Certainly the most remarkable player to emerge to date from North Carolina, this biography presents the first “half” of his soccer story. While the story is already replete with a multitude of significant accomplishments, it is clear that the second “half” of the story will bring even more because Eddie is still a capable and active player.
National Team: He played for the South team in the 1993 and 1994 U.S. Olympic Festivals. In the summer of 1994, Eddie debuted with the U.S. U-23’s. He was a regular for the team from 1994 to 1996, playing every minute of every game for the USA at the 1995 Pan American Games. He has been a regular for the US National Team since making his debut in late 1996 in a World Cup qualifier, a 2-0 U.S. win over Trinidad and Tobago and started all three games at the 1996 Olympics. His first national team goal was scored against Canada on March 16, 1997. Eddie was nearly left off of the national team after turning down his first invitation in fall 1996 to pursue his education. He has always demonstrated intelligent, consistent play since joining the team. He is a solid defender who can come forward in the flow of the game as well as on set pieces, making him a constant threat, and is a versatile player who can play wide or central in the defense. In 1997, he scored the biggest international goal in the USA’s 2-2 World Cup qualifying tie with Mexico and scored a goal in the USA’s 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Canada. He was included among the AT & T’s Best 11 in 1997 and 1998 and was named the Honda Player of the Year in 1997 as the top player in the U.S. He started every qualifier for the ’98 World Cup except for three, scoring two goals and ranking second in minutes played. In 1998, he scored against Costa Rica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and played a full 90 minutes in the historical defeat of Brazil, 1-0, advancing to the Gold Cup finals. He was a starter on the US team in the ’98 World Cup.
Professional: Eddie was drafted by Major League Soccer’s Washington, D.C. United in the first round (2nd overall) of the first college draft of the MLS and scored the game-winning goal in overtime to give United the inaugural MLS Cup title over the LA Galaxy. In 1997, at the age of 23 he was named the MLS Defender of the Year. Upon Eddie’s return in 1998 from World Cup competition, Eddie led DC United to 12 consecutive victories in all competitions and to victory in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. His goal in the final gave United the first continental club honor ever for the USA when United defeated CD Toluca 1-0. In 1998, he was voted the Futbol De Primera Player of the Year by the U.S. media.
College: Starting every game of his college career, he was named in 1993 to second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and in 1994 to first-team All-ACC, All-South Region and NCAA All-America. As a freshman he practiced with the UNC-CH Tar Heels as a place kicker, but chose to concentrate on soccer. Fall 1996 saw him successfully attend classes at UNC while playing with D.C. United and the U.S. National team, commuting to and from Chapel Hill and Washington, D.C.
High School: At Southwest Guilford High School, Eddie played four years of soccer, three years of football as a place kicker and one year of baseball. He was the first athlete in North Carolina to be invited to both the soccer and football high school all-star games. His longest field goal in high school was 48 yards.
Family: Eddie began playing soccer at age six. His favorite player is Pele and he is interested in pursuing a career as a lawyer. Born in 1973, he is the son of George and Lillian Pope. His brother is a musician who attended the North Carolina School of the Arts and his sister graduated from law school at North Carolina Central University.
The Eddie Pope Foundation: The Eddie Pope Foundation is the result of a vision held by Eddie Pope. In addition to loving the game of soccer, Eddie also loves children, especially those children who face special challenges. The foundation offers a year round program for young people, who, if left unaided, are at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of violence, of abusing drugs and becoming teen moms, and of becoming the products of poor educational opportunities. 100% free to all participants, the program presently operates in High Point and New Bern, NC, and in Washington, DC.