2003 YEAR IN REVIEW
Fifth Year of U.S. Soccer’s Full-Time Residency Kicks Off; Adu Begins to Emerge
U.S. Soccer’s Full-Time Residency kicked off for the fifth straight year, less than two months before the Under-17s are scheduled to kick off CONCACAF qualifying in Guatemala on March 5. Started in 1999, the U.S. Soccer full-time residency program has become a symbol of U.S. Soccer’s dedication to producing development opportunities for players and the success of the Youth National Teams. The 30 players in residency (increased this past fall to 40), are placed in a setting where they attend classes at nearby Edison Learning Center and then return to the IMG campus to train daily under the guidance of U.S. Under-17 head coach John Ellinger. Starting his third semester at the Residency is 13-year-old Freddy Adu, who during the year emerged as one of the best young players in the world and garnered enormous media attention from countries across the globe.
U.S. WNT Opens Up Year Against Japan; Take First at Four Nations Tournament
The U.S. Women's National Team opened their 2003 campaign with a hard-fought 0-0 draw against a much-improved Japan team on Jan. 12, at Torero Stadium in San Diego, Calif. The match served as a warm-up for the Four Nations Tournament in China where the U.S. faced three of the top teams in the world in Norway, Germany and China. After beating Norway 3-1 in their first match of the tournament, the U.S. fell 2-0 to the inspired host three days later. On the final day of the 2003 Four Nations Tournament the U.S. was provided with two positive results as they notched a solid 1-0 victory over Germany, and China and Norway tied 1-1, giving the U.S. the championship with six points, ahead of China with five, and Germany and Norway with two each.
U.S. MNT Downs Canada in First Match of the Year
The U.S. Men's National Team thumped Canada 4-0 at Lockhart Stadium on Jan. 18, to open their 2003 campaign in impressive fashion, as both Carlos Bocanegra and Chris Klein registered their first international goal of their careers. Also scoring for the U.S. were Clint Mathis and Steve Ralston, while Landon Donovan added two assists, good enough to be named Chevrolet Man of the Match.
U.S. Under-23s Take Second in the Vale do Tejo International Tournament in Portugal
The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team finished in second place in the third edition of the Vale do Tejo International Tournament in Portugal on Jan. 23, falling to the hosts in the final 2-4 in penalty kicks, after the match was tied 1-1 after 90 minutes of play. The Under-23s had advanced to the final of the four-team tournament after being on the other side of the coin days earlier, beating Russia 4-1 in penalty kicks after playing to a 1-1 tie in regulation.
2002 Chevrolet Athletes of the Year Announced
U.S. MNT goalkeeper Brad Friedel and U.S. WNT forward Shannon MacMillian were announced as the winners of the 2002 Chevrolet Male and Female Athletes of the Year. Joining them as the Chevrolet Young Athletes of the year were U.S. Under-20 captain Bobby Convey and U.S. Under-19 captain Lindsay Tarpley.
FIFA Postpones World Youth Championship; Tournament Rescheduled for Nov. 27-Dec. 19
Due to the political situation surrounding the Middle East FIFA decided on March 6 to postpone the 2003 World Youth Championship, which was to be played from March 25-April 16 in the United Arab Emirates. A month later, the tournament is rescheduled by FIFA from Nov. 27-Dec. 19. The U.S., which qualified in November of 2002, was placed in Group F with Paraguay, Germany and South Korea.
U-17 MNT Win Group A of CONCACAF Qualifying
The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team qualified for their record 10th consecutive FIFA World Championship with a 3-0 win over Guatemala on Sunday, March 9, at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Freddy Adu led the way with one goal and an assist, and Phil Marfuggi recorded 11 saves and his second shutout in three qualifying matches as the U.S. finished at the top of Group A of CONCACAF Qualifying with two wins and a draw. The U.S. are the only nation to qualify for all 10 world championships at this age group, and John Ellinger’s squad was joined by two other CONCACAF teams – Costa Rica and Mexico – in the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championship, which was held in Finland from August 13-30.
