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Who will win 2003 MLS MVP?


In this playful piece, we pose a question or make a statement about something in soccer that will be opined about, agreed and disagreed on, by YOU, the reader. No more talking heads giving safe, politically correct answers. Those days are over. Instead, we’ve opened the floor to everyone out there in Cyberland to throw in their two cents.

For the March issue, we asked you: Who will be the 2003 MLS MVP (and why)?

To be quite honest, the responses were pretty much in agreement. It looks like a three-man race between a trio of U.S. Men’s National Team strikers that not only share great summer memories from Korea, but own the dubious distinction of having their MLS careers dampened by injuries that have prevented them from putting together a standout level of play across an entire 32-game season. From McBride brimming with confidence from his recent EPL stint, to Mathis’s attitude adjustment as captain of the U.S. team, to Wolff’s change of scenery, you’re all high on these talented, but snakebit stars.

Before we get to the responses, I must say one thing to the person who picked former A-League star Brian Ching to be the best player in MLS in ’03: Brian Ching will not be the best player in MLS in ’03. Don’t get me wrong—I love the A-League. But playing against the Los Angeles Galaxy at a packed Home Depot Center is a lot different than facing the Cincinnati Riverhawks at the sold-out Hamilton County Fairgrounds. But I digress… The following is a sampling of your picks for 2003 MLS MVP:

Brian McBride:
“McBride will have what most in the world would consider a full season of soccer once MLS is complete with the addition of the loan time he did at Everton. His impact there has shown his ability on the world stage so he should be able to carry that over into the MLS season. No team needs a player more then the Crew needs McBride. With the addition of Frankie Hedjuk in the back to bolster a progressive fullback front, McBride should be the focus of an offensive-minded Columbus team.”
- Andrew Smock

“With all of his success at Everton, I think this is going to be the year of Brian McBride. In the past he has not performed as well in MLS as he has for the National Team, but I think he is ready to have a breakout year. He is going to surprise a lot of people (the Crew faithful included) and take home the title of MVP.”
- Sara Nac / 17 / Columbus, Ohio

“I say Brian McBride returns from loan to Everton with even more confidence and mystique--and a few more tricks up his sleeve--to finally help bring the Cup to Columbus.”
- Gian Petersen / 35 / Oakland, Calif.

Clint Mathis:
“The 2003 MLS MVP will be Clint Mathis. He will finally be able to play his first full season since being injured and still winning the MetroStars team scoring title two seasons ago. In addition to that he is surrounded by more weapons than ever, and he is at his best when being able to control ball distribution as well as creating his own shots. Not only that, but his MLS contract is up soon, so he will be motivated to show MLS he is worth keeping, as well as showing the big foreign clubs he is worth bidding on.”
- Kevin Pugliese / 23 / Nutley, N.J.

“I project Clint Mathis as the MLS MVP for 2003. He has the skills to dazzle the crowd, the motivation to make this his year in the MLS, the fellow players to support him and the coach to keep his volatile personality in check.”
- Kevin Etzel / 47 / Irvington, N.Y.

Josh Wolff:
“If Josh Wolff remains healthy, he could have a breakthrough year with Kansas City. Wolff could finally be the forward target that the Wizards have been missing since Miklos Molnar retired. With a crafty veteran like Preki (who still makes the prettiest passes in the league), and a great crosser in Chris Klein, Wolff could rack up the scoring stats and possibly steal the MVP this year. For Wolff to make it through a full season uninjured is a big IF, however.”
- Rob Stoddard / 29 / Kansas City, Mo.

“Josh Wolff will be MVP because he will finally complete the season 100% healthy. He's got all of the tools: dribbling, speed, shot, anticipation and vision, to make a major contribution to KC. I feel he will lead the league in scoring. This will be his breakout year.”
- Derek J. McCracken / 40 / Pittsburgh, Pa.

Others:
MLS. Period. If these players all match up to their expectations then the real winner will be the fans and MLS. The level of play will step up a notch this year. On the heels of a great 2002 and the U.S. Men's National Team success in Korea, the MLS will prove once and for all that this league is worth mention with the likes of all the major soccer leagues of the world. As for the player who will come out and prove that he is the tops. I have to go once again with Carlos Ruiz. There wasn't any one player in MLS in 2002, who showed more consistency and drive. When the Galaxy needed goals, he was there to notch them. We aren't talking about poached goals. These were world class strikes by a player who showed his true heart through and through. He has the speed, stamina and strength to take on anyone and make a goal out of absolutely nothing.”
- Daniel Bona / 40 / Danvers, Mass.

“I believe that by the end of the season Earnie Stewart will show us exactly what he's been doing in Holland. His leadership, skill, savy, and determination will give us a glimpse of what this league will need to be successful. Earnie Stewart will be the 2003 MVP.”
- Ted Wagner / 34 / Charlotte, N.C.

“I believe that the MVP for the MLS in 2003 will not be a high powered, and often threatening goal scorer. Nor will he be one of the brave men who tend the goal between the posts. Value is not always gauged by points, instead it is the ability to play on both sides of the ball, offensively AND defensively. Effectively providing opportunities for his teams success. Judging with those criteria in mind, my vote would be for Pablo Mastroeni of the Colorado Rapids. I believe he fits that description well, which makes him a very valuable player. Perhaps the MOST!
- Curtis White / 29 / Lisle, Ill.

Thanks to everyone for the responses to the March question. As you know, the odds of being printed are better if you keep it under 150 words so that we can put as many as 10 opinions on display each month.

Now it’s WUSA’s turn. The April question: Who will be the 2003 WUSA MVP
(and why)?

Can “the legend” finally live up to her billing as the world’s best player across an entire WUSA season? Will Tiffeny Milbrett get the Power back on track and pour in 20 goals to again lead the league in scoring? Or will it be a foreign player who will again turn heads, as Hege Riise, Bridgit Prinz and Marinette Pinchon have done across the first two years? The stage is also set for a dynamic player like Aly Wagner to have a phenomenal rookie season and prove why she was the number one pick.

Okay, that’s all the help you’re getting from me. It’s your time to decide. E-mail your BRIEF, but well-crafted response to centercircle@ussoccer.org. PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR FULL NAME, AGE AND CITY OF RESIDENCE. Feel free to submit responses for as many months as you wish, but in the interest of sharing the spotlight, we will be giving space to different respondents from month to month.

If you like giving us your take on things, you'd probably like to participate in our U.S. Soccer Fan Survey at ussoccer.com. You can make your opinion count and win great prizes by following this link and completing the survey. After completing the survey, you will have the opportunity to enter a drawing to receive one of several prizes, including an authentic U.S. Women's National Team jersey, "Our Way" DVDs, replica match balls, and a portable audio player.

Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (Off-season WUSA Pick-ups)
2) In Threes (w/ U-20 MNT forward Knox Cameron)
3) Queries and Anecdotes (w/ MNT, U-23, U-20 MNT midfielder Bobby Convey)
4) Mark That Calendar (MNT vs. Venezuela – March 29)
5) The Wife of Brian (w/ Dina McBride)
6) FAN Point/Counterpoint (Who will win 2003 MLS MVP?)
7) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (MISL Trivia)

Download this issue of Center Circle (.pdf).

***HOW'S OUR WRITING?***
We want feedback. No, really. Positive, negative, indifferent--we take all kinds. Reach us at: centercircle@ussoccer.org.

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