Volume IV, Issue 11
Table of Contents
1) ARMCHAIR MIDFIELDER [MLS 2004: Winners / Wait & See]
A monthly column about the State of U.S. Soccer that takes a hard look at everything from the performance of the U.S. National Teams to pro soccer in the good â€˜ole U-S-of-A . If youâ€™re looking for a viewpoint that you wonâ€™t see in a generic, nuts-and-bolts U.S. Soccer press release, youâ€™ve come to the right place.
Here's a quick look back at some of the Winners and Wait & See topics that emerged in MLS in 2004, a topsy-turvy season in American soccer if ever there was one:
D.C. Back in the Cup: After winning three of the first four MLS Cups, D.C. fans went through some lean years from 2000-03 that surely tested their faith in the Black & Red. But the dog days are over, at least for now, with their spirited return to the top of MLS. Who knew Peter Nowak would be able to sidestep the pressure to play Freddy early and work the kind of magic he did to get them to the final?
2) IN 3â€™s (w/ U-19 WNT defender Rachel Buehler)
Whatâ€™s it going to be? Door number one, door number two, or door number THREE?!? Okay, so this section has less to do with â€œLetâ€™s Make A Dealâ€ and more to do with the Multiple Choice section of an SAT test. â€œIn 3â€™sâ€ peeks inside the head of a select National Team player as they pick one of three choices for 25 questions about personal tastes and pop culture.
Under-19 defender Rachel Buehler is, like many players that dot National Team rosters, a California kid through and through. When sheâ€™s not recovering from a pair of ACL injuries or anchoring the U.S. defense at the FIFA U-19 Womenâ€™s World Championship, the freckle-faced San Diego native likes to snowboard and eat In-n-Out burgers. And when she gets back from Thailand, hopefully with a tournament gold medal around her neck, the aspiring medical school student will hope to follow in Julie Foudyâ€™s footsteps both on the field and in the classroom at Stanford.
Favorite big city in the U.S.: Chicago, L.A. or NYC?
â€œIâ€™ve only been to Chicago and New York once, and it was only for a day, so I guess it has to be L.A. But I donâ€™t really like L.A. that much. Isnâ€™t San Diego a big city? I think San Diego is the best. Itâ€™s â€˜Americaâ€™s Finest City.â€™â€
Favorite side of San Diego: La Jolla, Coronado Island or Mission Beach?
â€œI have to pick La Jolla, because itâ€™s closest to Del Mar where I live. I have fond memories of La Jolla Cove because my dad used to take me snorkeling there and I used to love going to see the seals. Okay, I still love going to see the seals.â€
Best date activity: dinner and a movie, sporting event or comedy club?
â€œWell, my first date with my current boyfriend we went to dinner at Benihana and it was awesome with the guy chopping up everything in front of you. But we have gone to San Diego Padres games as well, so itâ€™s a toss-up.â€
3) GEAR GALORE (MNT Retro Jerseys)
In a new piece for 2004, we engage in some shameless self-promotion by spotlighting a different U.S. Soccer product each month, from the newest, state-of-the-art Nike apparel to all kinds of other exclusive U.S. Menâ€™s & Womenâ€™s merch.
Admit it, you like fashion. And in fashion, retro is always â€œin.â€ Which is why weâ€™re introducing another tribute to the history of our national teams with a U.S. Menâ€™s National Team Retro Jersey.
The U.S. Menâ€™s National Team will be wearing the commemorative kit when they face Jamaica on Nov. 17 at Crew Stadium. The 2004 white retro jersey features the an early version of the U.S. Soccer crest on the right breast, a bold red stripe across the chest and Â¾ length sleeves, almost identical to the uniforms worn when the U.S. Men pulled off the amazing 1-0 upset of England at the 1950 FIFA World Cup.
The 2003 version of the retro jersey sold out quickly, so you best get to buyinâ€™.
4) â€œQUERIES & ANECDOTESâ€ (w/ MNT Defender Tony Sanneh)
Off-the-wall Questions and Answers, Queries and Anecdotes from U.S. Menâ€™s National Team defender Tony Sanneh.
Sannehâ€™s career path through the sport of soccer is one of the more interesting and storybook tales in recent history. He came up the hard way, making a name at a small soccer school (Univ. of Milwaukee-Wisconsin) and excelling in two years in the A-League (first for the Milwaukee Rampage, then for the Minnesota Thunder) before getting a shot in MLS. After two rings in three years as part of the D.C. United dynasty, he made yet another jump up in level of play when he went off to play in the German Bundesliga. Proving time and again that he can succeed at any level, he was a natural choice for U.S. Menâ€™s National Team duty, where he went on to play all five games at the 2002 FIFA World Cup and helped the U.S. to an eighth-place finish. Now at 33 years of age, heâ€™s back where he belongs in the Midwest with the Columbus Crew, joining the team in the midst of an 18-game unbeaten streak before they got upset in the playoffs.
Center Circle: What are three words that describe your experience in Germany?