U.S. WNT Wins Algarve Cup in Portugal
Two goals in a four-minute span of the second half by Mia Hamm and Shannon MacMillan, each assisted by the other, gave the U.S. Women's National Team a 2-0 victory over China on March 20 in the championship of the 2003 Algarve Cup. The win marked the second time the USA has won this prestigious tournament, considered the world's most competitive women's international event outside of the Women's World Cup, the Olympics and the European Championships. The USA also won in 2000, giving U.S. head coach April Heinrichs two Algarve Cup titles.
Chiquita Joins U.S. Soccer as a Sponsor
On March 31, Chiquita Fresh North America announced its sponsorship of the United States Men’s and Women’s National Soccer Teams, joining other longtime U.S. Soccer sponsors Avaya, Hershey, Anheuser-Busch, Chevrolet, Gatorade, Nike, Philips Electronics and Texaco Xpress Lube.
Women’s World Cup Draw Postponed Due to Fear of SARS
On April 10, in light of the health risks posed by the outbreak of the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus in South east Asia, FIFA postponed the draw for the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2003, which was due to be held in Wuhan, China on May 24.
Friedel Named to English Premier League Team of the Year
U.S. international goalkeeper Brad Friedel's exploits for both club and country culminated in him becoming the first American ever named to the English Premier League Team of the Year. The awards banquet, held in London on April 27, honored Friedel as one of the top 11 players as voted on by the Professional Footballer's Association. Friedel had a remarkable season in 2002-03, first leading Blackburn Rovers to the Worthington Cup trophy and earning Man of the Match honors in the final in the process. He was a dominating presence in the goal for Blackburn all year, appearing in 35 league matches and posting 15 shutouts, including victories against both Manchester United and Arsenal.
Women’s World Cup Moved From China to USA Due to SARS Outbreak
On May 3, FIFA announced at an Executive Committee meeting in Zurich, Switzerland that the 4th FIFA Women's World Cup, which was scheduled to be played in China from September 23 to October 11, would be transferred to another country due to the SARS epidemic in China. Three weeks later, on May 26, FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced that the United States would host the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, after the U.S. Soccer Federation had organized an impressive bid to assist FIFA and stage the event on short notice. “This is an historic day for soccer in the United States,” said U.S. Soccer President Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia at the time. “We have been confident from the very beginning that our infrastructure and experience could make this a reality, and we now have approximately 120 days to do something that no one has ever attempted. Staging an event of this stature and size in this short amount of time will be a great challenge, but we will succeed because of the support and organizational abilities of the entire U.S. Soccer family.” FIFA chose the United States over Sweden, the only other country beside the USA to make a formal bid to host the tournament. In June, U.S. Soccer announced the six stadiums that would host the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup in the United States. The six venues included Columbus Crew Stadium (Columbus, Ohio), The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.), Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia), RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.), Gillette Stadium (Boston) and PGE Park (Portland, Ore.).
U.S. MNT Draw with Mexico in Front of 70,000 Fans
The U.S. Men’s National Team and Mexico battled to an intense 0-0 draw in front of a sold-out crowd of 69,582 fans on May 8 at Reliant Stadium in Houston. The match was the first between the two nations since their historic 2002 World Cup Round of 16 encounter, won by the U.S. 2-0. The crowd was the 11th largest in U.S. Men’s National Team history, and the third largest crowd ever for an international exhibition for the United States. The shutout for the U.S. defense marked the sixth clean sheet for the United States in their last seven matches against Mexico. The U.S. also extended their impressive home shutout streak over Mexico to 483 minutes, stretching across six games, all the way back to 1999.
