CARL ROSE: PART TWO
If one thing that has typified Carl Rose’s life and playing career, it has been his resiliency and resolve.
The former New York Arrows and St. Louis Steamers defender enjoyed an eight-year career in the Major Indoor Soccer League before tragedy struck in an accident that almost killed him.
After he was released by the Steamers at the age of 34 in 1986, Rose almost died in a two-story fall from the roof of his house. He came back from that life-threatening injury, which left him paralyzed on his left side and left him blind in his left eye and as he thrived as a youth soccer coach in Missouri.
“I'm a blessed man,” he said in a recent interview.
Then again, Carl Rose was given one to give up.
It goes back some five decades to the World International Football Association tournament in Toronto in late 1973.
As a 20-year-old in November and December 1973, Rose distinguished himself in the indoor competition, scoring five goals in two games while performing on a team that included English soccer legends Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore and Jimmy Greaves.
Off that performance, Rose had hoped to jump start his soccer career, but there were some bumps in the road ahead. He needed to wait a few years.
Rose said that he turned down the New York Cosmos in 1974 (a year before Pele joined the team) because he wanted to play in Toronto. But he said that the Toronto Metros ignored him.
In 1976, Rose played for Canada in the Montreal Summer Olympics against the Soviet Union.
Rose told his friends that they weren't going to see him for a couple of weeks.
"I told them that I'm going to the Olympics," he said.
Naturally, there was some disbelief.
"I said, 'Well, you just watch the TV,' " Rose said. "When I got back though, 'You really were there.' I said, 'Yeah, I told you.'
“It was a great experience. You walk out and the home crowd is really cheering for everybody.
“You get to see all these world-class Olympians. Bruce Jenner [the Olympic decathlon gold-medal winner], now Caitlyn Jenner. O.J. Simpson was there with Howard Cosell [well-known controversial TV announcers] Dwight Stones [high jump record holder], [boxer] Sugar Ray Leonard. You get to see them walking around. It was a great experience."
In 1978, an opportunity to play with the New York Arrows in the fledgling MISL opened up as assistant coach Peter Duerden, a Canadian who was a member of the English team at the 1973 indoor tournament in Toronto, brought in the defender.
He played the backline for the very first MISL championship team, although he wasn't re-signed to a contract by head coach Don Popovic after he was injured in the playoffs.
When one door closed, another opened.
Rose joined the Steamers the following season and was a vital part of their defense through the 1985-86 campaign. He played in 287 MISL regular season games, finding the net 52 times and assisting on 67 goals. He was an All-MISL all-star honorable mention in 1981-82. In 31 playoff games, Rose accumulated eight goals and eight assists.
"I had a good time in St. Louis, played well and had some good players and played against some great players," Rose said.
One of those was Steve Zungul, who filled the net for the Arrows, Golden Bay Earthquakes and San Diego Sockers.
"He was a quiet guy," Rose said. "He mainly talked to the Yugoslavian players, but he would associate with us. He was a good teammate. He was not selfish. He was a brilliant player. When we played against Moscow Dynamo, I've never seen him get up for a game so much. I asked him 'Well, what's the big deal? It's just like another game.' He said, 'No, these people made my country a Communist country.' I think he got five goals. Just a man unleashed. You couldn't give him a half a chance because he would score.
"He was just unbelievable, the best player I've ever played against indoors. I played with and against him. In practice, you had to be on your toes because he's very slick and very slippery. He's always thinking a step ahead of you. You're moving up and then he's on the right side. Now he's on the left side and you're forgetting where he is. He was very elusive.”
The Arrows might have been the hottest team on the field, but the Steamers were a hot ticket in those days, regularly leading the MISL in attendance. The team was composed mostly of American-born players, many from St. Louis. The team filled the St. Louis Arena because it was a winning side.
"I noticed there weren't many teams that brought in double figures," Rose said. "It was mainly Philadelphia that had a big crowd all the time. So, you'd like to play in Philadelphia, but everyone else was like 4,000 or 5,000 people, even in New York. No matter how good we were, they couldn't really draw a big crowd."
Rose holds the honor of scoring the first goal in club history in a 5-4 defeat at the Cleveland Force on Dec. 1, 1979, finding the net 3:26 after the opening kickoff off an assist by Kevin Handlan for a 1-0 lead.
