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Archive - April 2004



Center Circle
April 22, 2004
Volume IV, Issue 4

Table of Contents

1.  Armchair Midfielder:
A Look Back: MLS Rookies
2.  In 3’s:
WNT defender Christie Rampone
3.  Gear Galore:
New U.S. Pullover Windbreaker
4.  Queries & Anecdotes:
U-19 WNT GK Ashlyn Harris
5.  Mark That Calendar:
MNT vs. Mexico - April 28, 2004
6.  Superstar!!!:
The Igwe Family
7.  Fan Point/Counterpoint:
Best Team in MLS in 2004
8.  You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall):
MLS Rookie Trivia


  1. Armchair Midfielder: A Look Back: MLS Rookies
    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.

    With all the buzz in MLS focusing on Freddy Adu, Teen Soccer Rookie, this year, what better time than now to look back at the mixed results of past classes of first-year pros. Not so much asking “Where Are They Now?” as we are “Who’s Still Around?,” the Armchair Midfielder checks in on how each group has stacked up over the past nine years, picking out Survivors and Castaways from each season.

    1996: Sure, technically, most everyone was a rookie in ’96, but we’ll stick to players coming directly out of college. While Brian McBride (#1 – dispersal) stands as the most successful top pick in league history, busting out of the gates with 17 goals and three assists in his first year in MLS, he had spent part of ’95 with Vfl Wolfsburg and was thus ineligible for Rookie of the Year honors. Former St. Louis kid Steve Ralston (second round - college) took the award as the Mutiny’s midfield workhorse, helping Tampa to a league-best record of 20-12 by contributing seven goals and two assists. Only Jason Kreis (#43 – dispersal), Frankie Hejduk (#67 – dispersal) and Mark Chung (#6 – dispersal) stand out with McBride and Ralston as players still among the league’s best. It’s almost jaw-dropping to look back at the 16 rounds of the Inaugural Draft and find players that are still in the league. We count nine of a total out of 160 selected. Oh, the glory days of Tommy Reasoner (#56), Flavio Ferri (#97), Khalil Azmi (#132) and final draft pick Carlos Garcia (#160)? It seems like only yesterday. If yesterday was 20 years ago. Side note: Where is the MLS Mel Kiper; could’ve used him back in ’96. [read more]

  2. In 3’s: w/ WNT defender Christie Rampone
    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 3’s” 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.

    Personal:

    Favorite place that you've lived: Hoboken, N.J., Point Pleasant, N.J., or Orlando, Fla.?
    "No offense to the family in Point Pleasant, but I loved living in Hoboken.  I was living there at the right age, in my mid-20s before I was married, and there were just a lot of things going on.  It's not a place to settle down, but it's a place to have fun, go out whenever you want, have dinner whenever you want; and it's 10 minutes from the city."

    Best activity for night out w/ the hubby: Dinner and a movie, sporting event or comedy club?
    "Definitely sporting events.  Of course, that means I actually have to be home to do something with him.  We go to hockey games and Yankee games, which are the best.  He's such a big Yankee fan, so it's enjoyable because he's excited and in a good mood, unless they lose.  That's when the date ends early."
    [read more]

  3. Gear Galore: U.S. Men’s National Team Pullover Windbreaker
    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 Nike apparel to all kinds of other exclusive U.S. Men’s & Women’s merch.

    How’s that saying go? April showers bring May flowers? Well, it’s April. And it rains. Maybe still a little chilly, but not cold enough for the heavy coat. Hmmm, what to do…

    Our friends at Nike have just the ticket, with the Springtime essential: a good rain jacket.

    The official Nike U.S. National Team Pullover Windbreaker incorporates Nike Clima-Fit technology, meaning it’s lightweight, breathable, but still wind and water resistant. This rain jacket features mesh lining, side pockets, back vent and a straight waist and is 100% polyester.

    The U.S. Soccer shield is embroidered on the left chest, with the swoosh logo embroidered on the right chest. To show your support for the U.S. Men from Spring to Fall, the rain jacket is the perfect outerwear, with “USA” embroidered big and bold in red across the back.

    The Nike U.S. National Team Pullover Windbreaker, which retails on the U.S. Soccer Store web site for $60, is a favorite among all of the players for its effectiveness in moderate rainfall and its casual, but sharp look wearing it when the weather’s just fine.

    Check it out here: http://www.ussoccerstore.com/us20205603.html

  4. Queries & Anecdotes: w/ U-19 WNT goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris
    Off-the-wall Questions and Answers, Queries and Anecdotes from U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.

    Harris is one of the rising young stars on the world scene after performing so well at the 2002 U-19 Women's World Championship at the tender age of 16.  Now, she is in a different role as a leader of the 2004 U-19s as they roll towards CONCACAF Qualifying for the 2004 U-19 FIFA Women's World Championship.  Harris, who was on track to become a professional surfer before dedicating herself full-time to soccer, takes a moment to talk about her experiences with the U-19s, tasty waves and how former U-19 teammate Heather O'Reilly got the better of her in paintball.

    CC: What's the best beach to surf in SoCal?

    AH: "The only place I've been is in San Diego, but I don't remember the beach.  There were good waves there, about three or four footers, but I heard you can get some good waves in Huntington Beach.  I don't have time to surf when I am in California because I am always at a training camp."

    CC: Is there really any good surfing in Florida? Be honest.
    AH: "Of course there is! Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach are chill.  When there are waves there, they break really good because of the reef."

