Maintained and written by David Litterer firstname.lastname@example.org
The Year 2002 was possibly the best year ever for American Soccer, highlighted most prominently by their unprecedented success at World Cup 2002. By advancing to the quarterfinals and playing head to head with the 3rd ranked team in the world, the team sent a signal that U.S. soccer head elevated itself to a new level. Although they were not yet one of the top programs, they were coming close, and with the solidity of the national team program, this would not be a temporary phenomenon. Even the cynical pundits in established soccer nations took notice, and cynicism and condescension were replaced by a grudging respect. In recognition of the strides made, Bob Contigulia was re-elected to another four year term as president of the USSF.
Major League Soccer benefited from a fresh crew of young talented players and nail biting divisional races to produce their most exciting season yet and enjoyed a marked rebound in attendance, and scored a coup with their purchasing of television rights to the next two World Cups, an important strategic initiative for the long term. WUSA minimized their dreaded sophomore slump, and upped their skill level considerably. United Soccer Leagues was still establishing their place in the soccer pyramid, but were showing increased signs of stability and organizational maturity. The Women's National Team continued their youth movement during a quiet year as they girded up for the WWC'03.
Overall, there were more positives than negatives, but the World Cup stood out clearly as a milestone. This was a major crowning achievement in US Soccer History, but was not a pinnacle, merely the latest chapter in the long struggle for world prominence.
The United States entered World Cup 2002 with a sense of trepidation. The stakes were high this time. Once again, the U.S. had qualified on the field, with only a post qualification draw keeping them from finishing 2nd in the Hexagonal. The team had played inconsistently throughout qualifications and during the subsequent friendlies. They were also faced with a tough draw, opening against Portugal, then ranked #5 in the world, and Poland, another potential powerhouse, albeit their recent performances raised questions. South Korea, originally expected to be the weakest opponent was showing surprising skill, and had been training since November. A repeat of 1998 would have been disastrous, throwing into question the future of the entire program.
At the same time, however, this was probably the most talented squad ever assembled, with seven veterans entering their third World Cup, and some exciting new players. This would also be the first true test of Major League Soccer, since a majority of the roster had extensive MLS experience. Finally the league's best would be put to the test against the world's best. Expectations were high, and the results would have a major impact on the development of the American fortunes for years to come.
Bruce Arena brought in a completely different coaching philosophy to the squad. Unlike Steve Sampson who clashed with key players with his sometimes dictatorial coaching style and mind games, Arena preached flexibility and valued player input. He did not repeat the mistake of sequestering the players at a remote location before the games. There were no favorites or guaranteed slots, and a rigorous training regimen mixed with friendlies against quality opponents provided the needed opportunity for players to get back into shape, become a cohesive unit, and be prepared for the high caliber of competition they would face.
The US squad was dominated by veterans, including Claudio Reyna Earnie Stewart and Cobi Jones at Midfield, Jeff Agoos, David Regis, Eddie Pope and Tony Sanneh on defense; Joe-Max Moore, and Brian McBride up front, and the perennial Goalkeeper trio of Keller, Friedel and Meola. But there were notable newcomers as well, including Clint Mathis and Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Josh Wolff, Pablo Matsroeni, John O'Brien and Carlos Llamosa. A number of the veteran players were facing their last world cup, notably Claudio Reyna and Earnie Stewart, so they were expected to give it their best. A key question would be whether the newcomers were up to the task (See Men's National Team section below for details on the preliminaries).
The U.S. opened against Portugal in what many expected would be their toughest game, but in one of the most stunning upsets of the Cup, the U.S. beat Portugal 3-2 in a tension-filled match. In the 4th minute, Brian McBride took a corner kick, evaded Portuguese defender Petit, and headed the ball to goalkeeper Victor Baia who, in the process of colliding with Petit, could only knock the ball away, and John O'Brien knocked it into the open far corner. The U.S. kept up the attack, with surging runs by McBride, and DaMarcus Beasley, who was particularly effective in cutting through the defensive line. In the 29th minute, Rui Jorge cleared the ball off of Tony Sanneh to Landon Donovan whose cross hit Jorge's head, and Baia parried the ball into his own goal. Sanneh and Hedjuk were particularly effective on the flanks. In a great run at the 36th minute, Pablo Mastroeni passed to Landon Donovan who flipped it to Tony Sanneh down the right side. He crossed to Brian McBride who sent the ball into the net with a diving header. At that point, Portugal began to come alive, and began some good runs, scoring three minutes later when Beto beat Jeff Agoos to take a header from a corner kick. O'Brien botched a cut-off attempt and Beto sent it by Friedel.
From this point, the game settled down to a scoreless struggle, punctured by Jeff Agoos's own goal in the 71st minute. Hunkering down, the U.S. persevered to the end for a 3-2 win. Many comparisons were made with the 1950 US win over England or the 1994 win over Columbia, but only in this game did the US truly control the game from beginning to end, and against the #5 ranked team to boot. It also marked the first recorded instance of both teams committing an own goal in the same game.
Next up was South Korea, fresh off their 2-0 shutout of Poland. This appeared to be the surprise division with both favorites in the cellar, but South Korea was severely underrated. With three forwards and an attacking midfielder, Korea had to be tracked the length of the field or passed on through the zones. Their back line continually frustrated McBride and Clint Mathis, leaving Beasley and Donovan to exploit the wings on rare opportunities. In the 24th minute, John O'Brien finally found Mathis in an open space up front and lobbed the ball which Mathis trapped and shot in for the goal. The game continued scoreless until the 78th minute when Korea, as adept on the ground as in the air, were able to land their goal after Ahn Jung Hwan beat Agoos to take a header off a corner kick, and tied the game, which ended at 1-1. In contrast to the first game, the Americans were the ones surprised this time. But Korea was no fluke. They continued on into the semifinals, in an astounding performance that delighted the home crowd.
In the final surprise for the U.S., they took on an already eliminated Poland. Poland came out storming and scored two goals within the first five minutes amidst a flurry of shots. Landon Donovan also found the net in the 4th minute but it was disallowed because of a hip check. Poland kept up the attack for much of the game and only Brad Friedel's superb performance kept this from being a blowout. Poland scored again in the 67th minute, and Donovan found the net in the 83rd minute to break the shutout. At this point, the U.S. could only wait on pins and needles for the result of the Portugal-South Korea match. Neither team needed to win that game, they could have both rolled the ball to each other and advance, but South Korea was playing for pride, and they dispatched Portugal, allowing the U.S. to squeak by, in what appeared after the Portugal game, to be a possible Group D sweep. It wasn't pretty, but the U.S. was in the Round of 16 for only the 2nd time since 1930.
The U.S. was matched up against Mexico for the Round of 16, and Arena made some changes to the lineup, switching to a 3-5-2 formation bringing in Gregg Berhalter to replace the injured Jeff Agoos, and Josh Wolff to replace the struggling Clint Mathis. With O'Brien and Mastroeni at back, Donovan served as a playmaker when the U.S. was in possession. Mexico took control at first, but three minutes into the game, Reyna beat the defenders on the right flank, and passed to Josh Wolff on the end line. Wolf passed the ball back to McBride who scored from 12 yards. With this shock, as well as Reyna's success in shutting down Ramon Morales, and Donovan effective in marking Gerardo Torreo, Mexico was effectively shut down. In the 65th minute, Eddie Lewis took an O'Brien pass and crossed to Donovan who sent it in for the second goal, and the U.S. cruised to a 2-0 win. This marked the first time the U.S. had ever won a game in the elimination round, and they sent home a devastated North American rival.
By this time, several prominent teams had been eliminated, including Portugal, defending champion France, Argentina and Uruguay, and yet the U.S. was still standing. But it wasn't going to get easier. Next up was #3 ranked Germany, who had so easily beaten the U.S. in 1998. The U.S. put on a superb performance against the physical and highly skilled Germans, matching them head for head in the early going. Both teams had a number of good shots, with Germany's goalkeeper Oliver Kahn making several impressive saves. Finally, Michael Ballack headed a Christian Ziege pass past Brad Friedel to take the lead, and then massed their players behind the ball to protect the lead. The U.S. pushed them to the limit, but ultimately Germany prevailed, bringing the incredible U.S. run to an end.
The semifinals were somewhat of a surprise, with South Korea and Turkey joining perennial favorites Germany and Brazil in the round. South Korea were the giant-killers in these games, having dispatched favored Italy and Spain in the two previous rounds. Their run finally came to the end as Germany defeated them 1-0, and a surprisingly tough Turkey held Brazil to a single goal as they succumbed to the inevitable. The final featured the first ever World Cup meeting between Brazil and Germany, two teams with enviable histories in past world cups, yet two teams who had struggled during the qualifications for this edition. The match itself was a battle of two keepers. Germany had a strong start, and the shots came fast and furious from both sides. But nothing landed in the net until the 63rd moment when he fumbled a Rivaldo shot and a charging Ronaldo blasted it into the net. Thirteen minutes later he scored again, giving Brazil a 2-0 lead they would hold until the end. Thus, Brazil became the first nation to win 5 world cups, and they did it with power, skill and class.
For the U.S., it was a solid effort with many peak performances, particularly by Reyna, Donovan, Pope, O'Brien and Friedel among others. The team had advanced farther than ever before, and the MLS players acquitted themselves admirably. The U.S. shut down Mexico as none of their previous opponents could and took Germany to the wire. Although there were some slips here and there, the team was more consistent than in years passed, and the games garnered a lot of attention among the media and the television audience. One could only hope for even better in 2006.
Complete 2002 World Cup results
Major League Soccer began the year with three major milestones. On the positive side, the league investors conducted an extensive review of MLS performance over the past six seasons, and ultimately agreed to renew their commitments for another five years. But it was clear that the league would have to make substantial progress towards breaking even if the commitments were to continue beyond that. The struggles of the past few seasons could only continue for so long. In a landmark accomplishment, MLS bought the US television rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and the 2003 Women's World Cup for approximately $40,000,000.00. MLS in turn brokered an agreement with ABC/ESPN2 which would provide for five more years of television coverage for the league. For 2002, this would include three games on ABC and 22 on ESPN2.
On a darker side, MLS reluctantly folded two teams - Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion. The league had talked for some time about folding two teams, leading to considerable speculation, and ultimately the two Florida teams were selected because of their long struggles with attendance, and weak or absent investor-operator situations. Almost unnoticed in the midst of these events was a move by MLS to create a new company which would acquire, manage and market soccer properties. Some major groups joined this effort, including MLS minority investor Dentsu, Worldwide Momentum, headed by Harlan Stone, Envision and Lamar Hunt's Hunt Sports Group This group was expected to play a major role in providing badly needed strategic planning for both MLS and American soccer in general.
