"The Chevrolet/U.S. Soccer Player of the Year award is a great aspect of the Chevrolet/U.S. Soccer relationship," said Bill Ames, Chevrolet's National Merchandising Manager. "Like U.S. Soccer, Chevrolet is dedicated to quality and performance: two traits which are exhibited in champions like Cobi Jones and Mia Hamm, who have both shown incredible class on and off the field in dealing with their popularity. Chevrolet is proud to highlight their contributions to the sport."
Cobi Jones earned the award for his consistency at the international and domestic level in 1998. Jones' 15 games played and 14 games started were a team high for the USA, and helped raise his all-time cap total to 111. That total enabled him to become the youngest player in the sports world history to reach the 100-cap plateau. An amazing accomplishment for the 28-year-old star, who is as well known for his soccer exploits as he is for his "Hollywood" visibility as a frequent MTV contributor.
Domestically, Jones had a breakout year in Major League Soccer, helping the Galaxy establish several MLS records while setting a few of his own on the way. As the catalyst in the Los Angeles offense, he helped the Galaxy break MLS marks in regular season record (24-8), regular season points (61) and goals scored (71). Jones himself contributed 19 goals and 13 assists, placing him second in the league in scoring (51 points) and making him one of three finalists for the 1998 MLS Most Valuable Player award. The three-time MLS All-Star also became the all-time league leader in hat tricks (4) and Player of the Week selections (7).
"At the beginning of the year, I told some people privately that I was going to add leadership to my approach not only with the Galaxy, but with the National Team as well," said Jones. "Except for a little bit of a bitter taste in the way it all ended (the Galaxy losing in the semifinals and the U.S. losing three games as the World Cup), I was generally pleased with how the year turned out. You still have to look at the positives."
The awards, accolades and broken records just keep on coming for U.S. Women's National Team superstar Mia Hamm, who has won the Chevrolet/U.S. Soccer honor five years in a row. In September, she became only the third player in international soccer history to score more than 100 goals and finished with 20 goals and 20 assists in 1998, making it her most prolific year ever. Her 101 career goals make her the all-time Women's National Team leading scorer and leave her just eight goals shy of breaking the world record of 108 goals set by Elisabetta Vignotto of Italy.
Her 100th goal came on Sept. 18, 1998 in Rochester, N.Y., in front of a sold out crowd of 14,000 at Frontier Field.
"It was a fantastic night, certainly one that I will remember forever," said Hamm. "The crowd was great and it was a lot of fun, but it was even better because I could share it with my teammates. I wouldn't have scored any goals without them and it's a credit to this team that we can have moments like that."
On top of all her individual efforts, she helped the USA establish the best single season record in U.S. Women's National Team history at 22-1-2. The award marks a U.S. Soccer record fifth consecutive year she has been so recognized.
"This year's award could have gone to a number of her teammates," said U.S. Women's National Team head coach Tony DiCicco, siting Kristine Lilly and Joy Fawcett as examples. "But the simple fact of the matter is Mia just got better in 1998. She had the greatest year of any women's player in the history of the game."
Criteria for the Chevrolet/U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award is broken into three categories: (a) competing at an exceptional national team level during the previous calendar year; (b) exhibiting decorum on and off the field which reflects well on U.S. Soccer; and (c) contributing toward the growth, development and popularization of soccer in the United States.
Voting for the award was representative of U.S. Soccer's General Secretariat, including department heads from within the Federation's headquarters, as well as current U.S. National Team head coaches and the chairman of the National Team's Committee.
