He oversees all levels of the sport in the United States — from the millions of kids playing to the pros, and of course the men’s and women’s national teams. By virtue of this country’s size and wealth — if not our international soccer prowess — he’s one of the most powerful people in the global sports world.
In the coming months, his job will be bigger than ever. He’ll help lead a US bid — with Canada and Mexico — to host the 2026 World Cup.
He’s also charged with naming a new men’s national team coach, and putting together that shattered program in the wake of the Americans’ dismal failure to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia.
If things work out, that new President of US Soccer may be 1999 Staples High School grad Kyle Martino.
Kyle Martino, in the 1999 Staples High School yearbook.
The New York Times calls the Weston resident “perhaps (the) biggest name yet” to enter the race — and “the biggest threat” to current president Sunil Gulati. The 3-term president — also a Connecticut native — has not yet announced if he will run again.
Though just 36 years old, Martino has strong credentials. A Wrecker star — and Gatorade National High School Player of the Year — who went on to college powerhouse the University of Virginia, he earned Major League Soccer Rookie of the Year honors with the Columbus Crew.
He later played with the Los Angeles Galaxy — where he teamed with the legendary David Beckham — and appeared 8 times with the US national team. He scored a goal in an important World Cup qualifier against Panama.
After retiring from pro soccer, Martino became a television analyst. He covers England’s Premier League for NBC Sports, and is known for his astute insights, strong personality and great TV presence.
Martino announced a 3-pronged plan on his website, EveryonesGameUSA.com. The components include “transparency, equality and progress” in American soccer. He is particularly concerned about the financial barriers that deter some youth players, and the “mistreatment” of female athletes.
One obstacle Martino faced is that the presidency is unpaid. He and his wife — actress and blogger Eva Amurri — have 2 young children. But he’s assembled a consortium of backers; he’s launched a GoFundMe campaign, and if elected he hopes to turn the job into a salaried post. (Gulati is a senior lecturer in economics at Columbia University, and receives a stipend for sitting on FIFA’s executive committee.)
Kyle Martino and his wife, actess Eva Amurri.
Martino — who has taken a leave from NBC Sports — says, “I won’t be able to forgive myself if I don’t stand up for US Soccer right now. I didn’t dream of doing this job, but I know I have to do it.”
Other candidates include former national team players Eric Wynalda and Paul Caligiuri, among others. The election is February 10.
Win or lose, Martino will retain his affection for Staples soccer. Most recently, he led a project called “Etched in Stone,” honoring former players who died young. He did it in memory of his friend Drew Tursi, brother of Martino’s ex-teammate Brad Tursi.
Martino appeared at the dedication ceremony last month. It was one small — but important — way for him to give back to the game.
In the nearly 60 years since Staples High School fielded its first boys soccer team, some legendary athletes have laced up their boots.
Plenty more played without achieving fame. But they loved the program, made great friendships and created lifelong memories.
Inevitably, a few of those players died young.
Staples soccer embraces its past. One of the program’s goals is to make sure current players feel a link to those who came before, and become in turn great role models for those who follow. (Full disclosure: I am the head coach — and a former Staples soccer player.)
Yesterday, alumni came from as far as California. They gathered together to see a game between 2 top teams — and to help dedicate Staples soccer’s “Etched in Stone” project.
It’s a permanent memorial to members of the program who died before their time. Their names are now inscribed in the terrace, at the top of The Hill.
Kyle Martino — a 1999 graduate who played on the US men’s national team, and is now a noted NBC Sports Premier League analyst — helped organize the project. His speech yesterday emphasized the importance of the Staples soccer community; the “family” bonds that have been formed across generations, and the feeling of legacy that joins current players with past (and future) Wreckers.
US soccer star and NBC Sports analyst Kyle Martino (with ball) addresses the crowd. At far left is Brad Tursi. His brother Drew’s death last winter sparked Martino and his teammates to create the “Etched in Stone” project. Drew spent many hours on The Hill, watching Brad and his friends play for Staples.
After the brief ceremony, the large crowd enjoyed a crackling match. Stamford eked out a 1-0 win, in a nail-biting finish.
