Elevated InTENsity Weekly Featurettes
THE COLORADO RAPIDS 10TH SEASON CELEBRATION
In celebration of 2005 the tenth season of the Colorado Rapids franchise ColoradoRapids.com has a put together a collection of memorable moments from our club's history. Every week leading up to the Rapids' Home Opener on April 9 2005 we'll unveil more features on this page with new stories rosters all-time players great moments statistics recaps and much more from 1996-2005 about your Colorado Rapids!
YEAR-BY-YEAR CAPSULES OF THE COLORADO RAPIDS
Want a quick recap of any season of the Rapids' first 10 years? We’ve broken down each year of the Rapids’ existence into easy to read year-by-year capsules! Read on for highlights records and key moments from every season from 1996-2004:
Under head coach Bobby Houghton the age of the Rapids officially began on April 13 1996 as they fell 3-0 on the road to the Kansas City Wizards in the first match in franchise history. Eight days later in front of a crowd of 21711 the Rapids earned their first ever win with a 3-1 triumph over Dallas. Marcelo Balboa scored a pair of goals on that day including the first one in team history while Shaun Bartlett scored the game-winning goal on that day in the club’s first-ever home game at Mile High Stadium. The Rapids lost nine of their final 11 games and finished in last place in the Western Conference. Colorado ended its inaugural campaign with an 11-21 record for 29 points. Despite having established foreign stars like Bartlett and goalkeeper Chris Woods as well as U.S. National Team players Chris Henderson Domenic Kinnear Steve Trittschuh Roy Wegerle and Balboa Houghton was unable to turn Colorado into a winner and the Rapids missed out on the playoffs. Houghton resigned from the team with one game remaining in the season.
The Rapids saw full-scale changes in 1997 as the team brought in new players like Adrian Paz and Peter Vermes Paul Bravo Joey DiGiamarino Marcus Hahnemann Wolde Harris and Ross Paule. But perhaps the biggest off-season move came with the hiring of new head coach Glenn "Mooch" Myernick to replace the departed Bobby Houghton. Despite struggling in the early part of the season Myernick was soon able to get the team to gel and the Rapids were able to qualify for the postseason for the first time in team history. Five of Colorado’s top six scorers were in their first year with the club including Bravo who scored a team-leading eight goals. But the Rapids’ success did not end simply by reaching the postseason. In the opening round they shocked the top-seeded Kansas City Wizards in two games thanks in large to three Bravo goals. Colorado pulled off another upset in the Western Conference Finals when they swept Dallas in two games behind some strong play from Hahnemann who allowed just one goal in the two games and Chris Henderson who scored one of the greatest goals in team history to send Colorado to the MLS Cup. In front of a crowd of 57431 at RFK Stadium the Rapids looked to pull off one more historic upset and in the 75th minute Adrian Paz cut a DC United lead in half but it would not be enough and D.C. defeated the Rapids 2-1 for the title.
In ’98 the Rapids fielded a nearly identical squad as the previous season. But any thoughts of a smooth ride back to the MLS Cup were quickly quashed as they won just three of their first 11 games and looked to be in danger of missing the playoffs once again. But just when things looked their bleakest the Rapids were able to turn things around and salvage their season by winning eight of their next 10 matches. Leading the way for the Rapids during this stretch was the forward combination of Paul Bravo and Wolde Harris as well as second-year midfielder Ross Paule. Harris set a new team record with 13 goals on the season while Bravo and Paule each reached double figures in goals giving the team three ten-goal scorers for the first time ever. While those three were scoring goals at one end of the pitch Marcus Hahnemann was stopping them at the other as he had another strong season by winning a then-team-record 16 matches. The Rapids finished with a 16-16 record giving them the first .500 winning percentage in team history and leaving them poised to make another strong postseason push. However in the Western Conference Semifinals the Rapids saw their season come to a sudden end when they were swept out of the postseason by the eventual MLS Cup Champion Chicago Fire.
With the addition of experienced international like Panamanian striker Jorge Dely Valdes and Swedish midfielder Anders Limpar as well as goalkeeper Ian Feuer Glenn Myernick appeared to have the strongest squad in the Rapids’ four-year history. Those assumptions proved to be true in the first half of the season as Colorado jumped out to a 12-4 record and was all alone in first place in the Western Conference. The team recorded the best regular season in team history with a 20-12 record for a team-record 48 points. The triple-edged sword of strikders Paul Bravo Wolde Harris and Dely Valdes combined to score 25 of the Rapids’ 38 goals and was a constant threat all season long but the goals dried up over the final third of the season as the team managed to score just three goals in its final 13 games. That lack of firepower overshadowed the sensational play of Feuer who became the Rapids’ number one keeper when Marcus Hahnemann was sold to Fulham FC of the English First Division. Both keepers finished the season with 10 wins and Feuer was able to post a team-record eight shutouts in his 19 games. In the postseason the Rapids’ woes in front of goal continued and they were swept out of the postseason by the Los Angeles Galaxy. However the Rapids did have a shot at some hardware when they reached the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final for the first time in team history. However it was not to be as Colorado was upset by the Rochester Raging Rhinos in the Championship Match 2-0.
The 2000 season started a youth movement in Colorado as the Rapids held three of the first ten picks in the MLS SuperDraft. Adin Brown Wes Hart and Alan Woods were selected to give the Rapids a burst of youthful energy and forward Junior Agogo was brought in to try and replace the departed Wolde Harris. However all the new faces took some time to get on the same page and the Rapids once again found themselves fighting for a playoff spot. Unable to put together a multiple-game winning streak and hovering right around the eighth and final playoff position all season long Colorado won in their last regular season game to earn a playoff berth. But the good times would end there as the eventual MLS Cup Champion Kansas City Wizards knocked the Rapids out of the opening round of the playoffs in three games. 2000 was also the third year in a row in which the Rapids made it to the MLS playoffs only to be eliminated in the first round. The season would also mark the end of head coach Glenn "Mooch" Myernick who was relieved of his coaching duties. In four years at the helm Myernick guided the Rapids to a 63-61-4 record and four postseason appearances including the club’s only MLS Cup appearance in 1997. 2000 will be also be remembered for Marcelo Balboa’s spectacular bicycle kick goal on April 22 in Columbus. The goal earned national and international recognition and earned Balboa the MLS Goal of the Year Award.
After four straight years of reaching the postseason and with a lineup that included the addition of former Scottish international John Spencer as well as a number of young talented players the Rapids looked to be on the verge of big things as they headed into the 2001 season. In addition to the signing of Spencer the Rapids other big move during the offseason was the hiring of head coach Tim Hankinson from Tampa Bay. In his two and a half years with the Mutiny Hankinson helped lead the club to a 39-38-4 record and two playoff appearances. However the Rapids won just two of their first 15 games and faced a nine-game winless streak. Even the midseason acquisitions of players like Chris Carrieri Raul Diaz Arce Scott Garlick and Carlos Valderrama could not get Colorado out of its skid and it finished with a 5-13-8 record for a team record low of 23 points. But the season was not a complete loss as a number of individuals turned in a series of fine performances. The most notable of these was Spencer who despite the team’s poor record finished third in MLS in goals and points with 14 and 35 respectively both of which are team records that still stand today. Spencer also became the first Rapids player ever to record a hat trick when he scored three times against Chicago in a 3-1 win on July 4. The Rapids said goodbye to Paul Bravo the team’s all-time leading scorer at the time who retired at the end of the 2001 season. In 135 games with the club Bravo scored 39 goals and notched 100 points.