    CC: Did you ever watch that reality show "Surf Girls"? You could take those girls easy.
    AH:
    "First off, those girls spent most of the time crying.  They needed to get over themselves because they were scared to surf six-foot waves.  I couldn't even bear to watch that.  It was horrible." [read more]


  5. Mark That Calendar: MNT vs. Mexico – Wed., April 28 – 7:30 p.m. CT
    Live on Telemundo / Fox Sports World / HDNet / PHILIPS MatchTracker]
    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.
     
    Is there a USA-Mexico match that isn't hugely important? Answer: no! They all are.

    Of course, victories like the USA's World Cup triumph over the Tricolores in 2002 count for a little more. OK, they count for a lot more. OK, they count like no other victory ever could!

    The score line from the USA-MEX rematch that was ridiculously billed as “Revancha en la Cancha" read 0-0 at the sold-out Reliant Stadium in Houston. Even if they had stole a win that day, the only way to revenge a World Cup knockout round defeat is to win a World Cup knockout round rematch, and that ain't happenin' anytime soon. For now, Mexico will have to continue to enjoy their 4-0 shellacking of the U.S. U-23s in Olympic qualifying down in Guadalajara.

    For the Cotton Bowl clash on April 28, that game will be relived for a number of players on both sides. The familiar U.S. trio of DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey and Landon Donovan will all be there, as will Mexican defenders Mario Perez and Francisco Rodriguez, and dangerous midfielder Diego Martinez.

    Despite losing five of their last seven games to the U.S. (all by shutout), it is hard ignore the underlying current within the USA-Mexico rivalry that Mexico has regained some momentum with their recent performances, a feeling which was buoyed by the team's appearances as the fourth-ranked team in the most recent FIFA World Rankings.

    That said, expect 2002 World Cup vets Eddie Pope, Frankie Hejduk and Josh Wolff to be geared up to help the U.S. continue its recent dominance on home soil, where Mexico has failed to score in five consecutive matches. The player that CONCACAF fans love to hate, Cuahetemoc Blanco, is expected to be back in green, white and red along with Korea/Japan 2002 goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez, as they try to stop the current U.S. streak.

    After creating the lone goal and playing well in his MNT debut, a 1-0 win over Poland on March 31 that marked the USA's first win in Europe in the Arena era, forward Conor Casey will be making the long trip from Germany to spear the U.S. attack in Texas.

    Fans can follow the April 28 match, which is being presented by Budweiser, at 7:30 p.m. CT LIVE on Telemundo, Fox Sports World, HDNet and on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

  6. Superstar!!! w/ the Igwe Family
    A monthly feature about a U.S. Men’s, Women’s or Youth National Team player whose performance or potential calls for that bright, shining spotlight. This month, it falls to YNT brother-sister combo of Amaechi and Chioma Igwe.

    Lisa and Tony Igwe know their daughter and youngest son are talented soccer players. But they never could have imagined the phone calls they got on back-to-back days in early March.

    Their only daughter, 17-year-old Chioma, received a call from the U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team Coordinator Cindy Wolf inviting her into camp for the Philips Lighting Invitational that was to be played at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

    Then, just a day later, their youngest son, 15-year-old Amaechi, received a call from John Hackworth, an assistant coach with the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team, inviting him into U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program.

    Two kids. Two calls. Two Youth National Teams. All in two days. To say the least, it was a bit of a whirlwind 48 hours for the Igwe family. [read more]

  7. Point/Counterpoint: Who will be the Best Team in MLS in 2004?
    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 so-called experts 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.

    In March, we asked y’all, based on off-season moves and the first weekend of league-wide action:  Who will be the Best Team in MLS in 2004?

    To say you believe the hype is an understatement, as most of you had a player with zero professional experience leading a team that didn’t make the playoffs in 2003 to the top of the league. It seems people in D.C. are perhaps as unrealistically optimistic about United’s chances. Of course, these opinions were given before D.C. dipped from their 2-1 opening win over San Jose by drawing with L.A. and letting up in a 3-2 loss to the MetroStars. Wiser heads prevailed after watching Week Three and the MetroStars made a late push as the top answer.

    D.C. United:
    “Wow. I was blown away by the outstanding first day of the new season. The soccer was class, the atmosphere everywhere was exciting and importantly, the stands were shown to be full of fans. The club which has the best of everything was and is D.C. United. They always have had the potential fan base to fill their stadium and now with a team of outstanding U.S. National Team stars and other quality players, they can't help but be successful and keep playing before sold-out stands. I have been a soccer fan all my adult life, but I haven't been this excited about a new season for a long time. Barring injury problems, I expect D.C. United to lead the way to the playoffs and go for another championship.”
    --David Chapman / 62 / Albuquerque, N.M.

    [read more]

  8. You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall): MLS All-Time Rookie 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).

    As in any sport, MLS rookies have been hits and misses in their first years at the top pro level in the U.S. But for every Steve Shak, there’s been a Brad Davis. With this trivia being a companion piece to “Armchair Midfielder,” these should be easy.

    Questions:
    Q1: Which Men's National Team pool player set rookie records for the New England Revolution with 10 goals and 27 points in 2003?
    Q2: Who are the three MetroStars players that were finalists for the Rookie of the Year award in 2001, 2002 and 2003?
    Q3: Which two former Rookie of the Year winners are now playing together for the same MLS team?
    Q4: Which three MLS Rookie of the Year award winners are no longer in the league?

    [click here for answers]

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