Then the alums took to Loeffler Field, for a classic pick-up match.
Some things never change.
Former players from the 1980s who returned include (from left) Andy Udell, Todd Zucker, Dan Donovan, Mark Noonan, Guy Claveloux, Todd Coleman, Nathan Bird, Rob Sweetnam and Doug Fincher. Fincher’s son Ryan helps anchor the current Staples defense. Donovan and Coleman have brothers whose names are now etched in stone. (Photo/Yvonne Claveloux)
Fred Cantor, Steve McCoy and Neil Brickley — who helped win state and FCIAC championships in 1969 and ’70 — returned to Loeffler Field for the “Etched in Stone” ceremony. (Photo/Robert Brickley)
After the Staples-Stamford match, alumni, fans, family and friends lingered on the terrace at the top of The Hill. (Photo/Sam New)
Kyle Martino may be the best player in Staples soccer history. As a Wrecker senior in 1999, he was named Gatorade National Player of the Year. He went on to star at the University of Virginia; was named 2002 MLS Rookie of the Year with the Columbus Crew; played 8 times for the US national team, and is now a noted Premier League analyst on NBC Sports.
But this post has nothing to do with soccer. Recently, Martino and his wife — actress Eva Amurri — lost their 2nd child in a miscarriage.
Eva — the daughter of Susan Sarandon — blogs regularly about her active, intriguing and holistic life. She has been very public about her miscarriage, hoping to raise awareness about that often-taboo topic. Last week, she asked Kyle to contribute his own insights.
Here are his sometimes painful, always loving thoughts:
“I lost the baby…”
Kyle Martino and Eva Amurri
There’s no way to prepare for those words. I was standing in line to check in to my hotel – the same mindless task I sleepwalk through every weekend – when my phone rang.
Hearing those words from Eva’s mouth, I sprung awake from my traveler’s daze.
The first emotion I felt was guilt. Of course this happened while I was away – every time Eva needs me most I seem to be on a plane or in a different time zone.
Almost instantly came anger. Her phrase repeated in my head, over and over, in my ears and my soul.
Years of shielding myself from emotional discomfort has trained me to move immediately to logic. So I began the calming method of systematically breaking down the sentence I kept hearing over and over. “Baby…The Baby…lost the baby…I lost the baby…”
It was her fault. I was overcome with a quick wave of judgment and blame. Why did she let this happen? What did she do wrong? Why did she let me get on that plane?
Anger – that hollow, pointless emotion was the shield I held so not to feel what I knew I couldn’t handle.
Holding on to that anger distracted me from the actual emotion I was feeling: sadness. I wasn’t mad at Eva at all. I was mad that I wasn’t there in the moment she needed me more than ever.
I walked over to a couch in the lobby and let this sink in. I cried for the first time in my adult life. (Don’t worry, my therapist is all over that one.) I cried because Eva said “I.” “I lost the baby.”
When Eva Amurri was pregnant with their 1st child, her husband Kyle tweeted, “#babygirl Martino’s 1st red carpet.”
Of course she didn’t lose the baby. This wasn’t her fault. There was nothing she could do. In fact, she couldn’t havedone more to make sure her body was the healthiest it could be to nurture life. It broke my heart that she felt responsible in that very first moment of grief. And I didn’t understand why she couldn’t see what I did: that having a healthy baby is a miracle, and we can’t choose when and where that miracle happens.
Those feelings continued through the immediate aftermath of the miscarriage. While she rewound the tape on her pregnancy and looked for errors, I appreciated her body for doing the right thing by closing the book on a miracle not meant to be.
We were on totally different pages – which drove a wedge between us. It’s the same difference that existed when Eva was pregnant with our daughter.
Eva made a connection with Marlowe well before I did. A tangible bond that only those 2 people can understand. Eva and Marlowe were soul mates the second she heard that heart beat (Eva would probably say even before that).
Being honest, I never really accepted that we were having a child until a 3rd trimester ultrasound showed Marlowe waving at the camera. It hit me in that moment that I would be a father. But Eva had long been a mother already.