The Rapids looked to get back to their winning ways under with a new look team in 2002. The Rapids picked up former Rapids midfielder Chris Henderson as well as Kyle Beckerman and Pablo Mastroeni in the MLS Dispersal and Allocation Drafts and then traded for Mark Chung one of the all-time leading scorers in MLS history. Chung became the first player in team history to record double-digit goals and assists in the same season while Carlos Valderrama who was playing in his final MLS season tallied a team record 16 assists. Most of those assists went to either Chung Henderson or Chris Carreiri who all tied for the team lead in goals with 11. Mastroeni shined on a larger stage as he was named to the United States squad for the 2002 World Cup in Japan/Korea. The first-year Rapids midfielder played in three of the Americans’ five games at the tournament as they reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 1930. Striker Chris Carrieri continued a Rapids tradition of providing fantastic entertainment on the 4th of July as he turned in only the 2nd hat trick in team history on Independence Day with 3 second-half goals vs. Chicago. Overall the Rapids used a strong opening and closing third of the season to get back into the playoffs after a one-year absence. Once there Colorado upset Dallas in the opening round to win their first playoff series since 1997. With each side collecting four points in the three game series the Rapids and Burn went to a golden goal series decider with Mark Chung scoring his first goal of the postseason to advance the Rapids to the MLS Semifinals against Los Angeles. But there would be no such upsets against in the semifinals as the Galaxy eliminated Colorado in the semi’s.
The Colorado Rapids’ 2003 season was a roller coaster affair full of a series of highs and lows. Despite going undefeated in the preseason the Rapids struggled in the first third of the season rolling up a 1-6-2 record to open the season. But a 4-1 win over New England on June 14 in which the Rapids equaled their goal output from the previous nine matches served as a precursor for the club’s hot summer to come. In a 13 game run between July 4 and October 1 the Rapids compiled a 9-1-3 record to move from last place in the Western Conference to second and in turn become the second team in the league to qualify for the MLS Playoffs. Keying that run was the play of midfielder Mark Chung and forward John Spencer. Spencer the Rapids’ team captain set a new team record by scoring in six consecutive games and tied his own team record with 14 goals on the season. He finished the season third in MLS with 33 points was a finalist for Honda MVP and was named to the MLS Pepsi Best XI. Joining him on the Best XI was Chung who tied his career-high of a year prior with 11 goals and was second on the team with 28 points. This was Chung’s second consecutive appearance on the Best XI and the first time in league history that two Rapids had been so honored in the same season. However the Rapids once again fell on hard times late in the regular season and into the playoffs. The club was unable to win any of its last six regular season matches and was knocked out in the opening round of the playoffs by Kansas City on a 3-1 aggregate score.
The Colorado Rapids finished 2004 with a 10-9-11 record in a season that saw the Black and Blue set new MLS and team records for a season. Despite losing only once in their first 6 matches the Rapids had trouble producing on the offensive end. On the other end of the pitch the Rapids’ defense had a banner year. The Rapids set an MLS record for the lowest home goals-against-average over an entire season at 0.53. In 15 home matches goalkeeper Joe Cannon and the Rapids defense allowed just eight goals and never more than one in a game. The Rapids established their dominance as the best home team in MLS having lost only once per year at Invesco Field in both ’04 and ’03. Chris Henderson set 2 records as he became both the Rapids’ all time leading scorer with 101 career points for the club and also the all-time leader of games-played for the Rapids with 152. Joe Cannon had a stellar season as he captured the Rapids Defensive Player Award the Rapids MVP Award and the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award while also being named to the MLS Best XI. Cannon was the only keeper in MLS to appear in all of his team’s regular season matches and he led the league with 150 saves and 10 shutouts. His 1.07 goals-against-average was good for third in MLS and set a new Rapids record as well as being the lowest of his six-year MLS career. With the team’s 10th tie of the season (1-1 vs. San Jose Earthquakes) the Rapids assured themselves of a spot in the 2004 MLS Playoffs. The Black and Blue defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 at Invesco Field in the first playoff game only to get knocked off 2-0 in their return meeting at Home Depot Center on October 30 ending the 2004 season. This season served as a final farewell to team captain John Spencer who passed on the captaincy to Pablo Mastroeni and announced his retirement after the season. 2004 also saw the departure of Head Coach Tim Hankinson who compiled a 39-45-30 record with the Rapids since 2001. Hankinson parted ways with the Rapids after the season and was replaced by Fernando Clavijo to usher in a new era for the franchise.
LIFETIME COLORADO RAPIDS ROSTER
Below we have compiled a list of all the players from 1996 through January of 2005 that have occupied a roster spot for the Colorado Rapids at one point or another. Some are players that were signed for one game only or called up for a brief spell and some are players that were with the club for many years. Some saw game action while some never did but all represented the Colorado Rapids at one point or another. Here is the complete alphabetical list of every player that has ever appeared on a Rapids roster in the club's 10 year history!
(Uniform # and Player Name Position Ht. Wt. Birthdate Hometown College)
