The Virginia Cavaliers refer to the sports teams that represent the University of Virginia, which is based in Charlottesville. The university has a number of men’s and women’s sports teams that compete in a range of sports from baseball, basketball, and American Football, to lacrosse, wrestling, and swimming.
One of the most successful sports teams in the university is the men’s soccer team. This article will provide all the information you need to learn more about the Virginia Cavaliers men’s soccer team, including some of their most notable alumni.
A Brief History of the Virginia Cavaliers Men’s Soccer Team
The Virginia Cavaliers men’s soccer team was founded 82 years ago in 1941 and currently plays out of the 7,100 capacity Klöckner Stadium. The team competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) league and the NCAA Tournament College Cup.
Their inaugural season in the ACC saw the team fail to record a single victory in any of their nine matches. However, the team would go on to be significantly more successful during the reign of Bruce Arena.
The team’s first silverware came in 1983 when they won the NCAA Tournament College Cup against the William & Mary Tribe soccer team. Interestingly enough, the comedian and former host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart was present in this team.
They picked up their first championship under the stewardship of Arena in 1989 following a historic game against Santa Clara. The game was played on a freezing December day and lasted 150 minutes following 30 minutes of overtime and an additional 30-minute sudden death period was unable to separate the teams. The game ended 1-1 and the teams were declared co-champions.
The team was a dominant force during the ’90s under Arena and continues to be one of the top college teams in U.S. soccer today.
Virginia Cavaliers Honors
The Virginia Cavaliers men’s soccer team has won seven championships to date with the last coming in 2014. Following their first championship victory in 1989, the team went on to win four consecutive league titles from 1991 to 1994. Their other championship victory came in 2009.
The team has been even more successful in the NCAA Tournament College Cup, lifting the trophy an impressive 14 times. Their most dominant period saw them win the cup for five consecutive seasons between 1991 and 1995. This means that during their four-year league success, they also completed the double.
The Cavaliers continue to offer local citizens one of the best options for teams to bet on in Virginia. However, due to betting regulations that prohibit betting on NCAA athletes, only offshore sportsbooks can offer markets for their games.
Virginia Cavaliers Famous Former Players and Staff
Over the years, the Cavaliers have welcomed a selection of top players who have gone on to extremely successful club and international careers. Some of the most notable players include:
Jeff Agoos was a defender who featured for the Cavaliers between 1986 and 1990 and was part of the team to secured their first championship. Following his college career, Agoos went on to play for D.C. United and the San Jose Earthquakes before finishing his career at the MetroStars.
A failed loan move to English Premier League team West Bromich Albion took place in 2000 but he failed to make an appearance before returning to the States.
His impressive international career started in 1988 and ran to 2003. His 134 international caps make him the fifth-most-capped American player in history.
John Harkes played for the Virginia Cavaliers between 1985 and 1987 before moving on to the Albany Capitals in 1989. From here, he made the move to England and played for Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County, and West Ham United before moving back to the state to play for D.C. United and the New England Revolution before his final season with Columbus Crew.
Harkes made 90 international appearances in the U.S. team’s midfield before turning his hand to coaching. He was the New York Red Bulls assistant coach during the 2006/07 season and head coach at FC Cincinnati and the Greenville Triumph.
Harkes’ son Ian is also a footballer and played for D.C. United and currently plays for the New England Revolution.
Most notably, Ian Harkes played for four years in Scotland for Dundee United. This was the club his grandfather Jim was at as a youth player before immigrating to America.
Tony Meola is one of America’s most famous goalkeepers having made 100 international appearances during his career. He started at the Cavaliers between 1988 and 1989 before moving to England to play for Brighton and Hove Albion, and Watford. Limited opportunities meant he was denied a work permit to continue and he returned to the U.S. playing for a number of teams including the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, Kansas City Wizards, and New York Red Bulls.
Meola went on to try out as a placekicker in the NFL but failed to make an impact, he also had a brief acting career before coaching the Jacksonville Armada in 2015.
Video game aficionados might also recognize his name from the 1993 SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) game, Tony Meola’s Sidekicks Soccer.
Claudio Reyna was a Cavalier between 1991 and 1993 before signing for Bundesliga giants Bayer Leverkusen in 1994. A successful loan spell at VFL Wolfsburg led to a move to Scottish Giants Glasgow Rangers in 1999 where he helped the team to the SPL title and Scottish Cup in the 1999/2000 season.
His impressive performances earned him a big-money move to Sunderland in 2001 before moving to Manchester City in 2003.
Reyna ended his career in 2008 following a season with the New York Red Bulls and made 112 international appearances.
Reyna’s son Giovanni currently plays in Germany for Borussia Dortmund and is one of the most promising young American players in the world. Giovanni Reyna is named after Claudio’s former Rangers teammate Giovanni Van Bronkhorst.
Bruce Arena arrived at the Vrigina Cavaliers from Cornell in 1978 as a lacrosse and soccer coach before going full-time with soccer in 1985. Arena’s 18 years as a head coach helped to shape the Virginia Cavaliers into one of American College sports’ most formidable teams and his four straight league and cup doubles from 1991 to 1994 left a lasting legacy.
His success at the college level led to him being appointed as head coach for D.C. United before taking on the national team in 1998. His eight years as head coach for the U.S. saw him become the most successful manager in their history.
A quarter-final World Cup appearance in 2002 and the most wins in their history led to the U.S. being ranked in fourth place in the world by FIFA in 2006.
Following his impressive international reign, he moved to the New York Red Bulls, and LA Galaxy, and returned briefly to the national fold in 2016. Most recently he was head coach and sporting director of the New England Revolution before finally retiring in 2023.