U.S. U-23s Down Mexico 3-1 in Guadalajara; David Testo Scores Amazing 90-yard Goal
The U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team survived a rowdy home crowd of 9,000 fans, a potent Mexican attack, and 23 minutes of playing a man down to pull out a 3-1 win over Mexico on May 14 at Estadio Tres de Marzo in Guadalajara. The U.S. got an early goal from Kelly Gray in the 11th minute, the game winner from Alecko Eskandarian in the 75th, and an incredible 85-yard chip into an open net from David Testo, the A-League Rookie of the Year for the Richmond Kickers, to ice the game in the second minute of stoppage time and throw the home crowd into a hostile frenzy that is usually saved for World Cup qualifiers.
U.S. Soccer's National Training Center at The Home Depot Opens in Carson, Calif.
U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center at The Home Depot Center officially opened June 6 as the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team, fresh off a second place finish at the Busan International Youth Tournament in Korea, took to the fields for a single practice session. In all, five U.S. youth national teams trained at the facility during the month of June. A day later, the Los Angeles Galaxy christened The Home Depot Center with the inaugural game at the 27,000-seat soccer specific stadium, a 2-0 victory over the visiting Colorado Rapids. Located on the campus of California State University – Dominguez Hills in Carson, Calif., the facility is home to U.S. Soccer’s National Teams, as well as the 2002 MLS Cup champion Galaxy. In addition to nine overall soccer training fields (including one FieldTurf surface), the facility also includes a tennis stadium, and upgrades of the campus Olympic velodrome, inline roller hockey rink, baseball and softball fields, and track and field facilities.
U.S. MNT Introduce One-Time Retro Jerseys in Send-Off Match
In their final tune-up before the prestigious 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup, the U.S. Men's National Team defeated New Zealand, 2-1, on June 8 at the University of Richmond Stadium. The game marked the introduction and one-time wearing of Nike retro jerseys that were styled after the jersey worn when the U.S. beat England 1-0 in a landmark upset at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil.
U.S. WNT Beat Ireland 5-0 in First Game Ever in Utah
The U.S. Women's National Team got two goals from Chevrolet Woman of the Match Abby Wambach and a goal and two assists from midfielder Julie Foudy in a dominating 5-0 win over Ireland on June 15 in front of a boisterous crowd of 19,584 at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah. The USA got on the board just 74 seconds into the game, but at great cost, as 18-year-old forward Heather O'Reilly was broke her leg while scoring on a header, consequently eliminating her chances of making the U.S. Women’s World Cup roster.
U.S. Plays Tough Confederations Cup Tournament in France
The U.S. Men’s National Team competed in the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup from June 19-23, finishing the tournament 0-2-1 with one point and fourth place in an extremely difficult Group B, which lived up to its expectations as the Group of Death. In their opening game, the U.S. fell to Turkey 2-1 on June 19 at Geoffroy Guichard Stadium in Saint Etienne. Two days later, the U.S. came up a goal short, falling 1-0 to Brazil at Gerland Stadium in Lyon. The U.S. Men earned a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Cameroon in their final match of the tournament at Gerland Stadium. Despite the results, U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, playing in his first major competition at the full MNT level, was stellar in the nets and earned Chevrolet Man of the Match honors in two of the three games.
U.S. MNT Gets Top Billing in CONCACAF For First Time in FIFA World Rankings
On June 26, the United States Men’s National Team was ranked as the top team in CONCACAF for the first time since the FIFA World Rankings began in August of 1993 as the U.S. moved up one spot in the World Rankings to ninth, while Mexico fell from ninth to 11th. Upon breaking into the Top 10 last August at No. 9, the U.S. had held steady in the Top 10 for 11 consecutive months. Mexico, the only other team to ever be the top-ranked CONCACAF nation, fell out of the Top 10 for the first time since October of 2001.
U.S. WNT Plays First Game in Louisiana, Unveil WWC Jerseys
The U.S. Women's National Team debuted their new Nike uniforms on July 14 during an exciting 1-0 victory over Brazil off a late strike from second-half substitute Tiffeny Milbrett at Tad Gormely Stadium in New Orleans, in the first-ever game in Louisiana. The innovative and stylish uniforms were worn by the U.S. WNT throughout the remainder of the their competition this year, including the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003.