15 Junior Agogo FWD 6-0 180 08/01/1979 Accra Ghana --
7 Rafael Amaya DEF 5-10 170 09/21/1967 Denver CO Long Island University
19 Kevin Anderson MID 5-6 155 09/07/1971 Bohemia NY Southern Connecticut State
5 Geoff Aunger DEF 5-11 170 02/04/1968 Vancouver British Columbia U.
11 Imad Baba MID 5-10 170 03/15/1974 Humble TX Clemson U.
17 Marcelo Balboa DEF 6-1 175 08/08/1967 Cerritos CA San Diego State
9 Shaun Bartlett FWD 6-2 180 10/31/1972 Cape Town South Africa --
16 Brian Bates MID 6-0 165 08/16/1972 Woodbridge VA Virginia U.
5 Kyle Beckerman MID 5-10 155 04/23/1982 Crofton MD --
14 Scott Benedetti FWD 5-11 175 11/13/1966 Portland OR Portland U.
5 Jason Bent MID 5-9 165 03/08/1977 Branton Ontario U. of Maryland
28 Alex Blake FWD 6-1 176 10/14/1980 Kingston Jamaica Williams College
9 Nat Borchers MID 6-2 175 04/13/1981 Pueblo CO University of Denver
16 Jason Boyce FWD 5-7 152 10/14/1975 Santa Monica CA U. of Washington
9 Paul Bravo MID 6-0 175 06/19/1968 Campbell CA Santa Clara U.
24 Adin Brown GK 6-5 200 05/27/1978 Pleasant Hills CA William & Mary
21 Preston Burpo GK 6-3 195 11/09/1972
6 Ian Butterworth DEF 6-2 190 02/15/1964 Crewe England --
4 Adrian Cann DEF 6-3 180 09/19/1980 Thornhill Ontario Canada Louisville U.
1 Joe Cannon GK 6-2 190 01/01/1975 Los Altos CA Santa Clara U.
15 Scott Cannon DEF 5-9 155 07/22/1968 Evansville IN Evansville U.
15 Chris Carrieri FWD 5-8 155 04/28/1980 Richmond VA U. North Carolina
11 John Carroll M/D 5-10 165 11/14/1977 Florida International U.
21 Tote Castaneda MID 5-9 165 01/12/1970 Guadalajara Mexico --
18 David Castellanos FWD 6-1 180 02/26/1980 Philadelphia PA UCONN
20 Mark Chung MID 5-7 150 06/18/1970 Pembroke Pines FL South Florida U.
28 Jordan Cila FWD 5-10 165 04/11/1982 Jericho NY Duke
19 Greg Connel GK
21 Matt Crawford MID 5-10 160 08/20/1980 Durham NC U. North Carolina
21 Rich Cullen GK 6-0 185 05/12/1978 Air Force
11 Jeff Cunningham FWD 5-8 155 08/21/1976 Crystal River FL South Florida U.
2 Chris Dawes DEF 5-11 160 05/13/1974 Kingston Jamaica --
19 Randy Dedini GK 01/07/1970
23 Antonio de la Torre DEF 5-10 160 11/18/1977 Guadalajara Mexico --
12 David de la Torre D/M 5-11 170 03/16/1981 Guadalajara Mexico --
26 Alberto Delgado FWD 5-9 170 03/11/1978 La Habana Cuba --
11 Jorge Dely Valdes FWD 6-1 175 04/12/1967 Colon Panama --
18 Danny DeVall MID 5-8 160 09/15/1972 Memphis TN Memphis U.
22 Raimo De Vries FWD 6-2 185 12/21/1968 Wake Forest U.
21 Raul Diaz Arce FWD 5-9 160 02/01/1970 San Miguel El Salvador --
11 Joey DiGiamarino MID 5-10 160 04/06/1977 Corona CA Cal State-Fullerton
18 Jeff DiMaria FWD 5-8 155 05/15/1977 St. Louis MO St. Louis U.
21 Paul Dougherty FWD 5-3 130 12/05/1966 Escondido CA --
2 Troy Edwards DEF 6-0 195 01/21/1964 North Bay Village FL Florida International U.
22 Michael Erush MID 5-11 170 01/24/1983 Van Nuys CA Loyola Marymount U.
24 Ian Feuer GK 6-6 220 05/02/1971 Los Angeles CA --
27 Byron Foss GK 6-5 195 10/06/1979 Monarch Beach CA Southern Methodist U.
4 Robin Fraser DEF 6-1 175 12/17/1966 Denver CO Florida International U.
16 Hunter Freeman D/M 5-11 170 01/08/1985 Allen TX U. Virginia
1 Scott Garlick GK 6-2 195 05/29/1972 Phoenix AZ San Diego U.
20 Neathan Gibson FWD 6-3 190 05/14/1970 Durban South Africa Lynn University
18 Paul Grafer GK 6-3 200 08/07/1974 Port Washington NY William & Mary
14 Gilles Grimandi DEF 5-9 160 11/11/1970 Gap France --
5 Rivers Guthrie MID 6-2 185 09/25/1972 Maitland FL Clemson U.
1 Marcus Hahnemann GK 6-3 220 06/15/1972 Bellevue WA Seattle Pacific U.
5 Denis Hamlett DEF 5-11 190 01/09/1969 Beltsville MD George Mason U.
13 Jean Harbor FWD 6-1 195 09/19/1965 Lanham MD Alabama A&M
13 Wolde Harris FWD 5-10 190 01/26/1974 Kingston Jamaica Clemson U.
12 Wes Hart MID 5-7 155 09/14/1977 Littleton CO U. Washington
19 Chris Henderson MID 5-9 150 12/11/1970 Everett WA UCLA
3 Sean Henderson MID 6-0 160 07/25/1972 Everett WA UCLA
18 Stephen Herdsman DEF 5-11 170 10/06/1975 Coral Springs FL Cornerstone College
18 Dusty Hudock GK 6-2 180 09/04/1972 Phoenix AZ U. Washington
6 Danny Jackson DEF 6-0 185 10/20/1979 Leeds England U. North Carolina
15 Tahj Jakins DEF 6-2 182 11/11/1975 Huntington Beach CA UCLA
18 Guillermo Jara MID 5-8 145 10/20/1973 Sacramento CA San Diego U.
3 Lance Key DEF 6-0 180 07/27/1978 San Antonio TX Trinity U.
11 Zach Kingsley MID 5-11 160 01/18/1980 Spokane WA U. Washington
8 Dominic Kinnear MID 5-11 155 07/26/1967 Freemont CA Hartwick College
12 Matt Kmosko DEF 6-1 173 01/08/1972 Ship Bottom NJ Hartwick College
3 Ritchie Kotschau MID 5-10 175 11/22/1975 Levittown NY George Mason U.
1 David Kramer GK 6-3 185 08/01/1972 Mountain View CA Fresno State
4 Ricky Lewis DEF 6-0 170 05/29/1982 Spring TX Clemson U.
10 Anders Limpar MID 5-8 161 09/24/1965 Stockholm Sweden --
30 Amir Lowery MID 6-2 180 12/26/1983 Washington DC Wake Forest U.
24 Jon Lowery GK 6-2 180 09/20/1976 Apple Valley MN --
7 Marquinho MID 5-10 155 11/11/1966 Sao Paulo Brazil --
8 Tyrone Marshall FWD 6-2 190 11/12/1974 Lauderhill FL Florida International U.
8 Tim Martin DEF 5-11 166 04/12/1967 San Jose CA Fresno State
14 Chris Martinez DEF 6-2 190 12/25/1970 Denver CO Clemson U.
14 Rey Angel Martinez FWD 6-1 160 05/13/1980 La Habana Cuba --
25 Pablo Mastroeni M/D 5-10 170 08/29/1976 Phoenix AZ North Carolina State
20 Josh McKay MID 6-0 175 11/16/1971 Pleasanton CA San Francisco U.
2 Matt McKeon DEF 6-2 190 09/24/1974 St. Charles MO St. Louis U.
18 Guy Melamed DEF 6-1 185 09/12/1979 Nofit Israel Boston College
24 Jason Moore MID 5-11 170 04/04/1978 Duluth GA U. Virginia
18 Johnny Morton GK 6-2 185 07/25/1975 Ft. Lauderdale FL Duke
24 Matt Napoleon GK 6-1 175 08/18/1977 Feasterville PA Columbia U.
21 Andre Nunley DEF 6-0 170 05/22/1974 Denver CO Colorado College
33 Matt Okoh FWD 6-2 185 05/19/1972 Washington DC University of Denver
22 Raul Palacios MID 5-6 160 10/30/1976 Santiago Chile --
