As we count down the days until the MLS season begins, we will be looking at 25 players from greater Philadelphia who have made an impact on the league 25 years after the first ball was kicked. Read the rest of the series at brotherlygame.com/philly-mls-25.
Players who played in the early days of MLS can sometimes be tough to find a lot of information about in web and news article searches.
Brian Kelly is not one of those players.
The California-born Kelly, who starred at Lake Lehman High School and for FC Delco after his family relocated to the Shavertown area from the western part of the state his freshman year, was written about quite extensively during his teenager years. We’re talking full spreads with photographs and pull-out graphics, national publication PARADE Magazine and more.
Between his exploits for club — his FC Delco team was national finalists in 1992 — and high school, the United States U17, U20 and U23 teams and Duke University, Kelly was well known in soccer circles both her and abroad. Queens Park Rangers in England was said at the time to be scouting him and he was the youngest player on the team when he first joined the U23s.
After his final season in high school he was named by PARADE as the national boys player of the year. He then went on to star at Duke, where he was a third-team all-American in 1995, which was also the year the Blue Devils made it all the way to the College Cup final.
Kelly’s pro journey began in 1997 when he was selected fifth overall by the MetroStars in the MLS SuperDraft. He went on to be a reliable player at the pro level with a respectable 10 goals and 11 assists in 98 regular season appearances and just a little over 6,000 minutes after making stops with LA Galaxy and the Tampa Bay Mutiny.
On this date in 1998, the MetroStars lost 2-1 at Tampa Bay.— Today In RBNY History (@RBNY_History) September 13, 2020
We usually don't show GIFs of losses, so why do we have this GIF of Brian Kelly scoring Metro's lone goal? Beats me. Ex-Metro Paul Dougherty tied it and Mauricio Ramos's 85th minute goal won it for the Mutiny. pic.twitter.com/BbjYYJq0yL
One of the more interesting moments of Kelly’s career is when he was a late sub in the final of the 2000 Concacaf Champions Cup. LA Galaxy was beating Olimpia 3-2 in the final at the LA Coliseum in January 2001 with seconds winding down so his cameo in the match lasted mere seconds. As he ran on the field, the whistle blew and the Galaxy were crowned the top team in Concacaf, which today would be the equivalent of winning Champions League.
Three months later, Kelly was part of U.S. soccer history again when he was loaned to the relaunched Portland Timbers and scored the team’s first goal. It would be his only game with the pre-MLS Timbers.
Kelly ended up retiring after making just two appearances for the Mutiny in 2001. He moved to New York City, where he’s been working in finance ever since. He was inducted into the FC Delco Hall of Fame in 2000 and was honored by his high school as part of the Knights of the Roundtable Class of 2012.