Marcos had been to games in his native Portugal, but the experience of traveling around Europe in 1968 with Hartwick opened up an entirely new view of the Old World.
"We went 17 days, played 14 games, had first and second teams, so to speak," he says. "It was a fantastic experience. We went to Liverpool, Chelsea, the first games I ever saw in Europe outside Portugal. We went to Holland and played Ajax's reserves. One of the players on the other team was a skinny kid named Johan. We lost, 1-0. We went to Berlin, to Cologne, where the famous German coaching school began, and to Copenhagen. A whirlwind deal, and I got so enamored by the whole thing. It was my first trip back to Europe since I left Portugal at the age of 16 in 1961."
Within a week of graduation, Marcos organized a tour of young players from Washingtonville, New York, where a former Hartwick star, Tony Martelli, was coaching.
"I organized a tour of England, Spain and Portugal," he says. "Just retracing my steps on the Hartwick tour, adding Portugal and Spain because that made sense for me. I used a lot of the connections I made on the Hartwick tour. Things stuck in my mind. I started to take down names and telephone numbers and all that. And that's how I began American International Soccer Exchange, which I did for seven years.
"We did the same steps: keep it simple, stupid. I'd find connections in Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam. I found representatives. I'd go to the hotel desk and find a fan and go from there. When I got to Barcelona and checked into the Hotel Oriente, I met the desk guy and told him why I was there, trying to find some games and watch. The guy says he's a Barcelona member and has some connections, so I signed him up as a rep. I'd pay that guy a dollar a day per person on the tour. I had six or seven guys like this. The guy in Barcelona does it for two or three years. In 2000, he was elected president of Barcelona: Joan Gaspart, my first rep in Barcelona. I couldn't believe it. You can't make this stuff up."
Marcos' work took him to the NASL, where he worked for the Rowdies, making $12,000 a year in his
first job, and then moved to the Dallas Tornado and Calgary Boomers, where he worked with Miller. With the Rowdies, he set up a partnership with Sao Paulo, which later led to the signing of
Tatu. Marcos became Tatu's agent when the Brazilian played indoors in Dallas and that led to the formation of the Southwest Indoor Soccer League, which Marcos started. He had a team in Austin,
the Sockadillos, coached by Portuguese great Tony Simoes and assisted by Wolfgang Suhnholz.
In the next decade, Marcos' league changed names five times, from the Southwest Indoor Soccer League to Southwest Independent Soccer League, Sunbelt Independent Soccer League, United States Interregional Soccer League, United States International Soccer League and United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues. In 1999, it finally became United Soccer Leagues. Hundreds of amateur and pro teams started in the USL, including four current MLS teams from Marcos' days as USL president.
Marcos says he had no ambitions of turning the USL into a Division 1 league, but it played a critical role in the launch of Major League Soccer. Its vote for incumbent Alan Rothenberg, who was working to get MLS off the ground, swung the 1994 U.S. Soccer presidential election.
"I suppose anyone can say they cast the decisive vote." says Marcos. "Alan Rothenberg won the election by a minimal difference [2 percent on the first ballot, 7.2 percent on the second ballot over Richard Groff] thanks to the 7 point-something percent the USL had vs. the APSL on the other side. Richard Groff would become the commissioner of the APSL, the A-League shortly after that. He was a friend. He became a closer friend later on.
"Alan Rothenberg headed the World Cup but there was no relationship there. But I believed the future of the pro game was MLS. It was not going to be the A-League with a new logo and new colors. It was not going to be League One America. Conceptually, it was quite strong, with shopping centers, but I didn't think Jim Paglia had the wherewithal to get all the connections.
"Richard begged -- I don't want to say that negatively -- that I give him half of my vote because he had calculated correctly -- he's very good with numbers -- that half of the vote would be enough to flip it and win. It was tough. There was an almost two-year interruption in our relationship. We didn't speak for two years. Sunil [Gulati] was a little bit in the same boat. Sunil was very close because of the national team [which Groff and Gulati worked on together]. I believe I did the right thing. I needed to be on the right side of history. And I believed it would get to the level it is at today."