Kyle Martino and Marlowe.
When she called me with the shattering news of this pregnancy, she already knew her baby and had been taking care of it. In Eva’s mind she was already the mother of 2. That connection, the bond, was broken that day – and Eva was devastated.
I know that losing our child was not Eva’s fault, but I understand now why she felt it was. Miscarriage is a very isolating experience. Eva withdrew for a while after it happened. I tried to be there for her, but I wasn’t able to relate to her specific pain. My heart was broken in a different way– and nothing I could do or say helped. It was only when Eva decided to do something very brave, in her saddest moment, that the cloud over us lifted. Eva decided she needed to talk about it…with everyone.
Eva told our story on her blog. She put our heartache out there for all to read.
At first I thought it was a bad idea. I thought miscarriage was a rare misfortune, and the few who experienced it suffered privately with curtains drawn. As far as I knew, miscarriage wasn’t something you talked about.
No one had ever mentioned to me that they had been through it. I had never read of someone’s personal experience. Was it really safe and smart to tell so many people such intimate truths about your pain?
I didn’t voice my concerns about sharing because I had been so inept at providing support in those crucial moments so far. I knew I needed to support whatever desire she had. The decision had been made.
Kyle Martino is one of NBC’s top analysts on English Premier League broadcasts.
Eva’s post went live, and we sat there silently. I could sense there was a weight lifted off her, but I feared the response could reverse the initially positive effects.
Immediately, support poured in. I’m not talking about the “I’m sorry for your loss, I can’t imagine how hard that is” support (although that was very much appreciated).
I’m talking about the “we’ve been there ourselves, we are here for you if you need us” support. I was blown away by how many readers wrote back with their own deeply sad stories of pregnancy loss.
Then the phone started ringing. Some of my closest friends revealed to me, one by one, their own experiences with miscarriage. These were people I speak to every day, but I never had a clue.
It felt so good to talk about what we were going through. The fact that others not only knew what we were going through, but had found a way past it, was uplifting. What had felt like an action that would add shame to our heartbreak turned out to be the most cathartic experience imaginable.
I could be honest and talk with friends about the guilt I still carried for my earlier feelings of blame; the insecurity I felt about not hurting the same way as Eva did; the worry I still shoulder that it could happen to us again.
A community began, a conduit through which sadness, regret, hope, gratitude and love flowed freely.
At our wedding, Eva’s mom said something that really struck me at the time. She told us, “We are your tribe. Use us.” In the aftermath of our loss, we established a new community – a reformulation of our relationships with those already a part of it, and the addition of people met through our shared experiences.
At his wedding, Kyle Martino’s new mother-in-law Susan Sarandon gave advice he’s never forgotten.
We used this community to get through the hardest moment of our marriage. I accessed a lot of understanding through my discussions with other dads, and Eva gained a lot of strength from the strength of the women who came before her in their own grieving processes.
The encouragement, compassion and love we received from important people around us gave us the courage to turn back to each other for support, and heal the disconnect that was weakening our marriage.
As with many of our struggles, we came out the other side stronger together in our loss than we could ever be apart.
I will never feel the same way as Eva about losing our baby. I have my experience, and she has hers. I have my process, and she has hers.
I don’t think about it often – but Eva does. She thinks about the baby we lost every day. And so we move forward, 2 broken hearts on the mend– with a beautiful miracle of a child by our side, and one other just out of our reach.
On Monday evening, I posted a brief story about actress Linda Fiorentino’s Westport house being on the market. Longtime “06880” reader and frequent commenter Nancy W. Hunter weighed in from her home in British Columbia: “06880’s name-dropping has become so, so tiresome.”
I haven’t heard her reaction to a couple of stories I’ve done since, on Mark Naftalin‘s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and Kyle Martino joining “Top Chef” star Kristen Kish on a New York Times “36 Hours” TV venture.
Maybe Nancy has sworn off my gossip site forever. If so, too bad.
Nancy: This one’s for you.
