There wasn’t a lot of fanfare when Bob Reasso resigned as Rutgers University men’s soccer coach Monday. There should have been.
Reasso took an ordinary soccer program and turned it into a giant of college soccer. Rutgers made three final fours and a national championship game. When the U.S. finally stepped onto the world soccer stage of the 1990s, Rutgers alums Peter Vermes and Alexi Lalas were among those leading the way. Rutgers routinely produced solid professional players. Just last month, former Rutgers player Dilly Duka signed with Major League Soccer’s Generation Adidas, and Philadelphia Union coach Josh Gros is another Rutgers alum.
Rutgers was often a sea of sports misery back in the 90s, but the school’s soccer team gave students something to cheer. Students who normally would have no interest in soccer went to matches. I know, because I was one of them. Back in those days, I was a former three-sport high school athlete focused on basketball, and I’d never consistently played or followed soccer. My friends would drag me out to games at Yurcak Field, and it boggled my mind, because most of them weren’t soccer players. Why would they go? Was it just that we knew some soccer players in our dorms? Then you got to the game and saw more people than you’d ever think you’d see at a routine college soccer match. Even if soccer wasn’t your sport (and it wouldn’t become mine until years later), you knew that you might just see greatness out on the field.
Reasso was the foundation of all that.