On the stadium front, Denver moved into the new 75,000 seat Invesco Field and Chicago was forced to vacate Soldier Field which was closed for two years of extensive renovations. For 2002, they played 30 miles away in Naperville at North Central College, whose stadium which was refurbished and expanded to 16,000 seats to accommodate the Fire. Meanwhile, plans were finalized and construction started for the new National Training Center in Carson California, which included a 27,000 soccer-specific stadium for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Dallas and the MetroStars continued the interminable politicking and planning in their attempts to get new soccer-specific stadiums for themselves. In a welcome development, Philip Anschut's AEG group formally exercised its option to become investor/operator of D. C. United, and reached a joint operating arrangement with San Jose Sports & Entertainment to run the San Jose Earthquakes. Meanwhile, the Hunt Sports group worked to become the investor/operator of the Dallas Burn, finally leaving MLS free of league-run clubs.
Player turnover was substantial this year, with 69 players either retiring, being waived or not having contracts renewed. This included Eric Wynalda, Geoff Aunger, Paul Bravo, Raul Diaz Arce, Chris Martinez, John Harkes, Miles Joseph, Mark Watson, A. J. Wood, Mo Johnston, Paul Caligiuri, Luis Hernandez, Ivan McKinley, Jair and Diego Sonora. The 2002 Superdraft was somewhat subdued this year, and competition was tough with the loss of two teams. Among the top draftees were Taylor Twellman, drafted by New England Revolution and Carl Bussey, taken by Dallas Burn, defender Carlos Bocanegra, who left college early to join the Chicago Fire, and 17 year old Justin Mapp, who went to D. C. United. Mapp was one of five Project 40 players taken in the draft. Chris Gbandi of Connecticut, was the top pick, taken by Dallas, and 2001 Hermann Trophy winner Luichi Gonzalez was taken 6th, by the San Jose Earthquakes. The draft continued its recent trend as a preponderance of players came from the colleges, with only a handful of players coming from the A-League or semi-pro leagues.
Once again, a number of teams spent a portion of their training camps overseas. The Revolution went to Brazil and Portugal, The Burn and Galaxy had time in Chile, the Wizards went to Argentina and Trinidad, the Fire were in Guatemala and Portugal, and the MetroStars flew to Italy. In contrast to previous seasons, only the Crew went to Mexico.
With the loss of two teams, MLS returned to a two-division format. In the East, the Chicago Fire kept their roster largely intact, losing only Diego Guiterrez from their starting lineup. Columbus added Eric Denton and Chad McCarthy on defense, but was worried about losing key players (McBride, Maisonneuve et al) to World Cup duty. D. C. United added a number of players, including Honduran defender Milton Reyes, Ivan McKinley and Goalkeeper Nick Rimaldo as they attempted to recover from two dismal seasons. . The MetroStars added veteran Marcello Balboa and Diego Serna. The most sweeping changes in the East were made by the New England Revolution, who cleaned up at the dispersal draft, picking up Mamadou Diallo, Carlos Llamosa, MVP Alex Pineda Chacon, Steve Ralston and Shaker Asad along with draft choice Taylor Twellman.
In the West, Colorado added Mark Chung, Steve Henderson, Pablo Mastroeni, and A-League defender of the year Mark Titus, and looked for major improvement after a disastrous five-win season. Dallas swung a trade with San Jose, receiving Ron Cerritos for Ariel Graziani. This move was expected to open up space for playmaker Oscar Pareja, and the central defense was buttressed with former Crew-member Tenwya Bonseu and Steve Morrow, a former Northern Ireland international. Kansas City made major changes in an effort to return to championship form, adding midfielder Eric Quill, defender Diego Guitierrez and welcoming back Preki to the front line. The Los Angeles Galaxy welcomed former D. C. United striker Chris Albright, Guatemalan star Carlos Ruiz and Caribbean international Tyrone Marshall. The San Jose Earthquakes, blessed with a strong roster largely held pat, with Ariel Graziani the only major acquisition. Their major concern would be the expected loss of Landon Donovan and Jeff Agoos for six weeks of World Cup duty.
At season's start, New England and Chicago looked to be the teams to beat in the East and San Jose and Los Angeles were favored in the West. But as usual, there were surprises once the season got underway. Parity triumphed this season as both divisions saw a mass of teams separated by 1-2 points; the East was a four way battle for first place through much of the season, and in the West there was a spirited contest for the 2nd and 3rd place playoff slots.
Perhaps the most frustrating surprise was the New England Revolution. With an amazing influx of talent from the folded teams, the Revolution players simply couldn't jell, and a quick series of frustrating losses ensued. The front office responded by firing head coach Fernando Clavijo and engineering a blockbuster six-player trade that sent Mamadou Diallo, Ted Chronopoulos and Andy Williams to the MetroStars for Diego Serna, Daniel Hernandez and Brian Kamler. People questioned this move, given the caliber of the players dealt away. It seemed that any successful player coming to New England immediately lost their touch. But there were possibilities for both clubs, as their new players would fill immediate needs, although in the Revolution's case, the results were not immediately obvious. The team limped on through much of the summer, but came alive at the end of the season to win the amazingly close divisional race and make team history in the playoffs.
San Jose took an early lead in the Western Division, running a neck and neck battle with Colorado through much of the first half. The MetroStars took the early lead in the East before they fizzled, as Chicago surged out to take a substantial lead before faltering. Suddenly a four way race for second became a four way race for first place as New England fizzled before their late surge at the end of the season. This topsy-turvy swap meet kept fan interest high and attendance remained substantially higher than last season. Los Angeles surged to the top in the west, on the strength of Guatemalan Carlos "The Fish" Ruiz, who scored more than half of their goals. But the race for 2nd place wasn't decided until the final matches were concluded, with San Jose, Dallas and Colorado finishing two points apart. The race was almost as close in the East, with all five teams in the running, and only after the final games was the playoff field settled.
This season, playoff slots went to the top eight teams in terms of points, not the top four in each conference. This resulted in all five Western teams making it, while the MetroStars and D. C. United went home early. Amazingly, New England, who occupied the cellar for most of the season, vaulted to the top spot, tied for points with Columbus, but ahead in wins. The excitement of these tight divisional races, and a spirited scoring race between Los Angeles's Carlos Ruiz and New England's Taylor Twellman, kept the fans returning and the league finally avoided its traditional late-season attendance dip.
The playoffs got off to a rousing start. San Jose was favored to win its match up against Columbus, but the Crew, still smarting from being ousted in 2001 by the Earthquakes, stunned the home crowd with a 2-1 victory, which was repeated two days later at Crew Stadium. Daniel Hernandez was the start for New England in their close series with the Chicago Fire. He scored the key goal in the Revs 2-0 shutout in game 1, and set up the final goal in game 3 by knifing between two Fire defenders and serving the ball to Taylor Twellman for the score. Dallas shocked Colorado 4-2 in their opener, but the Rapids changed their defensive plan, and held Dallas to just one goal for the remainder of the series. After a tough overtime opener, Los Angeles got trounced by Kansas City 1-4 and then returned the favor 5-2 to advance, Carlos Ruiz was the hero, scoring four of L.A.'s goals.
The semifinal openers were a study in contrast. Fresh from his scoring feats against Kansas City, Carlos Ruiz scored two goals in the Galaxy's 4-0 shutout over Colorado, to break the MLS record for goals in a postseason. The Crew and Revolution meanwhile, battled to a scoreless tie in a tight defensive battle. From this point onward, the scorefests were a thing of the past. Round two saw New England and Los Angeles both pull off 1-0 victories. The Revolution got a quick goal three minutes in from Jay Heaps and clashed to a stalemate for the rest of the game. The Galaxy and Rapids were scoreless until well into the 2nd half before Ruiz found the net to give L.A. the series. New England would need overtime to hang on to a 202 draw for the 5th point that earned them advancement.
MLS Cup 2002 was held in the brand new Gillette Stadium at Foxboro, MA. The Galaxy had been in three previous Cup games, having gone home empty-handed each time; New England was in their first Cup. Over 60,000 turned out, a Cup record, on a beautiful day. In a tense, physical and sometimes frantic game, the Revolution and Galaxy fought fruitlessly for 90 minutes. Los Angeles was more aggressive on the attack, but both teams were strong on defensive and in the net. In overtime, however, the Galaxy were simply unstoppable. Carlos Ruiz sent a spectacular bicycle kick right onto Adin Brown's nose, and early in the second OT, his breakaway shot sent Brown diving to save the game. Shortly after, Winston Griffiths nearly pulled off a miracle for the revs as his corner kick deflection spun over the GK, but hit the crossbar. A follow-up shot by Joey Franchino was blocked by Marshall, and the counterattack was on. Chris Albright sent a long shot to the unencumbered Marshall, who, seeing Ruiz in excellent position sent him a quick pass, and Ruiz found the net for the score. With this 1-0 victory, the Galaxy finally rewarded their fans after so many heartbreakers from past years. Despite the disappointment, the Revolution finally gave their long suffering fans something to cheer about.
Overall, it was a very good year for MLS. The USA's performance in the World Cup clearly showed that the level of play in MLS was up to par with most pro leagues, demonstrated most profoundly by its younger players - Clint Mathis, Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Josh Wolff, Eddie Pope, and Pablo Mastroeni. This was important for the future of the league as it showed that MLS can offer a competitive playing experience for future players who may be considering a career overseas. Attendance was up markedly this season, as a result of World Cup fever and the exciting divisional races. And MLS had fairly good success in hanging on to the new stars that shone so brightly in the World Cup. MLS purists were delighted with the announcement late in the year that the MLS playoffs would switch to two game series with advancement based on goals aggregate for the first round, conforming to the international standard (the semifinals and MLS Cup would remain a single game). The regular season was extended to 30 games, extending from early April to late November. With the increased attendance, new playoff format, and the new Galaxy stadium well under construction and a load of young talent on the horizon, things looked bright for the upcoming season.