In December, Chicago Fire and U.S. Under-23 National Team forward Josh Wolff and University of North Carolina and U.S. Women's National Team forward Cindy Parlow were recognized as the first ever Chevrolet/U.S. Soccer Youth Players of the Year. Wolff starred for the double champion Chicago Fire, helping them to the MLS Cup '98 crow and the 1998 U.S. Open Cup title. He scored 8 goals in 14 games for the Fire, and 12 more in the A-League with the Nike U.S. Pro-40 team. Parlow added to her already impressive resume, taking home both the Missouri Athletic Club and Herman Trophy awards for the second straight year. At age 20, Parlow already has 17 goals in 42 U.S. national team appearances.
|1984||Rick Davis||not awarded|
|1985||Perry Van der Beck||Sharon Remer|
|1986||Paul Caligiuri||April Heinrichs|
|1987||Brent Goulet||Carin Jennings|
|1988||Peter Vermes||Joy Biefeld|
|1989||Mike Windischmann||April Heinrichs|
|1990||Tab Ramos||Michelle Akers-Stahl|
|1991||Hugo Perez||Michelle Akers-Stahl|
|1992||Marcelo Balboa||Carin Gabarra (Carin Jennings)|
|1993||Thomas Dooley||Kristine Lilly|
|1994||Marcelo Balboa||Mia Hamm|
|1995||Alexi Lalas||Mia Hamm|
|1996||Eric Wynalda||Mia Hamm|
|1997||Kasey Keller||Mia Hamm|
|1998||Cobi Jones||Mia Hamm|
|Year||Male Youth Player of the Year||Female Youth Player of the Year|
|1998||Josh Wolff||Cindy Parlow|
Ht: 5-7 Wt.: 145
Born: June 16, 1970; Detroit, Michigan
Experience: Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS) 1996-98
USA: Started and played every minute of the U.S. National Team's three first round games of the 1998 World Cup in France ... Led team with 15 games played and 14 starts, and was second with 1,116 minutes in 1998 ... Is third among U.S. National Team players in all-time caps with 111...Is the youngest player to reach 100 caps in international soccer history...He is second in all-time assists with 12 ... Appeared in all four matches of the 1994 World Cup.
Professional: Had a career year for the Los Angeles Galaxy, finishing second in MLS scoring with 19 goals and 13 assists in 1998 ... His total of 51 points almost equaled his point total from the previous two MLS seasons (54) ... Became only the third player in MLS history to score more than 50 points in a season ... Was one of three finalists for the 1998 Most Valuable Player Award ... Earned an unprecedented five MLS Player of the Week selections during the course of the '98 season ... Also became the MLS leader in hat tricks with four, three of which came this past season ... Is a three-time MLS All-Star and was named to the 1998 AT&T Best Eleven.
College: Tied for the most career assists (37) at UCLA ... Started all 22 games in 1991 for UCLA and was the fourth leading scorer on the team with 8 goals ... Started all 23 games as a sophomore, leading the team in scoring with eight goals and seven assists ... Earned All-West honors for three consecutive seasons (1989-91).
Personal: Hosts his own television show, an informative special on health and fitness entitled "Mega Dose" that appears on MTV...One of the most popular soccer players in the country, especially with children.
Ht: 5-5 Wt.: 160
Born: March 19, 1972; Selma, Alabama
College: University of North Carolina
Experience: U.S. Women's Team 1987-98
USA: Had her most prolific year ever for the U.S. Women's National Team, scoring 20 goals and adding 20 assists in 1998 ... Became just the third player in women's soccer history to score 100 goals when she scored two goals in a 4-0 win over Russia in Rochester, N.Y. to reach her current total of 101 ... Helped the USA to their best single season record ever (22-1- 2) ... Has been named U.S. Soccer's Female Athlete of the Year for the past five years ('94-'98) ... Started 21 of 25 matches in '98, giving her 157 caps to remain second all-time in U.S. Soccer history and the world ... Has led the U.S. squad in scoring for the past four years ... Is youngest woman to play for USA, appearing at age 15 against China on August 3, 1987.
College: Was a two-time Missouri Athletic Club and Hermann Trophy recipient (1992, '93) ... Won four NCAA championships with UNC ('89, '90, '92 and '93) ... A three-time NSCAA All- American, she completed her collegiate career as the ACC's all-time leading scorer in goals (103), assists (72) and points (278)...Had her UNC jersey (#19) retired in 1994.