You’ve probably never heard the name Alex Siegenfeld before. He’s not a TMZ/Page Six boldface name, despite winning (at 17 years old) a gold medal in the International Chemistry Olympiad.
Now Alex has done something even more impressive. The Westport resident and Hopkins School graduate — today a student at MIT, heading toward a Ph.D. in physics (experimental condensed matter) — has won a $250,000 grant from the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation.
It’s good for up to 5 years of graduate study (with the encouragement to pursue science “for the public good”).
Alex was 1 of 12 honorees. The original pool of over 800 applicants was whittled down to 150, for a 1st round of interviews with national leaders in science and technology. Each candidate was tested on knowledge of broad scientific principles.
50 finalists were then selected, for a 2nd in-depth interview.
Hertz Fellows are free to innovate in their doctoral studies. They are not bound by traditional research funding restrictions. They have complete financial independence, under the guidance of top professors and mentors.
Hertz Fellows have gone on to win Nobel Prizes, found over 200 companies, register more than 3,000 patents, head major universities, and hold senior positions in the U.S. military.
Take that, Linda Fiorentino, Mark Naftalin and Kyle Martino!
Her fast-rising career now takes another step forward. She’s just been named live weekday and weekend host of the network’s Winter Olympics coverage.
What makes this “06880”-worthy is that when she heads to Sochi in February, it will be from Westport. The British-born sportscaster and her husband — former English professional soccer player and coach Paul Buckle — moved near downtown last spring.
I wasn’t expecting it. It is very easy to pigeonhole people and I think being a female back in the UK, I was pigeonholed as one of the females who does football (soccer) only. It’s very difficult to show people that you can actually do other things …. I’d like the opportunity to say maybe I’m not just all about soccer, even as much as I love the sport. Fingers crossed, I’m hoping I can show that.
SI’s Richard Deitsch notes, “Last year she became the first woman to front the FA Cup Final for a U.K audience. She has been remarkably good in her first three months on air in the States.”
Lowe told SI:
I come in with an open brain and an appetite to learn. My head will be in the books and I am not somebody who does something in life not fully prepared. My Dad [Chris Lowe, a longtime BBC presenter] always said you can never over-prepare enough. I will let this become my world.
Speaking of her father: He visited Lowe this fall. Together, they attended a Staples High School soccer match.
Call it a busman’s and buswoman’s holiday.
Two Westporters in the NBC Sports soccer studio. Rebecca Lowe is joined by Staples Class of 1999 graduate — and former US national team player — Kyle Martino.
Posted onOctober 4, 2013|Comments Off on Martin Montana: Finance Is No Laughing Matter
It’s mixing metaphors, but NBC Sports’ telecasts of England’s Premier League soccer is a home run.
Helping raise ratings are a host of Westporters. Jeff Clachko is in marketing. Mike Carey provides real-time research. Rebecca Lowe is an on-air personality. Former US national team player Kyle Martino is a studio analyst.
Covering all bases, even one of the ads has a Westport twist. Martin Montana does the voiceover for MotoX. He not only graduated from Staples in 1997; he was friendly with Martino when both attended the University of Virginia.
But this is not a story about the Westport/EPL connection. It’s about how Montana made his way from the Staples High School basketball program, to the world of finance, then into comedy, acting and voiceovers. All in the space of 15 years.
At Staples, Martin captained the basketball team. He’d been a stand-up fan since the 1st days of Comedy Central, and had always been “the funny dude” in school — but was too shy to actually perform.
At UVa, Martin broke out of his shell. He took acting classes, kept notebooks of interesting jokes and did short sketches. Still, he never took the stage.
After graduation, he had student loans. So he moved to Boston, for a “regular job” in finance. At 25, he ran his company’s San Diego office.
“Things happened fast,” Martin recalls. “I made money. Life was good.”
But he felt unfulfilled. In 2006, “I realized I was at a fork. I could stay in the financial world, and cruise to the finish line when I was 55 years old. Or I was still young enough to start over.”
The next year he quit his job, and moved back to Boston. His friends wondered why he’d left such a sweet gig.
