HARRISON, N.J. (April 17, 2015) – In honor of the 20th Major League Soccer season, throughout this year the New York Red Bulls will be recognizing the moments and the players that have shaped and molded the club’s history.
Last month, the fans had the opportunity to vote for the 20 best players in the past 20 seasons of the franchise. Thousands of votes were cast and tonight the illustrious group was revealed.
Best 20 in 20
- Goalkeepers: Mike Ammann, Tony Meola
- Defenders: Rhett Harty, Steve Jolley, Mike Petke, Eddie Pope, Seth Stammler
- Midfielders: Mark Chung, Roberto Donadoni, Eddie Gaven, Amado Guevara, Clint Mathis, Tab Ramos, Dave van den Bergh
- Forwards: Juan Pablo Angel, Youri Djorkaeff, Thierry Henry, Giovanni Saverese, Adolfo Valencia, John Wolyniec
Prior to the Red Bulls’ match versus San Jose Earthquakes tonight, Rhett Harty will be honored in a special pre-game ceremony. From 1996 to 1998, this defender quickly earned his spot in the lineup as a rugged, no-nonsense defender. He proudly wore the MetroStars jersey 19 years ago this week as he started in the club’s first home match at the old Giants Stadium.
On June 19, 1996, after the MetroStars dropped back-to-back home games, Harty did something bold – he shaved his head. His goal was to change the mood around the team. That night, the MetroStars defeated Dallas Burn and proceeded to win fourteen of the last twenty matches to make the playoffs.
Just like that, the team had its first cult hero – and, thanks to the Empire Supporters Club – the best nickname in the league: “Mr. Clean.”
Harty’s popularity went beyond his look. It was clear to fans that he played each and every game with full-on intensity. For the first two seasons in Metros history – as players were shuttled in and out of the lineup and team – Harty was as close to a fixture day-in-and-day-out as anyone else to wear the red and black.
He appeared in 64 matches, leading the team in starts in 1996. In 1997, he was named MetroStars Defender of the Year. While he was not known for putting the ball in the back of the net, his lone goal came against the Red Bulls’ opponent tonight – then known as the San Jose Clash.
Rhett currently resides in Portland, Oregon and serves as the Senior Regional Director of the Northwest for St. Jude’s Medical Center. The New York Red Bulls thank Rhett for joining us tonight and being an important part of the franchise’s early history – a gritty defender who consistently left himself out on the field.