U.S. WNT Named Top Team in First-Ever FIFA Women’s World Rankings
The U.S. Women's National Team, winners of the FIFA Women's World Cup 1991 and 1999, and Olympic gold medallists in 1996, were officially named the top team in the world in the first edition of the FIFA Women's World Rankings, announced on July 16 by FIFA at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Women’s World Cup Draw is Held at The Home Depot Center
The U.S. Women’s National Team discovered on July 17 that it was drawn into Group A with Sweden, Nigeria and Korea DPR (North Korea) for the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003. The draw was held at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., which served as the site of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2003 Final as well as the Third Place Match and two opening round match dates. Coincidentally, the teams and order of opponents that the U.S. faced in 2003 was almost identical to that of USA ‘99, in which they opened against a tough European team (then Denmark, now Sweden), played an unpredictable Nigeria in its second match, and closed out the first round against a gritty North Korean side.
U.S. MNT Takes Third Place in Gold Cup
Second-half goals by midfielders Bobby Convey and Earnie Stewart highlighted a superior comeback as the U.S. Men’s National Team erased a 2-1 deficit and defeated Costa Rica 3-2 at the Orange Bowl in Miami on July 26, earning the USA third place honors in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. With the victory, the U.S. remained undefeated against CONCACAF opponents in the Gold Cup since the 1998 final, a string of nine matches. The U.S. ended up in the third place match after falling 2-1 in overtime to Brazil in the semifinals in Miami. The U.S. went up 1-0 on a goal by Carlos Bocanegra in the 62nd minute, but Brazil stormed back to tie the match in the 89th minute before Diego converted a penalty kick in the 10th minute of overtime to earn a spot in the final. The U.S. stormed through its three regional foes days earlier, dispatching El Salvador 2-0 in their opener on July 12, before downing Martinique 2-0 on a pair of goals scored by forward Brian McBride and assisted by midfielder Steve Ralston to win Group C. In their quarterfinal match-up, the U.S. MNT used a dominating four-goal performance from Landon Donovan and a strike from Steve Ralston to crush Cuba 5-0 in the team’s third and final match.
U-21 WNT Wins Fifth Straight Nordic Cup
The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team won its fifth consecutive Nordic Cup championship, and sixth in the last seven years, with a 2-1 victory over Sweden on July 27, in the title game of the world's top competition for U-21 women. Team captain Joanna Lohman (Penn State), scored both goals for the USA, including the game-winner in the 55th minute, as the Americans continued their amazing streak on European soil.
Tim Howard Signs With Manchester United
After rumors of a possible deal, it was made official on July 14 that superstar goalkeeper Tim Howard had been transferred from the MLS to world-renowned English Premier League club Manchester United. Two weeks later, he became the first American goalkeeper to start for Manchester United, making his debut in the USA tour match against Juventus at his old stomping grounds. Howard soon established himself as the first choice keeper and in five months reached double figures in clean sheets.
U.S. Under-17 MNT Take Fifth Place in the FIFA U-17 World Championship
Qualifying for Finland ’03 in March maintained the USA’s streak as the only country to qualify and play in all 10 FIFA World Championship at this age level, but Ellinger’s squad wasn’t finished as it continued to make an impact on the world stage by capturing an impressive fifth place finish at the World Championship, tying its second-best finish ever. The U.S. couldn’t have started off the World Championship any better as they overcame an early own goal to cruise to a 6-1 victory over South Korea on Aug. 14 at Lahti Stadium in Lahti, Finland. Freddy Adu led the way with three goals as the final score marked the most lopsided victory for the United States in competition at any FIFA U-17 World Championship. Three days later, an 89th minute goal by Adu gave the U.S. a spirited 2-1 victory over Sierra Leone, clinching a spot in the quarterfinals. In their final game of Group D, the U.S. fell to Spain 2-0 as the Spaniards got an early goal in the 11th minute after a shot by forward Jurado took a lucky deflection to swirl into the U.S. net. The U.S. was knocked out of the World Championship after falling to Brazil 3-0 in the quarterfinals at Turku Stadium in Turku, Finland on Aug. 24. Adu and midfielder Danny Szetela were both named to the FIFA All-Tournament Team.
