Messing during an MSG broadcast of a New York Red Bulls game.
|Full name||Shep Norman Messing|
|Date of birth||October 9, 1949|
|Place of birth||Bronx, New York, United States|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|1968–1969||New York University|
|1973–1974||New York Cosmos||9||(0)|
|1976–1977||New York Cosmos||30||(0)|
|1978–1984||New York Arrows (indoor)||163||(0)|
|1984||New York Cosmos (indoor)||3||(0)|
|1984–1985||Pittsburgh Spirit (indoor)||3||(0)|
|1986–1987||New York Express (indoor)||13||(0)|
|1983||New York Arrows (interim)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
He played seven seasons in the North American Soccer League and six in the Major Indoor Soccer League. He was also a member of the United States national team at the 1971 Pan American Games and 1972 Summer Olympics.
Messing was born in in The Bronx, New York, grew up in Roslyn, New York, and is Jewish. His mother, the daughter of a Russian furniture maker and his Latvian wife, taught physical education at Nassau Community College, his father was a lawyer who worked in Manhattan, and his paternal grandfather was from Riga, Latvia.
High school and college
Messing attended Wheatley High School, where he started playing soccer. He began his collegiate soccer career at New York University where he played soccer, and then Nassau Community College. He graduated from Harvard University in 1972 after playing on the school's men's soccer team. He was a two-time second team All-American.
National and Olympic teams
He went on to play with the U.S. team at 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. The U.S. went 0-2-1 in group play and failed to qualify for the second round. Messing manned the net in the U.S.'s third game of the games, a 7-0 loss to West Germany. The Munich Massacre took place 30 yards from his room. Messing was protected along with 12 other Jewish members of the US Olympic delegation. He said: "It really forged a greater Jewish identity for myself at that moment than I ever had before... That was a turning point in my life as an athlete – and as a Jew. Words really can’t describe it.... two German soldiers there with machine guys, saying come with them.... We have to get the athletes to safety. Then I realized that they were rounding up the Jewish athletes."
After the Olympics, Messing received offers from teams in Mexico and Germany, but was invited to play for the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League (NASL), where his teammates would eventually include Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia.
He made his debut with the Cosmos in a May 20, 1974 exhibition game with Irish club Finn Harps.
Messing attracted attention by posing in the nude for a photo spread in the December 1974 issue of Viva magazine, for which he was paid $5,000 ($25,000 in current dollar terms). He joked that these photos gave the New York Cosmos more "exposure" than they'd ever received from the media up to that time. The Cosmos management was not pleased, and cut Messing from the team on the grounds that he had violated a morals clause in his contract.
He moved to the Boston Minutemen for a season and a half and led the league in goalkeeping with a 1.24 GAA. Halfway through the 1976 season, Boston owner John Sterge began selling his players when he began to fear he would go bankrupt. The Minutemen sold Messing to the Cosmos who needed him after starter Bob Rigby was injured. Messing then played the 1977 season with the Cosmos before moving to the Oakland Stompers. When he signed with the Stompers for $100,000 ($375,000 in current dollar terms) per year, he became the highest paid American in the NASL. The Stompers lasted only a single season, following which Messing moved to the Rochester Lancers.
When the Major Indoor Soccer League began its first season in 1978-1979, the New York Arrows were essentially the Rochester Lancers in different uniforms. As such, Messing became the starting Arrows goalkeeper through the team's six years of existence. Messing became the league's dominant keeper, being named to the MISL All Star team in 1979, 1980 and 1981. He was the championship MVP in 1979.
When the Arrows fired coach Don Popovic in February 1983, the team named Messing, who was sidelined with an injury, as the interim coach. After his retirement, Messing was briefly part-owner of the ill-fated New York Express, which played the first half of the 1986-1987 MISL season before folding.
Awards and honors
- Major Indoor Soccer League Championship MVP (1): 1978–79
- First Team All MISL (2): 1978–79, 1979–80
- New York Sports Hall of Fame
- National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame
- Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame
Messing has been a soccer broadcaster for sixteen years. He began as an analyst for the Major Indoor Soccer League games on ESPN. He broadcast the 1986 FIFA World Cup from Mexico, the 2002 FIFA World Cup from South Korea/Japan and the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany for ESPN. He has also been the main analyst for the MetroStars and the re-branded New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer, working both on radio and television since 2001. He served as a color commentator for ESPN Radio covering the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Despite his role as a broadcaster/analyst for MLS and other soccer matches, he is the player agent for U.S. under-20 and former D.C. United midfielder Danny Szetela. This has led to some, including Washington Post soccer reporter Steven Goff, to question his objectivity in his work as an analyst.
In 2006, he was inducted into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame. Messing has been the color analyst for Madison Square Garden for twelve years broadcasting the New York Red Bulls games in Major League Soccer. He has also been the color analyst for the 2002, 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups for ESPN.
Currently, Messing is a color commentator for soccer on the MSG Network and ONE World Sports.
Messing wrote an autiobiography entitled The Education of an American Soccer Player which was published in hardcover in 1978 by Dodd, Mead and in paperback in 1979 by Bantam Books.
Other Media Appearances
- "A Goalie's Family Album" - The New York Times
- "Shep Messing and the 1972 Olympic soccer adventure that turned into tragedy" | The Guardian
- Gregg Sarra (March 9, 2013). "Shep Messing headlines four in LI Soccer Player Hall". Newsday.
- Everybody loves Shep Messing - SBNation.com
- Lindgren, Hugo (2006-06-25). "Pinup Goalie: Shep Messing". New York Magazine. New York Media LLC. Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "People". TIME. Time Inc. 20 March 1978. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
- "SPORTS PEOPLE: Arrows Dismiss Coach". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. 25 February 1983. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
- Medium Well: Your NBC Olympics lineup - A blog on sports media, news and networks - baltimoresun.com
- ISBN 0-553-12619-9
- Michael Lewis: Shep Messing and the 1972 Olympic soccer adventure that turned into tragedy, The Guardian, 6 October 2015.
- Noah Davis: "Everyone Loves Shep Messing" February 26, 2013, SB Nation
- Jewish Sports Hall of Fame listing