The bonds of the Rough Riders’ 1995 championship seem eternal and that was clearly evident Saturday night at the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame inductions in Melville, NY. Seven members of that historic season were honored at the fourth annual event, held in conjunction with the Long Island Junior Soccer League convention. The buzz created for inductees Giovanni Savarese, Jim Rooney, Danny Mueller, Steve Cadet, Paul Riley, Kevin Andersen, Mike Masters and Danielle Reyna (female honoree) was focused on the memory of the special atmosphere created on Long Island in the early days of professional soccer.
“We were getting 5-7000 fanatical fans and they made us feel like stars”, said former Head Coach, Alfonso Mondelo. “It was a special time and you see that in their faces tonight.”
Additional members from the 1995 squad were present, including John Diffley and Chris Armas. The majority of those in attendance have had a formidable impact on the Long Island soccer scene since their playing days, from coaching at the highest level to forming a youth development model. Now coaches, the likes of Paul Riley, Kevin Andersen and Steve Cadet were enlightened by the unique concepts of Mondelo’s Spanish possession style, something they now teach to the younger generations.
“We had some great coaches and it was a really great time for soccer in Long Island. We were a homegrown team and a lot of us were from Long Island”, said Riley proudly in a muted Liverpool accent. The decorated coach has remained permanent in the local coaching scene and will lead the Western New York Flash of the National Women’s Soccer League in 2016. “It gave us notoriety and helped us all stay in soccer here. We were the first team that Long Island fell in love with.”
When asked about the future performances of the Rough Riders, all were notably enthusiastic about how strong the region has become and they have high expectations for this summer’s team. The Hall-of-Famers are clearly proud of the regional strength of Long Island and the role it plays in creating elite talent.
“They did everything for me to get here, from when Alfonso Mondelo converted me into a fullback, which turned out to be amazing”, added Cadet about the organization. “The level of players that came through the Rough Riders were amazing and I learned from them. I took a lot of that to coach the kids that I work with today.”
The Long Island team is proud of its rich history, while also demonstrating adaptability to teaching the modern game as it evolves. “The Rough Riders organization has always been at the forefront of player development”, said General Manager, Flavio Ferri, Saturday night. “This includes introducing young players to the beautiful game all the way through helping professional players reach the highest level of play.”
Long Island fans will get an opportunity to witness future Hall of Fame players when the season opens on May 7th at home. Please join us in recreating the magic of 1995 this summer when our local talent takes the pitch: it’s your soccer!