U.S. Soccer Mours the Passing of Clive Charles
U.S. Soccer mourned the loss of a true pioneer for the sport of soccer across the United States and within his community in Portland as Clive Charles, who coached internationally for the United States in a number of capacities across the past decade, passed away on August 26, after a long battle against prostate cancer. Charles had a distinguished coaching career, at both the collegiate (for the University of Portland men and women) and international levels. Named the U.S. Men’s National Team assistant coach in 1995, he serve alongside Steve Sampson at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. He began his tenure as the U.S. Men’s Olympic Team coach in 1997, leading the U.S Under-23 Men's National Team to a best-ever fourth-place finish at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. A year prior, he coached the U-23's to a bronze medal at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada. He also served as the head coach of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team from 1993 to 1996.
U.S. WNT Roster Announced; MacMillan Back From ACL Injury
U.S. Women’s National Team head coach April Heinrichs named the final 20-player U.S. Women’s World Cup roster on August 26. Four players – team captains Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett, the world’s all-time leading scorer Mia Hamm (141 goals), and the world’s all-time appearance leader Kristine Lilly (254 caps) – were all chosen to play in their fourth Women’s World Cup. Of the rest of the players on the roster, four were picked for their third Women’s World Cup tournament (Brandi Chastain, Tiffeny Milbrett, Tiffany Roberts and Briana Scurry), four made their second Women’s World Cup Team (Shannon MacMillan, Cindy Parlow, Christie Pearce and Kate Sobrero) and eight players were debutantes (Shannon Boxx, Kylie Bivens, Angela Hucles, Siri Mullinix, Cat Reddick, Danielle Slaton, Aly Wagner and Abby Wambach). MacMillan was named to the roster and shortly thereafter marked her incredible return to the field against Costa Rica on Sept. 1, just 102 days after re-constructive surgery May 20 on her right ACL.
Women's United Soccer Association Suspends Operations; Hopes Still Alive to Bring League Back
The Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) announced on Sept. 15 that it was suspending operations, effective immediately. The decision was made by the league's Board of Governors at a meeting in New York City as a result of insufficient revenue to support a fourth year of play. The WUSA's owners had invested more than $100 million to date to fund the league. The decision by the WUSA Board of Governors to suspend operations was made after reviewing revenue commitments for 2004. Of the WUSA's potential revenue sources, the breadth of corporate sponsorship has been the greatest disappointment, reaching less than half of the levels anticipated in the league's original business plan. Days after the league folded, backed by an outcry of support, efforts began to bring the league back, possibly as soon as 2005.
U.S. Women’s National Team Finishes Third at 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup
The U.S. Women’s National Team registered a convincing 3-1 victory over regional rival Canada on Oct. 11 to take third place in the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003 in front of a 25,253 fans at the Home Depot Center, in what most likely marked the last Women’s World Cup game for a legendary group of veterans that started the grand tradition of the U.S. Women’s National Team by winning the first FIFA Women’s World Cup in China in 1991. Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, defender Joy Fawcett (a FIFA All-Star Team member who played every minute of the tournament for the USA) and captain Julie Foudy were all on the field for the match. Defender Brandi Chastain, also a member of that 1991 team, did not play again in the tournament after breaking her right foot in the USA’s opening game win over Sweden. The match featured the historic 1,000th goal in U.S. Women’s National Team history when Shannon Boxx, who was named the player of the game, powered home the game-winner on a header early in the second half. U.S. fell to Germany 3-0 in the semifinals, but the final score didn’t mirror the play on the field as the U.S. dominated the game and gave up two goals in stoppage time of the second half as they pushed players forward in an attempt to send the game to overtime. The USA had 16 shots, but it was Germany that found the net, scoring the winning goal in just the 15th minute and on a header by Kerstin Garefrekes. The U.S. won all three of its matches in Group A, opening up with a 3-1 victory over Sweden, which was followed by victories over Nigeria (5-0) and North Korea (3-0). Five-foot-eleven forward Abby Wambach pushed the U.S. into the semifinals with the winning header off a free kick from Cat Reddick in the 24th minute to down Norway 1-0 in the quarterfinals.