6 David Patino M/F 5-8 150 09/06/1967 Mexico City Mexico --
6 Ross Paule MID 5-10 160 04/04/1976 Cordova TN Creighton U.
19 Russell Payne GK 6-1 190 07/03/1975 Columbia MD U. of Maryland
11 Adrian Paz MID 5-10 168 09/09/1968 Montevideo Uruguay --
10 Jean Philippe Peguero FWD 6-1 185 09/19/1981 Fort Lauderdale FL --
21 Ed Pinon MID 5-10 155 05/26/1971 St. Louis MO St. Louis U.
18 Michael Piserchio D/M 6-1 178 06/26/1980 Littleton CO University of Denver
6 Daryl Powell MID 6-2 170 11/15/1971 Derby England --
21 Marvin Quijano FWD 5-8 150 10/10/1979 Los Angeles CA Rio Hondo College
10 Steve Rammel FWD 5-9 160 04/20/1968 Woodbury NJ Rutgers U.
13 Alberto Rizo DEF 5-11 180 02/19/1979 Guadalajara Mexico --
30 Zizi Roberts FWD 6-2 190 06/13/1979 Monrovia Liberia --
2 Felipe Rodriguez MID 5-6 160 09/12/1975 El Monte CA --
16 Darren Sawatzky FWD 5-10 165 02/22/1973 Seattle WA Portland U.
22 Casey Schmidt FWD 6-0 175 06/16/1981 Newbury Park CA Boston College
13 Steve Shak DEF 6-1 170 02/08/1978 Cerritos CA UCLA
14 Musa Shannon M/F 5-11 168 08/01/1975 Monrovia Liberia Robert Morris U.
3 Richard Sharpe FWD 6-2 180 01/15/1967 South End England Florida Institute of Technology
9 Billy Sleeth DEF 5-11 170 10/23/1979 Spokane WA U. of Washington
7 John Spencer M/F 5-7 160 09/11/1970 Glasgow Scotland --
16 Jeff Stewart DEF 5-11 165 06/21/1980 Bellevue WA Santa Clara U.
2 Gary Sullivan DEF 6-1 195 06/24/1982 West Islip NY Adelphi
2 Keyeno Thomas M/D 6-2 194 12/29/1977 Guapo Gonzales Trinidad --
2 Rick Titus DEF 6-1 175 03/10/1969 Vancouver Canada Toronto U.
8 Seth Trembly M/D 5-6 140 03/21/1982 Littleton CO --
4 Steve Trittschuh DEF 6-0 170 04/24/1965 Granite City IL Southern Illinois U.
21 Michael Ueltschey GK 6-2 195 04/14/1980 Jackson MS U. North Carolina
18 Alijohn Utush DEF
10 Carlos Valderrama MID 5-9 157 09/02/1961 Santa Marta Colombia --
24 Scott Vallow GK 6-3 195 06/08/1977 Modesto CA Bowling Green State
7 David Vaudreuil DEF 5-7 158 12/21/1966 Canton CT Princeton U.
6 Peter Vermes DEF 6-1 175 11/21/1966 Delran NJ Rutgers U.
19 Scott Vermillion DEF 5-11 175 12/23/1976 Olathe KS U. of Virginia
25 Craig Waibel MID 6-2 195 08/21/1975 Portland OR U. of Washington
10 Waldir FWD 5-9 155 05/15/1973 Lima Peru --
10 Roy Wegerle FWD 5-11 170 03/19/1964 Tampa FL South Florida U.
27 Marquis White FWD 5-7 145 03/01/1969 Moraga CA San Francisco U.
16 Alan Woods DEF 6-0 170 10/12/1978 Burtonsville MD Clemson U.
1 Chris Woods GK 6-3 190 11/14/1959 Boston England --
20 Henry Zambrano FWD 5-6 148 08/07/1973 Soledad Colombia --
RAPIDS HISTORICAL FIRSTS
For a decade the Colorado Rapids have entertained their fans through exciting soccer experiences. There is a first time for everything and throughout their history the Rapids have provided fans with some exciting unique firsts in Colorado sports history. Let’s take a look at the "firsts" of the Rapids' history.
First Regular Season Game: Saturday April 13 1996 vs. Kansas City Wiz at Arrowhead Stadium. (Rapids 0 Wiz 3.)
First to Coach a Rapids game: Head Coach-Bob Houghton Assistant-Emilio Romero Goalkeeper Coach-Bruce Brown (4/13/96).
First Starting Lineup: Dusty Hudock (GK) Denis Hamlett (D) Ian Butterworth (D) Troy Edwards (D) Matt Kmosko (D)Chris Henderson (M) Steve Trittschuh (M) Dominic Kinnear (M)Scott Bendetti (F) Shaun Bartlett (F) Jean Harbor (F)).
First Goal: Marcelo Balboa (48’) in a 3-1 win on April 21 1996 vs. Dallas Burn
First Assist: Jean Harbor to Balboa on April 21 1996 vs. Dallas Burn
First Shot: Shaun Bartlett April 13 (4’) vs. Kansas City Wiz
First Home Victory: April 21 1996 vs. Dallas Burn Dusty Hudock in goal
First Road Victory: May 19 1996 vs. Columbus Crew (4-2)
First Loss: Saturday April 13 1996 vs. Kansas City Wiz (0-3)
First Home Loss: May 11 1996 vs. Tampa Bay Mutiny (1-2)
First Road Loss: April 13 1996 vs. Kansas City Wiz (0-3)
First Shootout Game: August 1 1996 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (2-2) 4-3 Shootout Loss
First Shootout Win: September 5 1996 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (0-0) 2-1 Shootout Win
First Shootout Loss: August 1 1996 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (2-2) 4-3 Shootout Loss
First Tie: June 17 2000 vs. Columbus Crew (0-0)
First Overtime Game: June 10 2000 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy
First Overtime Win: June 10 2000 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (1-0) Junior Agogo’s Game Winner at (95’)
First Overtime Loss: August 18 2000 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (0-1) Greg Vanney goal at (99’)
First Overtime Tie: June 17 2000 vs. Columbus Crew (0-0)
First Game Winning Goal: April 21 1996: Shaun Bartlett (57’) 2nd Rapids Goal of the game Assist Jean Harbor
First Game-Tying Goal: May 19 1996 Shaun Bartlett’s second goal of the match at (73’) vs. Columbus Crew
First Hat Trick: July 4 2001 John Spencer vs. DC United (1’ 59’ 81’)
First Hat Trick Against: May 16 1996 Giovanni Savarese of the NY/NJ Metrostars (11’ 30’ 75’)
First 25+ Shot Game: May 16 1996 vs. NY/NJ (0-3) loss (25 Shots)
First Shutout For: May 5 1996 vs. Kansas City Wiz (4-0). Rapids goalkeeper: Dusty Hudock
First Shutout Against: April 13 1996 vs. Kansas City Wiz (0-3) Shutout for Pat Harrington
First 10+ Save game: July 25 1998 Vs. Tampa Bay Mutiny. 10 Saves for Marcus Hahnemann
First Rapids Player to Score 20 Goals: Paul Bravo’s 20th on March 27 1999 vs. San Jose Clash in a 3-2 Shootout Loss
First Rapids Player to Notch 15 Assists: Chris Henderson-June 28 1997 vs. Kansas City Wiz (Assist to his brother Sean Henderson at 12’)
First 25 Point Scorer: Jean Harbor-September 8 1996 vs. San Jose Clash (goal at 26’)
First 50 Point Scorer: Paul Bravo-September 16 1998 vs. Columbus Crew (goal at 51’)
First 100 Point Scorer: Paul Bravo-September 24 2000 vs. Kansas City (100 points in 135 games. 39 goals 22 Assists)