“I got it,” Martin says. “What I did was not real logical.”
But it was what he wanted. He worked harder than ever. His 1st comedy gig was at a bowling alley.
Soon, though, he was performing 4 or 5 times a week, at downtown clubs.He went from opening shows to hosting, then headlining.
Three years ago, he moved to New York. His career took off. Martin has worked at top clubs, and been a semifinalist in the city’s Funniest Stand-Up competition. He does colleges and corporate gigs, and appeared on Sirius XM. He’s getting ad work too, like the MotoX voiceover.
His style is “myself,” Martin says. “I’m not a political, heavy guy.” Favorite topics include his parents, dating and sports.
As funny as comedy is, it’s deadly serious. “My job is to make people laugh, from the minute I get the mic,” Martin notes. “The feedback is live. There’s no place to hide.” He thrives on the challenge, and the immediacy of what he does.
“The crowd can be great, lots of energy, or there can be 17 people in the audience,” he says. “It’s totally raw. Whatever it is, you have to give it your best.”
Back in his Staples basketball days, Martin might have wanted to play at Madison Square Garden. Now he’d love to perform comedy there.
Funny. Life changes like that.
Comments Off on Martin Montana: Finance Is No Laughing Matter
Kyle Martino and Eva Amurri. (Photo: Jeff Vespa/Wire Images via ESPN Page 2)
The 1999 Staples graduate’s October wedding to actress Eva Amurri — Susan Sarandon’s daughter — was covered by People Magazine (in a story written by, of all people, Kyle’s classmate Jen Garcia).
Last week, as an ESPN2 analyst covering the Major League Soccer college draft, the former national team player gave a shout-out to Staples soccer. He told a national TV audience how much he enjoyed the camaraderie with his teammates, and hearing the cheers of the large crowds on the Loeffler Field hill.
In between, Kyle served as a cupcake judge.
Last Sunday, the Food Network featured him in an episode of Cupcake Wars. (Never seen the show? Each week 4 of the country’s top bakers face off in elimination challenges. The sweet prize: $10,000, and the opportunity to showcase their cupcakes at the winning gig.)
In Kyle’s episode, the winner took cupcakes to the Major League Soccer championship game in Los Angeles.
Kyle — one of the league’s most popular players during his career with the Columbus Crew and LA Galaxy (where his teammate was the even more popular David Beckham) — told ESPN Page 2:
I probably ate 5 entire cupcakes. Each cupcake was like a 3-course meal. Hey, if I had stayed off sweets, I probably would still be playing soccer.
I was blessed with a good metabolism. Younger, I was running 8 miles a day and still able to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. But that was then. These days, I might be the only ex-professional athlete who gets winded going up the stairs.
Westporters live in a bubble. Whether by choice or circumstance, our lives are disconnected from the overwhelming majority of people on the planet.
We don’t know how they live, or what they think. Their concerns have nothing to do with ours.
Starting tomorrow — and continuing for the next 30 days — Westport has a golden opportunity to join the world.
The World Cup kicks off this morning in South Africa — the 1st time the global event has ever been held on that continent. Whether you love soccer, hate it, or never think about it, you should join the magic.
For a month, the eyes of the world will focus on a country that less than 2 decades ago was banned from international sports competition. Uruguyans, Koreans, Serbians, Cameroonians — fans of the 32 nations lucky enough to be competing for the trophy — will watch game after game, cheering and agonizing and laughing and crying as the long tournament (think March Madness on steroids) unfolds.
Fans of the nearly 200 nations that did not qualify (fun fact: more countries try to win the World Cup than are members of the U.N.) will be equally transfixed.
Tomorrow afternoon in Westport, hundreds of soccer fans will jam the Staples auditorium to watch the US take on England — something that has not happened in 60 years. (Fun fact: In 1950 we pulled off one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, beating the Brits 1-0.)
Win or lose — and a win, though unlikely, is possible — the excitement will build. Our next opponents are Slovenia and Algeria. Though minnows in global politics, they have the potential to derail our soccer team. In Brazilian favelas, Dutch head shops and Ivory Coast villages, people will talk about our games.
