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Archive - Oct./Nov. 2003

"Center Circle"
November 13, 2003
Volume III, Issue 10/11

Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (“Best of U.S. Soccer 2003”: Who Should Win)
2) In Threes (w/ U-20 MNT forward Mike Magee)
3) Making it to the Show (w/ U-23 MNT defender Nat Borchers)
4) Queries & Anecdotes (w/ WNT defender Brandi Chastain)
5) Mark That Calendar (U-20 MNT vs. Group D Opponents – Nov. 29-Dec. 5)
6) Superstar!!! (w/ WNT defender Cat Reddick)
7) Point/Counterpoint (Who will win MLS Cup?])
8) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (U.S. U-20 World Championship Trivia)

Download this issue of Center Circle (.pdf).


1) ARMCHAIR MIDFIELDER ["Best of U.S. Soccer 2003”: Who Should Win]

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 ‘ole U-S-of-A . If you’re looking for a viewpoint that you won’t see in a generic, nuts-and-bolts U.S. Soccer press release, you’ve come to the right place.

The Armchair Midfielder is an opinionated person (in case you hadn’t noticed from past issues). And the Armchair Midfielder has been known to try to influence others with said opinions, which is the goal of this piece as we make picks for U.S. Soccer’s second annual “Best of…” series of awards. [Editor’s Note: Fans can vote once daily for one or all of the 11 awards from now until Dec. 9 at] The envelope, please!!! Below are the best picks (okay, the opinion of one man) for the “Best of U.S. Soccer 2003” honors:

1) Best U.S. Soccer Story: This is a toughie. If the category was biggest U.S. Soccer story, it would be the Women’s World Cup being moved to the USA. If it was the most-talked-about story, it would definitely be the “Great U.S. Hope” tale of Fab Freddy. But my vote for Best U.S. Soccer Story goes to Timmy Howard, whose out-of-nowhere signing and remarkable performance while being thrown into the English Premier League fire at Man-U is the stuff of legends.

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A section that will let you get to know the real personalities of your favorite Men’s, Women’s and Youth National Team players through various funny and unique first-person accounts. In this issue, you’ll find:

2) IN THREEs (w/ U-20 MNT forward Mike Magee)

What’s it going to be? Door number one, door number two, or door number THREE?!? Okay, so this section has less to do with "Let’s Make A Deal" and more to do with the Multiple Choice section of an SAT test. "In Threes" peeks inside the head of a select National Team player as they pick one of three choices for 20-some questions about personal tastes and pop culture.

To get to know U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team star Mike Magee, we take a look at his already impressive resume for the position of Top Young U.S. Forward, followed by the answers to his rapid-fire job interview.

Mike Magee
Hometown: Long Grove, Ill.


Best U.S. city: L.A., N.Y.C. or Chicago?
"Chicago. I grew up there, and there just isn't any comparison."

Best date activity: Movie, Theatre, or Comedy Club?
"I would definitely say a movie. I'm a big movie guy. Plus, if you don't like the girl, you don't have to talk to her."

Best way to relax on the road: see a movie, shop at the mall or play video games?
"Playing video games. We play ‘Tiger Woods Golf’ a lot."

Favorite undergarment: Boxers, briefs or boxer-briefs?

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3) MAKING IT IN THE SHOW (w/ U-23 MNT defender Nat Borchers)

Every so often, we ask a U.S. Youth National Team player who has established themselves in the pro ranks to look back on their first year and tell us about their experiences, good and bad. This time, the 750-word essay assignment was given to Colorado Rapids rookie and current University of Denver graduate student Nat Borchers, whose rapid-ly (Get it? “Rapid”-ly? Huh? Huh? Is this thing on?) improving play across the MLS season earned him his first call-up to the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team camp and a chance to help the team qualify for the 2004 Olympics. Borchers gives us a first-hand account of his roller coaster year that included going undrafted at the 2003 MLS SuperDraft in January, making his first appearance on June 6 and then starting and playing every minute of the next 26 games for one of the better teams in the league.

“As I look back on the events of the previous 11 months, I’m still not sure if I’m awake or if I’m still dreaming.

"In early January of this year I was doing what most college students my age were doing: looking for a job. After a poor tryout with the Dallas Burn, I was interning with Price Waterhouse Coopers, an accounting firm in the Denver area. As a senior at Denver University, taking the quarter off of school to participate in an internship is a recommendation and is necessary to get real world experience in accounting.