Official 2002 MLS Season Stats
Official MLS History Archives
Final 2002 Major League Soccer Standings GP W L D GF GA Pts Eastern Division New England Revolution 28 12 14 2 49 49 38 Columbus Crew 28 11 12 5 44 43 38 Chicago Fire 28 11 13 4 43 38 37 NY/NJ MetroStars 28 11 15 2 41 47 35 D. C. United 28 9 14 5 31 40 32 Western Division Los Angeles Galaxy 28 16 9 3 44 33 51 San Jose Earthquakes 28 14 11 3 45 35 45 Dallas Burn 28 12 9 7 44 43 43 Colorado Rapids 28 13 11 4 43 48 43 Kansas City Wizards 28 9 10 9 37 45 36 Quarterfinals New England defeated Chicago 2-0, 1-2, 2-0 Colorado defeated Dallas 2-4, 1-0, 1-1 (1-0 TB) Columbus Crew defeated San Jose Earthquakes 2-1, 2-1 Los Angeles defeated Kansas City 3-2 (OT), 1-4, 5-2 Semifinals: New England defeated Columbus 0-0 (OT), 1-0, 2-2 (OT) Los Angeles defeated Colorado 4-0, 1-0 CHAMPIONSHIP: Los Angeles defeated New England 1-0 (OT) LEADING SCORERS GP G A Pts Taylor Twellman, New England 28 23 6 52 Carlos Ruiz, Los Angeles 26 24 1 49 Jeff Cunningham, Columbus 27 16 5 17 Ante Razov, Chicago 25 14 8 36 Ariel Graziani, San Jose 28 14 5 33 Mark Chung, Colorado 27 11 10 32 Jason Kreis, Dallas 27 13 4 30 Mamadou Diallo, MetroStars* 24 12 5 29 Steve Ralston, New England 27 5 19 29 Rodrigo Faria, MetroStars 28 12 5 29 Chris Henderson, Columbus 28 11 7 29 Mamadou Diallo, MetroStars 24 12 5 29 Chris Carrieri, Colorado 25 11 5 27 Preki, Kansas City 25 7 10 24 Edson Buddle, Columbus 21 9 5 23 Bobby Rhine, Dallas 27 7 6 20 Ronnie Ekelund, San Jose 27 6 8 20 * Played for more than one team - Most Recent Team Listed GOALKEEPING LEADERS (Minimum 1,100 minutes) MIN SHTS SVS C/P GA GAA Record SO Kevin Hartman, Los Angeles 18 1648 108 83 49 20 1.09 11-6-1 5 Jon Busch, Columbus 14 1236 80 63 55 15 1.09 8-3-2 5 Joe Cannon, San Jose 26 2375 136 100 99 29 1.10 13-10-3 8 Zach Thornton, Chicago 27 2483 164 124 83 34 1.23 10-13-4 7 Adin Brown, New England 16 1450 102 72 54 20 1.23 9-8-1 5 Tony Meola, Kansas City 17 1519 88 65 43 21 1.24 6-5-5 3 Nick Rimando, D. C. United 28 2588 183 131 85 40 1.39 9-14-5 7 Matt Jordan, Dallas 27 2511 158 109 93 42 1.51 12-9-6 3 Scott Garlick, Colorado 15 1374 92 61 58 24 1.57 6-7-2 4 Tim Howard, MetroStars 27 2463 195 140 115 44 1.61 11-14-2 4 David Kramer, Colorado 13 1195 75 49 47 24 1.81 7-4-2 2 Tom Presthus, Columbus 15 1365 103 73 39 29 1.85 3-9-3 2 All-Star Game: In a new twist, the top National Team players in MLS played against a team representing the best of the non-US Team league stars. Showing the depth of the MLS talent base, the MLS All-Stars defeated USA 3-2 3-2 before 31,096 fans at Washington DC on August 3. Jason Kreis, Marco Etcheverry and Steve Ralston scored for MLS, Landon Donovan and Cobi Jones scored for USA. MLS Award Winners: Most Valuable Player: Carlos Ruiz, Los Angeles Galaxy Goal of the Year:: Carlos Ruiz, Los Angeles Galaxy Coach of the Year: Steve Nicol, New England Revolution Goalkeeper of the Year: Joe Cannon, San Jose Earthquakes Defender of the Year: Carlos Bocanegra, Chicago Fire Rookie of the Year: Kyle Marino, Columbus Crew Scoring Champion: Taylor Twellman, New England Revolution Play of the Year: Taylor Twellman, New England Revolution Supporters' Shield Award: Los Angeles Galaxy Fair Play Award: Mark Chung, Colorado Rapids; Team: Kansas City Wizards Referee of the Year: Kevin Terry Humanitarian of the Year: Steve Jolley, MetroStars Comeback Player of the Year: Chris Klein, Kansas City Wizards Trainer of the Year: Theron Enns, Colorado Rapids Commissioner's Award: Tab Ramos, MetroStars Executive of the Year: Dan Counce, Colorado Rapids Pepsi Best 11: G - Tim Howard, MetroStars D - Alexi Lalas, Los Angeles Galaxy D - Carlos Bocanegra, Chicago Fire D - Wade Barrett, San Jose Earthquakes M - Jeff Cunningham, Columbus Crew M - Oscar Pareja, Dallas Burn M - Ronnie Ekelund, San Jose Earthquakes M - Mark Chung, Colorado Rapids M - Steve Ralston, New England Revolution F - Taylor Twellman, New England Revolution F - Carlos Ruiz, Los Angeles Galaxy
After their impressive debut, the WUSA approached its sophomore season looking to avoid that dreaded 2nd year slump, and capitalize on their successes of the previous year. Although attendance and TV ratings slumped, it was not by much and on all other fronts, there was marked improvement. Shortly after their inaugural season, Lynn Morgan was named as the league's first Commissioner, Charles Parker as chief financial officer, and former MLS public Relations director Dan Courtemanche. The league moved from New York to Atlanta, pared their staff substantially and revamped their long-term business plan, with an eye to breaking even by 2005. This move was designed to allow the league to take advantage of resources of Cox Communications, the league's largest investor/owner. The league took their sponsorship services in-house, and promptly renewed nearly all of their sponsorship deals, most of them to multiyear contracts, and inked a new television deal with the PAX cable channel. Shortly afterwards, they signed three new sponsors, Maytag, Coca Cola and McDonalds.
Among the notable new players were German star Birgit Prinz and Norwegian Unni Lehn, signed by Carolina, and Zhao Lihong, who went to Philadelphia. Defense talent was in abundant supply at the WUSA draft, which was timely, since the league already had the cream of the top scoring talent. Danielle Slaton, of national team fame, and defending champions Santa Clara, was top pick, taken by Carolina. She was followed by Abby Wambach (Florida), taken by Washington, Jena Kluegel (North Carolina), taken by Boston, and Virginia's Lori Lindsey, who went to San Diego. The Bay Area CyberRays were renamed the San Jose CyberRays. Atlanta and Carolina moved to new or expanded stadiums and San Diego and Philadelphia's venues were extensively renovated.
Outside of a few international stars and the college draftees, rosters saw few changes for 2002. The Atlanta Beat were seen again as being the class team in the league, with the best coach and a well balanced roster of highly skilled players including Sun Wen, strikers Charmaine Hooper, Cindy Parlow and goalkeeper Brianna Scurry, a veritable FIFA all-star team right there. Boston Breakers bolstered their weak defense by adding Jena Kluegel and Monica Gonzales to join Kate Sobrero in the back. Up front, the Breakers had one of the best striking lines in the league, with Maren Meinart, Danny Mellgren and Kristine Lilly. Carolina went for wholesale changes, bringing in eight players, the abovementioned Birgit Prinz, Norwegian star Unni Lehn and Danielle Slaton. The New York Power were expected to struggle again this year, despite the addition of Norwegian midfielders Linda Ormen and Anita Rapp, and Finish striker Milnna Mustonen. Both Sara Whalen and Christie Pearce would be coming off injuries, and the retirement of defender Gro Espereth did not help.
The Philadelphia Charge boasted the most prominent new faces, China's winger Zhou Lihong, and France's striker Marinette Pichon. With Liu Ailing and Kelly Smith returning to the front line, the Charge had one of the best scoring lines in the league. San Diego brought a solid lineup into 2002, with Shannon Macmillan up front, Julie Foudy at Midfield and Joy Fawcett on defense. Zhang Oyang was added to the front line, but the defense lost the services of retiring Wen Lirong. The renamed San Jose CyberRays replaced retiring Julie Murray with Pretinha from Washington, and also nabbed Michelle French from the Freedom. Otherwise, they mostly stood pat, outside of top draft choice Danielle Bergman on defense. Major concern was the aging midfield (Sissi, Brandi Chastain). The Washington Freedom looked to rebound from a frustrating first season, and landed a major acquisition in Germany's veteran defender Steffi Jones. The Freedom also looked for a stronger, revitalized Mia Hamm, and boasted Pu Wei, one of the most exciting of China's new wave, but overall, depth remained a major question.
Philadelphia took the early lead, winning five of their first 7 games followed closely by the greatly rejuvenated Carolina Courage. Injuries plagued the league with over two dozen players being sidelined at one time or another. The race for first was tight, but ultimately Carolina pulled away to win the regular season title by four points, followed closely by Philadelphia and the rejuvenated Washington Freedom. San Jose slumped badly this season and another concern was the continuing struggle of New York who finished in the cellar. A positive development was the improved performance of many of the top National Team stars who finally adjusted to the different realities of league play, and the re-emergence of Mia Hamm, who played a key role in the rise of the Washington Freedom, who finished the season in third place.
The seasonal race was fervid right through the final games. Philadelphia pushed hard, but fell just short of Carolina who led for much of the season, and capped off their amazing rise with the regular season championship. Alas for poor San Jose who fell to .500, and the hapless Boston Breakers and New York Power who again finished in the nether reaches.
Two teams made their debut in the WUSA playoffs and both won their semifinal matches. The favored Washington Freedom defeated the Philadelphia Charge 1-0 at Villanova, PA, in a defensive battle. Meanwhile, Carolina and Atlanta were duking it out in a nail-biting affair. Niki Serlenga landed the first goal on a penalty kick in the 28th minute, and appeared to have the better of Carolina, but just as all hope seemed lost for the home crowd, Danielle Fotopoulos found the net with a minute left in regulation. Three minutes later, on OT, she set up Birgit Prinz for the winning goal, setting up a final between the courageous (no pun intended) underdog against the heavily favored star machine.
Founders' Cup II was a memorable game. Washington was the heavy favorite; they had enjoyed a spectacular second half of their season, unbeaten in their last ten games, and Mia Hamm, Siri Mullinix and Jen Grubb were at their best. Carolina ran hot and cold at times, and it was anybody's guess how they would play. The teams battled head to head for half an hour before Riise landed Carolina's first goal. Birgit Prinz suffered an own goal to even the score and the defensive battle resumed. But all that changed in the 53rd minute when Danielle Fotopoulos slammed home a rebound of a Birgit Prinz strike that Mullinix had fumbled. Five minutes later, Prinz won a 1 on 1 battle with Mullunix to give Carolina a 3-1 lead. Washington fired back desperately; Mia Hamm scored in the 64th minute, but Carolina clamped down and held on for a 3-2 victory.