Chicago Fire Win Open Cup
The Chicago Fire got a 68th minute goal from forward Damani Ralph to earn their third Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title in six years on Oct. 15, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The match was played back and forth, with neither team creating many chances on a very windy night in the Meadowlands as both goalkeepers combined for just five saves. The deciding goal came when defender Evan Whitfield gathered the ball in space and dribbled toward goal before slotting the ball to an unmarked Ralph, who drilled a 10-yard shot between MetroStars goalkeeper Jonny Walker and defender Eddie Pope that went inside near post for his second goal of the 2003 U.S. Open Cup. The Fire, who also won the Open Cup in 1998 and 2000, brought the championship back to Chicago for the eighth time in the 90-year history of the competition as the first MLS team to win the cup final on the road.
U-23 Olympic Qualifying Starts With Dominating Wins Over St. Kitts & Nevis
The U.S. Under-23 Men's National advanced to the final round of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying by virtue of a 6-0 win in Basseterre, St. Kitts on Nov. 15 and a 4-0 win in Germantown, Md., on Nov. 19 for a 10-0 aggregate goal advantage over St. Kitts & Nevis. The Under-23s will start the new year with an extended training camp alongside the U.S. MNT in Carson in January and be together for most of the month leading up to the final round of the eight-team CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying competition, where they will meet Panama, Canada and Honduras in Group A in Guadalajara, Mexico, from Feb. 2-12, 2004.
14-Year-Old Freddy Adu Signs with MLS
On Nov. 18, Major League Soccer announced the signing of 14-year-old soccer prodigy and U.S. Under-17 MNT standout Freddy Adu to a multi-year contract. One of the most recognized young soccer player in the world, Adu turned down lucrative offers from prestigious European clubs to sign with the League and will become the youngest player in the modern era of professional team sports when he is expected to make his professional debut next season. While financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Adu will become eligible for the 2004 SuperDraft to be held in Charlotte, N.C., on January 16, 2004.
San Jose Makes Remarkable Comeback to Win MLS Cup
The San Jose Earthquakes capped off a remarkable run through the MLS playoffs with a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Fire in the 2003 MLS Cup Championship match on Nov. 23 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., joining D.C. United as only the second team in MLS history to earn multiple MLS Cup titles, hoisting the Alan I. Rothenberg trophy for the second time in three seasons. San Jose forward Landon Donovan recorded two goals in the match, earning the MLS Cup Most Valuable Player award. The Earthquakes came from certain defeat in the first round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Galaxy with five unanswered goals after falling behind 2-0 in the match and 4-0 in the series. San Jose scored in the 21st, 37th, 50th and 90th minutes to force a golden goal tiebreaker, and then scored six minutes into the extra period. In the next round, San Jose got a golden goal off the foot of Donovan against Kansas City as the U.S. National Team striker scored in the 117th minute of overtime to put them into the MLS Cup.
U.S. MNT Finds Out World Cup Qualifying Opponents
At the FIFA Preliminary Draw for the 2006 World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, on Dec. 5, it was determined that the U.S. Men’s National Team will open their quest to qualify for a fifth consecutive World Cup on June 12 or 13 in Group 1 with a home match versus the winner of an opening-round series between the nations of Guyana and Grenada. The U.S. will play the away leg of their preliminary round series the following weekend, June 19 or 20. The U.S. also learned their three potential opponents in one of the three Semifinal Round groups, where they could face El Salvador, Jamaica, and Panama should each country advance out of their early-round mini-groups. El Salvador awaits the winner of Bermuda-Montserrat in Group 2, Jamaica faces the winner of Haiti and Turks & Caicos Islands in Group 3, while Panama meets the winner of the British Virgin Islands and St. Lucia in Group 4. As qualifiers for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica cannot face one another until the third and final stage of the qualifying competition.
