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Tony DiCicco, coach of ’99 WWC champs, passes away

Tony DiCicco

Tony DiCicco

Tony DiCicco, coach of the 1999 Women’s World Cup championship team credited with lifting women’s soccer into the mainstream, passed away Monday evening. His son Anthony DiCicco made the announcement on social media.

The post indicates that DiCicco has been ill but no further details were given.

DiCicco grew up in Connecticut and became an All-American goalkeeper at Springfield College. In 1973 he won a single cap with the U.S. national team. At the time the U.S. did not field a women’s team, but in time DiCicco’s influence over that team would be far greater.

He joined the women’s national team in 1991 as goalkeeper coach under Anson Dorrance. That year the team went to China and captured the FIFA World Championship for Women’s Football for the M&M’s Cup. That tournament would later be recognized as the first Women’s World Cup.

Dorrance left in 1994 and DiCicco became the program’s head coach. The 1995 World Cup brought one of the most bitter defeats in the program’s history, to Norway in the semifinals. But it set the stage for two of the most significant events ever in women’s sports.

Women’s soccer was added to the Olympic Games in 1996 and DiCicco led the United States to the gold medal which included a revenge win over Norway in the semifinals and a gold medal triumph over China. The event drew unexpectedly large crowds which helped prompt organizers of the 1999 World Cup to put that event into the country’s biggest stadiuns.

DiCicco and the U.S. struck again in the ’99 World Cup. The world championship included coming from behind twice in the quarterfinals against Germany and the dramatic penalty shootout in the final against China which concluded with Brandi Chastain removing her shirt and creating an iconic image of the team’s triumph and celebration.

The coach parted ways with the senior team after the World Cup but was never far from coaching or from U.S. Soccer. In 2008 he took the U-20 national team to Chile where they won the U-20 World Cup. That squad included future World Cup champions Meghan Klingenberg, Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, and Alyssa Naeher.

At the club level DiCicco served as commissioner of WUSA during its three seasons and was head coach of the Boston Breakers during the club’s three WPS seasons, 2009-2011. In recent years he served as a Houston Dash consultant during their initial coaching search that ended with the hiring of Randy Waldrum and expressed interest in returning to the sidelines either as a club or national team coach.

To newer fans, DiCicco’s voice was familiar in his role as analyst for ESPN and FOX. During the 2015 World Cup he was in the number one booth with JP Dellacamera, sharing analyst duties with Cat Whitehill.

In 2012, DiCicco was inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame.

DiCicco is survived by his wife Diane and four sons.

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