Q&A with Metro great Mike Ammann
July 13, 2009
In Metro history, few players are as beloved as Mike Ammann. The goalkeeper spent two seasons with the club: 1999, the worst in franchise history (until now), and 2000, the best Metro season ever. Ammann was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding Metro past and present.
MetroFanatic: In 1999, how did Bora take the losing? What were the excuses?
Mike Ammann: All I can say is when we beat Columbus to break our winless streak you would have thought we won the MLS Cup. The locker room was like a party. Bora would just scratch his mop and say "This is the life".
MF: Did anyone really believe that signing Lothar Matthaus will cure all problems?
MA: Of course we thought Lothar was going to be a great addition. You look at his career and accomplishments and you get excited. Unfortunately he felt like he had no influence with Octavio and he shut down his efforts. He got to a point where he didn't care and it became a paid vacation for him.
MF: Back then, did you see the potential in Tim Howard, and if so, were you worried he'll take your job?
MA: Of course you could see the potential of Tim Howard. He was an extremely gifted athlete and would kick everyones ass at Kean College in basketball before practice every morning. You knew he was going to be successful, but I never worried about him taking my job. If you are thinking about someone else then you don't belong there yourself. I always had the confidence in my own ability and knew that I was good enough to start and help the team. I'm happy to see T-Ho doing so well in England and for the US. He could give me some credit for teaching him what not to do once in a while however.
MF: What's your best Sasa Curcic story?
MA: I don't have any Sasa stories, he was just another clown that played in New York.
MF: You were named by our website the Player of the Year for 1999. How does it feel to be known as the best player... on the worst team (at least so far) in league history?
MA: I've always prided myself on playing for the fans and I truely enjoyed my relationship with all the fans of the MetroStars. To be named the player of the year by the fans was just about the only thing to come out of the 1999 season. But if you are excited about awards when your team made history for futility then you are a jackass. I never played the game for awards, I played to win.
MF: Back in 2000, could you have foretold what the future holds for "tactical genius" Juan Carlos Osorio?
MA: I've said this numerous times recently and Juan Carlos was a great fitness coach. The tactical genius is showing what he is capable of and it's not as a coach. I'll put that to bed now.
MF: Have you talked to Mamadou Diallo since the incident?
MA: No, I have not talked to Diallo since the incident, but I can tell you I'd love to beat the shit out of him. Maybe put us in an Octagon and let us be a undercard for a UFC event in Vegas. That might gain some popularity for MLS.
MF: Your performance in the playoffs vs Chicago will forever be remembered by Metro fans. Were you at 100% when you returned? How tough was it to play under the circumstances?
MA: I was far from 100%, but I was not going to sit out the most important games for our team. I remember Octavio telling me that I had to get through a training session with him before he would let me play. I was dying and nearly in tears, but I was able to fight through it and he let me play. The pain is much worse when a goal goes in so you do your best to avoid that. Unfortunately we didn't have enough in game three in Chicago.
MF: In 2001, in your first game back at Giants Stadium, you gave the ESC a little wave as DC went up 2:0... and then allowed three goals in the last 11 minutes. Do you regret the wave?
MA: If that wave was the reason we gave up three goals then yes, but we gave up three goals for other reasons. I was always focused on my job when I was on the field and my interaction with the fans was part of that. The ESC was a special group and I always appreciated their support, even while playing for DC.
MF: What needs to be done for players to take MLS more seriously?
MA: Pay real money and people will think this is a real league. There are too many players out there that are willing to "fulfill their dream" and play for shit money. The league is smart enough to realize this and they have no reason to increase the minimum salaries. Even the public looks at MLS as Mickey Mouse and on par with the WNBA because you don't pay anything.
MF: What's your best MetroStar memory?
MA: My best MetroStar memory was the handful of games that Tab Ramos played. I don't know of another player that was hurt more than him. I kept thinking how great it was going to be to play on the same team as that guy, but he never did anything. Guess he was happy with all he accomplished early on in his career in Spain.
MF: What are you up to now?
MA: Typical day in my life is hoping to get a decent sleep and wake up pain free. I work in IT and like the interaction with customers and vendors. After work I enjoy watching practice for one of my three kids. One plays soccer, one plays lacrosse and my daughter is in jazz and ballet. I play golf as much as possible and one day aspire to play on the Champions Tour.
MF: Do you have any interest in broadcasting?
MA: I would love to be a commentator for soccer. I don't know if I would be any good, but I can guarantee you I would not be like some of them and tell everyone the obvious things that are going on. People like to hear what the real truth is, real soccer fans understand when players or coaches or referrees make mistakes, why do we cover them up? Tell it like it is and people will have more respect for the game. I am passionate about the game and that is why I say the things I do. I know I am not the only passionate one out there, but why should people not be told the truth.
MF: Are you still a fan of Britney Spears?
MA: Britney is a dirty girl is all I will say about her.