By Michael Lewis
The deadline was looming, and I was getting more and more desperate by the second.
I needed to talk to someone from the Long Island Rough Riders for my story about their dramatic loss in the U.S. Interregional Soccer League semifinals in the New York Daily News for a later edition on Aug. 13, 1994.
Because the game was decided deep into extratime, the game ran longer than anyone had planned, and it threatened my updated story.
Because it would have taken too long to walk from the press box at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro field to the Riders’ bench, I worked my way through the crowd to the edge of the stands as the disappointed Long Island players trudged slowly toward the locker room after the 2-1 defeat to the Carolina Dynamo.
Substitute defender Brian Japp scored in a scramble in front of the Riders net with 1:13 left in extratime in a game that LI goalkeeper Chico Mieles was absolutely brilliant, making 12 saves.
There was one player who was within shouting distance and I did my best imitation of Sylvester Stallone in the final scene of one of his early Rocky movies. I was yelling, “Adrian! Adrian!”
The words caught Adrian Gaitan’s attention and he turned around. I told him I needed to talk to him about the game for my story. The tired defender walked toward the stands and gave up a few minutes of his time.
Gaitan gave me enough quotes that helped put the story into perspective. I told I would never forget his gesture and by this story you know that I haven’t forgotten.
The Dynamo overcame the Minnesota Thunder in a shootout in the championship game the next day.
The disappointed Rough Riders went home and licked their wounds. They got their act together the next season by winning the USISL crown with a team that would have given many early Major League Soccer teams fits. But that’s another story for another time.