After missing most of the 1999 season because of a knee injury, keeper Tony Meola has helped Kansas City get off to a 3-0-1 start.
AMERICA: Was there any point during your time with the Metros you felt the team was headed in the right direction?
TONY MEOLA: That first year. That was a good team, and we got
into the playoffs. Breaking up that team was a big mistake, and then after that it was rebuild and rebuild, and you can't win that way.
SA: Any new coach has his own system and his own
preference for players.
TM: Right, and we had five coaches that all saw the game in different ways. They'd say they didn't get the players they wanted because of the league, and
the league said they did get the players they wanted. You didn't know who to believe.
SA: Bob Gansler seems to have obtained the players he wants.
TM: We have so many
things we didn't have last year. We've moved Mo [Johnston] up front, because he's more comfortable closer to the goal, and he and Miklos [Molnar] both can hold the ball.
We didn't have an
organizer last year, and Peter Vermes will yell and organize for 90 minutes. The other thing we didn't have was a ball-winner, and along with Matt [McKeon] we have Kerry Zavagnin, whose job is to do
the dirty work for Preki.
Kerry Zavagnin has been a big surprise. He never really got a chance in New York, but he got himself a fitness trainer, worked hard, and he's played four solid
games for us.
SA: Does it seem like an Italia '90 reunion at times?
TM: With me and Peter and Chris Henderson and Bob and [assistant coach] Brian Bliss, yeah. We joke
about it all the time.
SA: How did Gansler shape your career?
TM: He brought me into the national team when a few other guys were hurt [in 1989]. I don't think a lot
of people would have made that decision, but he was the guy who gave me my chance to play at the top level. It meant a lot to me, and I'll always owe him for that.
by Soccer America senior editor Ridge Mahoney