2002 MVP RUIZ DELIVERS MLS CUP TITLE WITH GOLDEN GOAL IN 113th MINUTE: MLS MVP Carlos Ruiz netted a golden goal in sudden death overtime as the Los Angeles Galaxy captured their first MLS Cup championship with a dramatic 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., yesterday. The championship for the Galaxy came in their fourth appearance in the title game. Los Angeles, the No. 1 seed of the 2002 postseason and Western Conference champions, had been on the losing end of the 1996, 1999 and 2001 championship games, which included an overtime loss to the San Jose Earthquakes last year. The game-winner came in the 113th minute as Tyrone Marshall fed Ruiz in the center of the penalty box. "El Pescadito," who was also voted MLS Cup MVP, had drifted away from his defender and on the edge of the offside trap where he applied a soft, left-footed touch which beat a sprawling Adin Brown inside the right post. The goal was Ruiz's eighth of the post-season, extending the record he set during the 2002 playoffs. An MLS Cup-record crowd of 61,316 attended the event in the hopes of seeing the hometown team capture its first crown. The attendance mark, which was the highest of the 2002 season (including playoffs) eclipsed the former all-time high of 57,431 set at MLS Cup 1997 and it is also the all-time best in New England soccer history (57,407 on April 20, 1997).
L.A. LOOKS TO BECOME THIRD TEAM TO WIN MLS CUP, OPEN CUP IN SAME YEAR: The MLS’ Columbus Crew will host the defending U.S. Open Cup and recently crowned 2002 MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy for the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final at Crew Stadium on Thursday (Oct. 24) at 7 p.m. ET in a match broadcast live on Fox Sports World and Fox Sports en Espanol and available online on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. The Galaxy will be playing in their second championship game in five days and will be looking to become the first MLS squad to win MLS Cup and the Open Cup in the same year since the Chicago Fire did the “double” in 1998. The Galaxy will also be trying to become the first team since the New York Pancyprian-Freedoms (1982-83) of the Cosmopolitan Soccer League to win back-to-back U.S. Open Cup championships. The Galaxy will be putting an eight-game Open Cup unbeaten streak on the line (matching the Chicago Fire from 2000-2001) and have never lost a tournament match on the road (4-0-1), while the Crew haven't dropped an Open Cup game on their home-soil (6-0-1).
[NOTE TO MEDIA: MLS credentials will not be honored at the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final on Oct. 24. Members of the media wishing to attend the event must contact the U.S. Soccer Communications Department at email@example.com or by calling 312-808-1300 for accreditation.]
U.S. WNT KICKS OFF 2002 WOMEN’S GOLD CUP WITH MATCH VS. MEXICO SUNDAY ON FSW: The U.S. Women’s National Team kicks off the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup on Sunday (Oct. 27) against Mexico at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The U.S. is 7-0-0 all-time versus Mexico, including a 7-0 win at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C., on Jan. 12. The U.S. will complete opening round play with an Oct. 29 match versus Trinidad & Tobago at nearby Titan Stadium in Fullerton, Calif., and a Nov. 2 match against Panama at Safeco Field in Seattle, Wash. Should the U.S. advance, they would meet one of the top two teams from Group B (Canada, Costa Rica, Haiti and Jamaica) in the semi-finals in Seattle on Nov. 6 and then compete in the final at the Rose Bowl on Nov. 9. The tournament is both the women’s championship of this region and the qualifying tournament for the 2003 Women’s World Cup. The two finalists at the 2002 Women’s Gold Cup will automatically qualify for the 2003 Women’s World Cup, while the winner of the tournament’s third-place game will qualify for a Women’s World Cup qualifying playoff against the third place team from Asia. All of the tournament matches are being played as doubleheaders, with all 16 to be televised live on Fox Sports World and 13 of 16 live on Fox Sports en Espanol.