Nike Friendlies Attracts Record Number of Teams to Bradenton
A record 47 teams played 90 games in four days from December 5-8, 2003 in Bradenton, Fla., as U.S. Soccer hosted the third annual Nike Friendlies at home of the Under-17 Residency Program. Some of the top clubs from around the country competed in Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 age groups competed in the friendly-style event in which no standings were kept, and the games were officiated by some of the top, young referees in the U.S. as a part of a Premier Referee Academy. A large crowd of college coaches came in to look at some top talent and also attend a free U.S. Soccer Coaching Symposium which was held in conjunction with the event. Fox Sports World broadcast a trio of games that included Brazil's Under-17 Men's National Team taking on two split squads from the U.S. Under-17s. In eight games, the U.S. squads combined for a 5-2-1 record with the only losses coming by one goal to Brazil.
U.S. Under-20 MNT Take Fifth Place at FIFA World Youth Championship
With the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship in United Arab Emirates being postponed due to the political situation surrounding the region, the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team had to wait nine months on Nov. 29 to step on the field for their first match. Three weeks later, one thing was certain: It was well worth the wait. The Under-20s produced a remarkable run to the quarterfinals of the tournament, setting numerous first-time milestones along the way. The first of which was winning its group (Group F) for the first time at any World Youth Championship with wins against Paraguay (3-1) and South Korea (2-0), coupled with a loss to Germany (3-1). In the Round of 16, the Under-20s toppled Ivory Coast 2-0, getting both goals – a breakaway goal by Justin Mapp and a penalty by Ed Johnson – in a fast and furious first half. The U.S. was just seconds away from an appearance in the semifinals until a second-half stoppage time goal and a golden goal penalty kick sunk their championship aspirations as they fell to Argentina 2-1. Along with winning their group for the first time ever, the U.S. set numerous team accomplishments during their course through the World Youth Championship, including advancing to the quarterfinals of a WYC for just the second time and first time since the tournament increased to 24 teams in 1997, winning the most matches by any U.S. team in any FIFA Men’s World Championship (three), and tying the record for the most goals scored in any FIFA Men’s World Championship (nine). Three individual players – Johnson, Convey and Cronin – were also recognized for their play during the World Championship. Johnson became the first U.S. men’s player at any FIFA World Championship to win the Golden Boot, awarded to the leading scorer of the tournament. Johnson finished tied atop the scoring list with Argentina’s Fernando Cavenaghi and Brazil’s Dudu with four goals apiece, but took home the Golden Boot as the first tiebreaker for players even on goals is assists scored (Johnson had one, while the two others had zero). Cronin and Convey were named to the 20-player FIFA World Youth Championship All-Star Team.
U.S. Top Three Finishes
U.S. Men’s National Team: CONCACAF Gold Cup (USA/MEX), 3rd place
U.S. Women's National Team: Women’s World Cup (USA), 3rd place
U.S. Women's National Team: Algarve Cup (Portugal), 1st place
U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team: Nordic Cup (Denmark), 1st place
U.S. National Team Individual Honors
Shannon Boxx, First Team (Women's World Cup, USA)
Joy Fawcett, First Team (Women's World Cup, USA)
Mia Hamm, Honorable Mention (Women's World Cup, USA)
Bobby Convey, First Team (World Youth Championship, UAE)
Steve Cronin, First Team (World Youth Championship, UAE)
Ed Johnson, Golden Ball (World Youth Championship, UAE)
Freddy Adu, First Team (U-17 World Championship, Finland)
Danny Szetela, First Team (U-17 World Championship, Finland)
2003 Best of U.S. Soccer
Best Soccer Bar: Ginger's Ale House (Chicago, Ill.)
Best Soccer Store: Gotshalk's Soccer (Boston, Mass.)
Best Soccer Stadium: The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.)
