what I got from him: play it simple, make it easy. That was his life. It wasn't really complicated. He was a pretty simple guy. He coached. He worked and raised his kids. A pretty modest guy all along.”

Dr. Joe Machnik, former player, coach, referee and indoor soccer commissioner who currently serves as a Rules Analyst for Fox Sports: “Walter was the 2010 recipient of the Walter Chyzowych Lifetime Achievement Award (named after the late U.S. MNT head coach). He was really humbled and really touched by the award. According to Gene (Walter's brother), when the Walter Chyzowych family arrived in Philadelphia, Walter somehow found out about them and embraced them. Gene got a job at a school where Walter was working at, according to Gene. If it wasn't for Walter, the family would not have been able to make it happen in the Philadelphia area. Walter had a lot to do with that.” 

Former U.S. international and TV announcer Ty Keough, son of Bahr's former teammate, Harry Keough: “I got to know Walt pretty well especially in later years with all of the Hall of Fame events, and especially around the time of the filming of the feature motion picture then called “The Game of Their Lives”.

“One thing which always impressed me was the deep friendship and respect evident between my dad and Walt. It’s obvious that this was forged both on and off the field. After my dad retired, he and my mom (who is from Guadalajara) began spending their winters in Mexico. My mom’s uncle had given her a decent house in a modest neighborhood in Guadalajara, which had a very nice garden with mango, grapefruit and avocado trees.

“When someone mentioned that my dad was now spending his time gardening in Mexico, Walt said, ‘No way, I’ve got to see this for myself!’ So, Walt and [his wife] Davies flew down and spent a couple of weeks in the nice weather. Around the corner along the curb was a “Puesto” or small food stand offering typical local fare. The Puesto was run by Miguel, and Walt became a regular. Despite the language barrier Walt became a favorite to Miguel and the guys of the neighborhood. He could just make friends anywhere.”

Beginning his international career at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, Bahr was capped 19 times through 1957, during an era when the USA would play as few as one game a year (in fact, during the 1950s, the MNT played in only 15 matches).

Underlining his longevity during that era, Bahr joined teammate Harry Keough as the first two USA players to appear in qualifiers for the three different FIFA World Cups (1950, 1954 and 1958). He started all three U.S. matches during the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and is best known for providing the assist on Joe Gaetjens’ 37th-minute game-winner in the USA’s 1-0 upset of England on June 29. He would go on to captain the USA in its final group match, a 5-2 defeat to Chile.

Dr. Joe Machnik: “That 1950 game has more relevance today than it did way back then when I was a kid and growing up because nobody even knew about it back then. We know more about it now than we knew back then. It received so little publicity.”

George Brown, former MNT teammate of Bahr and son of 1930 World Cup team member Jim Brown: “It got virtually no publicity anywhere in the States. It was like a page 14 story. We were tuned in. My father played in the first World Cup in 1930. So he appreciated the World Cup. He knew how important it was. Yet, we had been in the States for two years at that point and I was just starting to play amateur soccer. I was about 15 at the time, but it was never a subject of discussion. It was a passing observation. Frankly, it was an outlier and nobody appreciated the significance except, of course, England.”

J.P. Dellacamera: “I think he and Harry Keough and the other members of that team didn't make it out as big a deal as it should have been. Until 1990 that was it. We hadn't qualified for the World Cup since then. It was a big deal to be on that 1950 team. If there was social media going on in that day, those guys would have been heroes. They would be much more well known. That was a shocking result. If you remember, that was a result that people were saying it was a misprint or written wrong. That was not the right score. People were shocked at it.”

Walter Bahr

Hank Steinbrecher: “Remember, we were not supposed to do anything in that tournament. We were the young boys, the dishwashers from New York. What they did in that tournament was like climbing Everest without any equipment. For the longest time, no one could match it. It took 40 years and Walter certainly was the leader.”