HEINRICHS NAMES VETERAN U.S. ROSTER FOR 2002 CONCACAF WOMEN’S GOLD CUP: U.S. Women’s National Team head coach April Heinrichs named the 18-player roster for the team that will compete in the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup that begins Sunday (Oct. 27) and runs through Nov. 9. The roster features the USA’s most experienced veterans (Lilly, Fawcett, Hamm and Foudy also played in qualification for the 1991 Women’s World Cup), several of whom are closing in on unique career milestones for goals and caps. With her goal against Italy at the 2002 Nike U.S. Women’s Cup on Oct. 6, Lilly tied Michelle Akers for second on the USA’s all-time scoring list with 247 points (89 goals and 69 assists) and with her next point will trail only Hamm in U.S. history. Fawcett is just two caps away from 200, a number she would reach should she play in both the Mexico and T&T games, with the 200th coming in Fullerton, Calif., just a short distance up the freeway from her hometown of Huntington Beach, Calif. Fawcett would become just the fourth player to play 200 times for her country, joining teammates Lilly, Hamm and Foudy. The naming of Scurry and Roberts to the roster represents a comeback of sorts for both players. Roberts, who as a 17-year-old played in the 1994 CONCACAF Qualification Tournament, was a member of the 1995 and 1999 Women’s World Cup teams, but did not play for the national team for more than two years before starting against Norway on July 21 during her stellar season for the WUSA champion Carolina Courage. The following is the complete U.S. roster:
Goalkeepers (2): Briana Scurry (Atlanta), Siri Mullinix (Washington);
Defenders (5): Brandi Chastain (San Jose), Joy Fawcett (San Diego), Cat Reddick (UNC), Danielle Slaton (Carolina), Kate Sobrero (Boston);
Midfielders (6): Lorrie Fair (Philadelphia), Tiffany Roberts (Carolina), Angela Hucles (Boston), Julie Foudy (San
Diego), Kristine Lilly (Boston), Aly Wagner (Santa Clara Univ.);
Forwards (5): Shannon MacMillan (San Diego), Tiffeny Milbrett (New York), Heather O'Reilly (PDA Splash), Mia Hamm (Washington), Cindy Parlow (Atlanta).
FRANCE ONE STEP CLOSER TO 2003 WOMEN'S WORLD CUP: WUSA MVP Marinette Pichon's 75th-minute goal moved France within one step of next year's Women's World Cup with a 1-0 triumph over England. The match, played in London last week, was the first leg of the final playoff for the fifth European spot for China 2003. Pichon, who starred for the Philadelphia Charge last season, finished a through ball from Elodie Woock, as the French dictated terms most of the match. France can become the fifth team to qualify for the 2003 Women's World Cup with a tie or win in Saint-Etienne on November 16 in the second leg, joining Germany, Sweden, Norway and Russia, all of whom won their qualifying groups in Europe. With China already qualifying as host, the remaining 10 teams will be decided over the coming months, two of which will be known on Nov. 6 after the completion of the semifinals of the 2002 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup. The qualifiers from Asia, Africa and Oceania, plus a playoff between the third place finishers in CONCACAF and Asia, will all be contested in the first five months of next year.
– U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE –
U.S. MEN RETURN TO D.C. FOR NOV. 17 MATCH AGAINST EL SALVADOR LIVE ON ESPN: The U.S. Men’s National Team will return to international action next month on Sunday, Nov. 17, as they welcome El Salvador to RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN. The United States has not faced an international opponent since the team’s historic quarterfinal finish at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in June. The team will train in the Washington, D.C. area beginning Nov. 10. The teams last met in the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal earlier this year, with Brian McBride netting a hat trick en route to a 4-0 U.S. victory January 27 at the Rose Bowl. The United States went on to capture the Gold Cup championship, beginning the impressive form that would carry through to Korea/Japan. Tickets for the Nov. 17 friendly, which is being presented to fans by LEGO, range in price from $22 to $50 and are now available at all TicketMaster outlets (D.C. 202-432-7328; Baltimore 410-481-7328; Northern Virginia 703-573-7328; out of state 1-800-551-7328). Complete ticket info is available at ussoccer.com. Discount rates for groups of 20 or more are available by calling the D.C. United ticket offices at 703-478-6600. The United States holds an 8-1-4 lifetime advantage against El Salvador, and has never lost a meeting on home soil. The Nov. 17 match will mark the first contest between the fellow CONCACAF nations in Washington, D.C., where the U.S. has amassed an 8-3-3 record. RFK last hosted an international friendly May 12 of this year, when the USA beat Uruguay 2-1 during the Nike “Road to Korea.”
– YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE –
RONGEN TO ANNOUNCE U.S. UNDER-20 QUALIFYING ROSTER TOMORROW: With CONCACAF Under-20 Qualifying just three weeks away, U.S. Under-20 MNT head coach Thomas Rongen will announce his 18-man qualifying roster tomorrow (Oct. 22) for the tournament, which will take place at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C., from Nov. 13-17. Joining the U.S. in the four-team round-robin tournament will be Haiti, El Salvador and Canada. The U.S. Under-20s are 14-7-9 in 2002, and are coming off of a second-place performance at the C.O.T.I.F XIX Torneig Internacional in L’Alcudia, Spain. Much of the roster is expected to come from the roster Rongen called on for the tournament in Spain, where the U.S. finished ahead of traditional powers Italy, Spain, Uruguay, Ukraine and others, losing to Brazil 1-0 in the final. Several players who are eligible for selection to the Under-20 squad play for Major League Soccer teams, including Devin Barclay (San Jose Earthquakes), Craig Capano (Chicago Fire), Bobby Convey (D.C. United), Eddie Johnson (Dallas Burn), Justin Mapp (D.C. United), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United), Miguel Saavedra (Chicago) and Jordan Stone (Dallas Burn). This tournament marks the first time since 1980 that U.S. Soccer has hosted an Under-20 qualifying tournament. Tickets for the qualifying tournament are currently available at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Carolinas (including Publix and Cat’s Music Stores), by phone at 843-554-6060, online at ussoccer.com and at Blackbaud Stadium (office open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.). Group tickets are available through the Charleston Battery at 843-971-4625.