First Penalty Kick Scored: May 11 1996 Jean Harbor vs. Tampa Bay Mutiny (10’)
First Penalty Kick Against: May 19 1996 Doctor Khumalo of the Columbus Crew (42’)
First Caution: April 13 1996 vs. Kansas City Wiz. Dusty Hudock (40’) for Misconduct
First Ejection: May 16 1996 vs. NY/NJ Metrostars. Coach Bob Houghton (18’) for Dissent
First Player Ejection: September 8 1996 vs. San Jose Clash. Jean Harbor (33’) for Violent Conduct
First International Player Allocated: Shaun Bartlett (Cape Town South Africa. Allocated February 6 1996)
First American Player Allocated: Roy Wegerle (October 17 1995 from Coventry City)
First MLS Draft Pick: Jean Harbor 1st round 2nd overall
First Player Trade: Sent Felipe Rodriquez to Los Angeles for future considerations (Geoff Aunger 2001). First Player Waived: Brian Hurley Eric Puls and Joel Shanker. All on March 25 1996
First Playoff Game: October 4 1997 at Arrowhead Stadium vs. Kansas City Wiz
First Playoff Win: October 4 1997 at Arrowhead Stadium vs. Kansas City Wiz (3-0)
First Playoff Loss: 1997 MLS Cup vs. DC United. (1-2 on October 26 1997)
First Playoff Goal: Chris Henderson October 4 1997 vs. Kansas City Wiz (25’)
First Playoff Assist: Chris Henderson to Ross Paule on October 4 1997 vs. Kansas City Wiz at (67’)
First Playoff Series Win: 1997 Series vs. Kansas City Wiz
First Team Captain: Steve Trittschuh
First Player Named to MLS All-Star Team: Marcelo Balboa 1996
First MLS Goal of the Year Winner: Marcelo Balboa (2000)
First "MLS Best 11" Nomination: John Spencer (2001)
First MLS Player of the Week: Marcelo Balboa (Week 3 1996)
First MLS Player of the Month: Ross Paule (June 1998)
First Colorado Rapids Most Valuable Player Award Winner: Chris Henderson (1996)
First Colorado Rapids Scoring Champion Award Winner: Jean Harbor (1996)
First Colorado Rapids Defensive Player of the Year Award Winner: Denis Hamlett (1996)
First Colorado Rapids Humanitarian of the Year Award Winner: Wes Hart (2000)
COLORADO RAPIDS INDIVIDUAL YEAR-BY-YEAR LEADERS (1996-2004)
Want to know which Rapids player was the top performer each season? Check out the following statistics from various categories in the Rapids' 10-year history with the top player listed in that category and compare them against other yearly leaders!
2004 Joe Cannon Matt Crawford 30
2003 Chris Carrieri 30
2002 Robin Fraser Chris Henderson 28
2001 Chris Martinez Jason Moore 26
2000 Chris Martinez 30
1999 Jorge Dely Valdes Peter Vermes 32
1998 Peter Vermes 31
1997 Matt Kmosko 31
1996 Scott Benedetti Steve Trittschuh 32
2004 Joe Cannon 30
2003 Mark Chung Wes Hart 29
2002 Chris Henderson 28
2001 Chris Martinez 26
2000 Chris Martinez 30
1999 Peter Vermes 32
1998 Peter Vermes 31
1997 Matt Kmosko 31
1996 Scott Benedetti Steve Trittschuh 32
2004 Joe Cannon 2700
2003 Mark Chung 2639
2002 Carlos Valderrama 2479
2001 Chris Martinez 2189
2000 Chris Martinez 2662
1999 Peter Vermes 2880
1998 Steve Trittschuh 2700
1997 Matt Kmosko 2760
1996 Steve Trittschuh 2880
(Year Player GP Goals Assists Total Points)
2004 Jean Philippe Peguero 18 7 4 18
2003 John Spencer 27 14 5 33
2002 Mark Chung 27 11 10 32
2001 John Spencer 23 14 7 35
2000 Junior Agogo 22 10 7 27
1999 Jorge Dely Valdes 32 10 6 26
1998 Paul Bravo 30 11 8 30
Wolde Harris 27 13 4 30
1997 Chris Henderson 30 7 13 27
1996 Jean Harbor 29 11 4 26
(Year Player Games Played Goals)
2004 Jean Philippe Peguero 18 7
2003 John Spencer 27 14
2002 Chris Carrieri 25 11
Mark Chung 27 11
Chris Henderson 28 11
2001 John Spencer 23 14
2000 Junior Agogo 22 10
1999 Jorge Dely Valdes 32 10
1998 Wolde Harris 27 13
1997 Paul Bravo 30 8
1996 Jean Harbor 29 11
(Year Player Games Played Assists)
2004 Antonio de la Torre 28 5
Chris Henderson 29 5
2003 Chris Carrieri 30 8
2002 Carlos Valderrama 27 16
2001 Ross Paule 20 10
2000 Anders Limpar 18 9
1999 Ross Paule 26 9
1998 Adrian Paz 28 13
1997 Chris Henderson 30 13
1996 Chris Henderson 29 8
(Year Player Games Played Shots)
2004 Chris Henderson 29 59
2003 John Spencer 27 81
2002 Mark Chung 27 83
2001 John Spencer 23 76
2000 Junior Agogo 22 102
1999 Jorge Dely Valdes 32 70
1998 Paul Bravo 30 90
1997 Paul Bravo 30 63
1996 Shaun Bartlett 26 88
SHOTS ON GOAL
(Year Player Games Played Shots on Goal)
2004 Chris Henderson 29 28
2003 Mark Chung 29 39
2002 Mark Chung 27 33
2001 John Spencer 23 36
2000 Junior Agogo 22 48
1999 Wolde Harris 29 36
1998 Paul Bravo 30 39
1997 Paul Bravo 30 28
1996 Shaun Bartlett 26 39
(Year Player Games Played Fouls Committed)
2004 Kyle Beckerman 29 57
2003 Chris Henderson 26 56
2002 Wes Hart 27 54
2001 Chris Martinez 26 43
John Spencer 23 43
2000 Chris Martinez 30 70
1999 Matt McKeon 28 80
1998 Steve Trittschuh 30 43
1997 Matt Kmosko 31 52
1996 Steve Trittschuh 32 51
(Year Player Games Played Fouls Suffered)
2004 Chris Henderson 29 40
2003 Chris Carrieri 30 45
2002 Mark Chung 27 61
2001 Jason Moore 26 77
2000 Jason Moore 27 83
1999 Jorge Dely Valdes 32 61
1998 Adrian Paz 28 82
1997 Chris Henderson 30 54
1996 Scott Benedetti 32 72
(Year Player Games Played Yellow Cards)
2004 Pablo Mastroeni 17 6
2003 Pablo Mastroeni 18 7
2002 Rick Titus 25 9
2001 Imad Baba 22 6
Chris Dawes 16 6
2000 Lance Key 21 6
Chris Martinez 30 6
Scott Vermillion 28 6
1999 Matt McKeon 28 9
1998 Steve Trittschuh 30 10
1997 Steve Trittschuh 29 7
1996 Denis Hamlett 31 7
(Year Player Games Played Red Cards)
2004 4 players tied with 1
2003 5 players tied with 1
2002 Pablo Mastroeni 15 1
John Spencer 16 1
Carlos Valderrama 27 1
2001 Chris Dawes 16 1
Robin Fraser 20 1
Ritchie Kotschau 11 1
2000 Marcelo Balboa 28 1
Jason Bent 21 1
1999 Kevin Anderson 17 1
Anders Limpar 18 1
1998 5 players tied with 1
1997 Matt Kmosko 31 1
Steve Trittschuh 29 1
1996 Jean Harbor 29 1
(Year Player Games Played Corner Kicks)
2004 Antonio de la Torre 28 87
2003 Mark Chung 29 57