National Soccer Hall of Famer Paul Caligiuri, who scored the goal in the 1-0 victory at Trinidad & Tobago on Nov. 19, 1989, that lifted the USA to its first World Cup in 40 years: “I wasn't there in 1950. I wasn't born. but getting to know Walter Bahr, I can almost guarantee that gentleman was a leader. Between his determination, his grit, his abilities, his talent, his character, his personality, I can be almost certain that Walter Bahr was the kind of leader a team needs to be successful. Yes, you have great players and great moments like Joe Gaetjens and Paul Caligiuri. You have those moments in the game. But at the end of the day, who were those leaders that led that team behind the scenes, in the hotel, on the plane. When things aren't going right for everybody, what's it going to take?”

Jack Huckel, former executive director of the National Soccer Hall of Fame: “Walter was a natural leader and was a physical education teacher. He did a lot with getting the players in better condition that Bill Jeffrey [the 1950 U.S. coach] or other coaches might not have done. He took pride in what he was doing and he wanted others to take pride.

“So he was into fitness, helping guys get more fit and he tended to lead the team that way. I don't know whether that was a role Bill Jeffrey or any other coach gave to him or one that he just assumed. That's what Harry Keough told me. He just took the lead for many of those things.

“Harry tells a funny story. He said they let me be the captain for the Spain game because he spoke Spanish and let Ed McIlvenny be the captain for the England game because he was from Britain and Walter was the captain for the last game against Chile because he was the captain anyways.

“He was finally the guy who was the captain because he really was the captain.”

Bob Gansler, who coached the USA to the 1990 FIFA World Cup: “We obviously were aware of it and got constantly reminded of the bad time we had since '50. We had a heck of a lot more going for us in '90 than he had in '50. And for them to accomplish that, was immense. We were thankful. We were the pioneers at that time. We knew the folks that paved the way and we were following what they had done, but for them it was even more difficult. They made do and not only made do, they thrived in those circumstances. We were extremely thankful for Walter and Harry Keough. Those two always went hand in hand. I know those guys were friends forever. They were in constant touch over the years. It was really fantastic when we had one of them, when we had two of them around the team. The stories would flow. It was like Broadway. It was immensely entertaining.”

National Soccer Hall of Famer Tony Meola, who backstopped the USA at the 1990 World Cup: “Walter is what we strive for. Because of guys like him, we dreamed about being in the World Cup. We wanted to be where they were. He just did it before us. I hope people get through your story or anywhere else that if you're a soccer historian, he is a name that you should know. Frank Borghi gets a lot of credit for being the goalkeeper in 1950, but there's a lot of other guys that we should all know and be thankful for because they really set the tone for who we wanted to be. It took us a little while to get there. When you think back to him and his era, I think people really take it for granted now how difficult it is and what an honor it is to get to the World Cup. It's never easy. But in this day and age, these guys have resources. they're playing full-time. These guys got to the World Cup with nothing. They should be commended as much as anybody for sure.”

Walter Bahr

George Brown: “I used to host what was affectionately known as the Liar's Retreat (during Hall of Fame weekend in Oneonta, N.Y.). Walter would come here all the time. We would sometimes have 20 or 30 Hall of Famers here at the house. It was a good escape for them. Walter was a great raconteur. He could tell stories. He used to pal at these sessions with Harry Keough and they would be swapping stories. Many of which were true.

“Walter was very humble. He never bragged about anything he did. He had kind of a self-deprecating sense of humor. For instance, in his description of his game against England, it was classic stuff. I remember him saying, ‘You know, George, they hit the crossbar. They hit the post. They hit Borghi in the back of his head. They hit a ball off his butt. We tripped them. We fouled them. Somehow we hung on for a 1-0 score.’ But he never said, "We played great.’”

Jim Stamatis, 1979 MAC Hermann Trophy winner who played at Penn State from 1975-1979: “If you didn't ask him, he never brought it up. I found out as an after-thought. I remember there was some event there were four or five of them (1950 USA players) that were there. He introduced me to them. I was fascinated to hear about it all.