PANAMA SHOCKS MEXICO TO WIN GROUP A U-20 TOURNAMENT; BOTH QUALIFY FOR 2003 WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP: Host country Panama stunned Mexico 2-1 yesterday to win the CONCACAF Under-20 Group A Qualifying Tournament and advance to the country's first-ever FIFA World Championship at any level. Panama used a late penalty kick to snag the win from Mexico, although both countries had already secured a spot in the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship with wins earlier in the week against Cuba and Guatemala. Cuba topped Guatemala 1-0 to finish the Group A tournament in third place. The final two CONCACAF spots will be determined as Haiti, El Salvador and Canada join the host USA in the Group B final in Charleston, S.C. from Nov. 13-17. The 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship will be held the United Arab Emirates from March 25 – April 16, 2003.
U.S. UNDER-20 QUALIFIERS AVAILABLE ON PAY-PER-VIEW: U.S. Soccer and Innovative Sports Marketing have partnered to make the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team’s three matches at the CONCACAF Under-20 qualifying tournament available on pay-per-view. The three U.S. qualifying matches will be shown live and are available for $19.95 each through DirectTV and Time-Warner cable (in New York City). Additional outlets are expected to be announced soon. The qualifying tournament will consist of three doubleheaders played at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C., with games on Nov. 13, Nov. 15 and Nov. 17. The top two finishers in Charleston will advance to the FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates from March 25 – April 16, 2003. The U.S. Under-20s, who are attempting to qualify for a record fourth consecutive FIFA World Youth Championship for the first time in U.S. Soccer history, open the tournament on Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. ET against Haiti before facing El Salvador on Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET and then wrapping up the tournament against Canada on Nov. 17 at 2:30 p.m. ET.
U.S. UNDER-17s WIN FOUR GAMES IN FORT LAUDERDALE: The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team posted four wins in impressive fashion this weekend in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Under-17s split up into two squads – an older team and a younger team – and each squad played two games against older club teams. On Saturday, the younger team beat the Florida State Cup champs Plantation 3-1 and came back to beat a talented West Kendall team 3-0 the following day. The older U.S. Under-17 side hammered their two club opponents, posting two shutouts en route to 7-0 and 8-0 wins. The U.S. U-17s have posted a 26-13-8 overall record in 2002.
GRAY GRIFFIN MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP FUND BEING CREATED BY FURMAN UNIVERSITY: A scholarship fund is being created by Furman University in honor of Gray Griffin, who died on Oct. 11 in an auto accident. The University will start an endowed scholarship as a memorial to the freshman soccer player, who was a co-captain of the U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team in 2000-2001. Donations for the scholarship fund should be sent to the attention of Furman Athletic Director Gary Clark at:
Attn: Gray Griffin Memorial Scholarship
3300 Poinsett Highway
Greenville, SC 29613
– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –
NICOLS NABS COACH OF THE YEAR HONORS AS MLS NAMES FINAL YEAR-END AWARDS: MLS announced last week that New England Revolution Head Coach Steve Nicol captured the 2002 MLS Coach of the Year Award. Despite carrying the tag of interim head coach, Nicol led his surprising squad on an improbable run to the Eastern Conference Championship. After assuming the reigns of the Revolution on May 23 after the squad stumbled to a 2-4-1 start, Nicol proceeded to guide New England to a 10-10-1 record, which included a six-game unbeaten streak to close out the season. L.A. Galaxy forward Carlos Ruiz was selected as the league's 2002 Most Valuable Player. The Guatemalan striker scored a league-high 24 goals, including nine game-winning tallies, in pacing the Galaxy's run to the Supporter Shield as the top team in MLS during the regular season. Columbus midfielder Kyle Martino received the Rookie of the Year award after posting two goals and five assists in starting 15 of his 22 appearances for the Crew during his first season of pro soccer. Kevin Terry, a veteran of seven MLS seasons, was named the Referee of the Year. The native of London, England has been the man in the middle for a total of 77 MLS regular season matches since the League's Inaugural Year in 1996, including 11 games in 2002.
