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Richie Williams

Sport: Soccer

Born: June 3, 1970

Town: Middletown

Richard Williams was born June 3, 1970 in Middletown. Though smaller than most boys his age, Richie was a standout in youth soccer and basketball in Monmouth County thanks to his speed and aggressiveness. Richie enrolled at Mater Dei High School in New Monmouth and led the Seraphs to the state title as a senior in 1987. He scored 30 goals that season and added 16 assists—big numbers for a 5'5" midfielder. That caught the eye of Virginia coach Bruce Arena, who brought Richie to Charlottesville on a soccer scholarship.

Richie was a key component in Virginia’s ACC titles as a freshman in 1988 and a senior in 1991. In 1989, the Cavaliers reached the NCAA final against Santa Clara. In an epic match, the two teams battled through four overtimes before a driving rain ended the game at 1–1. The two schools split the national championship. Tony Meola, Claudio Reyna and Jeff Agoos were also members of the Cavaliers when Richie was on the team.

After graduating in 1992, Richie signed with the Buffalo Blizzard of the National Professional Soccer League, a winter indoor league, and then played the 1993 outdoor season with the Richmond Kickers until he landed a contract with a club in the Scottish League. Richie returned to the Kickers in 1994 and helped them win the 1995 U.S. Open Cup and the league title.

In 1996, Major League Soccer began operation. At 24, Richie was high on many draft lists. He had already competed internationally for the US U-23 and U-25 teams and brought great skill and experience to his profession. Bruce Arena, newly anointed coach of DC United, selected his old player in the fourth round of the MLS Draft. His job with United was to stick to an opponent’s best player like glue. The club won three MLS Cups in the league’s first four seasons. DC United also won the US Open Cup in 1996 and the CONCACAF Champions Cup in 1998.

Richie made 20 appearances for Team USA between 1998 and 2002. The highlight of his time with the national squad was winning the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup. He wound up his MLS career in 2003 with the MetroStars. He finished with 216 games played, tallying 8 goals and 33 assists. He had two goals in 26 postseason games.

Richie played two more years with the Kickers and retired as an active player in 2005. He turned to coaching, becoming an assistant at Virginia. After the 2006 season he joined the coaching staff of the MLS Red Bulls. During Richie’s time with the Red Bulls, he stepped in as interim coach twice. In 2011, Richie was named head coach US Men’s Under-18 team, and a few months later the U-17 team. He held that position until the fall of 2015. In 2016, Richie was an assistant with Real Salt Lake. In 2017, he joined the coaching staff of the US national team, which failed to make World Cup 2018.

 

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