“He said, ‘Jimmy, we were just a bunch of construction workers. We were playing against guys who were professionals that are getting paid on the weekends. They have the best equipment and facilities to train. Meanwhile we are taken out of our construction jobs and begging to take a few weeks off to go to a World Cup.’

“He said it was laughable. ‘Would you believe it?’ he said. ‘We ended up beating them.’ He never spoke about that. He always figured out a way to talk about some of his adventures and foibles and all the other things that he went through.”

It would be easy to forget that Bahr enjoyed an 11-year playing career, mostly for Philadelphia-area teams in the local leagues and the old American Soccer League. Among the clubs he proudly wore jerseys for included Philadelphia Lighthouse, Philadelphia Nationals (American Soccer League champions in 1950, 1951 1953 and 1955), Uhrik Truckers (ASL crown in 1956) and Philadelphia United German-Hungarians. He also played soccer while attending Temple University. During his playing career, Bahr taught physical education at Frankford High School in Philadelphia and coached its soccer team.

Al Miller, who directed the Philadelphia Atoms to the 1973 North American Soccer League championship, played against Bahr in the Philadelphia leagues: “He was a hell of a player. He was solid. just tough to play against. Great defender. Anticipated well. Read the game beautifully. Pretty skillful for back in those days for an American.”

George Brown, who played for the German-Hungarians in the German American Soccer League in New York City in the early 1950s: “Our teams would occasionally meet for either U.S. Open Cup matches or the Lewis Cup. I played with him on the National Team one time and in several all-star games when I was in the American Soccer League. It's very easy to remember Walter. You have to understand, Walter was unique for an American-born college player, because of his combination of ball skills and his ability to read the game. He had a great sense of the game. And he combined that with what was a uniquely American technique at the time, which was run, run, run, run, run, run.”

“Walter had the drive and the energy of a typical American college player, but with all the skills of a good professional player. In fact, Walter could have played anywhere in the first division in Europe. He was what we called a chesty player. He played tight up against somebody, very strong in the tackle, very methodical. And when he delivered the ball, he did it with a game presence. He knew where he was. He didn't have to hold the ball and look around. He knew precisely where everybody was. Not only was he a good technician, he was a good tactician. He would have fit very well in Scottish football.”

Walter Bahr

Dr. Joe Machnik: “I saw him play at the Metropolitan Oval (in New York City) when I was a junior player for the New York Ukrainians. He still had a name. Late 1950s or early 1960s. I remember him. He was big, he was strong. He was either bald or shaved his head tight like some of the people today. That was the only time I saw him play. He had a presence on field. Maybe it had to do with his name because you were looking for him. Certain guys back then in the old German-American League had field presence. The games who revolved around them. There were all kinds of great players playing in the league back then.”

Jack Huckel: “He was offered an opportunity to go to England to play. He could make more money as a school teacher and playing on the weekends in Philadelphia in the fifties than with the maximum wage in England. He told me a story that he used to play in the summers in Montreal because he worked at a summer camp in the Adirondacks.”

Bahr was never one to brag or wear his accomplishments on his sleeve. He was a humble man, who would never bring up the fact he played in that historic game in Belo Horizonte in 1950. On the flip side, Bahr also could be the life of the party.

Arnie Ramirez, former Long Island University coach whose teams played against Penn State: I met him during a Fourth of July weekend at the Pennington School in the 1970s. We were getting our “C” coaching license with Dettmar Cramer. I got in early and it wasn't open yet, so I went to a bar to get something to eat and who was right there next to me? Walter Bahr, who I didn't know.

“We sat next to each other and he said to me, ‘My name is Walter Bahr. Are you here for the coaching?’ I said, ‘Yes I am.’ He goes, "I just got back with my wife Davies from Barcelona.’