Overall, it was a mixed season for WUSA, but it was a mix of short term challenges and long-term positive trends. Attendance fell in an expected sophomore slump, but not as much as could be expected. Total attendance was 576,063, an average of 6,858 fans per game, down from 8,293 in 2001. The level of play on the field showed notable improvement, and the front office was strengthened considerably with new personnel and sponsorships. Television ratings were down considerably, a major concern, with blame pointing to their new cable outlet. But revenues were up over 40%, due largely to increasing sponsorship revenue. Combined with a 28% drop in expenses, WUSA was much stronger financially and was already looking forward to breaking even by 2007.
Final 2002 Women's United Soccer Association Standings Before the season, Bay Area became San Jose. GP W L D GF GA PTS Carolina Courage 21 12 5 4 40 30 40 Philadelphia Charge 21 11 4 6 36 22 39 Washington Freedom 21 11 5 5 40 29 38 Atlanta Beat 21 11 9 1 34 29 34 San Jose CyberRays 21 8 8 5 34 30 29 Boston Breakers 21 6 8 7 36 35 29 San Diego Spirit 21 5 11 5 28 42 20 New York Power 21 3 17 1 31 62 10 Semifinals: Washington defeated Philadelphia 1-0 Carolina defeated Atlanta 2-1 FOUNDERS' CUP: Carolina defeated Washington 3-2 LEADING SCORERS: GP G A Pts Katia, San Jose 21 15 5 35 Danielle Fotopoulos, Carolina 21 11 10 32 Birgit Prinz, Carolina 15 12 8 32 Abby Wambach, Washington 19 10 9 29 Maren Meinert, Boston 21 7 15 29 Marinette Pichon, Philadelphia 18 14 1 29 Kristine Lilly, Boston 19 8 13 29 Tiffeny Milbrett, New York 19 10 8 28 Hege Rise, Carolina 19 6 13 25 Dagny Mellgren, Boston 20 11 3 25 Charmaine Hooper, Atlanta 19 11 3 25 LEADING GOALKEEPERS: GP GA GAA Melissa Moore, Philadelphia 20 20 1.00 Siri Mullinix, Washington 14 15 1.19 Brianna Scurry, Atlanta 18 24 1.33 Lakeysha Beene, San Jose 20 27 1.35 Kristin Luckenbill, Carolina 21 30 1.43 All-Star Game: The inaugural all-star game was played before 14,208 fans at Portland Oregon. The South defeated the North 6-1 from goals by Riise, Wambach, (2), Bivens, Hooper, and Macmillan. Pichon scored the lone goal for the South. WUSA Award Winners: Most Valuable Player: Marinette Pichon, Philadelphia Charge Offensive Player of the Year: Marinette Pichon, Philadelphia Charge Defensive Player of the Year: Danielle Slaton, Carolina Goalkeeper of the Year: Kristin Luckenbill, Carolina Courage Coach of the Year: Mark Krikorian, Philadelphia Charge Rookie of the Year: Abby Wambach, Washington Freedom Referee of the Year: Kari Seitz Humanitarian Award: Sissi, San Jose CyberRays Team Community Service Award: Boston Breakers Team Fair Play Award: Boston Breakers WUSA Global 11: G - LaKeysia Beene, Bay Area CyberRays D - Gro Espeseth, New York Power D - Brandi Chastain, Bay Area CyberRays D - Doris Fitschen, Philadelphia Charge M - Hege Riise, Carolina Courage M - Kristine Lilly, Boston Breakers M - Sissi, Bay Area CyberRays M - Maren Meinert, Boston Breakers F - Charmaine Hooper, Atlanta Breakers F - Shannon Macmillan, San Diego Spirit F - Tiffeny Milbrett, New York Power
USL started the year by landing the biggest television deal in its history, a five year pact with Fox Sports World which would provide for 20 A-League matches per season as well as the title matches for all five leagues.
Both the A-League and D3Pro League shrank slightly, but there were 13 new clubs on the PDL which expanded to a league record 47 clubs. There were also signs of increasing franchise stability at the upper levels, indicating that the league may have bottomed out and reached a higher level of stability. As the year drew to a close, purists were heartened by the news that USL would switch to the international standard 3-1-0 scoring system, and the elimination of the bonus point, and was considering changing the playoff format to more closely match the new system adopted by Major League Soccer. The PDL continued to be an attractive draw for collegians, with 247 PDL players seeing time in the NCAA Division 1 playoff tournament.
Final 2002 USL standings and playoff results
Final 2002 W-League standings and playoff results
This season, the Calgary Storm were promoted up from the PDL, and Hampton Roads returned from a 1 year layoff. They partially made up for the loss of the relegated Connecticut and Long Island franchises, as well as San Diego and Hershey which folded.. A number of players waived by MLS found their way to the A-League. The Charleston Battery picked up Eric Wynalda, Raul Diaz Arce, Andrew Lewis, Mark Watson and Justin Evans. Pittsburgh Riverhounds added Mario Gori and Henry Gutierrez, and former Project 40 players Tim Sahyadak and Mike Green, among others. Other clubs were more sparing, cognizant of their limited budgets, although Minnesota did sign three ex-MLS'ers including former Revolution star Johnny Torres.
The league was reorganized into four divisions this season, based on geographical lines. The Eastern divisions saw some tight races develop, with a battle between Rochester and Pittsburgh in the East and Charlotte and Atlanta in the Southeast, but Milwaukee and Seattle took command of the Central and Pacific divisions right from the get-go. Seattle was simply unstoppable this season, cruising to a 21-1-4 record, nearly doubling the points earned by second place Portland. Milwaukee had to fend off Minnesota almost to the end before taking the Central Title. Charleston had an easier time of it, winning the Southeast division with a comfortable lead over Richmond. Rochester and Montreal had a real dogfight in the Northeast, finishing tied at 60 points, with Rochester winning 1st place on total wins.
Rochester and Milwaukee continued their success into the playoffs, winning the conference finals, but Charleston was upset by Richmond, and the Vancouver Whitecaps, a sub .500 team, stunned Seattle by outscoring them 8-2 in the two-leg series, and took Milwaukee into OT before succumbing in the semifinals. Likewise, Richmond needed OT to finally dispatch the tenacious Rhinos. Milwaukee retained the league trophy, defeating Richmond 2-1 for their 2nd consecutive title. The two teams battled without scoring until the final seconds of the first half when John Wolyniec took an Angel Rivillo pass into the box, cut across the middle, marked by three defenders. He pivoted, headed back and took a right footed shot from 10 yards than landed to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead. The Rampage defense held for 15 minutes when Richmond's Marco Ferruzzi converted a penalty kick. Milwaukee got a penalty kick five minutes later but failed to capitalize. The two teams battled fruitlessly through the remainder of regulation and the first overtime period. But the game was decided less than a minute into double overtime as Sinisa Angelovski, a fresh substitute, got the ball which squirted out from a battle between Wolyniec and Richmond's Chris Fox, and sent in a 19 yard shot for the game winner.
Total attendance fell to 764,554, mainly due to the loss of three teams, but average game attendance rose from 2,954 to 3,034 fans per game. In a welcome development, the A-League did not lose a single franchise after the season, and in fact added a franchise in Syracuse while Hampton roads moved across the bay to Virginia Beach's new SportsPlex.
Final A-League Standings, 2002 Before the season, Calgary was promoted from the PDL. Hampton Roads Returned from hiatus. GP W L D GF GA BP Pts EASTERN CONFERENCE Northeast Division Rochester Raging Rhinos 28 17 3 8 38 25 1 72 Montreal Impact 28 16 9 3 39 29 5 72 Toronto Lynx 28 10 5 13 37 35 3 48 Pittsburgh Riverhounds 28 8 15 5 39 44 4 41 Southeast Division Charleston Battery 28 19 3 6 46 16 7 89 Richmond Kickers 28 13 9 6 44 37 7 65 Atlanta Silverbacks 28 13 13 2 47 44 8 62 Charlotte Eagles 28 10 14 4 46 46 6 50 Hampton Roads Mariners 28 6 19 3 25 57 2 29 WESTERN CONFERENCE Central Division Milwaukee Rampage 28 16 7 5 48 29 6 75 Minnesota Thunder 28 14 9 5 55 35 9 70 Cincinnati Riverhawks 28 8 20 0 35 68 6 35* Indiana Blast 28 6 18 4 29 67 1 29 Pacific Division Seattle Sounders 28 23 1 4 71 27 14 107 Portland Timbers 28 13 13 3 47 39 8 63 El Paso Patriots 28 10 11 7 38 48 7 54 Vancouver Whitecaps 28 11 12 5 41 39 5 54 Calgary Storm 28 4 21 3 26 66 3 22 *Cincinnati deducted 3 points for using an ineligible player. First Round: Montreal defeated Charlotte 0-1, 1-0 (PK) Richmond defeated Atlanta 1-1, 2-1 Minnesota defeated El Paso 2-1, 1-1 Vancouver defeated Portland 1-0, 1-0 Conference Semifinals: Rochester defeated Montreal 0-0, 1-0 Richmond defeated Charleston 2-1, 3-1 Milwaukee defeated Minnesota 0-0, 2-1 Vancouver defeated Seattle 2-0, 6-2 Conference Finals: Richmond defeated Rochester 1-1, 0-0 (9-8 PK) Milwaukee defeated Vancouver 0-0, 2-1 (OT) CHAMPIONSHIP: Milwaukee defeated Richmond 2-1 After the season, Milwaukee folded. Leading Scorers: GP G A PTS McKinley Tennyson, Portland 24 18 6 42 Brian Ching, Seattle 25 16 8 42 Leighton O'Brien, Seattle 27 13 11 37 Fadi Afash, Portland 22 18 0 36 Eduardo Sebrango, Montreal 28 18 0 36 Paul Conway, Charleston 25 13 6 32 John Meyongar, Minnesota 25 10 11 31 Johnny Torres, Minnesota 23 12 5 29 Darren Sawatsky, Seattle 28 9 10 28 Dustin Swinehart, Charlotte 27 10 6 26 Digital Takawira, Milwaukee 22 9 8 26 Niki Budalic, Toronto 28 12 1 25 John Wolyniec, Milwaukee 26 10 5 25 Josh Henderson, Richmond 23 11 2 24 Brian Piesner, Atlanta 25 7 10 24 Goalkeeping Leaders: (Min 1700 minutes) GP MIN GA GAA Dusty Hudock, Charleston 24 2264 15 0.60 Pat Onstead, Rochester 21 1920 16 0.75 Greg Sutton, Montreal 26 2465 27 0.99 Preston Burpo, Seattle 24 2166 24 1.00 Dan Popik, Milwaukee 26 2307 28 1.09 Ronnie Pascale, Richmond 25 2339 30 1.15 Alex Marques, Vancouver 19 1797 23 1.15 Theo Zagar, Toronto 27 2581 34 1.19 Jon Lowry, Minnesota 18 1743 24 1.24 Randy Dedini, Pittsburgh 22 2055 29 1.27 Matt Napoleon, Portland 28 2595 39 1.35 Richard Goddard, Charlotte27 2545 45 1.59 Josh Lynk, Indiana 20 1778 37 1.87 A-League Award Winners: Most Valuable Player: Leighton O'Brien, Seattle Sounders Goalkeeper of the Year: Dusty Hudock, Charleston Battery Defender of the Year: Mark Watson, Charleston Battery Rookie of the Year: Niki Budalic, Toronto Lynx Coach of the Year: Brian Schmetzer, Seattle Sounders All A-League Team: G - Dusty Hudock, Charleston Battery D - Gabriel Gervais, Montreal Impact D - Destin Makumbu, Milwaukee Rampage D - Mark Watson, Charleston Battery M - Andrew Gregor, Seattle Sounders M - Leighton O'Brien, Seattle Sounders M - Brian Piesner, Atlanta Silverbacks M - Lenin Steenkamp, Rochester Ragin' Rhinos F - Brian Ching, Seattle Sounders F - Eduardo Sebrango, Montreal Impact F - McKinley Tennyson, Portland Timbers
Another year of flux in the D3Pro league, with newly promoted and relegated clubs filling the voids left by folding and relegated squads. At times, D3Pro, the middle rung in the USL hierarchy, looked like a revolving door, reminiscent of European leagues with fully established promo/rel systems. Here it was financial issues rather than won-loss records determining the moves. Nevertheless, the D3Pro league did not suffer the major relegation losses of last year, and overall fielded a stronger roster of teams. The league was reorganized into four divisions and had some good regional matchups through the season. Attendance was down slightly, to 164,856, or 966 fans per game, but the league had lost Chico, a top drawing team to relegation before the season.