Tony Sanneh: Growing, rewarding, and challenging.
CC: Is there anything you miss about Germany, either on or off the field?
TS: Playing in front of full stadiums. And the paychecks!
CC: What was your best moment as a player in your years there?
TS: In 2002, we had to beat Leverkusen to stay in the Bundesliga, and they had to beat us to win the championship. They were already in the finals of the Champions League. We won the game 1-0, and I played center back/sweeper. I played one of my best games, and it was very rewarding because everyone was working together for a common goal. I didn't realize how big a deal it was until after the game and everyone started going crazy.
5) â€œMARK THAT CALENDARâ€
A stern reminder about an upcoming U.S. Soccer-related event, whether you plan to check it out live and in person, on the â€œtellyâ€ or that wacky world wide web.
MNT World Cup Qualifying â€“ Nov. 17
[LIVE @ 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2 & ussoccer.comâ€™s MatchTracker]
Okay, so the 6-0 pummeling of Panama in D.C. was about as convincing as it gets. Iâ€™ll stop all the talk about us not winning impressively enough in qualifying. The fact is that we qualified rather easily, compared to the dogfights that will go on come Nov. 17 for the last three spots in the CONCACAF Hexagonal.
Now that weâ€™re through to the next round, why should you tune it to watch the final game? A couple of reasons, actually. For one, to see who Bruce picks to take the field now that he has what amounts to a free game to give young players experience, experiment with players in different positions or maybe start a top-shelf lineup but try out a new formation.
Another reason would be to watch the MNT knock out Jamaica and extend their record unbeaten streak in 2004 to 13 games.
Catch the final MNT game of the year live on the tube on ESPN2 or on the web at ussoccer.comâ€™s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The match will also be shown via tape delay on Telemundo at 11:30 p.m. ET / PT.
6) â€œBEHIND THE LENSâ€ (w/ MNT Videographer Mark Thomas)
Emmy award-winning producer Mark Thomas has been tagging along and filming hours and hours of behind-the-scenes footage with the U.S. Menâ€™s National Team as they progress through World Cup qualifying. Thomas has been the eyes and the ears, giving ussoccer.com viewers an excellent â€œAll_Accessâ€ insight to the practices, the players and the games. In this special one-time piece, Thomas tells us what itâ€™s been like to be â€œone of the guysâ€ while on the road with the MNT.
Having spent my entire life around sports, I know most of them extremely well. Soccer isnâ€™t one of them. I donâ€™t have the foggiest notion as to why a team would play 4-4-2 versus a 3-5-2. But I am getting an education. So when you view the â€œAll Accessâ€ stories, you can think of them as an outsider looking in and learning.
The first thing I want to tell you is that, by far, this is the best group of athletes I have ever been around. They are genuinely good people, and they all seem very normal. They are like regular guys you could see yourself hanging around. Theyâ€™re all educated and have interests outside of soccer. Weâ€™ve sat around the table at mealtime and discussed things as random but interesting as the construction of the Panama Canal. In El Salvador, I watched a large group of players stay after dinner to watch the second Bush-Kerry debate. Like any group of people, they have a wide range of views.
As you would suspect, thereâ€™s a collage of personalities on the team. Different guys have different roles. For example, it took me all of about five minutes around ...
7) CAN YOU HAIKU? (Farewell to Mia, Julie & Joy)
The hits keep on coming with our "Can You Haiku?" piece, with another great group of entries for our special September/October double issue. For this month's issue, we're asked for poetry about the retirement of Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett, who will be making their last appearance in a USA jersey on Dec. 8 at The Home Depot Center. Whether it was an ode to one specific player or all three, you all raised the bar with this batch, so much so that it was near impossible to pare down the entries to a bakerâ€™s dozen. Here are the best of the best entries:
Three ladies with class
Pioneers once, now legends
Cleats of gold rest now.
--Pete Mullen / 42 / Peru, N.Y.
Mia! the girls screamed.
Then she took her final bow.
The stands are silent.
--Bill Reamy / 59 / Towson, Md.
8) â€œYOU DONâ€™T KNOW JACK (MARSHALL)â€ (MLS Cup Trivia)
Think you know your soccer trivia? Weâ€™ll be the judge of that. Pop quiz: who the heck is Jack Marshall? Even the trivia buffs in the U.S. Soccer Communications Department would be hard-pressed to tell you that one Jack Marshall received his one and only cap way back in 1926. Okay, that was pretty much impossible. They get easier.
There have been some great MLS Cups, and some just okay MLS Cups, but now that itâ€™s Year Nine of the league, thereâ€™s just enough history that you might have forgotten sayâ€¦which team won the title in 2001. (The answer is San Jose, dummy.) If you didnâ€™t get that one, good luck with these:
1. Who is the only player to score a goal in consecutive MLS Cups?
2. Which team has played in all three overtime games in MLS Cup history?
3. Which three players have two career goals in MLS Cup matches?
4. Which four goalkeepers have posted shutouts in MLS Cup?