"On January 17, three weeks into my internship, the MLS had its draft. I was at work and constantly checked the Internet with great anticipation. I always had dreams of playing professional soccer, but I knew that the odds were not in my favor...

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4) "QUERIES & ANECDOTES" (w/ WNT defender Brandi Chastain)

Off-the-wall Questions and Answers, Queries and Anecdotes from U.S. Women’s National Team defender Brandi Chastain.

Brandi Chastain, the biggest star to come out of the Women's World Cup in 1999, had to take a back seat in 2003 after suffering a broken right foot in the opening game of the tournament, causing her to miss the rest of the competition. After delivering the title four years ago with her game-winning, pressure-cooker penalty kick, Chastain was forced to the bench by a bone not any bigger than a Hot Tamale, and left wondering if she might have been able to add that extra something on the field that would have seen the team playing on the morning of Oct. 12 instead of the afternoon of the day before.

But that wasn't the only soul-searching that Brandi was forced to do in 2003. She also had a pair of personal traumas, losing both her parents -- her mom Lark and her dad Roger --within seven months of each other. Her 2004 has also taken on a vastly different look with demise of the WUSA. Even after experiencing those setbacks, Chastain was the best cheerleader the USA could have asked for on the U.S. bench, constantly encouraging her teammates and giving support from the sidelines throughout the tournament. Now she's ready to leave that role behind and get back on the field to try to make the team for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Center Circle: Looking back on the struggles of 2003 in both your personal and professional life, I can't help but be reminded of the Book of Job. Do you feel like you've this year has been one big test, perhaps the biggest test of your life?
Brandi Chastain: "I look at it being a different challenge. Each challenge I face, seems to be paramount to the challenge before. Hurting my foot was just another type of challenge, one my mom would have told me that I was fortunate to have the opportunity to face. Media types were talking a lot about this World Cup being the last time the veterans will be together. That could be true, but none of the players look at each game like the end is coming. So in that way, I am taking the games like I always have. I want to work hard, get better, contribute to winning and enjoy my team and the players and the places we are fortunate enough to travel to. There are so many more things about the process that I look forward to besides the winning."

CC: Looking back, was there one thing that got you through such a difficult year?
BC: "I think the memories of the good times. The lessons learned, and also possibly the hard times when my parents were there and they never let me give up. They always believed in me. And couple that with the support of teammates and my family all helped get me through it. I remember going back to my second knee surgery, I started to understand the idea that you just have to do things, to move on, to progress. You do things, that's just what you do.

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5) "MARK THAT CALENDAR" [U-20 MNT vs. Group D – 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship / Live on MatchTracker]

  • U-20 MNT vs. Paraguay – Saturday, Nov. 29 – 8:45 a.m. ET
  • U-20 MNT vs. Germany – Tuesday, Dec. 2 – 8:45 a.m. ET
  • U-20 MNT vs. South Korea – Friday, Dec. 5 – 11:30 a.m. ET

A stern reminder about an upcoming U.S. Soccer-related event, whether you plan to check it out live and in person, on the "telly" or that wacky world wide web.

It seems like forever since the original FIFA Under-20 Youth Championship was to be played in United Arab Emirates back in the Spring (initially scheduled for March 25-April 16). The eight months that have passed since the tournament was postponed means that instead of sharing Thanksgiving Day dinner back home with family, they’ll be in a ballroom eating pasta in a city dubbed Abu Dhabi.

The postponement also means that a fair share of U.S. Under-20 players have actually now turned 20. But while some might no longer be teenagers, they’re still being counted on for a solid placing at the USA’s ninth world championship at this age level.

The U.S. will need strong performances from young MLS stars like D.C. United and full Men’s National Team midfielder Bobby Convey, MetroStars forward Mike Magee (who led the U-20s in scoring in 2002 with 14 goals), Dallas Burn forward Eddie Johnson and Indiana University midfielder Ned Grabavoy to earn difficult points against Group F opponents Paraguay (Nov. 29), Germany (Dec. 2) and South Korea (Dec. 5).

In the back, the U.S. is led by a trio of top collegiate defenders in Stanford’s Chad Marshall, C.J. Klaas (Univ. of Washington) and Ryan Cochrane (Santa Clara), as well as Liverpool defender Zak Whitbread and Santa Clara goalkeeper Steve Cronin.