2002 Chris Henderson 28 59
2001 Ross Paule 20 41
2000 Anders Limpar 18 63
1999 Anders Limpar 18 78
1998 Adrian Paz 28 94
1997 Chris Henderson 30 85
1996 Chris Henderson 29 104
(Year Player Games Played Offside Violations)
2004 Jean Philippe Peguero 18 34
2003 Chris Carrieri 30 27
2002 Chris Henderson 28 33
2001 John Spencer 23 24
2000 Junior Agogo 22 37
1999 Jorge Dely Valdes 32 31
1998 Adrian Paz 28 24
1997 Chris Henderson 30 35
1996 Shaun Bartlett 26 27
(Year Player Games Played Game-Winning Goals)
2004 Jordan Cila 21 3
2003 John Spencer 27 5
2002 Chris Carrieri 25 5
2001 Paul Bravo 23 2
John Spencer 23 2
2000 Junior Agogo 22 5
1999 Jorge Dely Valdes 32 7
1998 Paul Bravo 30 3
Ross Paule 30 3
1997 Paul Bravo 30 4
1996 Shaun Bartlett 26 3
Scott Benedetti 32 3
(Year Player Games Played Game-Winning Assists)
2004 Antonio de la Torre 28 3
2003 Chris Carrieri 30 4
2002 Carlos Valderrama 27 6
2001 Ross Paule 20 2
John Spencer 23 2
2000 Anders Limpar 18 5
1999 Ross Paule 26 5
1998 4 players tied with 2
1997 David Patino 23 3
1996 Roy Wegerle 22 3
(Year Player PK’s Made)
2004 Mark Chung 22 1
Chris Henderson 29 1
2003 John Spencer 27 4
2002 John Spencer 16 3
2001 John Spencer 23 2
2000 Paul Bravo 27 2
1999 Wolde Harris 29 3
1998 Paul Bravo 30 1
Wolde Harris 27 1
1997 Chris Henderson 30 2
1996 Jean Harbor 29 3
POINTS PER GAME
(Year Player Games Played Goals Assists Points Average Per Game)
2004 Jean Philippe Peguero 18 7 4 18 1.00
2003 John Spencer 27 14 5 33 1.22
2002 Mark Chung 27 11 10 32 1.19
2001 John Spencer 23 14 7 35 1.52
2000 Junior Agogo 22 10 7 27 1.23
1999 Wolde Harris 29 8 8 24 0.83
1998 Wolde Harris 27 13 4 30 1.11
1997 Chris Henderson 30 7 13 27 0.90
1996 Jean Harbor 29 11 4 26 0.90
(*Minimum of 10 points)
GOALS PER GAME
(Year Player Games Played Goals Goals-Per-Game Average)
2004 Jean Philippe Peguero 18 7 0.39
2003 John Spencer 27 14 0.52
2002 Chris Carrieri 25 11 0.44
2001 John Spencer 23 14 0.61
2000 Junior Agogo 22 10 0.45
1999 Jorge Dely Valdes 32 10 0.31
1998 Wolde Harris 27 13 0.48
1997 Paul Bravo 30 8 0.27
1996 Marcelo Balboa 18 7 0.39
(*Minimum: 5 goals)
ASSISTS PER GAME
(Year Player Games Played Assists Assists-Per-Game Average)
2004 Antonio de la Torre 28 5 0.18
2003 Chris Carrieri 30 8 0.27
2002 Carlos Valderrama 27 16 0.59
2001 Ross Paule 20 10 0.50
2000 Anders Limpar 18 9 0.50
1999 Ross Paule 26 9 0.35
1998 Adrian Paz 28 13 0.46
1997 Adrian Paz 25 11 0.44
1996 Chris Henderson 29 8 0.28
(*Minimum: 5 assists)
(Year Player Games Played Shots Goals Scoring Percentage)
2004 Jean Philippe Peguero 18 42 7 16.7
2003 Zizi Roberts 12 27 5 18.5
2002 Chris Carrieri 25 54 11 20.4
2001 Chris Carrieri 14 20 5 25.0
2000 Jorge Dely Valdes 20 50 7 14.0
1999 Paul Bravo 25 40 7 17.5
1998 Wolde Harris 27 42 13 31.0
1997 Peter Vermes 26 29 6 20.7
1996 Marcelo Balboa 18 28 7 25.0
(*Minimum: 5 goals)
SHOTS ON GOAL PERCENTAGE
(Year Player Games Played Shots Shots On Goal Percentage)
2004 Jean Philippe Peguero 18 42 22 52.4
2003 Chris Carrieri 30 54 27 50.0
Mark Chung 29 78 39 50.0
2002 Chris Henderson 28 56 28 50.0
2001 Paul Bravo 23 43 21 48.8
2000 Jorge Dely Valdes 20 50 25 50.0
1999 Wolde Harris 29 68 36 52.9
1998 Ross Paule 30 46 26 56.5
1997 David Patino 23 42 20 47.6
1996 Jean Harbor 29 61 33 54.1
(*Minimum: 20 shots on goal)
GAMES PLAYED IN GOAL
2004 Joe Cannon 30
2003 Scott Garlick 26
2002 Scott Garlick 15
2001 Scott Garlick 12
2000 David Kramer 20
1999 Ian Feuer 19
1998 Marcus Hahnemann 28
1997 Marcus Hahnemann 25
1996 Chris Woods 23
MINUTES PLAYED IN GOAL
2004 Joe Cannon 2700
2003 Scott Garlick 2346
2002 Scott Garlick 1374
2001 Scott Garlick 1130
2000 David Kramer 1804
1999 Ian Feuer 1696
1998 Marcus Hahnemann 2520
1997 Marcus Hahnemann 2157
1996 Chris Woods 2070
(Year Goalkeeper Games Played Minutes Goals Against GAA)
2004 Joe Cannon 30 2700 32 1.07
2003 Scott Garlick 26 2346 38 1.46
2002 Scott Garlick 15 1374 24 1.57
2001 Scott Garlick 12 1130 21 1.67
2000 David Kramer 20 1804 33 1.65
1999 Marcus Hahnemann 13 1170 14 1.08
1998 Marcus Hahnemann 28 2520 52 1.86
1997 Marcus Hahnemann 25 2157 37 1.54
1996 Chris Woods 23 2070 43 1.87
(*Minimum: 1000 minutes played)
(Year Player Games Played Wins Losses Ties Win Percentage)
2004 Joe Cannon 30 10 9 11 .517
2003 Scott Garlick 26 11 10 5 .519
2002 David Kramer 13 7 4 2 .615
2000 David Kramer 20 9 8 3 .525
1999 Marcus Hahnemann 13 10 3 0 .769
1998 Marcus Hahnemann 28 16 12 0 .571
1997 Marcus Hahnemann 25 13 10 0 .565
1996 Chris Woods 23 8 15 0 .348
(*Minimum: 5 wins)
(Year Player Games Played Saves)
2004 Joe Cannon 30 150
2003 Scott Garlick 26 83
2002 Scott Garlick 15 61
2001 Scott Garlick 12 67
2000 David Kramer 20 79
1999 Ian Feuer 19 70
1998 Marcus Hahnemann 28 138
1997 Marcus Hahnemann 25 111
1996 Chris Woods 23 96
(Year Player Games Played Shutouts)
2004 Joe Cannon 30 10
2003 Scott Garlick 26 9
2002 Scott Garlick 15 4
2001 Adin Brown 9 1
Scott Garlick 12 1
2000 David Kramer 20 4
1999 Ian Feuer 19 8
1998 Marcus Hahnemann 28 4
1997 Marcus Hahnemann 25 5
1996 Dusty Hudock 9 2
Chris Woods 23 2
(Year Player Games Played C/P)
2004 Joe Cannon 30 126
2003 Scott Garlick 26 97
2002 Scott Garlick 15 58
2001 Scott Garlick 12 49
2000 David Kramer 20 80
1999 Ian Feuer 19 63
1998 Marcus Hahnemann 28 135
1997 Marcus Hahnemann 25 98
1996 Chris Woods 23 36
(Year Player Games Played Saves Shots On Goal Faced Percentage)
2004 Joe Cannon 30 150 187 80.2
2003 Scott Garlick 26 83 123 67.5
2002 Scott Garlick 15 61 92 66.3
2001 Scott Garlick 12 67 92 72.8
2000 Adin Brown 13 72 102 70.6
1999 Marcus Hahnemann 13 68 85 80.0
1998 Marcus Hahnemann 28 138 200 69.0
1997 Marcus Hahnemann 25 111 154 72.1
1996 Chris Woods 23 96 149 64.4
(*Minimum: 40 saves)
HOW PROFESSIONAL SOCCER CAME TO THE USA AND COLORADO