Best Soccer Fans: Chicago, Ill.
Best Game Promotion: U.S. MNT Retro Jerseys
Best U.S. Soccer Story: U.S. MNT Goalkeeper Tim Howard Signs with Manchester United; Red Devils Tour America
Best U.S. Crowd: May 8 @ Reliant Stadium (69,582; SO)
Best U.S. Goal (Youth National Team): Freddy Adu (June 4)
Best U.S. Goal (National Team): Kristine Lilly (Sept. 21)
Best Game Performance (Player): Abby Wambach (Oct. 1)
Best Game Performance (Team): U.S. WNT 3, Sweden 1 (Sept. 21)
2003 Pro League Champions and Awards
Major League Soccer
Champion: San Jose Earthquakes
Runner-up: Chicago Fire
MLS Award Winners
MVP: Preki, Kansas City Wizards
Goalkeeper of the Year: Pat Onstad, San Jose Earthquakes
Defender of the Year: Carlos Bocanegra, Chicago Fire
Women’s United Soccer Association
Champion: Washington Freedom
Runner-up: Atlanta Beat
WUSA Award Winners
MVP: Maren Meinert, Boston Breakers
Goalkeeper of the Year: Briana Scurry, Atlanta Beat
Defender of the Year: Joy Fawcett, San Diego Spirit
United Soccer Leagues
Champion: Charleston Battery
MVP: Thiago Martins, Pittsburgh Riverhounds
USL Pro Soccer League
Champion: Wilmington Hammerheads
MVP: Rob Jachym, Western Mass Pioneers
Premier Development League
Champion: Cape Cod Crusaders
MVP: Tomas Boltnar, Des Moines Menace
Champion: Hampton Roads Piranhas
MVP: Phebe Trotman, Vancouver Whitecaps
U-14 Boys: Chicago Magic
U-15 Boys: Chicago Magic
U-16 Boys: Santa Rosa United
U-17 Boys: West Kendall
U-19 Boys: Cleveland Force Jrs.
U-14 Girls: Mustang SC
U-15 Girls: Parsippany SC
U-16 Girls: Cape Cod Crusaders
U-17 Girls: Intense Soccer Academy
US Youth Soccer
Every year US Youth Soccer also stages the US Youth Soccer National Youth Championship with different national titles up for grabs in boys and girls soccer for youth players from Under-14 through Under-19. The Under-19 Boys’ James P. McGuire Cup is the most prestigious of the competition’s trophies, dating back to 1935. First competed in 1980, the J. Ross Stewart Cup for Under-19 Girls is the oldest women’s youth trophy.
US Youth Soccer National Championship Tournaments
Under-16 Boys — D.J. Niotis Cup (1976)
Under-16 Girls — Patricia Masotto Cup (1985)
Under-17 Boys — Don Greer Cup (1991)
Under-17 Girls — National Cup (1991)
Under-18 Boys — Andy Stone Cup (1994)
Under-18 Girls — National Cup (1994)
Under-19 Boys — James P. McGuire Cup (1935)
Under-19 Girls — J. Ross Stewart Cup (1980)
2003 US Youth Soccer National Champions
Under-14 Boys — '88 CASL Elite (N.C.)
Under-14 Girls — Slammers FC (Calif.)
Under-15 Boys — Casa Mia Bays (Md.)
Under-15 Girls — PDA Wildcats (N.J.)
Under-16 Boys — S. California United (Calif.)
Under-16 Girls — San Diego Surf (Calif.)
Under-17 Boys — Chicago Magic SC (Ill.)
Under-17 Girls — Sereno '86 Golden Eagles (Ariz.)
Under-18 Boys — Michigan Wolves (Mich.)
Under-18 Girls — Dallas Texans Red '85 (Texas)
Under-19 Boys — FC Delco Arsenal (Pa.)
Under-19 Girls — Peachtree City Lazers (Ga.)
Major Indoor Soccer League
Champion: Baltimore Blast
MVP: Dino Delevski, Kansas City Comets