Bob Gansler, unsung hero of US Soccer, recovering from stroke

Bob Gansler is a name some people have forgotten and maybe not even known by new US Soccer fans. Gansler was instrumental in starting US Soccer’s renaissance by managing the US Men’s National Team in the 1990 World Cup. The 73 year old US Soccer Hall of Famer suffered a stroke this past weekend and is recovering in a Brookfield, Wisconsin hospital. According to this tweet by one of his players Tony Meola, Gansler seems to be recovering quite well.

Gansler was captain for the USMNT during the 1964 and 1968 Olympics and amassed 25 caps. He is best known for managing the US Men’s National Team in the 1990 FIFA World Cup. It was the first time the USMNT qualified for the World Cup since 1950. During that World Cup, they were just happy to be there but they did hold hosts Italy to a 1-0 defeat.

After managing the World Cup, Gansler went to the newly established MLS to manage the Kansas City Wizards. He was instrumental in giving the Wizards a winning mentality in the early 2000’s. He, along with some of his players from the 1990 World Cup, Tony Meola and Peter Vermes as cornerstones of the team, built the team to win trophies. His biggest MLS feat was in 2000 as he managed the Wizards to win the Supporters Shield and the MLS Cup Championship.

Gansler left Kansas City to spend a season in Toronto as an assistant manager before retiring. Even though he has been out of the game for eight years, he still has a significant impact on the game. Gansler felt the importance of developing a solid youth soccer core for the United States that has expanded each year. His protege Peter Vermes took over for Gansler in Kansas City and has kept Sporting Kansas City to reliving those prominent trophy winning days from over a decade ago by winning the MLS Cup in 2013.

This video below is from the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship (now known as the FIFA U-20 World Cup) in Saudi Arabia and it epitomizes the journey US Soccer has gone through these last 25 years. The United States still hadn’t been to a World Cup in 40 years and just got selected to host the 1994 World Cup. Gansler was managing the USMNT U-20 team and advanced to the farthest any US team ever got in a FIFA tournament since beating England in 1950. The U-20’s made it to the semifinals and lost out to Brazil 3-0 in the 3rd place game. This interview took place after the Brazil game and Gansler described himself as wanting to be a pioneer, wanting to be a part of the beginning of US Soccer and more importantly, believing that soccer in the United States would have a bigger impact in the future. It’s safe to say that it has and Bob Gansler is one of those pioneers who helped make that happen. From everyone at 32 Flags and those reading, wishing you a speedy recovery sir.

(Wisconsin Soccer Central/MLS)

About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Follow me on Twitter @phillipbupp

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