But Marcos is critical of U.S. Soccer for not filling the vacuum in terms of producing leaders -- coaches and administrators -- who will take the game to the next level. Just like players move abroad, Marcos says coaches should pack up and move abroad to learn from the inside at foreign clubs, not just spend a week or two as a guest or as part of a licensing course. In the same way, he adds, former players must be trained to be the next generation of leaders, like Bayern Munich did with Franz Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
"Coaches pick their buddies as assistants, former players that are not going to challenge them, that don't know as much as they do. It's like me not knowing computers going to pick as my chief technology officer someone who knows even less than me. I need for him to be my mentor, I need him to teach me. I can't be embarrassed by that. I think a lot of American coaches have that problem. They don't want to be shown up. They should welcome being shown up.
"American national team candidates at all levels should have to go elsewhere to do their sabbatical, do a master's, their junior year abroad, whatever we want to call it. They should go live in a different environment. If players are doing that, why shouldn't coaches? If the players come back and they're listening to a coach who doesn't have any of that in their baggage or in terms of experience, they're going to say, 'You're all wet. You don't know what you're talking about.' That becomes a problem with the American isolationism. The federation should mandate that. And I know a lot of technical guys have resisted that concept. I'd make them go. The language is something that can be overcome. There are half a dozen countries in Europe, three or four in South America. We need to develop relationships with those federations and clubs, which these days should be a piece of cake for our federation and MLS to get people to agree."
Revolution needed of the entire process.
"We have to bring in ex-players and literally test them. Some of them have no clue and never will. Some are born organizers and leaders. The federation needs to set up a quasi-course, a political course, and put people on real committees, technical committees, marketing committees. In addition, they should work with state associations. This is something that has to happen so when they come [to the AGM] they are not associated as an ex-player, they are associated as vice president, say, of Cal South. They need to be thought of as working in the grassroots as opposed to on the Athlete Council, which comes here once a year, they've been in a couple of meetings, sometimes on the phone, that's all there is and it's easy to do. That's just not good enough.
"There has to be a revolution of the entire process to make people more accountable for what they do and who they support and what they do on these committees, and I think the federation needs to take a leadership role. Otherwise, we are going to continue to do things without really knowing much. I don't mean it as a criticism, but [presidential candidate] Michael Winograd was asked how many national team games he saw. You can't become the president of a country and hire the national team coach and say you've seen the national team once in the last year. He may know all about it, but I don't know he does and have no proof. I know I could become the president of the Portuguese national federation or the national team's manager tomorrow because I could speak about all the team needs to do. I see every single game. If I haven't seen all the away games, I have seen them on TV."
Soccer culture is not there yet.
"We are not yet there as a soccer culture. It isn't an automatic. The Italians [at the AGM] are all lined up watching Juventus-Fiorentina. I'm sitting in another place watching Portugal play Spain in futsal in Slovenia. I don't see too many other people do that. I don't want any medals for that. But that process -- we're still not there yet. The culturalization process is a long way from being achieved."
Marcos also says it should be a given that a soccer person follows his or her local MLS club and not treat it as the enemy. In that regard, he says soccer should be closest to American college sports in how fans follow teams automatically.
"It has to be what you aspire to, playing-wise and what you want to root for every day," he says. "And never mind the Eagles or Packers. I don't want to see soccer people talking about how great it was the Eagles won their first championship since 1960. Who do you follow? I follow one team, everything else is secondary."
Marcos has been waiting 50 years for that passion to take hold. The rub is, soccer has advanced farther than he ever imagined.
"I was asked 45 years ago where do I see soccer going," he says, "and I said that I just want soccer to grow up and be somebody. Well, we're so far past that point of being something we're saying we're the kings of the hill. I don't know about that. And we don't need to be the No. 1 preeminent sport in the country and we may never be. We just want to be one of the big boys and we're getting close. But I'm not impatient. The impatient train left a long time ago."