Antonio Michael “Tony” Meola serves as a FOX Soccer analyst and is paired with play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. He has been a part of FOX Sports since 2015, working on the Gold Cup 2015, MLS, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Bundesliga, U.S. Men’s National Team and numerous youth qualifying and tournament broadcasts. He is also currently a radio host with Brian Dunseth for the Counter Attack soccer show on SiriusXM FC.
Meola is a former American goalkeeper who represented the United States National Team at the 1990, 1994, and 2002 World Cups. He was captain of the 1994 squad. From 1996 to 2006, he played in Major League Soccer, where he obtained multiple honors. In 2012, he was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
BEGINNINGS AND EARLY CAREER
Meola, born in Belleville, New Jersey, grew up in Kearny. He played boys soccer for Kearny High School. He learned his love for the game from his father, Vincenzo, who had played for Italian second division club Avellino before immigrating to the U.S. In high school, Tony was All-State both as a goalkeeper (1985) and a forward (1986). He had a part in 41 clean sheets and scored 42 goals during his high school career.
In 1999, he was named by The Star-Ledger as one of the top ten New Jersey high school soccer players of the 1980s. Meola not only excelled at soccer, he was a three-sport varsity letterman. He was the captain of the school’s basketball team and was named an All-State baseball player in 1987. The New York Yankees drafted him out of high school, though Meola did not sign a contract with them.
Meola attended the University of Virginia on a soccer/baseball athletic scholarship. While at Virginia, he played under coach Bruce Arena. By the time he was playing for the Cavaliers, he had already begun to make a name for himself on the international scene. In October 1987, he backstopped the U.S. U-20 national team at the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship. He earned first team All-American honors both his freshman and sophomore years. He also won the Hermann Trophy as a freshman in 1988 and the MAC Award as a sophomore in 1989. On December 15, 1989, he announced that he was leaving college to pursue a career with the U.S. national team.
U.S. NATIONAL TEAM, FIRST WORLD CUP AND PRO CAREER
Meola had signed with the U.S. Soccer Federation before the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Following the Cup, Meola signed on loan with English club Brighton & Hove Albion where he played eleven games. He gained his first start when he replaced the injured Perry Digweed and promptly won man of the match honors.
In 1991, Meola played for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the American Professional Soccer League. On December 14, 1994, Meola signed with the Buffalo Blizzard of the NPSL in the 1994-1995 indoor season. He became the team’s starting keeper, but on January 31, 1995, he announced that he had taken a lead role in the off-Broadway play Tony and Tina’s Wedding. He played five more games with the Blizzard before leaving to join the cast on February 16.
In February 1995, Meola joined the Long Island Rough Riders for its upcoming 1995 USISL season. That year the Rough Riders claimed the USISL championship.
Upon the creation of Major League Soccer, he was allocated to the NY/NJ MetroStars, for whom he played between 1996 and 1998, starting almost every game. During his time with the MetroStars, he set a league record with nine shutouts in 1996. Meola was traded to the Kansas City Wizards (with Alexi Lalas for Mark Chung and Mike Ammann) in 1999, but missed most of his first year due to injury. In 2000, Meola was named League MVP, Goalkeeper of the Year, and MLS Cup MVP as he led Kansas City to the championship. He set a new league record by recording 16 shutouts. Meola played for the Wizards through 2004. That year, an injury forced him out of the starting spot, although Meola recorded a shutout in the Wizards’ U.S. Open Cup final win over the Chicago Fire.
METROSTARS/RED BULLS RETURN
He was then re-acquired by the MetroStars in June 2005. Meola was named to the MLS All-Time Best XI after the season. Following the 2006 season, Meola was waived by the team, now known as the New York Red Bulls. However, he signed a contract with the indoor New Jersey Ironmen on August 14, 2007. As starting goalie, Meola led the team to the playoffs in its first year.
U.S. NATIONAL TEAM
Meola made his U.S. National Team debut on June 10, 1988, against Ecuador. Meola’s second cap came in a June 4, 1989 victory over Peru in the Marlboro Cup which won the U.S. the Cup. The team took the trophy to the Scots-American Club in Kearny, New Jersey.
Meola went on to play the remaining U.S. qualifying games for the 1990 FIFA World Cup, including the famous 1-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago, which clinched a spot in the finals for the U.S. He then played every minute in goal for the U.S. in the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
Meola remained the keeper of choice for the U.S. national team from 1990 through the 1994 FIFA World Cup. At that tournament, his play and ponytail made him a recognizable face around the country. In 1999, Meola again played for the U.S. and earned his 100th cap in 2006. He was the third-choice goalkeeper at the 2002 FIFA World Cup behind Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller.
COACHING AND MORE
On November 24, 2015, Meola was hired for his first coaching position in the NASL with the Jacksonville Armada FC and was their coach for about a year. Meola’s non-soccer ventures include trying out as a placekicker with NFL’s New York Jets in July 1994, appearing Off-Broadway in Tony and Tina’s Wedding in 1995, and running his own mortgage firm.
Tony Meola was the original drummer for New Jersey’s cover band Mushmouth and still plays with the band on occasions.
He now lives in Toms River, New Jersey and has three children, Jon, Kylie, and Aidan.