Parity was in retreat however, and only in the Atlantic Conference was there much of a divisional race, where the Metropolitan rivals fought it out with the newly relegated Long Island roughriders beating out the newly promoted New York Freedom and the standing-pat New Jersey stallions for the divisional crown. Western Mass Pioneers were the big winners, obliterating memories of their 2001 finish by taking the Northern Conference crown in a rout. Similar dominance was displayed by Wilmington and Utah who repeated their division topping play of 2001.
San Diego made a successful debut, taking second place in the west, while the Connecticut Wolves barely matched their A-League record from last season, finishing a distant second in the North. But they upset Western Mass in the quarterfinals, joining the other three division winners in the semifinals. There, they fell to Long Island 3-0, while Wilmington defeated Utah 3-1. Long Island then finally got their first league championship as they defeated Wilmington 2-1 for the D3Pro title. Attendance fell slightly to 164,856 fans, averaging 906 per game. After the season, several clubs dropped from the league due to disputes, with some planning to join a new organization, the Men's Premier Soccer League.
Final 2002 D3-Pro League Standings Before the season, San Diego was added. Stanislaus became California. New York and Westchester were promoted from the PDL. GP W L D GF GA BP Pts Northern Conference Western Mass Pioneers 20 14 5 1 44 24 5 62 Connecticut Wolves 20 10 8 2 32 31 4 46 Westchester Flames 20 7 10 3 22 29 3 34 New Hampshire Phantoms 20 4 13 3 20 45 2 21 Atlantic Conference Long Island Rough Riders 20 13 6 1 28 28 11 64 New York Freedom 20 13 7 0 38 30 6 58 New Jersey Stallions 20 12 8 0 44 32 8 56 South Jersey Barons 20 7 10 3 30 40 3 34 Reading Rage 20 3 16 1 26 53 2 15 Southern Conference Wilmington Hammerheads 20 14 4 2 58 25 11 69 Greenville Lions 20 11 6 3 43 26 5 52 Carolina Dynamo 20 9 6 5 35 25 5 46 Northern Virginia Royals 20 3 17 0 26 67 3 15 Western Conference Utah Blitzz 20 16 3 1 52 20 9 74 San Diego Gauchos 20 10 7 3 38 29 5 48 Arizona Suaharos 20 10 7 3 31 30 4 47 California Gold 20 9 10 1 32 32 3 40 Northern Nevada Aces 20 5 15 0 29 52 1 21 First Round: San Diego defeated Arizona, 3-0. Carolina defeated Greenville, 1-0. Quarterfinals: Long Island defeated New York 2-2 (5-4 PK) Connecticut defeated Western Massachusetts 0-2, 3-2 Wilmington defeated Carolina 2-1 Utah defeated San Diego 1-0 Semifinals: Wilmington defeated Utah 3-1 Long Island defeated Connecticut 3-0 FINAL: Long Island defeated Wilmington 2-1 After the season, Northern Nevada and Arizona left to join the new Menís Premier Soccer League. South Jersey and Greenville were relegated to the PDL. Connecticut folded. Top Scorers: GP G A Pts Julio Dos Santos, New Jersey 20 22 7 51 James Proctor, Western Mass. 18 13 11 37 Herculez Gomez, San Diego 18 17 2 36 Ventura Bautista, Utah 19 15 3 33 Derrick Etienne, Long Island 20 15 3 33 Anthony Maher, Wilmington 18 12 7 31 Rogerio Da Silva, New Jersey 17 12 6 30 Alejandro Guiterrez-Mendez,Utah 18 13 3 29 Cordt Weinstein, Long Island 15 12 4 28 Radoslav Bojovic, New York 20 11 5 27 Mario Benjamin, Carolina 19 10 3 23 Jon Gordon, California 20 7 9 23 Mark Manganello, Western Mass. 17 11 0 22 David Cameron, Arizona 15 8 4 20 Leading Goalkeepers: (Min 900 minutes) GP Min G GAA Nate Kipp, Carolina 10 928 9 0.87 Michael Littman, Utah 17 1486 16 0.97 Bryan Quinn, Western Mass. 10 919 11 1.08 Walter Valesky, Wilmington 11 1030 13 1.14 Dan Pires, Western Mass. 10 942 13 1.24 Jukka Masalin, Greenville 12 1147 16 1.26 Billy Gatti, Long Island 20 1804 26 1.30 Daniel Sirota, San Diego 20 1859 28 1.36 Marc Wilson, Arizona 20 1794 28 1.40 Mike Mellis, Westchester 13 1129 18 1.43 Most Valuable Player: Julio Cesar Dos Santos, New Jersey Stallions Goalkeeper of the Year: Nathan Kipp, Carolina Dynamos Defender of the Year: Steve Danbusky, Connecticut Wolves Rookie of the Year: Carlos Sousa, Connecticut Wolves Coach of the Year: Chris Agnello, Utah Blitzz
The Vermont Voltage finally win a divisional title, taking the Northeast, while the relegated Chicago Rooks won in the Southwest. Expansion clubs made good showings, with Williamsburg and Memphis taking their divisional titles. Cape Cod, Bradenton, Boulder and Southern California won the conference finals. Cape Cod and Boulder advanced to the finals, with Cape Cod beating Bradenton 3-2 and Boulder topping SoCal 2-1. The championship saw the league title come to New England as the Cape Cod Crusaders defeated Boulder 2-1. Overall, this was a positive year for the league; attendance again climbed notably, and the trend towards franchise stability continued. Attendance was up to 194,189, or 484 fans per game.
Final 2002 PDL standings and playoff results
Most Valuable Player: Tomas Boltnar, Des Moines Menace Top Scorer: Tomas Boltnar, Des Moines Menace (24 G, 59 Pt) Goalkeeper of the Year: Matt Pickens, Chicago Fire Reserves Defender of the Year: Denny Clanton, Chicago Fire Reserves Rookie of the Year: Tomas Boltnar, Des Moines Menace Coach of the Year: Laurie Calloway, Des Moines Menace
The W-League continued to adjust to its role as a feeder system for WUSA, combining its two divisions into a single three-conference league of 35 teams. For the most part, W-1 teams fared better, with Long Island and Boston winning the Eastern divisions, and Vancouver winning the West. In the heartland however, the lower tier teams made an impact, with W-2 champion Charlotte winning the Atlantic Division, Kansas City taking the Midwest and Memphis & Denver in the race until the final games.
Despite the hefty merger, playoffs remained a simple final four tournament. Boston Renegades defeated Denver 2-1 and Charlotte defeated Vancouver 1-1 (5-4 PK) in the semifinals, and Boston defeated Charlotte to win their second straight title. The league began to feel the effects of WUSA competition this year, as attendance fell substantially to 101,594, or 479 fans per game, and ten teams folded after the season, but this was part of an expected adjustment process.
