Joe Machnik, who has been elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame, has worn many hats through the decades. (Michael Lewis/FrontRowSoccer)
By Michael Lewis
Brooklyn, N.Y. native Dr. Joe Machnik, jack of all trades and master of most, has been elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in the builder’s category.
Fox Sports 1 announcer Rob Stone made the announcement at halftime of the Major League Soccer all-star game Wednesday night. A source confirmed Stone’s comments and Machnik’s election.
Machnik, 74, who has dedicated his life to the beautiful game for more than five decades, has worn just about every hat anyone can wear. He has been player, coach (college, indoor and assistant national coach), director of referees, league commissioner, CONCACAF match commissioner and most recently as a TV personality on FS1 giving his opinion on officiating calls for national and international matches.
The former Long Island University standout goalkeeper and coach is the only person to have directed and officiated an NCAA final.
“Thank you to all those who sent texts and Tweets of Congratulations on my induction into US Soccer Hall of Fame. Very much appreciated!”
Machnik’s resume is varied as it is endless.
Among his accomplishments:
* He was an All-American goalkeeper at Long Island University, taking up the sport in high school.
* He guided LIU to the 1966 NCAA championship game — as a 23-year-old.
* He was a member of the 1965 US Open Cup champion New York Ukrainians, who performed in the German-American Soccer League (now the Cosmopolitan Soccer League).
* He played semi-pro with the Newark Ukrainian Sitch in the American Soccer League from 1967-68 (the team temporarily changed the spelling of his name to Machnyk to make it sound as though he was Ukrainian).
* He coached the men’s and women’s soccer team at the University of New Haven, creating the program for the latter (while at New Haven, Machnik pursued his doctorate at the University of Utah).
* He was an assistant coach with the U.S. national team when it reached the World Cup for the first time in 40 years at Italia ’90.
* He was the director of referees for three leagues – the Major Indoor Soccer League, Major League Soccer and National Premier Soccer League.
* He also guided the New York Arrows (MISL) for part of a season.
* He was commissioner of the old American Indoor Soccer Association.
* And he has been a FIFA and CONCACAF match commissioner.
Machnik also was started a summer camp for goalkeepers — the No. 1 Goalkeeper Camp. The camps have influenced generations of goalkeepers, including Jon Busch, Kevin Hartman, Nick Rimando, Matt Reis and Joe Cannon.
“Joe is one of the great personalities of the sport in the States, a person who has been at every level from player to coach to referee, administrator in the league with a vast experience and vast knowledge of the game in this country,” Alfonso Mondelo, MLS’s director of player programs told this writer for a story in The Guardian earlier this year. “When you talk about the pioneers of the game in this country, he has to be one of them.”
No induction date or venue has been announced by U.S. Soccer.
Machnik already is a member of five halls of fame, including LIU and University of New Haven, the Connecticut and New England Soccer halls and the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials of America.
In alphabetical order, others on the builder’s ballot were Esse Baharmast, Gene Chyzowych, Robert Contiguglia, Eddie Firmani, Richard Groff, Gordon Jago, Tim Leiweke, Francisco Marcos and Kevin Payne.
Voters were allowed to name up to five builder’s candidates. The top vote-getter will be elected as long as he or she appeared on a minimum of 50 percent of the ballots. If no one appeared on 50 percent of the ballots, then no builder would be elected.
Builders must be at least 50-years-old and are eligible by making their mark in the soccer community in a non-playing capacity while sustaining a major and positive impact on American soccer at the national, federation or first division level for at least 10 years.