And in Westport, we’ll talk about theirs.
In 2002, people I barely knew stopped me on the street to ask how I thought our team would do. (Poorly, I said. Unfortunately, I was right.)
In 2006, hundreds of Staples students — athletes in all sports, musicians, debaters — gathered around TVs in the cafeteria and hallways to watch. They knew the US players — and those on Argentina, France and Italy. Some even followed countries like Angola and Japan.
Westport's Kyle Martino will announce World Cup games on ESPN radio, with occasional forays into the television booth.
Interest in the World Cup is at an all-time American high — and for once, Westport is not bucking a national trend. (An added bonus: ESPN radio and occasional TV analyst Kyle Martino is a Staples graduate, a former professional and national team player — and a good friend of David Beckham.)
I said it before: Whether you love soccer, hate it or never think about it, give this World Cup a chance.
Watch this morning’s opening match (10 a.m., ESPN, South Africa vs. Mexico). Thrill to see 91-year-old Nelson Mandela in the stands, fulfilling a lifelong dream.
Listen to the joyful vuvuzelas — South Africa’s horn that will blare joyfully at every match.
And — if you’re still on the fence —click here to watch the most spine-tingling video you’ll ever see. If K’naan’s “Waving Flag” doesn’t make you want to leave your Westport bubble and join the world in watching The Beautiful Game, you may not be human after all.
(Click on the Westport Soccer Association website for registration information on tomorrow’s USA-England telecast at Staples. Click here for an amazing interactive calendar that tells you all you need to know about the entire World Cup tournament.)
Kyle Martino — the Westport soccer star who was National High School Player of the Year in 1998, earned MLS Rookie of the Year honors, and shared the Los Angeles Galaxy field with David Beckham — is going to the World Cup.
He won’t be playing for the US national team — though he’s done that in the past. For a month starting in mid-June, Martino will be a key part of ESPN and ABC’s radio crew. He’ll announce games with TV veterans J.P. Dellacamera and Tommy Smyth, and former New York Cosmos star Shep Messing.
Martino has earned praise for his ESPN television work, covering the US men’s team and MLS. However, for the World Cup, Disney — ESPN and ABC’s parent company — has signed a largely British TV crew.
That will be particularly interesting on June 12. It’s the Americans’ 1st game of the tournament — against England.
Don’t want to hear a Brit call the match? No problem.
Gather in front of a huge hi-def screen. Mute the sound.
And listen to Kyle Martino, live from South Africa.
Kyle Martino is not yet 30 years old, but he’s already had a lifetime of success.
The Gatorade National Player of the Year at Staples in 1998, he starred at the University of Virginia; was named Major League Soccer Rookie of the Year in 2002; played on the US national team; was David Beckham’s teammate on the Los Angeles Galaxy, and is now one of ESPN’s top soccer announcers — with a shot at calling World Cup matches this summer.
At the same time, he’s forging a career in finance.
Kyle Martino (Photo courtesy of Fairfield County Business Journal)
Martino’s storied careers — on the soccer pitch and on Wall Street — are the subject of a front-page story in the current issue of Fairfield County Business Journal. Writer Ryan Doran notes that while playing for the Columbus Crew and Galaxy, Martino prepared for life after pro sports by taking classes at Ohio State and UCLA.
He arranged an off-season internship at Lenox Advisors, a wealth advisory firm. He was mentored by Tom Henske — a Lenox partner who in the 1990s won 3 national championships as the University of Virginia’s goalkeeper. (In a you-can’t-make-this-up coincidence, Henske now serves as Staples’ goalie coach.)
“The reality of knowing that there is a next chapter after, for a kid who sees his name in neon lights, is that you have to figure things out very quickly after hanging the cleats up,” says Martino. He figured things out long before his career ended.
Martino hopes to develop a specialty helping athletes manage their money.
He’s kept his ties to the Staples boys soccer program, assisting with training and offering inspirational talks whenever he can. He’s a great role model for teenagers — whether they want to be professional soccer player, sports broadcaster or financial advisor.
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