Michael Windischmann entered the National Soccer Hall of Fame in October 2004 in a “star-studded class” that included Eric Wynalda, Michelle Akers, and Paul Caliguiri. At the time of his retirement from the U.S. National Team following the World Cup in 1990, he held a team record with 51 caps. The U.S. had not qualified for the World Cup finals in the 40 years before the team, led by Windischmann, reached the final tournament in 1990 in Italy. Windischmann was captain in every one of the eight World Cup qualifying games that the U.S. played in 1989 as it campaigned successfully for a World Cup place, and then captained the U.S. team in all three of its games at that 1990 World Cup.
Can you talk about the 2004 induction ceremony into the Hall of Fame? A lot of the more “recognizable” names are starting to pop up—yourself, Eric Wynalda, Michelle Akers, Paul Caliguiri. What was it like to enter the Hall with this year’s class?
It’s great because these guys had longevity. When I was playing, Michelle was the first true superstar of women’s soccer. Then, getting inducted with my two teammates, Paul and Eric, who played in the 1990 World Cup with me and before that was really incredible as well. It was a great weekend.
You were the captain of the first US team to reach the World Cup final tournament since 1950. Can you talk about the position of captain and what it means to you?
It was a great honor to be the captain. I started in ’84, and continued through the qualifiers in ’86. There were a lot of veterans, and I was a younger guy, but I was chosen to be the captain. It was an honor. Basically, the duties were dealing with the players, providing leadership for us to make it to the World Cup, and move on further. Sometimes the players come to you to be an intermediary between the players and coach. For example, if the team is training a lot of hours, and the guys want to go out a couple of nights before the game, that won’t always work out. I remember a situation with Bob Gansler, who is a very disciplined guy. Some players approached me to go and talk to him about letting up on the training. I went over to him, and he said basically, to tell them forget about it. I think that the consistency is the reason that I was the captain. It was good to have the same guy in that spot for the run.
How do you think being a captain impacts a younger player such as Landon Donovan?
I mean, for a young guy, you have to take leadership. Sometimes, it’s good and bad. When you’re not playing well and then you lose the captain’s band, then there’s nowhere to go. It can be hard. The thing I was proud of was having it for three and a half years straight. Nowadays, a guy has it maybe a couple of games. Landon is perfect for the band right now. He’s a young responsible guy.
Can you talk about your post-retirement work? You are a coach and also involved administratively with the Super-Y League and the Cosmopolitan Jr. Soccer League in New York?
I deal with an organization called the MetOval/Brooklyn Knights, I’m a Technical Director there, and I’m an ODP coach for the Super-Y league. For me, my career is over, and I’m trying to have someone else from our area make the National Team. Besides myself and Chris Armas, in the last 15 years, there haven’t been any New Yorkers. I think one advantage that kids in other states have is that they get to play all year round in nice weather, but that’s no excuse. Some New York guys made it to the youth national team, and then we didn’t hear from them anymore. I don’t know why exactly that is.
Are your family members involved in soccer?
Not yet. My son is five months old. He’s kicking a lot, though.
What are some of your favorite soccer memories?
I scored a goal in the Olympics against Argentina – that was a big moment for me. Probably the biggest moment was qualifying for the 1990 World Cup, though. We had to win against Trinidad and Tobago, not tie, and we did it. That is my best memory.