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Who Will be the Best MLS Team 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.

“As a Fire Fan, I would hope that Chicago would succeed. However, with all of the attention (and sell-out crowds) that follow Freddy, D.C. will end up on top. There is something about all of the fanfare that lifts a team to excellence (except in Real Madrid's case, there may actually too many stars (and egos) to go around on that team). We should all hope for the success of Freddy and his United teammates. MLS is the future for young American soccer players. Let's hope that Freddy paves the way for all of them. Good luck Freddy and good luck MLS. Even though I anticipate D.C. United will take it all, I will be cheering for the Chicago Fire.”
--Randy Payne / 40-ish / Mobile, Ala.

“D.C. United will be best this year.  Moreno's return set fire in the stands and only burned brighter with him on the field.  Adu's presence brings more excitement both for the sport and his talent at 14.  Nowak's got the right touch for leading the team into victory.  His ability to maximize the line up is key.
How else are they going to earn a new stadium?”
--Gena Zak

“D.C. United, because they have a new coach and a new-found energy.  Also they have the return of Moreno, who has already proven valuable, Stewart, Convey, Eskandarian and the possibility of Adu turning out to be what the media has hyped him to be and the desire to return to their late 90's glory.  Let's not forget Petke. Oh, and I am a member of their fan club.”
--Marc Berrong

“I think Adu is mature enough to lead D.C. United to a real good year for them. Freddy might even debut in one of the World Cup qualifiers; maybe not Grenada (on June 13), but the ones that follow in the semi qualifying group. He needs the experience if we are going to use him in World Cup 2006 in Germany. Pele was only 17 when he scored 3 goals in the World Cup final in 1958. It is great that MLS finally has a ‘coming star.’ I look forward to follow the MLS games this year.”
--Ulf Sandstrom / Sarasota, Fla.

“The team to beat this year is definitely the MetroStars. With continued solid defense in Jonny Walker and Eddie Pope, a strong midfield with Amado Guevara and Ricardo Clark, and a plethora of strong forwards, I think it's finally our year to shine. Add to that the new additions in Fabian Taylor and Galvan Rey, plus a strong bench and a superstar in the making in Eddie Gaven, and what you have is a scared league. Just give 'em the MLS Cup now, and save yourselves the tears and heartbreak!”
--Brian Jensen / 27 / New York, N.Y.

“My vote goes to the Metros this season. Why? Because Coach Bradley has instilled a winning spirit within the team this year more so than last year.  The returning players have one full season under their belts under Coach Bradley and are hungry to add to their pre-season trophy by adding another Eastern Conference championship and a MLS Cup to the trophy case in Secaucus, N.J.”
--Ed Rossi

L.A. Galaxy:
“Based on the first week's performance, I'd say the Galaxy look pretty strong. The interaction between Herzog, Kirovski and Ruiz was impressive. Dare I say, poetic? Herzog really seems (based on one game) to be the missing piece to their puzzle. Forget his goal, I was excited to see him connect the defense
to the offense. The midfield actually looked like they weren't in panic mode all game. Once you include Cobi Jones and Hong Bo in the lineup, I'd say that's a pretty solid team. Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.”
--Kevin Cook / 37 / Altadena, Calif.

For May, we ask you this: With a group of six forwards (Mia Hamm, Shannon MacMillan, Heather O’Reilly, Cindy Parlow, Abby Wambach and Christie Welsh) currently in Olympic Residency, who provides the best combo up top for the U.S. heading to Athens?

E-mail your BRIEF, but well-crafted rant 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: 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

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