According to American folklore Pilgrims arriving on the Massachusetts coast encountered Native Americans playing a sport that resembled soccer but an organized form of the game would not surface until 1862 when the Oneidas of Boston formed the first organized soccer club.
Three years later collegiate soccer was organized with Princeton and Rutgers marking the first intercollegiate soccer match in 1869. The country’s first soccer association the American Football Association was formed in 1884 in Newark N.J. in an attempt to organize the myriad of local leagues springing up around the nation. The United States played their first international soccer match against Canada in 1885.
Organized soccer went global in 1904 with the formation of FIFA the sport’s worldwide governing body but soccer had been featured at the Olympics in 1896 in Athens. It was a demonstration sport in 1900 in Paris and 1904 in St. Louis when Galt FC of Canada won the gold medal. By 1913 the United States Football Association (USFA) was incorporated and admitted to FIFA.
The first U.S. men’s national team opened with a 3-2 win over Sweden on August 20 1916 and finished a tour of Sweden and Norway with a 3-1-2 record. In 1921 the country’s first professional league the American Professional Soccer League (APSL) kicked off with seven teams from the Northeast.
In 1930 the U.S. fielded a team in the very first FIFA World Cup in Uruguay and American Bert Patenaude of the APSL became the first player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup leading the U.S. to a 3-0 win over Paraguay.
The U.S. shocked the world in 1950 with an historic 1-0 upset of soccer power England in the FIFA World Cup in Brazil when Haitian-American Joe Gaetjens scored an unbelievable header just before half-time and the underdog Yanks held on for the win. This monumental event is due to be immortalized on film with this summer's upcoming "Game Of Their Lives" motion picture.
In 1961 FIFA officially recognized the North American region as the Confederation of North Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).
Professional soccer first came to the United States after the 1966 World Cup. The World Cup final was televised live in the U.S. by NBC and generated so much interest that sports promoters decided to form an American league.
However due to dissent among those trying to form the new league two rival leagues were formed in 1967 one sponsored by FIFA the governing body of world soccer the United Soccer Association and a renegade group called the National Professional Soccer League. One year later the two groups merged to create the North American Soccer League (NASL).
The NASL existed from 1968-1985 and brought Division I soccer to the United States. Money problems plagued the league in the early years and all but five teams folded after the first year but the league pressed on. Throughout the early 1970’s American-born players such as Kyle Rote Jr. (Dallas) and Bob Rigby (Philadelphia) became more prominent and by 1975 the league had increased to 20 teams.
The league began to decline as teams started signing top international players. Pele was signed by the New York Cosmos in 1975 and other clubs signed international players to keep up. Although the quality of play and the attendance at games increased player salaries also began increasing. The league expanded to 24 teams in 1978 but teams in weak markets had money problems and those teams began folding. Although the league enjoyed success in the mid to late 1970’s it spiraled out of control with expansion and the escalating player salaries.
NASL soccer was here in Colorado from 1974-75. The Denver Dynamos then moved to Minnesota becoming the Minnesota Kicks who existed until 1981. The Colorado Caribous formed in 1978 but after a season they relocated to Georgia where the team became the Atlanta Chiefs. That team also folded in 1981.
In 1990 the Colorado Foxes were formed bringing A-League soccer to Colorado. The Foxes were very successful during their seven years in Colorado. In 1992 the Foxes won the Professional Cup Championship. In 1992 and 1993 the team won the American Professional Soccer League Championships and were APSL finalists in 1994.
Perhaps the Foxes’ biggest contribution to soccer in Colorado was the development of future Colorado Rapids and Major League Soccer players.
The Foxes helped to develop players that would later go on to play for the Rapids and MLS. Rapids Alumni Players like Marcelo Balboa Chris Martinez Matt Okoh Ross Paule Robin Fraser David Kramer Wolde Harris Rafael Amaya and Joey DiGiamarino all came up through the ranks of the Colorado Foxes before playing with the Rapids. Former Rapids Assistant Coach Lorne Donaldson also played for the Foxes and coached them for several years.
In 1998 the Colorado Foxes relocated to San Diego California and became the San Diego Flash.
However it wasn't until the MLS was founded in 1995 that Major League Soccer came to the USA and Colorado as the Colorado Rapids came Denver as one of the 10 inaugural flagship teams.
Thanks to original owner/investor Philip Anschutz who insisted on having a team in his home state of Colorado the Colorado Rapids came to the Centennial State to stay and began play in 1996 at Old Mile High Stadium. The 'Colorado Rapids' name and logo were unveiled on Oct. 17 1995 as chosen in voting open to the citizens of Colorado.
A more detailed history of the Colorado Rapids will appear in a future feature!
TEN YEARS OF MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
As Major League Soccer embarks on its tenth season soccer at all levels continues to grow in America. The development of soccer-specific stadiums and world-class American players made possible by the vision and commitment of MLS fans investors executives staffs coaches and players has clearly enabled the United States to be recognized across the globe as a formidable soccer nation.