Final League Standings and Playoff ResultsBefore the season, the W-1 and W-2 divisions were eliminated. Seattle went on provisional status. Asheville, Northern Kentucky and Albuquerque were added. Piedmont became Greensboro. GP W L D GF GA BP Pts EASTERN CONFERENCE Northeast Division Long Island Lady Riders 14 11 3 0 35 13 4 48 New York Magic 14 9 3 2 44 21 7 45 Maryland Pride 14 7 5 2 48 30 8 38 New Jersey Wildcats 14 7 6 1 29 21 4 33 New Jersey Lady Stallions 14 5 8 1 33 28 5 26 South Jersey Banshees 14 3 11 0 21 39 1 13 Rochester Ravens 14 0 14 0 8 101 1 1 Northern Division Boston Renegades 12 11 1 0 55 13 11 55 Toronto Inferno 12 7 4 1 26 12 4 33 New Hampshire Lady Phantoms 12 6 6 0 23 29 4 28 Ottawa Fury 12 5 5 2 32 15 4 26 Rhode Island Rays 11 0 11 0 7 51 0 0 CENTRAL CONFERENCE Atlantic Division Charlotte Lady Eagles 14 12 2 0 42 15 8 56 Northern Virginia Majestics 14 9 5 0 32 24 7 43 Hampton Roads Piranhas 14 8 5 1 36 21 9 42 Jacksonville Jade 14 7 6 1 40 38 5 34 Greensboro Twisters 14 5 7 2 14 18 1 23 Asheville Splash 14 3 9 2 11 27 1 15 Tampa Bay Extreme 14 2 10 2 14 41 3 13 Midwest Division Kansas City Mystics 13 11 2 0 45 16 8 52 Memphis Mercury 13 10 2 1 41 20 9 50 Chicago Cobras 13 9 3 1 32 18 5 42 Windy City Bluez 13 7 6 0 26 25 3 31 Cincinnati Ladyhawks 13 4 9 0 21 31 3 19 Northern Kentucky TC Stars 13 2 11 0 9 26 0 8 Kentucky Fillies 4 0 4 0 0 18 0 0 WESTERN CONFERENCE Vancouver Breakers 12 11 1 0 35 11 5 49 Denver Lady Cougars 12 10 2 0 32 14 6 46 Arizona Heatwave 12 8 4 0 30 19 5 37 Seattle Sounders Select Women 12 7 5 0 27 16 5 33 Oklahoma Outrage 12 3 8 1 20 33 3 16 Mile High Mustangs 12 3 8 1 16 30 2 15 Fort Collins Force 12 2 10 0 14 33 1 9 Albuquerque Crush 12 1 11 0 11 44 2 6 Texas Odyssey 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Semifinals: Boston defeated Denver 2-1 Charlotte defeated Vancouver 1-1 (5-4 PK) 3rd Place: Vancouver defeated Denver 2-0. CHAMPIONSHIP: Boston defeated Charlotte 3-0. After the season, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Memphis, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Albuquerque and Texas folded. Rhode Island and Maryland left to join the WPSL. Leading Scorers: GP G A Pts Maribel Dominguez, Kansas City 12 17 12 46 Jessica Reifer, New York 15 18 5 41 Laura Kalmari, Boston 10 15 2 32 Noelle Meeke, New York 14 14 4 32 Jackie Mynarski, Maryland 13 15 1 31 Tina Murphy, Charlotte 14 11 7 29 Sandra Roos, Jacksonville 9 12 4 28 Kele Golebiowski, Hampton Roads 11 10 6 26 Keri Sarver, Maryland 13 9 7 25 Adjoa Bayor, Northern Virginia 11 8 7 23 Rebekah Splaine, Boston 10 9 4 22 Lori Sabato, Arizona 11 10 1 21 Leading Goalkeepers (W-1): (Min 540 minutes) GP MIN GA GAA Kathy Hoverman, Hampton Roads 7 564 5 0.80 Meghan Miller, Seattle 8 739 7 0.85 Kim Wyant, Long Island 11 1010 10 0.89 Esther Thompson, Charlotte 13 1092 11 0.91 Meghan Frey, Boston 7 585 6 0.92 Heather Bridgewater, Greensboro 11 1030 11 0.96 Leisha Alicia, Toronto 12 1120 13 1.04 Chellie McCourt, Denver 12 1021 12 1.06 Sian Bagshawe, Vancouver 7 585 8 1.23 Stephanie Wiesenfeld, Chicago 12 1113 16 1.29 W-League Award Winners: Most Valuable Player: Mabel Dominiquez, Kansas City Mystics Goalkeeper (all-star team): Kathy Hoverman, Hampton Roads Piranhas Rookie of the Year: Elizabeth Baidu, Northern Virginia Majestics Defender of the Year: Deanna Kreidel, Charlotte Lady Eagles Coach of the Year: Emma Hayes, Long Island Lady Riders
The Super Y-League was substantially reorganized in 2002. Both U-18 divisions were dropped, the boys in favor of a new U-17 division. The boys U-15 pilot project was expanded to a full fledged division, and a large U-14 girls division was added. Many new clubs were added at all levels, with total league membership jumping from 200 to over 300 teams. The most gratifying developments was the graduation of the first round of players into the Premier Development league, and the league official granting of ODP status. This ODP designation was the impetus for a planned Regional Team program, designed to give additional exposure to the top players, which was set for launch in 2003. Late in the year, USL announced upcoming changes to the substitution rule, and changing the U-18 division to U-19. The league also adopted the 3-1-0 scoring system used in the other divisions of USL, and admitted its first teams from Canada. Late in the year, the Super Y-League reached an arrangement with U. S. Club soccer which recognizes USL's Super Y-League as the nation's premier youth soccer league and US Club Soccer as the principal development organization for soccer clubs in the US and as the national cup provider for both organizations.
The Major Indoor Soccer League represented a rebirth of the longtime National Professional Soccer League. The NPSL voted to restructure after the end of the 2000-2001 season by forming a new single-entity league consisting of six of the remaining NPSL teams (two more teams sat out the season, to rejoin in 2002-2003). The league made significant rule changes, some of them borrowed from the summer WISL. Shortly before the season began, the WISL voted to merge with the MISL for the 2002-2003 season.
Six teams comprised the new MISL, all of them coming over from the NPSL. The league planned to add teams from the WISL the following season. Kansas City took on a nickname from the original MISL, becoming the Comets. The league scheduled a 44 game regular season, retaining the rules and scoring system from the MISL. The league reached a sponsorship agreement with Spaulding who became their official supplier, and a broadcast contract with CNNSI to broadcast the All-Star game from Cleveland.
For their first new season as the MISL, the Kansas City Attack revived an old name, becoming the Comets. Toronto and Detroit sat out the season. The schedule was increased to 44 games. The season was by all accounts a great success, although only Milwaukee and Philadelphia were really in the race for the season title, which Milwaukee finally won by 4 games. Kansas City and Baltimore finished in 34d and 4th place respectively. League attendance was 668,577 for the season, for an average of 5,065 per game, a slight increase from the previous season, but attendance was expected to improve the following season as the best of the WISL teams joined the circuit.
The semifinals were one game deals, with Milwaukee defeating Baltimore 18-12 and Philadelphia dispatching Kansas City 18-13. In the championship series, the Philadelphia KiXX lost the opener 11-4 to the heavily favored Milwaukee Wave, but then fought back in game two to win by the same score. They faced a tough chore in the deciding game, playing at Milwaukee where the Wave had been undefeated for the entire season. But these upstarts would not be stopped, and they stunned the Wave, defeating them 8-6 in a close contest featureing three two-point goals by Chris Handsor who was named the Championship Most Valuable Player.
Final MISL 2001-2002 Standings Before the season, Kansas City was renamed the Comets. GP W L PCT GB GF GA Milwaukee Wave 44 34 10 .773 --- 663 468 Philadelphia KiXX 44 30 14 .682 4.0 578 498 Kansas City Comets 44 24 20 .545 10.0 673 651 Baltimore Blast 44 18 26 .409 16.0 555 589 Cleveland Crunch 44 16 28 .364 18.0 566 623 Harrisburg Heat 44 10 34 .227 24.0 449 655 Semifinals: Milwaukee defeated Baltimore, 18-12. Philadelphia defeated Kansas City, 18-13. CHAMPIONSHIP: Philadelphia defeated Milwaukee 4-11, 11-4, 8-6. After the season, Detroit and Toronto folded. Leading scorers: GP 3PG 2PG 1PG AST PTS Dino Delevski, Kansas City 43 21 51 14 31 210 Hector Marinaro, Cleveland 42 9 37 14 73 188 Denison Cabral, Baltimore 44 4 44 9 24 133 Joe Reininger, Milwaukee 35 11 25 12 36 131 Nino SaDilva, Kansas City 43 2 35 3 36 115 Wes Wade, Kansas City 40 3 28 0 45 110 Paul Wright, Baltimore 40 4 26 0 40 104 Chris Handsor, Philadelphia 42 4 32 0 26 102 Brian Loftin, Milwaukee 42 2 37 4 18 102 Alex Zotinca, Kansas City 43 15 16 0 21 98 Michael King, Milwaukee 43 5 30 0 20 95 Sean Bowers, Baltimore 44 14 17 0 17 93 Gregory Howes, Milwaukee 44 7 24 0 22 91 Todd Dusosky, Milwaukee 40 0 28 0 35 91 John Ball, Cleveland 37 5 31 0 14 91 David Bascome, Harrisburg 36 8 27 1 9 88 Lee Tschantret, Baltimore 40 2 24 0 32 86 Giuliano Oliviero, Cleveland 37 1 30 0 22 85 Joel Shanker, Philadelphia 34 2 29 0 17 61 Leading Goalkeepers: (min. 1140 minutes) GPI MIN SF SV 3PG 2PG 1PG PTS W L AVG Victor Nogueira, Milwaukee 32 1913:08 533 386 16 124 7 303 27-5 9.50 Peter Pappas, Philadelphia 35 2002:33 608 437 17 148 6 353 23-11 10.58 Scott Hilleman, Baltimore 40 2296:34 794 573 37 177 7 472 16-22 12.33 Otto Orf, Cleveland 22 1219:05 455 325 16 108 6 270 8-13 13.29 Chris Damico, Kansas City 35 1995:58 742 519 26 186 11 461 20-14 13.86 Jim Larkin, Cleveland 26 1350:54 541 389 21 119 12 313 5-15 13.90 Doug Pietras, Harrisburg 34 1894:45 734 520 25 185 4 449 9-22 14.22
All-Star Game: On February 17, 2002, East All-Stars defeated West All-Stars 17-15 before a crowd of 13,216 at Gund Arena in Cleveland. Scoring summary: 1st quarter: DePalma, 2 pt, 2:41 (East); Marinaro, 2 pt, 5:05 (West); Reingiger, 3 pt, 13:31 (West). 2nd quarter: Doran, 2 pt, 0:50 (West); Bascome, 2 pt, 1:24 (East); Handsdor, 2 pt 9:48 (East). 3rd quarter: Moser, 3 pt, 3:27 (East); Cabral, 2 pt, 12:59 (East); Shanker, 2 pt, 14:45 (East); Reiniger, 2 pt, 14:59 (West). 4th quarter: Delevski, 2 pt, 2:53 (West); Wade, 2 pt, 4:11 (West); King, 2 pt, 7:29 (West); Reiniger, 2 pt, 13:06 (East). Overtime: Shanker, 2 pt, 4:36 (East). MVP: Joel Shanmker (Philadelphia). Marinaro became all-time scorer in All-Star history.
Most Valuable Player: Dino Delevski, Kansas City Comets Goalkeeper of the Year: Victor Nogueira, Milwaukee Wave Coach of the Year: Keith Tozer, Milwaukee Wave Defender of the Year: Sean Bowers, Baltimore Blast Rookie of the Year: Billy Nelson, Baltimore Blast First All-MISL Team: F - Dino Delevski, Kansas City Comets F - Hector Marinaro, Cleveland Crunch F - Joe Reiniger, Milwaukee Wave D - Sean Bowers, Baltimore Blast D - Pat Morris, Philadelphia KiXX G - Victor Nogueira, Milwaukee Wave
The U.S. men's national team got off to a triumphant start in 2002, winning their first Gold Cup since 1991. Head coach Bruce Arena placed a major emphasis on using this tournament to test out new talent. The initial roster emphasized MLS players, many with little or no National Team experience. Notable among these were Pablo Mastroeni, Bobby Convey, Manny Lagos and Richard Mulrooney. Among the few veterans were Cobi Jones, Jeff Agoos and Tony Meola. Despite some early struggles, this team got its act together and took control in a way rarely seen during the Hexagonal.
