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Nov 10, 2006

Part 4: Mooch and his scouting side

The tribute to Glenn Myernick continues:

PIERRE BARRIEU, strength and conditioning coach, U.S. national team:

He liked to set up these amazing scouting trips that were always 10 days long to watch nine games in five countries. Here's an example during the World Cup in 2002:

We were in Seoul getting ready for Portugal and Portugal was playing its last friendly, in Macau against China. Mooch went on this 17-hour odyssey where he traveled ... by cab, by plane, by train, by boat and then by hydroplane. He would always say that he had used every mode of transportation possible but a rickshaw.

LANDON DONOVAN, forward, L.A. Galaxy and U.S. national team:

I got to know Mooch over the past couple years and more closely over the last year. Mooch's passion for our game was really unrivaled and I think it's safe to say he was one of the few guys in this country that truly understood the game. Mooch was about the happiest guy in camp at any given time. You can imagine that training camps would get boring, methodical and almost unbearable at times. However, you always saw Mooch with a smile on his face, genuinely happy to be alive and doing what he loved. I have three vivid memories with Mooch that will stay with me for the rest of my life:

The first was after we lost to the Mexico U-23s with the Olympic Team to qualify for the Olympics. Mooch called me and asked me to come up to his room to chat. Expecting the worst, I slowly made my way up the elevator and slid open Mooch's door. I walked in and saw Mooch sitting down, sipping some red wine and clearly disappointed. He told me to come have a seat and I could feel the sweat dripping off my forehead. I sat down for no longer than a minute when someone knocked on the door. In walked Nancy. Mooch's face immediately lit up and I had never been happier to meet someone! We sat and talked for quite a while, all three of us. Not about soccer, more about life and his family, and I got the sense that this man really understood it all. At that point, I learned everything I needed to know about Mooch and I have respected the man greatly ever since. Definitely a night I'll never forget.

Glenn Myernick Tribute
Glenn Myernick was an assistant coach for the U.S. national team. He also formerly coached the Colorado Rapids in MLS.

During his national team playing career, Myernick earned 10 caps and served as the squad's captain in 1978. During his college career, he won the 1976 Hermann Trophy, and he later played eight seasons in the NASL.

On Oct. 9, 2006, Myernick died at the age of 51 after failing to regain consciousness after a heart attack. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, their son, Travis, and daughter, Kelly.

ESPNsoccernet will be publishing a tribute by Jimmy Conrad and friends to the Glenn Myernick this week. The five-part feature will run daily.

• Part 1: One of a kind

• Part 2: A man of the people

• Part 3: The competitor

• Saturday: The family man

The second memory I have of Mooch is actually a lot of memories, and I think these memories are shared with many soccer players around the globe and probably many family members and friends too. For those of you who didn't know him, Mooch was an absolute genius. I honestly believe that this man could finish any crossword puzzle ever made. He knew EVERY answer to EVERY clue about anything and everything you can imagine. I can't tell you how many times players would be sitting around a table, staring at that last crossword clue that nobody could seem to figure out.

Almost predictably, Mooch would stroll over, glance across the table and ask somebody to read him the clue. You can imagine the groans across the room because we knew it was over then. We all wanted so desperately to be the savior that had the final answer, but it was always going to be Mooch. Of course, someone would utter, "tan hue, 26 across, 4 letters, and I think it ends in the letter U?" Without missing a beat, Mooch would chime in "Oh, that's easy, come on guys. Ecru. Not a word often used in everyday life, blah blah blah." Only, the blah blah blah was perfectly worded, almost like he'd read it out of a dictionary. Of course it was an easy one ... for him.

The third memory and the one that brings the biggest smile to my face is another national team camp story. We were huddled around the video screen watching tape on an opponent. I don't remember the opponent we were scouting ... let's just say it was Trinidad.

Well, Trinidad was playing in this particular game against Turks and Caicos, a tiny island in the Caribbean. Turks and Caicos were terrible and Trinidad was probably beating them 5-0 or so. During one particular edit of the video, a player from Trinidad took a shot and the chubby goalkeeper from Turks and Caicos waddled after the ball and fell over as the ball rolled over the line. Laughter filled the room from both the players and coaches. As the giggles began to fade we could hear Mooch chuckling so loudly that you just knew something was coming. Bruce shouts out, "Um, well, that guy might be a little heavy to be playing in goal." And Mooch follows with, "Yeah, the goalie got traded to Turks and Caicos from Baskin and Robbins!" Mooch could barely get the words out without cracking himself up, and we all couldn't help but smile.

I honestly believe that this man could finish any crossword puzzle ever made.
Landon Donovan

I miss him already and I think we'll all miss him more when we get back into camp. Thanks for the memories, Mooch, you were truly one of a kind. Rest peacefully.

MARK THOMAS, U.S. national team All-Access producer:

Nobody loved U.S. Soccer more than Glenn "Mooch" Myernick.

I know this because for two years, all the way through Germany 2006, I was fortunate enough to travel with the USMNT as its All-Access producer. During that time, I spent countless hours around Mooch, whether it was on the field, in meetings, at meals, working out or taking a rare opportunity to do some sightseeing. Simply put, he is one of the most amazing human beings I have ever met.

His knowledge of the game was unsurpassed. Mention a random player from whatever era and Mooch knew him. He told me how, when he was a boy growing up in New Jersey, he fell in love with the game. With very few outlets for information available, he got a subscription to "World Soccer" magazine.

Mooch's attention to detail and willingness to work was tireless. And as much passion he put into his work, he did likewise with his play. The guy knew how to enjoy life and everything around him.

I remember after the World Cup qualifying 2-1 win in Trinidad, we were preparing to leave the stadium to head for the airport. Because Carnivale was going on around the stadium, the streets were packed with partygoers and music.

We'd been sequestered during our brief stay and could only see the festival in the hotel lobby, on TV and in the newspaper. So, while we waited to exit the stadium in our minibus convoy, Mooch approached the head of security. He thought it was only right that after the win and considering the holiday, that we should have some celebratory beverages for the ride.

As much as Mooch tried, the security detail didn't give in and one can only assume that was so because they thought the risk too great. We eventually left the stadium, working our way through throngs of people in the streets. At one point, the convoy stopped. We looked out the window and saw that the reason was in order to drop some plain-clothed security guy off at his destination. We looked at each other and all we could do was laugh. It was too risky for us to get some beer, but it was OK to give this guy a ride to his place.

It was a classic Mooch moment, as he was attempting to make the most of whatever situation he was in. Anyone who got to know Mooch will always carry a small part of Mooch inside them. He truly made the world he lived in a better place.

Jimmy Conrad is a defender for the U.S. national team and Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards. He contributes regularly to ESPN.com.