[OBITUARY] Roy Rees coached the USA at four U-17 World Cups, from 1987 through 1993, a tenure during which the young Americans celebrated historic victories over Brazil, Italy and Argentina. Rees also co-founded the Houston Texans in 1983 and helped create the Dallas Texans in 1993. He died on Saturday at age 74.
"Roy Rees was one of the pioneers of what might be called the ‘modern’ (post-1984 Olympics) period of U.S. Soccer,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “He was a terrific leader of our U-17 national team program for many years in taking the team to four FIFA World Cups. He was, at heart, very much a teacher.
“My first trips with U.S. national teams were with Roy in Honduras and I well remember his capable guidance of that team. He had a great sense of humor and I enjoyed working with and learning from him."
Rees, who was born on New Year's Day 1937 in South Wales, coached lower division teams in England, coached Britain’s University Games team, and served as an English FA staff coach for two decades. He came to the USA in the early 1980s to give soccer clinics sponsored by Umbro, and eventually settled in Texas, where he co-founded the Houston Texans, from which spawned the Dallas Texans.
At his second U-17 World Cup with the USA, the Americans beat Brazil for the first time in history.
“The United States deserved to win today,” Brazil’s coach Homero Cavalheiro said after the game. “They were better as a team; they were better individually.”
Rees’ 1989 team included Claudio Reyna, who would go on to represent the USA at four senior World Cups, captaining the 2002 and 2006 teams. Reyna is currently U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director. Also on the 1989 team was current UCLA coach, Jorge Salcedo.
Rees’ squad at the 1991 U-17 World Cup that defeated host Italy and Argentina included Albertin Montoya, coach of the 2010 WPS champion Gold Pride and currently coach of the U.S. U-17 girls national team.
Mike Burns and John O'Brien, who played for Rees in the 1987 and 1993 tournaments, went on to star for the full national team.
After his stint as U.S. U-17 coach, Rees continued to serve as a U.S Soccer coaching instructor through 1997 and before his retirement directed youth clubs in Oklahoma (Tulsa Thunder) and Southern California (Southwest SC and Santa Anita). He was a board member of U.S. Club Soccer when it was founded in 2001.
“He was a good soccer man,” said Gulati.
Roy Rees is survived by his wife, Ann, his sons Stephen and Philip, and his daughter Sian.