“So we started talking about Real Madrid, Barcelona, Santos. We hit it off right away. This is soccer people. When they're genuine soccer people you hit it off right away. He never mentioned whether he played or not. Our interest was talking about international soccer. I respected him when I first met him because he was such a gentleman. He was such a genuine person. He wasn't the type to say, ‘I played in the World Cup. Dettmar Cramer never said anything to the group that Walter was a World Cup player. I don't know why.”

Chris Bahr, one of his sons: “That was him. He always thought he would have done more on the national level, coaching-wise if he had been a little more self-promoting like other guys. He sort of did his stuff. Do your job and let other people talk. You wouldn't have known he played unless someone brought him up. It was just the way he did things.”

Dr. Joe Machnik: “He also was great with one liners. He had joke for just about everything. He was a great public speaker with his stories. You didn't want to come up to the podium after he spoke.”

Barry Gorman: Walt could come out with these little stories and just nail it. I remember him telling a story about he was so into the game, he was prowling the sidelines, mumbling more to himself than to the players on the bench.

He said, ‘Jimmy get up and go in. Go and take so-and-so out.’ Well, the wrong Jimmy gets up, goes in, takes out the wrong player and scores the winning goal.

Walt turns to the bench and says, ‘Now, that's coaching.’”

Former Penn State goalkeeper Greg Kenney: “We played at the University of Connecticut on a Sunday. We won, 2-1. Three balls hit the post. I think I got hit in the face with two shots. We dodged a few bullets. At the University of Connecticut, you had a meal with the UConn players before we got on the bus to head home.

UConn head coach Joe Morrone gets up and says, ‘I always loved playing against Walter. I thought we were a little bit unlucky today. A couple of those balls looked like they were going in. Somehow they didn't. But it was a great match and great crowd.’

Then Walter walks up and he goes, ‘Joe, I think I just outcoached you today.’

The players were just cracking up. Obviously he and Joe Morrone were great old friends. It was classic Walter Bahr – a short, succinct statement that lightened everything and put everything into perspective.”

When you think of the Bahr family, you have to think athleticism.

Casey Bahr, who attended the U.S. Naval Academy, was a member of the Olympic team that performed at the 1972 Olympics. He went on to play for the Philadelphia Atoms (North American Soccer League) and Philadelphia Fever (Major Indoor Soccer League).

Chris Bahr, who played for Walter for one year at Penn State, was named 1975 NASL rookie of the year before he went on to a 14-year NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders and San Diego Chargers. He won two Super Bowls.

Matt Bahr also performed for his dad at Penn State before playing for the Colorado Caribous and Tulsa Roughnecks in the NASL. He enjoyed a 16-year NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, winning two Super Bowls as well.

Walter's daughter Davies Ann, was an All-American gymnast with the Nittany Lions. Her son, Casey Desiderio, went on to play college soccer at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

Chris Bahr: The one thing that I will say is the thing that sticks out about growing up in our family the most, I don't remember our dad teaching us anything athletically. I'm sure we played together and we did things – a catch and kicked around like every other father and son and daughters. But I don't recall him teaching us anything. I'm sure he taught us a lot. The fact that he did it without us knowing is pretty special.”

Huckel: “It's an amazing group. I met Matt a few times, Chris once, Davies Ann once or twice and Casey once or twice. They're all humble about who they are. That's something he taught them. It's interesting to see the family trait come through that way.”

Gorman: “Davies used to sort of joke she was the one that didn't get enough recognition for being on the all-Bahr team. She used to laugh at that. It really came from her side of the family. That was the way they were. They deflected stuff. They realized that the athleticism in the general scheme of things was fleeting and you're one second away from an injury.”

Walter Bahr with his sons Chris, Casey and Matthew
Walter Bahr flanked by his sons Chris, Casey and Matthew

Chris Bahr on he and Matt deciding to go from pro soccer to the NFL: “I'm sure he understood completely. I could play soccer, which I really enjoyed and I was really involved in. It got down to do I play soccer or do I eat? Do I play soccer or do I put a roof over my head? There was no money then. It was a fairly easy decision financially for both of us. People don't believe it, but it's true. The year I came out of college, after playing one year in the North American Soccer League, the following year I was offered $5,000 to play for the team, a $1,000 a month. If I could make 15 grand playing soccer. I would have never kicked.”