The United States opened their Gold Cup run with a stunning 2-1 victory over a feisty South Korea, whom they would face in the first round of the World Cup. South Korea controlled most of the game, pinning the Americans in their own half. Despite some poor shooting, the U.S. was able to break through, with Landon Donovan scoring in the 35th minute, and Jamar Beasley sending home the game winner early in stoppage time. Against Cuba, the struggles continued as the US attempted to take advantage of the open wings by utilizing their speed on the outside, but poor finishing frustrated many goal attempts and they had to settle for a 1-0 victory. Still, that was enough to send them to the knock-out rounds.
Arena kept the lineup mostly intact into the quarterfinals against El Salvador, and the continuity paid off as they roster finally clicked, and they finished off El Salvador 4-0. Brian McBride landed the first goal, in the 11th minute, but the team didn't let up there, they kept up the attack, and McBride scored a minute later, and again in the 21st minute. Razov got the final score in the 2nd half. More important than the score was the skill demonstrated by the side; the positioning and passing were right on the mark, and finally, the team was able to finish effectively. McBride's final goal was a masterpiece of movement and timing; Razov passed to Lewis who dodged the keeper, took it to the line, and passed back to Donovan who trapped and held the ball, sending it to McBride for the high shot into the net. The US out shot El Salvador 19-5. The semifinal against Canada was a goalkeepers' duel, despite the US's control of the field. The U.S. made one run after another, peppering the Canadian goal, but Lars Hischfield's 15 saves frustrated their scoring attempts. Keller was busy enough too, stopping some hard shots from the point. Finally, the U.S. prevailed 4-2 in penalty kicks.
Perhaps the most impressive game was the final on February 2 against Costa Rica, who had won the Hexagonal in 2001, trounced South Korea 3-1 in the semis and was at full strength for the tournament. They wanted this title badly, but so did the Americans. The U.S. pressed the Ticos from the start, keeping control of the ball for much of the game. The midfielders put up a tough wall to keep the ball from the Ticos strikers. In the 37th minute, Josh Wolff took a long shot from Frankie Hedjuk, and surged past the defensive lines to send it in for the lead. In the 63rd minute, Jeff Agoos scored the 2nd goal off a spectacular free kick to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead which they preserved to the end. Most gratifying about this triumph was the change in attitude and style. Unlike their previous victory over Costa Rica during qualifying, in which the U.S. rarely controlled play; this time they dictated the game for much of the 90 minutes. All in all, a great tournament, the first US continental championship in a decade.
The 2002 Women's Gold Cup served as the qualifying tournament for World Cup 2003, and once again, the US was a heavy favorite. Despite the strides in women's soccer throughout the reason, only Mexico and Canada were expected to create much of a challenge. Coach April Heinrichs selected a veteran-laden roster for her new 4-4-2 lineup, albeit one with a significant number of new faces dotting the roster. Foudy, Macmillan, Chastain, Hamm, Macmillan, Parlow, Roberts were all in their familiar positions, with Brianna Scurry taking back the starting position in the net. The U.S. was assigned to Group 1 along with Mexico, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago. Canada, Costa Rica, Haiti and Jamaica made up Group 2.
The games opened on October 27 at Pasadena, CA, as the U.S. shut out Mexico 3-0. Kristine Lilly played a key role in frustrating the Mexican defense as she set up all three US goals; first by redirecting Mia Hamm's cross to Aly Wagner for the finish, creating up space for Hamm's pass to Cindy Parlow for goal #2, and sending a terrific shot to the net which goalkeeper Molina parried to Shannon Macmillan to landed the score. In the second game, Trinidad & Tobago put on a terrific effort, managing to hold the U.S. scoring machine in check, but the US ultimately prevailed, again by 3-0. There was no such effort in the third pool play game, as the US flattened Panama 9-0 before 21,522 fans at Seattle on November 2, with Tiffeny Milbrett scoring five goals in the first 34 minutes, and Macmillan scoring two in a two minute span. The US, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica advanced to the semifinals.
The U.S. juggernaut continued at the semis, courtesy of a 7-0 shutout of Costa Rica. Cindy Parlow scored a hat trick, with Hucles, Robertsm Foudy, Macmillan and Lilly also finding the net (along with one unfortunate Costa Rican player). Canada and Mexico fought an evenly matched battle, with Mexico's two own-goals giving Canada the victory. Mexico defeated Costa Rica 4-1 in the third place game, which also sent them to a playoff game with Asia for the final CONCACAF berth in the World Cup. On November 9, at Pasadena, the U.S. drew first blood against Canada as Milbrett scored in the 27th minute. But then Canada got the USA's number as they shut down the scoring machine. Charmaine Hooper evened the score during 1st half injury time, and the teams settled down for a defensive battle through the rest of regulation. Mia Hamm was the hero of the day as she found the net 4 minutes into overtime to give the U.S. the title, 2-1. Canada and the United States both qualified for WWC '03 by making it to the Gold Cup finals. Although there were some struggles and a couple challenges, the U.S. overall showed the dominance expected of them and once again put on an impressive performance as they captured yet another major title. Mexico also showed considerable improvement, with a dominant midfield, and solid back line, indicating they could be a significant force in the near future.
FIFA launched the U-19 Women's World Championships this year, the first world youth tournament for women. The games were hosted by Canada, with venues spread across the western provinces. As expected, the United States entered as a strong favorite, and the team did not disappoint. Drawing on the vast pool of American talent, coach Tracey Leone assembled a formidable squad. Much of the roster consisted of high school players, but four players had experience with the full national team (defender Amy Steadman, midfielder Lori Chalupny, forwards Heather O'Reilly and Kelly Wilson). They joined forwards Lindsey Tarpley and Megan Kakadelas, along with midfielders Many Makoski, Jill Oakes, Leslie Osburne and Kendall Fletcher. This was a highly skilled team, and Tarpley, O'Reilly and Wilson came to be dubbed the "triple-edged sword" in homage to the 1991 team's scoring trio. The team had solid chemistry, strong leadership and enormous skill, despite working in relative anonymity in the months leading up to the tournament. The team swept through the qualifying round in May, defeating Suriname 15-0, Haiti 5-0 and Costa Rica 14-1.
The U.S. was placed in Group C, based in Victoria, B.C., with Taiwan, Australia and England, and swept through pool play. They opened on August 17 with a 5-1 romp over England, and proceeded to shut out Australia 4-0 and Taiwan 6-0. The "sword" was in fine form, with Wilson scoring two goals in each of the first two games, and Tarpley notching a pair against Taiwan. Canada and Brazil took their groups undefeated, with Brazil outscoring their opponents 10-3. In the quarterfinals, Brazil defeated Australia 4-3, Germany dispatched Japan 2-1 and Canada downed England 6-2. The U.S. surged on, trouncing Denmark 6-0, on a hat trick by Tarpley and a pair by O'Reilly. The crowds finally picked up for the semifinals, helped no doubt by the home town support for Canada who needed penalty kicks to finally defeat a tough and resilient Brazil. Over 37,000 were on hand for this doubleheader, which the U.S. opened by downing Germany 4-1 courtesy of goals by Tarpley, Wilson (2) and Oakes.
The championship match on November 9 saw over 47,000 fans turn out in Edmonton to cheer their strong and well organized compatriots in a battle royale against the #1 women's soccer power. In a classic match, the Canadians' sensational game plan effectively shut down the Americans' attacking rushes, but the U.S. patiently figured out Canada's defensive tactics, and finally the U.S. broke through in overtime to win it as Jill Oakes launched a fierce shot, which was blocked by the defender. Oakes took the bounce and shot it home for the victory.
This was really a great victory by both teams. Canada embraced the tournament like never before, and the final was possibly the greatest match in Canadian soccer history. For the USA, it was a strong indication that the next generation of players was up to the task of following in the shoes of the pioneers who were so dominating during the U.S. rise to the top in the women's game.
The final stretch of the road to Korea began early the Americans. First up was the Gold Cup (see above), in which the US made an impressive performance that boded well for the remainder of their training regimen in preparation for the World Cup. The Americans were well prepared, having endured a lengthy training camp before the tournament, and the preparation showed. Although the Gold Cup squad had little experience at the International level, they quickly learned to play as a team and were able to take control of the field for much of the game, even against highly skilled teams such as South Korea and Costa Rica. (See section on Gold Cup above).
The U.S. returned to action a mere eleven days after their Gold Cup triumph, on February 13, in a rare away friendly, against Italy. Some of the veterans returned to the lineup, but missing was Brian McBride, the Gold Cup MVP, and his absence was felt. Although the U.S. acquitted itself well during the first half, they couldn't set up the scoring opportunities, and Italy, bolstered by four substitutions, took control in the 2nd half, and held on for a 1-0 victory. Still, the U.S. was able to keep it close, in an away game against a top world power, with some key players still recovering from injuries. Returning to friendlier turf, the U.S. soundly defeated Honduras 4-0 in their first match at Seattle since 1994. A large crowd of over 38,000 ensured there will probably be return visits. Landon Donovan and Clint Mathis each scored two goals, and were strongly supported by Brian McBride, Jeff Agoos and Chris Armas who gave their best performances in some time. Eight days later, in Birmingham on March 10, Eddie Lewis was the lone goal scorer as the US earned its first ever victory over Ecuador.
The U. S. Juggernaut ran up against a wall against Germany on March 27. The U. S. side had taken some time off, and a somewhat different lineup was assembled and flown to Germany just two days before the match, leaving little preparation time. The German offensive line pressed incessantly, and the dispirited US defensive line simply collapsed too many times under the pressure, never able to organize effectively. Despite the defensive breakdown, Clint Mathis shone that day, scoring both American goals in the 4-2 loss. But the team struggled against a strong opponent, and this German team was not even at full strength. They rallied a week later however, to beat Mexico 1-0 before 48,000 at Denver. Not one of the best matches of the year, and no player really shone, but any shutout of Mexico was welcome. Such was not the case two weeks later when the Nats lost 2-1 to a well-prepared Ireland team at Dublin on April 17.
By late April, the final 23 man roster had been finalized, and there were some surprises. Despite the influx of new players, this was the oldest and most experienced US team in cup history, with seven players going into their third World Cup. Landing a spot on the final roster was determined more by a players recent performance at the Gold Cup and subsequent friendlies, and not by the player's current fortunes with his club. This cost Greg Vanney a spot; by jumping from MLS to Bastia, France, he rendered himself unavailable for the Gold Cup and had no opportunity to show his stuff; the same fate befell Steve Cherundolo, who started every game for his club. By contrast, Frankie Hedjuk and Eddie Lewis, both benchwarmers, were available when needed and proved their worth.