MLS ANNOUNCES 2002 BEST XI AWARD WINNERS: MLS announced the 2002 Best XI last week at its Gala Awards Ceremony at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Providence, R.I.. The Best XI features the top players from each position, compiling a lineup of 11 players from the league's two conferences based on a 3-5-2 alignment. MLS coaches, general managers, players and members of the Professional Soccer Reporters Association (PSRA) voted to determine this star-studded lineup. The 2002 Pepsi Best XI is the League's youngest of all-time with an average age of 26 years, surpassing the former all-time average low of 29 years of age set in 1999. The following are the names of the 2002 Best XI:
GK – Tim Howard (MetroStars)
D – Carlos Bocanegra (Chicago Fire)
D – Alexi Lalas (L.A. Galaxy)
D – Wade Barrett (San Jose Earthquakes)
M – Oscar Pareja (Dallas Burn)
M – Ronne Ekelund (San Jose Earthquakes)
M – Steve Ralston (New England Revolution)
M – Mark Chung (Colorado Rapids)
M – Jeff Cunningham (Columbus Crew)
F – Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)
F – Carlos Ruiz (L.A. Galaxy)
METROSTARS, U.S. SOCCER LEGEND RAMOS RECEIVES 2002 COMMISSIONER'S AWARD: MLS announced last week that Tab Ramos, widely considered the best American soccer player of all-time, is the recipient of the 2002 Commissioner's Award. The honor recognizes the person or organization that has provided inspiration through unselfish work and commendable leadership in their daily lives. The first player to sign with MLS and the lone remaining original MetroStars player in 2002, retired from professional soccer at the end of this past regular season. In 1990, Ramos captained the U.S. squad that qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 40 years. The three-time MLS All-Star went on to fulfill a childhood dream and played seven years in a MetroStars jersey at Giants Stadium, a stone's throw away from his native home of Kearny, N.J.
ARENA, AKERS TO BE FEATURED AT U.S. SOCCER FOUNDATION BREAKFAST ON NOV. 6: U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena, U.S. Women’s National Team legend Michelle Akers and longtime Seattle Pacific University coaching great Cliff McCrath will be the special guests at a breakfast hosted by Friends of Soccer Washington State, the local fund raising and outreach arm of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. The breakfast will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 6 from 8:00-9:30 a.m. at the Club Restaurant, located inside the brand new Seahawks Stadium in Seattle, with doors opening at 7:45 a.m. Akers and McCrath will receive Friends of Soccer Washington State Lifetime Achievement Awards, with Arena delivering the keynote address. Proceeds benefit the U.S. Soccer Foundation and soccer programs in Washington State. Prices are $100 for individual tickets and $1,000 for a table of ten. Reservations may be made by calling the Seattle Sounders at 800-796-KICK or 206-622-3415, and online at: www.ussoccerfoundation.org.
U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT
PEAK PERFORMER: As he did all year long, Carlos Ruiz proved to be the difference for the L.A. Galaxy in their run to their first MLS championship. Ruiz, who at times carried the entire team on his back and scored 24 of the squad’s whopping 44 goals (not including a playoff-record eight of the team’s 15 goals in the post-season), proved his worth yet again in the final. Not only did the Guatemalan striker score the game-winning goal in double overtime, but he was their single most dangerous force throughout the match, registering five of the Galaxy’s seven shots on goal.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: With that pesky MLS Cup monkey off their backs, two different L.A. teams could show up to face the Crew in the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final on Thursday (Oct. 24). The Galaxy could either come out listless after playing almost two full hours of soccer, celebrating for two days solid and having their championship thirst quenched, or they could show up recharged and hungry for the “double” to further cement their challenge to D.C. United as the league’s most successful team in history. We’ll find out in three days, as the match will be broadcast live on Fox Sports World and Fox Sports en Espanol, as well as being available on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics, at 7 p.m. ET.
SOCCER SHOCKER: Host country Panama stunned Mexico 2-1 yesterday to win the CONCACAF Under-20 Group A Qualifying Tournament and advance to the country's first-ever FIFA World Championship at any level. Panama used a late penalty kick to snag the win from Mexico. Earlier in the week Panama beat Guatemala 1-0 and then topped Cuba 2-0 to qualify for the FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates from March 25-April 16, 2003.
"It's my first time in a winning (MLS Cup) press conference so I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do here.”
- L.A. midfielder Cobi Jones, on his team’s three losses in previous title matches.