[OBITUARY]When Joe Goldbergand Ian McDougall founded the Oceanside United Soccer Club in 1962, orange and blue were chosen as the colors of the new club. Not because they are the colors of the New York Mets that started play that year but because orange and blue are the colors of Nassau County and Oceanside United was the first youth soccer club in the county and indeed in all of Long Island. The founding of the club led to the great youth soccer boom on the island and eventually made the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) the world’s largest soccer league.
The local soccer community is mourning the loss of Goldberg who passed away on Monday at age 85. During a very colorful life, he was seemingly involved in every aspect of local soccer since the 1950’s. After coming to New York, the native of what was Czechoslovakia became a soccer administrator, coach, referee, one of the founders of Soccer Week, the weekly publication that gave the sport’s supporters information about the beautiful game before the start of the Internet, among many other roles and responsibilities.
Joe was inducted into the Halls of Fame of the LIJSL, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association and Eastern New York State Amateur Soccer Association plus was honored as a Life Member of the Long Island Soccer Football League (LISFL) and Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League (CJSL) for all his volunteering. The LISFL also named their winter indoor tournament after him. He and his wife Miriam lived in Oceanside for 52 years before moving to Connecticut in 2010 to be closer to family. Joe was lauded by many at his retirement dinner at the Oceanside Jewish Center that year.
Speaking for many of the former Oceanside United players -- more than a dozen showed up for the dinner– -- Ron Atanasioremembered how he met Goldberg as he was at Oceanside Junior High School watching boys play soccer. Ron wound up starring at Adelphi University and as a first-round draft pick of the New York Cosmos, enjoying a 10-year professional career.
“These two gentlemen gave me an opportunity to excel in the sport I love,” Atanasio said of Goldberg and McDougall. “I can truly tell you this is a unique man. Without the opportunity you had given me, I probably wouldn’t be playing soccer.”
“Joe was always about the kids,” said Mike D’Ambrosio, the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association’s registrar. “For Joe, it’s the number of people’s lives who he touched. He gave them a place to play. Joe would pick you up in his van, feed you and bring you home.”
Goldberg did it all, from buying the uniforms -- which were used over and over again by several teams to save money– -- to washing them.
Oceanside United’sJim Volpe played for Goldberg on the Oceanside men’s team and then served on Oceanside’s Board of Directors with him for many years. He stated, “Joe wasn’t afraid to be different or think out of the box. You could disagree with him but he never held a grudge.”
Oceanside United was founded four years before the LIJSL came into existence so it originally played in what is today the CJSL. The league’s Ben Boehm said, “Joe was like a tornado. A number of us had arguments with him. But he knew what he wanted to do. He willed Oceanside United into existence.”
“Just going down into Joe’s basement was like visiting a soccer museum,” Volpe added. “Everybody who played soccer on Long Island for the past 50 years owes Joe a debt of gratitude. He got the whole thing going. I’m really going to miss him!”
We have lost a very good man. May he rest in peace.