Training camp began May 1, with a major question being the midfielder lineup. The U.S. midfield was an exercise in frustration: at times it could shut the defense right down, at other times it would be completely overrun. Sometimes both happened in the same game. But the midfield line was essential, given the unpredictability of the skilled forward line and the age of the defenders. The month-long training camp was interspersed with three friendlies from which the team took a mixed record: Convincing wins against Uruguay (2-1) and Jamaica (5-1); giving Arena a record 31st win as National coach), and a disappointing 2-0 loss to the Netherlands. Although they could hold their own against regional competition, the team was often at a disadvantage against the powerful and experienced European players who were already well into their league seasons, and it was unclear whether a one month training camp would compensate for that. It was therefore with a sense of foreboding that the US entered into the World Cup finals in June (see World Cup section above).
After their spectacular performance at the World Cup, the USA team took it easy for the rest of the year, but Arena was soon starting to look at young prospects as he began the long road towards World Cup 2006. Many of these new prospects saw action in November as the U.S. took on El Salvador in a friendly in Washington, DC. They won this match easily 2-0 from goals by Ben Olsen and Sasha Victorine. Late in the year, fans breathed a sigh of relief as Bruce Arena signed on for another stint as head coach.
The U.S. U-23 team had a few friendlies in 2002. In February, they took a tour of Portugal, beating local club Madeira 2-1, while drawing with Slovakia 0-0 and Portugal 0-0, and closing out the trip with a 2-0 loss to Italy. Olympics were still two years off, so this was just a holding action.
Next up for the Women was the Algarve Cup in March. Again, the team struggled with its bevy of younger players still finding their form. The U.S. managed a 1-1 draw against Sweden, a 2-0 victory over England and a 3-2 loss to Norway, finishing off with a 3-2 victory over Denmark in the 5th place game. The star of the tournament for the USA was Shannon Macmillan, who scored 8 of the 10 American goals, including a hat trick against Denmark.
The Women's team was mostly dormant during the WUSA season, with almost the entire squad holding key positions on league teams. They did keep in touch with three friendlies, a 3-0 victory over Finland on April 27, a 4-0 victory over Norway on July 21, and a 8-2 thrashing of Scotland on September 8, which featured hat tricks by Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach. The team returned to familiar form in late September, winning the USA Women's Cup yet again, beating Russia 5-1, Australia 4-0 and Italy 4-0The team finished out the year, winning their second CONCACAF Gold Cup in early November (See Women's Gold Cup, above). That Gold Cup triumph was a harbinger of hope and the team looked in good shape for the upcoming 2003 Women's World Cup.
The U-20 team began the year with a new coach, Thomas Rongen, former NASL star and MLS coach. Much rebuilding work lay ahead, as the team's disappointing performance at the previous World Championship showed the vast skill difference between the collegians and pro players. Rongen inherited a team with five accomplished MLS pros, including Bobby Convey and Carlos Quaranta of D. C. United and Eddie Johnson and Miguel Saavedra of Dallas.
In September they scored a pleasant surprise at the top European tournament, held in Spain in September. Not much was expected of the Americans, being without their two MLS stars, and relying mostly on college players. But the US surprised everyone: After opening with a 2-0 loss to Brazil, they beat Italy 2-1 and Ukraine 5-2 to advance to the semifinals where they upset Uruguay 3-1. Playing their 5th game in six days, they finally fell to Brazil 1-0 in the Final. The team showed impressive depth, making numerous lineup changes as they crushed Ukraine, and finishing as the highest scoring team in the tournament.
By November, Rongen had reformed the squad into a talented group boasting no less than eight professional players, and several others with extensive training experience with European clubs. Leading the pack were Bobby Convey, Justin Mapp and Santino Quaranta of D. C. United, Frank Simek of Arsenal, Jordan Stone and Eddie Johnson of the Dallas Burn, Devin Barclay of San Jose Earthquakes and David Johnson of Willem II, Netherlands. This squad represented the first class of players at the U-20 level to have come of age in an age of MLS, Project 40 & 2010, and the increasing opportunities found on European reserve squads.
Their superior skill was clearly on display as the team qualified in November for the 2003 World Championships (see results below under Awards & Cups).
In the semifinals, Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the Dallas Burn soundly 4-1, but Colorado needed overtime to break a 2-2 tie against Kansas City. Freddy Garcia scored the lone goal in Columbus's defeat of the Los Angeles Galaxy before 6,054 fans at Columbus on October 24, to give the Crew their first Open Cup title.
Among these, Brad Friedel led the Blackburn Rovers to the Worthington League title, starting 36 games, Earnie Stewart scored 10 goals in 30 games for NAC Breda, Conor Casey scored 7 in 17 games for Hannover in their successful bid for promotion to the German Bundesliga, Jovan Kirovski scored 5 goals in 36 games for Crystal Palace, and Claudio Reyna scored 5 goals in 27 games for Rangers and Sunderland. Other players of note included John O'Brien on the defensive line for Ajax Amsterdam, and David Regis, a stalwart for Metz.
Some other veterans had to content themselves with bench or reserve duty. Kasey Keller in his 12th European season, only got 9 games with Tottenham, but looked to be a starter next season. Frankie Hedjuk didn't take the field once for Bayer Leverkusen, and Eddie Lewis didn't take the field until the final season with Fulham. Playing time depended on many factors, ranging from conditioning to skills of the teammates to relationship with the coach. And once a player transferred to another team, feast or famine could result. But overall, it was a far cry from earlier decades where the idea of an American starting for (or even playing for) a top division English squad was considered a wishful fantasy.
One of the biggest announcements on the Tour front was the agreement to bring Manchester United over for a four city tour of MLS venues against major international clubs in 2003. This would be Manchester United's first visit to the US since the early 1980s, and revive what was one of the best series during the heyday of the tours back in the early 1950s. Once again, an extensive series of exhibition matches was played between MLS teams and international clubs.
Final Men's Division 1 NSCAA Coaches' Poll: 1. UCLA 2. Stanford 3. Maryland 4. Creighton 5. Connecticut 6. Boston College 7. Clemson 8. Wake Forest 9. St. John's 10. Penn State Final Women's Division 1 NSCAA Coaches' Poll: 1. Portland 2. Santa Clara 3. North Carolina 4. Penn State 5. Stanford 6. Texas A&M 7. UCLA 8. Connecticut 9. Pepperdine 10. Tennessee Men's Division 1 NSCAA All-Americans (1st team): G - Doug Warren, Clemson D - Todd Dunivant, Stanford D - John Swann, Indiana D - Chris Wingert, St. John's M - Ricardo Clark, Furman M - Sumed Ibrahim, Maryland M - Andres Murriagui, Loyola-Marymount D - Diego Walsh, Southern Methodist F - Alecko Eskandarian, Virginia F - Pat Noonan, Indiana F - Tim Pierce, UCLA F - Mike Tranchilla, Creighton Women's Division 1 NSCAA All-Americans (1st team): G - Nicole Barnhart, Stanford D - Lauren Orlandos, Portland D - Catherine Reddick, North Carolina D - Nandi Pryce, UCLA M - Callie Wither, Stanford M - Joanna Lohman, Penn State M - Sarah Popper, Connecticut M - Aly Wagner, Santa Clara F - Chrissie Abbott, West Virginia F - Marcia Wallis, Stanford, F - Courtney Crandell, Charlotte F - Christine Sinclair, Portland Men's National Award Winners: Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy: Alecko Eskandarian, Virginia NSCAA Coach of the Year (Division 1): Tom Fitzgerald, UCLA Women's National Award Winners: Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy: Aly Wagner, Santa Clara NSCAA Coach of the Year (Division 1): Clive Charles, Portland
Women's Prmier Soccer League:Utah Spiders defeated California Storm 2-1 for the league title. Standings | Stats
CONCACAF Champions Cup 2002:Originally planned to be a Champions league, with four groups of 4 teams and pool play, this was converted back to the traditional two-leg knockout format. Four MLS clubs played this season. Play started on March 3 with a 1-0 victory by the Kansas City Wizards over W. Connection FC (Trinidad), later winning the 2nd leg 2-0. Other first round series: Communicaciones (Guatemala) defeated D. C. United 4-0, 1-2; San Jose Earthquakes defeated Olimpia (Honduras) 1-0, 3-1; Chicago Fire defeated Municipal (Guatemala) 1-0, 2-0. In the quarterfinals, Kansas City defeated Santos Laguna (Mexico) 1-2, 2-0, 3-2, Pachuca (Mexico) defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 0-3, 1-0, and Morelia (Mexico) defeated the Chicago Fire 2-0, 1-2. Kansas City fell to Morelia in the semifinals, 6-1, 1-1. Pachuca defeated Morelia 1-0 in the final.
CONCACAF U-20 Championship:USA received a bye to the final round. There, in November (in Group B), the U.S. defeated Haiti 2-0 and El Salvador 1-0, and lost to Canada 2-3. This was good enough for a 2nd place finish (behind Canada), and both qualified for the U-20 World 2003 Championships.
CONCACAF U-17 Championship: The US received a bye to the final round. U.S. Virgin islands didn't do so well, being outscored 17-0 in their preliminary round.
Tourneo Internacional De L'Alcudia (U-20): In the first round, the U.S. lost to Brazil 2-1, defeated Italy 2-1, and defeated Ukraine 5-2. In the semifinals they defeated Uruguay 3-1. In the final, on August 29, they lost to Brazil 1-0.
Montaigo Under 17 Minimes Mundial (France; March): The United States defeated Portugal 3-0, and Tunisia 2-1, and lost to France 3-0 and Peru 3-1, to finish 4th.
FISF (U17) Tournament (Italy): In preliminary rounds, The U.S. defeated England 2-1, drew with Russia 0-0, and defeated Yugoslavia 2-1. In the final, on September 16, they lost to Uruguay 2-0.SNICKERS CUP (National Youth Champions)
Hall of Fame: In 2002, the US Soccer Hall of Fame enshrined Adolph Bachmeier, Shannon Higgins-Cirovski and Vlasidlav Bogicevic. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Hall of Fame inducted Joe Morrone (Connecticut). The National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (NISOA) Hall of Fame inducted Gus Constantine, Kenneth G. Anders, Jr., Bob Sumpter and Nels Dahlquist. The American Youth Soccer Organization inducted Paul Caligiuri and Harvey Lightstone.All-World Championship Team: Claudia Reyna (1st team), Landon Donovan (honorable ention) All-World U-19 Championship Team: Jill Oakes, Heather O'Quigley, Lindsay Tarpley, Kelly Wilson (all 1st team) Bronze Ball: Kelly Wilson (U-19 W.C. 3rd MVP) Silver Boot: Kelly Wilson (U-19 W.C. 2nd leading scorer) Bronze Boot: Lindsay Tarpley (U-19 W.C. 3rd leading scorer)
Last update: May 30, 2008
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