Eric Wynalda was born on 9 June, 1969 in Fullerton, California. Eric Wynalda is an American international center forward, currently playing for Bakersfield Brigade in the USL Premier Development League. Eric Wynalda scored the first goal ever in Major League Soccer in 1996 and was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004.
Eric Wynalda grew up in Westlake Village, California. As a child his team (the Westlake Wolves) won the state championship in AYSO soccer as Eric Wynalda scored more goals than the entire division his team played in, combined (56 goals in 16 games). Eric Wynalda later attended Westlake High School and was a 3 time All State selection with the school’s boys soccer team and a youth club team mate of fellow national team player Cobi Jones.
Eric Wynalda attended San Diego State University from 1987 to 1989 where he played for the Aztecs men’s soccer team, scoring 34 goals and assisting on 25 others during his three seasons. Eric Wynalda freshman year, SDSU went to the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship game where it lost to the Bruce Murray led Clemson Tigers. While at SDSU, he also played two seasons with the local semi-pro San Diego Nomads of the Western Soccer Alliance. In 1988, he played a single game and in 1989, he played 5 games with the Nomads.
Leading up to the 1990 FIFA World Cup, Eric Wynalda signed a contract with the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF). After the World Cup, Eric Wynalda signed as an on loan player from USSF with the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks of the American Professional Soccer League. During his nearly 3 seasons with the Blackhawks, he played only a handful of games with the team, devoting most of his time to the national team.
However, in 1992, he experienced a falling out with both the national team and the Blackhawks. In May 1992, national team coach Bora Milutinović kicked Eric Wynalda out of a national team training camp after he elbowed a teammate in the face. A month later, he was kicked off the Blackhawks for being disruptive, and constantly bickering with the coach, Laurie Calloway. When no U.S. based team expressed an interest in Eric Wynalda, he announced his intentions to pursue a move to Europe. In August 1992, USSF loaned Eric Wynalda to Bundesliga club Saarbrücken for $45,000.
When he arrived at Saarbrucken, he became the first American-born player to play for a top level German club. Eric Wynalda had an immediate impact on the club, scoring 8 goals in the first half of the season. This led Saarbrücken to purchase Eric Wynalda’s contract from USSF for $405,000. However, his output dropped after the winter break and he only scored once in the second half. Saarbrücken finished the 1992-1993 at the bottom of the Bundesliga standings and was relegated to the Second Division. Eric Wynalda scored twelve goals in the 1993-1994 season and was transferred to fellow Second Division club VfL Bochum at the end of the season for $850,000. Wynalda failed to equal his scoring exploits with Bochum, and experienced a falling out with the club. Eric Wynalda had a hernia operation on 30 August which put him out of action. While convalesing, he criticized the club and its coach, leading to the coach suspending Eric Wynalda.
Eric Wynalda came back to the States in 1996, signing with Major League Soccer (MLS). As part of the process of creating the new league, known players were distributed throughout the league’s new teams (except for the Dallas Burn, which alone amongst all MLS sides never received a US National Team allocation from the 1994 World Cup era). The league allocated Eric Wynalda to the San Jose Clash. On 6 April, 1996 Eric Wynalda scored the first goal in league history in its inaugural game as the Clash beat D.C. United 1-0. Eric Wynalda was named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year.
After the 1998 World Cup, Eric Wynalda began seeking a move back to Europe. While he had publicly declared that he would never return to Germany, including turning down a January 1998 offer from Kaiserslautern, he now began putting out feelers there. When no German teams expressed an interest in Eric Wynalda, he then sought a move to England. In December, he had a trial with Charlton Athletic, but the team did not offer Eric Wynalda a contract and Eric Wynalda returned to the Clash.
Eric Wynalda was loaned out to Club León in Mexico in 1999. Eric Wynalda tore both the ACL and medial meniscus on his left knee while with Leon which put him out of action for several months. After missing the first 11 games of the 1999 season, the Clash traded Eric Wynalda to the Miami Fusion. On 8 July, 2000, the Fusion turned around and traded Eric Wynalda to the New England Revolution for Ivan McKinley after Eric Wynalda failed to improve the Fusion’s offensive output. On 3 May, 2001, the Revs sent him to the Chicago Fire for John Wolyniec, where he finished his MLS career, ending up with a total of 34 MLS goals (plus 2 in the playoffs). In 2002, Eric Wynalda joined the Los Angeles Galaxy, announcing that he planned to retire with the team. However, he left the Galaxy during the team’s pre-season tour of Chile in order to pursue an offer to play professionally in China. When that offer fell through, he returned to the Galaxy only to leave it for the Charleston Battery of the USL First Division after feuding with the MLS front office about his salary. MLS was offering to pay Eric Wynalda $43,000 for the 2002 season which Eric Wynalda considered much too low. As the Battery had offered him $75,000, Eric Wynalda joined that team only to tear his anterier cruciate ligament in a pre-season match. Eric Wynalda elected to retire from professional soccer and became a broadcast announcer.
Eric Wynalda earned his first cap against Costa Rica on 2 February, 1990. On 14 March, 1990, he signed a contract with the United States Soccer Federation which made him a full time national team player. Later that year, Eric Wynalda played in his first World Cup gaining the dubious honor of becoming the first U.S. player to be ejected from a World Cup game. That came when Czechoslovakian midfielder Lubomir Moravcik baited Eric Wynalda in front of a referee. Eric Wynalda, showing his immaturity, retaliated and was shown red.
In the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Eric Wynalda scored on a free kick from 20 yards as the United States tied Switzerland. Eric Wynalda also played in Copa America 1995, where he was named to the all-tournament team after scoring against Chile and Argentina.
In 1998, Eric Wynalda participated in his third World Cup, one of four U.S. players (Tab Ramos, Tony Meola and Marcelo Balboa) to earn that honor. Claudio Reyna and Kasey Keller have since gone on to be named to a record four World Cup rosters.
Eric Wynalda retired from the US National Team as its all-time leading scorer with 34goals in 106 appearances. Eric Wynalda was the sole owner of the record until 2007, when Landon Donovan tied the record with a penalty kick goal against Mexico in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup final. Eric Wynalda was named the Honda US Player of the Decade for the 1990s and elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004.
In 2005, Bakersfield Brigade of the USL Premier Development League hired Eric Wynalda as its technical director, and in 2007 he agreed a short-term playing contract with the team during the last few matches of their season. On 1 May, 2008 he signed a formal season-long agreement to play the entire campaign with the Brigade as a full member of the 2008 playing squad.
Eric Wynalda has also continued to play with an over-30s amateur team in Los Angeles, Hollywood United, alongside former U.S. internationals Alexi Lalas and John Harkes, former French international Frank Leboeuf, former Welsh international player Vinnie Jones, and actor Anthony La Paglia. United plays in the Los Angeles Olympic Soccer League.
Eric Wynalda was a soccer analyst for ESPN. Eric Wynalda was also the in-studio analyst for 2006 FIFA World Cup on United States, English-language broadcasts. Eric Wynalda was one of the most vocal critics of USA’s head coach, Bruce Arena, in the 2006 World Cup. However, after the World Cup, he was amicably paired in-studio with Arena as co-analysts for some 2006 MLS Cup playoff games, a successful arrangement which continued with ESPN’s coverage of the US National Team in 2007. Eric Wynalda was one of the main analysts for ESPN and ABC during the 2007 Major League Soccer season.
After a number of controversies, he left ESPN prior to the 2008 season, a year before his contract was due to expire.
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