Fans can follow all of the action live on’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

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6) SUPERSTAR!!! (w/ WNT defender Cat Reddick)

A monthly feature about a U.S. Men’s, Women’s or Youth National Team player whose performance demands that bright, shining spotlight. This month, it falls to Southern Belle and recent U.S. Women’s World Cup standout defender Catherine Reddick. You can call her Cat, but only if you buy her some barbecue and a tall glass of sweet tea at Dreamland next time you’re in her neck o’ the woods in Birmingham.

…Got That Right!

Cat Reddick had the 2003 Women’s World Cup all figured out. She would sit on the bench as a key reserve and hopefully get some quality minutes in a few games. She would run on the field at the end of the championship game to celebrate the USA’s Women’s World Cup title (maybe even be on the field as a late-game defensive sub) and enjoy every minute of the journey. It was going to be fun.

Well, she got the last part right. Reddick did enjoy every minute of her first Women’s World Cup, but due to the broken right foot suffered by starting central defender Brandi Chastain in the first half of the USA’s opening match against Sweden in Washington, D.C., Reddick’s tournament changed dramatically at halftime in the locker room at RFK Stadium. She went on for Chastain at the start of the second half and immediately made an impact, stuffing several Swedish attacking forays during the 45 minutes in which the Swedes had the USA on its heels, helping the Americans secure an historic 3-1 victory. She never left the field from that point, starting and playing all 90 minutes in the USA’s next five matches.

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7) "POINT/COUNTERPOINT" (Who will win MLS Cup 2003?)

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.

With the MLS season now down to four teams after this weekend, there's no better time than the present to make predictions for who will be holding the trophy in Carson on Nov. 23, so we asked fans: Who will win MLS Cup 2003? Buoyed by their dazzling and almost-too-hard-to-imagine win over the Galaxy, San Jose has replaced Chicago as the popular choice, but depending on what region of the country you’re from, all four teams have a shot at the title. Below are the best of the best responses:

San Jose Earthquakes:

"After completing the highly improbable comeback against a veteran Galaxy team on Sunday evening, the Quakes will ride that momentum right down to The Home Depot Center in L.A. The leadership of the Earthquakes never even contemplated the possibility of losing. Ekelund got his whole team going after the Galaxy scored their second goal, Goose kicked in his offense dramatically with a brilliant free kick and Donovan streaked by the stretched Galaxy defense. The Quakes are now a team of destiny! They have battled hard all season long through injuries, national team call-up's and complacency over being the best team in MLS. Now is the time to step up and re-capture the Cup."
- Andy Sinsigalli / 36 / San Jose, Calif.

More: /articles/viewArticle.jsp_46552.html


8) "YOU DON’T KNOW JACK (MARSHALL)" (U.S. World Youth Championship Trivia)

Think you know your soccer trivia? We’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. We give you four questions at varying difficulty levels, from 1 (easiest) to 4 (hardest).

Much like our history in the U-17 World Youth Championship, we’ve had ups and downs across the nine times that our Under-20 Men’s National Team has participated in the FIFA World Youth Championship. But like any biased organization, we’ll focus on the positives. (Come on, you’d do it too.)

Q1: Which forward on the U-20 National Team was picked fourth overall in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft after leading the U-20 MNT in scoring in 2002?
[Hint: Read “In 3’s” or “Mark That Calendar”]
Q2: What U.S. Men’s National Team forward is the only player in U.S. men’s history to finish a FIFA Tournament as one of the top three scorers, winning the Bronze Boot at Nigeria 1999?
Q3: What year did the U.S. post its all-time best fourth place finish behind the likes of defender Troy Dayak, midfielder Chris Henderson and defender Steve Snow?
Q4: Which of the five players listed below has NOT scored a goal during a FIFA World Youth Championship tournament?

A. Ryan Futagaki
B. Brian Kelly
C. Chris Albright
D. Kenny Arena
E. Dario Brose

Answers: /articles/viewArticle.jsp_46553.html


Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (“Best of U.S. Soccer 2003”: Who Should Win)
2) In Threes (w/ U-20 MNT forward Mike Magee)
3) Making it to the Show (w/ U-23 MNT defender Nat Borchers)
4) Queries & Anecdotes (w/ WNT defender Brandi Chastain)
5) Mark That Calendar (U-20 MNT vs. Group D Opponents – Nov. 29-Dec. 5)
6) Superstar!!! (w/ WNT defender Cat Reddick)
7) Point/Counterpoint (Who will win MLS Cup?)
8) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (U.S. U-20 World Championship Trivia)

Download this issue of Center Circle (.pdf).

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