Kenney: “In my freshman and sophomore years, they were home and worked the camps with us. They would come and play in the evenings. The most unbelievable thing was that they would work on their kicking. I'm 99 percent sure it was Matt. Matt was kicking and coach Bahr was standing directly in front of him. Matt was just thundering the ball over his head. I was like, if he slips, if he mishits it, he was like eight yards away -- I was in goal and I felt how hard Matt could kick the ball. I have no idea how coach Bahr could stand there. I know I certainly wouldn't stand there.”

In the late 1980s, Bahr became an ambassador for the game and head of the delegation for many games and tournaments. Sometimes he would team up with his former international teammate Harry Keough, another member of that 1950 team. They both were with the team in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago on Nov. 19, 1989, when the USA qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 40 years. Bahr also traveled with the national team to the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Bahr and Keough became an inspiration to the team and players.

Hank Steinbrecher: “We sent him all over the place. The first trip was to China. What a great face for American soccer. Tell me who's going to do better? Even today there's nobody better. He was very politically sensitive. What it all boils down to, he's a smart man.”

Paul Caligiuri: “To have a former World Cup player there when we're going to the first World Cup in 40 years is like, 'Wow, we do have World Cup players around.’ It was kind of cool. I remember, not just me, but generally speaking with the players, you wanted to reach out and talk to him. You wanted to get a moment alone with him. He was willing to do that. He really connected with the players. We thought that was awesome. The guy played in the World Cup in a different period, a different era from what we were embarking upon. It put things into perspective that we had it a lot better than we thought. It made us look at what we had in the current situation and be grateful for that and remain focused on what we needed to do on the field, rather than be distracted in other places. He was a joy to have around.”

Walter Bahr

Jack Huckel: “He was the head of delegation when the team went to Italy. When people greeted the team, they realized when they greeted Walter. He was more important than the rest of the team because he was the guy on the team that beat England. So, there was a lot of deference to him because of that.” 

Paul Caligiuri: “Wearing a U.S. soccer blazer or badge, that wasn't enough for him. I would say he was part of that team. He was older. He couldn't play on the field. He certainly was part of what makes a team successful. I can only imagine he was that same type of role model when he was playing and had that same affect with us, inspiring us, mentoring us through different things, becoming part of the team.”

Bob Gansler: “I remember one trip he was with the Under-20 team that (I had that went to Saudi Arabia and did quite well in 1989. Saudi was a little bit of closed society when you are looking for some things that us Westerners consider necessary. They have their ways of getting their alcohol as well. There was Walter setting (things) up. We had an excursion to the U.S. Embassy and then we had boat rides in the Red Sea and then lo and behold there would be American beer. We were calling him a miracle worker.”

Paul Caligiuri: “Walter Bahr was super positive no matter what difficult question we asked. ‘What would you do differently?’ He would come up with a perfect answer and it's inspired. He spoke with a sophisticated knowledge and history. So much wisdom. I think it's because of who he is as a person.”

You can ask a dozen people what a man's legacy will be and you can get as many answers. Walter Bahr definitely fell into that category, given his influence on the sport. His impact on the game can be measured today and probably will be in the decades to come as well.

Arnie Ramirez: “Penn State, the legacy that he's left with so many teams. I just have a feeling that Penn State will do something for him, maybe build a statue. He's had some excellent players, excellent teams. And they tried to play nice soccer. He always liked the Brazilian type of soccer. He also was the ambassador. He has a great legacy in soccer, college soccer and in international soccer.”