His most memorable moment came in the first MISL game in St. Louis on Dec. 14, 1979. On the downside, the Steamers dropped a 5-4 decision to the Hartford Hellions on a goal that Jose Neto headed and deflected off Rose's foot and into the net with 11 agonizing seconds remaining in regulation. But that was only half of it. The player introductions and start of the game were delayed for 15 minutes because the Arena was filling up with 18,005 souls.
Finally, the player introductions came.
Rose was the first player introduced to the crowd as he ran through the steam.
"I ran out and I just stopped in my tracks," he said. "I went, 'Wow, this place is full to the brim!' We got 18,000 in here. I don't even know how much it was at the time."
Rose also competed in what has been considered one of the greatest indoor soccer games during the MISL semifinals as the host team on March 27, 1981. Entering the fourth quarter facing a seemingly insurmountable 6-1 deficit against the archrival Wichita Wings, St. Louis rallied to knot things up at 7-7 in regulation. The Steamers won in overtime, 8-7.
"We had a chat before the fourth quarter started and said, 'one at a time,’ " Rose said. "Wichita was a very skillful, talented team. We had a grudge against them, they had it against us. When the momentum changed, we went to 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, I think they got a little worried. We were all pumped up. We got more adrenaline pumping than them. We just took it to them.
"There were people that left the game, because we were getting beat so bad. They were listening to it on the radio. Some of them turned back around to get back to the stadium to watch."
The Steamers, however, lost to the rival Arrows, 6-5, in the final two days later, on a goal by, you guessed it, Zungul, with 30 seconds remaining in regulation.
"Had the game would have gone another minute or have gone into overtime. I believe we would have won because we had the momentum," Rose said. "But they had that one guy. Like I said, Zungul gets a half a chance and that's it."
Rose was released after the 1985-86 MISL season. While working on a gutter of his Ballwin, Mo. home, he fell off his roof and landed on his head on concrete. Rose suffered a fractured skull and underwent two operations to remove blood clots from his brain. He was blind in his left eye and the left side of his face was paralyzed and had his ear torn off. The ear was sewn back on.
"I could be dead," Rose told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the time. "The doctors tell me people can fall five feet and die. The doctors tell me they don't know why I lived.
"I look at where I fell, and I can't believe I'm alive."
It took a while, but Rose recovered from the accident, managing an indoor facility operated by former U.S. men's national team captain Al Trost.
"A lady came up to me and asked me if I was Carl Rose," the defender told MASLsoccer.com. "She asked me if I wanted to coach. I said, 'Well, I'll come and look at the team.' They were a pretty decent team. I started coaching and we became successful."
He earned an A coaching license as a new door opened for a new career - as a youth coach.
While Rose had accrued much experience as a player, he realized that he needed to learn from other youth coaches.
"If you're going to be good at what you want to do, and you have to learn from people that are more experienced," he said. "There's very few Pele's out there, or Messi's.
"I used to watch the youth coaches in St. Louis and a couple of them won national titles. I would go have a beer with them and ask them questions. I played at a high level. I've never coached before. So, how do you go about it? I always tried to learn playing with Branko Segota, Shep Messing, Julie Veee, and players like that. You learn what to do and what not to do, and you had better do it quickly. Don't make a mistake because if you do, guys like that will put the ball in the back of the net quickly."
Rose and his family moved down from St. Louis to Springfield, Mo. as he established the Carl Rose Soccer Academy. He directed numerous teams to Missouri State Cup and regional titles.
"I had them playing better than they were playing when I formed a team," Rose said. "All the experience that I learned, I tried to give back to them. I don't try to make them be zombies. I don't play the game. If they made a mistake, I give them the option of what was a better choice than what you made. So just teach him what I was taught. It was enjoyable."
Rose, now 71, retired as a coach this past April, noting that he won his first and last matches as a youth coach.
A retirement party was held in Springfield. Eight members of his first team from 35 years ago showed up.
"They're 48, 49 years old. They spent the weekend," he said. "About 100 or so people turned up. It was fun. That was an honor. Every time I go to St. Louis if they know I'm there coaching they want to go out and have dinner and a drink. I'm quite honored. I'm a blessed man. I guess I'm just blessed to have been able to do the things that I wanted to do."
You can add resilient and resolve as well.
Michael Lewis, the editor of FrontRowSoccer.com, can be followed on Twitter at @SoccerWriter. Lewis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He has written two books" Alive and Kicking: The incredible, but true story of the Rochester Lancers and a sequel, STILL AND ALIVE AND KICKING: The story of the 21st century Rochester Lancers. It has many features about indoor soccer and MASL players. Both books can be purchased at www.RochesterLancersBook.com.