Tony Gaitan (left), Paraguay national coach Juan Carlos Osorio and Adrian Gaitan. (Photo courtesy of the Gaitan family)
By Michael Lewis
Tony Gaitan, noted youth soccer coach who directed teams to the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association State Cup championships and a man who was passionate about the beautiful game, has passed away.
He is the father of former Long Island Rough Riders defender Adrian Gaitan, who coached current USWNT midfielder Allie Long on the Oceanside Express and Albertson Express, and the grandfather of Nicholas Gaitan who has been playing overseas recently. Long is with the national team at the Women’s World Cup in France.
Gaitan directed the Oceanside Navahos of the Long Island Junior Soccer League to the Boys Under-19 State Cup crown in 1987, a 2-1 win over B.W. Gottschee (Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League) at SUNY-Farmingdale. That game, which featured many of the top U-19 players in the area, was considered one of the best State Cup games every played, given its attacking flow by both sides.
The Oceanside team was stacked with talented youth players who went on to make an impact locally and internationally, including U.S. international goalkeeper Tony Meola, Mark Pulisic, the father of Christian Pulisic, and Milton Espinoza, who became a driving force in youth soccer, among others.
“Mr. Gaitan was part of the old guard of contributors in soccer, both locally and internationally,” said former youth and Columbia University standout Jack Gaeta, who was teammates with Adrian Gaitan with the Long Island Rough Riders. “A dedicated family man who was tremendously proud of Adrian and his grandson Nicholas.”
Gaitan will be buried in Florida, but there will be a memorial service in New York.
More information coming.