Barry Gorman: “Personally, I just think it's a shame that he never coached any of our national groups because I know every national coach who was ever around him when he was going along as head of delegation or it was coming along as an ambassador of U.S. Soccer, all of those guys spoke highly of him: Bruce Arena, Bob Gansler, the players as well. His legacy is that he is a true icon of American soccer, player and a coach. He was a fan of the game. He was a player. He was a part of the German-Hungarian set up in Philadelphia, a father who had his kids playing soccer at a time when it wasn't maybe as attractive as it is today. But he kept everything in perspective.” 

Walter Bahr

Al Miller: “As Walter got older as he got outside the game, he got more inside of the game. His name became more noticeable. His name became more reputable. People started looking up to him a and the legend. His fame increased rather than decreased, which is interesting, isn't it?”

Bob Gansler: “He's one of the bright lights because he was an integral part of that 1950 team. It's difficult to get to a World Cup and it's even more difficult to be successful and they had one of the best games of all-time. In every book you read about the World Cup, the 1950 game, U.S.-England is going to be mentioned, if not featured. The fact that Walter was an integral part of that, a leader with that squad, makes him one of the shining lights as part of that evolution.

Hank Steinbrecher: “You can get to the very top of your game, beating England in the World Cup and maintain humility, dignity and integrity. That's his legacy. More of us should model ourselves after him, should emulate him.”

Paul Caligiuri: “He was there 40 years before we were. His story itself is a legacy and he is a living legacy of U.S. Soccer that can be definitely beneficial today. He did coach at Penn State. He had two sons who were successful in the NFL. You also can talk about what they did in 1950. They performed the unthinkable and the impact he has had with past World Cup teams. The success he had at Penn State University. He understands the college system, how it's grown from one step to another. When you think of U.S. Soccer, you have to think of Walter Bahr.” 

Dr. Joe Machnik: “First as a good guy. Obviously that. His humility, his good humor, his coaching record at Penn State. He was a member of the Red Aprons of the NSCAA (a honor given to distinguished members of the organization), a leader in that organization as well. Just a lifetime achievement. His legacy is his achievements and dedication to the game.” 

George Brown: “He will be remembered for that one shining moment against England. What he should be remembered for was the class he brought to the game at all levels as an American-born individual, including high school, college and professional leagues. It was very unusual. He clearly was the role model for a number of coaches. He ran a lot of soccer camps in the summer. He affected the growth of soccer in this country and particularly because he was American-born so he had unusual credibility. Normally it would be if you had an accent, you clearly were an expert in soccer and that was just the way it was. Walter earned his respect on the field and as a coach.”

Jack Huckel: “His legacy is for those who know his coaching record. For his 14 years at Penn State they made the NCAA tournament 12 times. If you talk to the players who played for him, they have an incredible amount of respect for him.”

Walter Bahr

Greg Kenney: “You never felt like you had to win at Penn State. It wasn't about winning. It was about working. He obviously did want to win. You were trying to do the things we worked on at practice.

“‘Work hard and we'll win enough games.’ It was really an interesting philosophy. When you're at that level, people are judging it on winning and losing. But that is such a moving target. If the team was hard working and we did the things we were supposed to do, you're probably going to win most of the games. You never felt like winning or losing was the ultimate goal. You felt there was something greater.”

Chris Bahr: “He was well respected in the soccer community as a player and a coach. People thought he did stuff, hopefully, the right way. All I know is I’ve never gone back to visit a coach I had. He’s had tons of guys that come back every year to see him. So he had an effect on a lot of kids lives. People enjoyed playing for him. I'm sure there was a bunch who didn't enjoy it. People come back and see him. and that to me indicates an awful lot.”

Moyer: He's impacted the game of soccer in more ways than any other person than I know or that I know of. As we all know, there has been thousands and thousands of great people, coaches, players and people who have put their stamp on the game in different ways. I honestly can't think of a person who has touched the game of soccer and include soccer from so many different levels, as a player, as a coach, as a mentor, as a friend. Coach Bahr literally has touched millions of people. I guess that is a legacy. He has touched more people in this beautiful game 
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MNT Jun 19, 2018
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