Personal: Won an ESPY as the Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year in 1997 ... Named by People Magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in '97 ... Received the prestigious honor of being named the Women's Sports Foundation Athlete of the Year in '97.
Chevrolet/U.S. Soccer Athletes of the Year Announcement
MIA HAMM, U.S. Women's National Team forward
On the award and the team: "It's definitely a tremendous honor. I don't take this award lightly. Any of the players here could have received this award. I'm just excited about all of our progress. So many things have been said about our team, I just feel like we've been getting better every day. If we continue this improvement, we should be there (in the final) in Pasadena."
On their goal for the World Cup: "Ours is no different from any other team. That's what we're preparing for. We're preparing to win just like Norway, Germany and China. If you go into this kind of tournament not thinking you're going to win, then..."
Asked if there are any weaknesses in her game: "There are so many things in my game that need improvement, like not finishing as well as I need to. I understand that I have time before the first game of the World Cup, so I'm not worried."
On any difference in her play over the last five years: "All five years have been different. Hopefully I've gotten better over the years...maybe more sophisticated...I think those are the types of goals that you're seeing now."
When asked why they're not facing tougher opponents in preparation for the World Cup: "I think we are. We're not playing them at the beginning, but when we go to Portugal (for the annual Algarve Cup in mid-March), it's basically a mini World Cup. These first couple of games, it's not that we're playing teams that don't necessarily have the talent, they just don't have the experience."
On facing the top tier of teams: "We've played those teams so many times, there really are no secrets. Hopefully our focus and execution on that day is better than theirs."
On the state of the team: "We have players that can play any position...That's exciting for us because it gives us so many more weapons. I'm excited for what that can bring to our team."
COBI JONES, U.S. National Team midfielder
On the level of the training in Orlando: "It's definitely different from the ones we've had before. It's been very intense, usually lasting an hour to an hour and a half. I think you'll find that's what players like. So far, everyone's very happy with the way Bruce (Arena) is handling things."
"It's been more like training with a European team...training sessions are short and intense. I was very surprised that he had more of a laidback approach, especially with his two titles with DC, I expected him to be more strict. I think he gets along with the players very well, and I think that's good for the team.
"(Bruce's) personality is laidback, but training is intense. We have a lot of fresh faces and a lot of players who are trying to make their mark...giving 120% day in and day out."
On his role with the team in 1999: "As far as this team is concerned, unofficially its been asked of me to take more of a leadership role on this team. Considering now that I'm kind of one of the veteran players, it's time for me to step up to fill that role.
On their 1-0 exhibition win over Glasgow Rangers yesterday: "We're still at the point where players are trying to get used to each other. There were some good performances out there, but there were some mistakes were made. But you can only expect improvement in the future."
BRUCE ARENA, U.S. National Team Head Coach
On what to accomplish with the Jan. 24 game against Bolivia: "I think things are going well. We're still in a feeling out process, with me getting to know the players and the players getting to know me. Overall, we're trying to simply increase our competitiveness. We're not concerned totally in the result, but we are going to go out and give a solid 90 minutes."
On the importance of winning games: "My concern is building a team that is prepared to qualify in 2000...whether we need to win games now or later. It's about developing a new team. We're creating a new player pool and giving new players a chance to play. I'm pretty confident this team will show up on Sunday and give a great performance."
When asked about France '98: "I'm not sure we've even talked about it. We're focusing on a new era for U.S. Soccer. In all honesty, '98 hasn't come across my mind. The mood in camp has been a good one."
On the biggest surprise of training camp: "There hasn't been one specific player who has surprised me. The biggest surprise to me is the players we brought in in November. Back then they felt uncomfortable. Now they feel like they belong. It's made for much improved play in camp. Our young players are a real plus in my mind."
On the state of the team/players that were sent home: "It'll be a revolving door here over the next three matches. These players know that they I can call them back at any time and the door is still open."