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Who will win 2003 WUSA 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 April issue, we asked you: Who will be the 2003 WUSA MVP (and why)?

Unlike those who blindly weighed in on March’s question with their 2003 MLS MVP predictions, this month everyone had the luxury of using the first two weeks of the WUSA season as a sneak peek before making their choice. But with all the U.S. Women’s National Team players out there, and a glut of foreign stars returning after impressive 2002 campaigns, the majority of choices narrowed down to just three players: Mia, Mac and Maribel.

Mia Hamm:

“Mia. The name alone casts fear into the hearts of defenders around the world. It may be a tad early to speculate, but the 2003 WUSA MVP will probably be Hamm. Why? Well, there are a few obvious reasons. It's Mia for crying out loud. Just when you think she's reached her peak, Hamm has that uncanny ability to take her game to the next level and shock you once again. As I watched Washington's season opener, I was struck at how Mia's leadership abilities have changed. She seemed much more comfortable giving vocal encouragement and direction to her teammates. In years prior, Mia would be more inclined to lead by example, letting her game speak for itself. Then there's that tiny issue of Hamm being the best player in the world. She makes every shot, free kick, and pass look effortless. The Freedom came so close to the Founder's Cup last year. You can bet Mia won't let that that chance slip away twice.”
--Jennifer Kiser / 22 / Sacramento, Calif.

“If Mia Hamm can stay healthy, she stands a good chance of being the MVP. The chemistry between her and Wambach makes her almost unstoppable. In 2002, missing half the season didn't stop her from finishing among the top 10 goal scorers. She also has the experience to play consistently, score consistently, and not burn out early in the season. Other players might be off to a good start, but in more cases than not, experience is what will carry players for the entire season.”
--Rhonda Mahabir / 23 / Houston, Texas

Shannon MacMillan:

“I definitely think Shannon MacMillan will be the WUSA MVP for 2003. Although the Spirit suffered a tough first game loss on April 5 against the Breakers, MacMillan gave it her all in trying to get her team to fight back, and she assisted the team's lone goal in the 3-1 loss. In their second game against the Power, MacMillan had a goal and an assist in the 2-0 win. She would have had a second assist, but the goal was called back due to a hand ball. Also in that game, MacMillan made the best defensive play of the season, when a sailing ball slipped past a committed, airborne Jaime Pagliarulo, and MacMillan charged behind the keeper to head the ball right off the goal line. If these aren't the performances of an MVP, I don't know what is. That's why my vote goes to Shannon MacMillan...there's a lot more to come from this determined star!”
--Christy Willingham / 17 / Woodland Hills, Calif.

Maribel Dominguez:

“The Atlanta Beat loses Sun Wen, but they pick up Maribel Dominguez, who can make history by copping both the WUSA's MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season! After watching Dominguez perform in the last Women's World Cup as captain of her Mexico squad, frankly I was at a loss as to why it took so long for Maribel to find her way to the WUSA. So far in this young season, she's been proving that she's been worth the wait.”
--Howard Hyman / Brooklyn, N.Y.

“I think that the WUSA MVP this year should be Maribel Domingez, from the Atlanta Beat. She is a true star and she hustles so hard. She acts like every single minute of the game is the championship game. She never stops going and going. Domingez understands how to play soccer and she shows that she understands it, and more. She has scored four goals in two games, including a hat trick. She is a incredible player and shows that she loves it. She is amazing to watch. And Maribel, herself, enjoys the game as much as the fans. She deserves every part of the WUSA MVP. She is one of the best soccer players ever!”
--Jessica Gillespie / 11 / Lawrenceville, Ga.

The others:

“My vote is for Kristine Lilly. She's is a phenomenal person, an incredible leader, a feared scorer and a relentless and selfless soccer player. Her skills are beyond excellent and her heart and determination are without comparison. She can play impeccable defense, set up phenomenal goals, and make world-class finishes in the effort it takes the average player to make that first run. Her fitness is marathon-worthy, and I think we need to start looking at these soccer players as more than goal scorers, but as whole and complete players. And that is what Lil exhibits every day she pulls on her cleats. As Mia Hamm was once said, ‘Kristine is awesome, she deserves the tag of “World's best player” more than anyone else I have ever seen play the game.’”
--Carolyn Hawthorne / Woodbury, Conn.

“I think that Dagny Mellgren deserves to be the MVP of ’03. Not to put down any of the U.S. players in their own league, but the foreigners have been playing better and scoring more goals. In my case, I think Dagny Mellgren is one of the best soccer players in the world and she really deserves it. She shows that she wants to be out there no matter if she’s sick or not. She has really good ball control and also has good endurance and stamina. But one thing I can see from her more than anyone else is that she can get through defenders quick and she loves the game. What else could you want a soccer player to have?”
-- Katie Freeman / 14 / Haverhill, Mass.

“Brandi Chastain is the 2003 WUSA MVP. Her work both on and off the field inspires her team. Despite personal tragedy - the loss of first her mother, then her father - in the past year, she remains focused on being the best as a player and a team member. She is a true ambassador of the WUSA and women's soccer. She is the MVP!"
--Gene Lillge / Appleton, Wisc.

Thanks to everyone for the responses to the April 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.

The May question: Who will be the 2003 MLS Rookie of the Year?

Following in the footsteps of last year’s bumper crop that included Rookie of the Year winner Kyle Martino, Chicago Fire defender/midfielder Kelly Gray and MetroStars (now Burn) midfielder Brad Davis, there are a host of first-year pros who could have an immediate impact on their respective teams. Of course there’s top pick Alecko Eskandarian playing for his hometown D.C. United, or will it be a later pick like San Jose’s Todd Dunivant or the Metro’s Ricardo Clark that rises to the top?

It’s time to decide. E-mail your BRIEF, but well-crafted response to 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.


Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (Looking Back at June 17, 2002)
2) In Threes (w/ WNT goalkeeper Siri Mullinix)
3) Music by Mastroeni (w/ MNT midfielder Pablo Mastroeni)
4) Queries and Anecdotes (w/ WNT forward Tiffeny Milbrett)
5) Mark That Calendar (MNT vs. Mexico – May 8)
6) Superstar!!! (w/ U-23 MNT forward Edson Buddle)
7) FAN Point/Counterpoint (Who will win 2003 WUSA MVP?)
8) "You Don't Know Jack (Marshall)" (USA-Mexico Trivia)

Download this issue of Center Circle (.pdf).

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