The last Championship by our Greensboro professional soccer team came way back in 1994 and for the 5,000 people that packed UNCG’s soccer stadium to see the final game, I’m sure it was a night that they will not soon forget.
The 1994 Greensboro Dynamo got the job done and man was that ’94 season a wild ride. UNCG was home to the Dynamo and with a 16-2 regular season record, the home soccer team did not disappoint. The Dynamo were and still are owned by Neil Macpherson. These days the team is called the Carolina Dynamo and they play their home games in the Macpherson Stadium, at the Bryan Park Soccer Complex. I liked the venue at UNCG better because it is closer to the inner city but with the growth of the Reedy Fork development, out off Highway 29 North, the Bryan Park facility may one day really catch on.
For me and my friends, we still talk about that championship season and how the Greensboro Dynamo brought the city a real title and how we haven’t really had a run for the crown by many of our teams since ’94. Everyone wants a winner. We will support a winner. If you remember back to ’94 and look at how the Dynamo got the title, you will probably agree that it isn’t easy to win it all.
The Dynamo had won the USISL title in 1993, but it wasn’t as big a deal because they quietly grabbed it down in Florida. When our local boys defeated the Minnesota Thunder in a shootout, on a wet Monday night in August by the 2-1 score, history was made on Greensboro soil. I was saying earlier that it don’t come easy and to further prove that point the Dynamo won their semifinal game 2-1 in overtime over the Long Island Roughriders. Former Virginia star goalie and US World Cup team member Tony Meola was with the Roughriders for most of the ’94 campaign.
The Dynamo were led by the best coach the team ever had, yes the Englishman Michael Parker. Parker knew how to work the team and it made for a nice fit since many of the team members were his former UNCG stars. Eddie Radwanski was the team veteran and Radwanski was also a leader. The leading scorer for most of the year was former UNCG Spartan Jason Haupt. I met Haupt when he was a freshman at UNCG and he was a cocky kid from Florida, but he grew to be a very nice young man who I still have much respect for. I echo those thoughts on Eddie. Radwasnski now coaches the Clemson women’s team…Another Eddie was also a huge part of the team’s success. That would be team public relations and promotions director Eddie Mitchell. I will always consider Eddie Mitchell to be good friend. Mitchell was another Englishman and he really did a super job of getting the word out about the team.
The man who delivered us a Championship on that Monday night back in August of ’94, was Brian Japp. Brain was a big burly fullback, but after all the other players had taken their shootout kick attempts and some had missed, Brian Japp kicked in the game-winner. The Dynamo had now beaten the Minnesota Thunder 2-1 in the shootout, and Greensboro had their Championship and there has not been one since. The Dynamo were a great group of young men.
Japp, Radwanski, Haupt, Parker, Mitchell, Macpherson, Parker, and who else put the 1994 USISL champions on the map. From Grimsley high school and UNCG there was the young phenom Michael Gailey(Gailey was sort of the team brat or whiner), goalie Aiden Heaney was a star and last we heard he was coaching at UNC-W, the Garcia twins were team heros(they later signed with the Myrtle Beach Boyz), Jimmy Glenn from Clemson started slow, but came on strong when the game and the season were on the line, Aiden Murphy was a reliable midfielder, Kenny Gasser was very solid, and Maher Ata had to leave the country briefly after 9/11, but Ata was always very tough defensively, on the back line.
We had the soccer coach’s shows at JP Looney’s all season long and while working with Eddie Mitchell I developed a great appreciation for the Dynamo and their staff members. The coach’s show didn’t draw huge crowds but it was still a fun way to get the word out about the team.
Nothing can compare to the feeling that came our way in August of 1994. The taste of sweet success is something you can never get enough of. There had been thunder storms all day long, but when the game mattered the most Brian Japp came through with that shootout kick to the back of the net and we beat the Minnesota Thunder 2-1. Local heros were created that Monday night and I’m sure we will see and hear about more in the years to come.