MLS leads the charge having built unprecedented momentum and a solid foundation for the sport continuing to forge ahead towards its mission of becoming the world's best soccer league and one of America's premier sports and entertainment properties.
As the League for the New America MLS strives to unite soccer's young ethnic digital and hard-core fans in the U.S. fueling their passion and providing aspiration – and inspiration – to a rapidly expanding soccer culture.
Major League Soccer's on-field product is proving itself in various international competitions for club and country. For the first time in nearly a generation the 80 million soccer-affected Americans who love "The Beautiful Game" have the opportunity to see touch and feel the approachable heroes of MLS simply by turning on the TV opening a newspaper or walking into an MLS stadium.
Each year during the League's first nine seasons the quality of play improved exponentially. MLS takes great pride in its role of developing both young American players providing depth for the U.S. Men's National Team and the increased targeting of MLS talent by the world's most storied soccer clubs. In addition to developing world stars of its own MLS preseason rosters include players from all six international Confederations representing 31 countries from around the globe. The truly diverse League proves that the international language that rises above all barriers is that of soccer/futbol.
Nearly 22 million fans representing a true cross-section of America have attended MLS matches during the league's first nine seasons a testament to the popularity of the world's game in the United States.
From the League's diverse fan base to its unique mix of American and international stars on the field MLS represents the inclusion of many different cultures that now thrive in today's ever-changing society.
As qualifying for the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany kicks off numerous MLS players play key roles in the qualifying hopes for 17 countries across the globe. MLS players shocked the world during the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan as the MLS Strike Force of Landon Donovan Brian McBride Clint Mathis DaMarcus Beasley and Josh Wolff created six of the seven U.S. goals en route to the quarterfinals. Making the connection between club and country 17 of the 23 players called upon to represent the U.S. by former D.C. United Head Coach Bruce Arena were either current or former MLS players including the Rapids' own Pablo Mastroeni.
The landmark television agreement forged between MLS and ABC ESPN and ESPN2 in 2002 will continue to pay enormous dividends through 2006. Last year MLS added two additional national broadcast partners welcoming Fox Sports World and HDNet to the fold. Nearly 95% of MLS games can be viewed on live television a startling accomplishment for such a nascent league. For 2005 destination viewing continues in a consistent timeslot on MLS "Soccer Saturday" at 4:00 p.m. ET from April 3 through the end of the season.
Major League Soccer has allowed the sport to enjoy unprecedented success during its first nine campaigns on the field in the stands on television and among the League's numerous commercial affiliates. MLS will continue to make exciting and important strides to establish soccer's viability as a business an entertainment property and most importantly as an institution in the United States.
Major League Soccer has made great strides during its first nine seasons both on and off the field. The League's goal is to become the world's most competitive and prestigious soccer leagues as well as one of America's premier sports and entertainment properties.
As MLS continues to develop the League has created five guiding principles for all aspects of League business:
-Become the meeting place for U.S. soccer fans
-Reflect inclusiveness and diversity
-Stay young in attitude style and fan profile
-Express and evoke passion for soccer
-Be the inspirational destination point for today's soccer-playing youth
-In addition MLS will continue to assist and improve the performance of U.S. National Teams in domestic and international competitions on all levels.
On December 17 1993 in fulfillment of U.S. Soccer's promise to FIFA World Cup USA 1994 Chairman and CEO Alan I. Rothenberg announced the formation of Major League Soccer and unveiled the League logo. After receiving formal bids from 22 cities to secure a team signing many top U.S. and international stars solidifying financial investment and welcoming key corporate sponsors MLS unveiled its plans for the League's inaugural season on October 17 1995.
Following the MLS Player Combine in January 1996 and the League's first player draft one month later each of the 10 charter clubs entered its first-ever spring training with high expectations. An overflow crowd of 31683 at Spartan Stadium witnessed San Jose forward Eric Wynalda score the League's historic first goal in a 1-0 victory over D.C. United before a live national television audience on ESPN. The ultimate goal – the launch of a world-class professional outdoor soccer league in the United States with 10 teams nationwide – had become a reality.
Emboldened by a pioneering trail-blazing spirit the top American players playing abroad returned home in 1996 to excite U.S. fans with an attacking brand of soccer and fulfill personal dreams. In addition many established and rising international stars brought their skills and experience to American soil. On an annual basis additional American and international players look to MLS as their league of choice.
While MLS' contributions to the U.S. National Team are well-documented as are the rising international profiles of players like Landon Donovan Bobby Convey and DaMarcus Beasley each considered among the top young players in the world. The youngest player in modern team sports history 14-year-old prodigy Freddy Adu made his debut with D.C. United in 2004 after choosing MLS over European powerhouses Manchester United Real Madrid and Chelsea.
Young Central American players such as the Galaxy's Carlos Ruiz the MetroStars' Amado Guevara and New England's Jose Cancela have emerged and blossomed in MLS rising to the level of competition and providing exceptional talent and star quality for their teams. Joining these standouts are established world-class American stars such as U.S. National Team regulars like the Colorado Rapids' Pablo Mastroeni.
As the level of play in MLS continues to improve the League's unique mix of talent and diverse style of play is sure to continue to attract the top players from home and abroad.
A YEAR-BY-YEAR RECAP OF MLS'S FIRST NINE YEARS
In 1996 the persistently-asked question was finally answered with an exuberant "Yes!" as Americans showed that they were ready for a big-time professional soccer league. Supporters came out in full force during Major League Soccer's inaugural season making believers out of sports fans and media members around the globe. Enthusiasm was evident in the 10 MLS stadiums across the country as flag-waving horn-blowing and roaring fans showed why soccer is here to stay. Nearly 3.1 million fans passed through stadium turnstiles as established World Cup '94 stars Alexi Lalas Carlos Valderrama Jorge Campos Tony Meola Marcelo Balboa Cobi Jones Eric Wynalda and Roberto Donadoni launched the first Division I professional soccer league on American soil in 12 years.
Year Two (1997) saw an increased level of play on the field with a consistent throng of hardcore supporters attending MLS matches. Several new world-class players such as Alain Sutter and Walter Zenga showcased the talents that made them superstars across the globe. In addition a total of 17 players from the 1994 U.S. World Cup Team donned MLS uniforms. The MLS Cup 1997 saw the Colorado Rapids narrowly lose to DC United in front of their home crowd in a 2-1 thriller that was almost a perfect season for the Rapids who went from "worst to first" from 1996-1997.
Year Three (1998) was MLS' first expansion season as the cities of Chicago and Miami welcomed the League's 11th and 12th teams. Both expansion clubs made the playoffs and Chicago blazed through the postseason becoming the second MLS squad to "capture the double a feat achieved by winning both the MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup (renamed for MLS investor Lamar Hunt in 1999) championships.
Year Four (1999) featured the opening of Columbus Crew Stadium the first major league stadium built specifically for soccer in the United States. The impact of the new stadium in Columbus was evident as the Crew led MLS in attendance as an average of 17696 fans per game flocked to watch the club in the league's smallest market.
Year Five (2000) will be remembered as the year of the rules changes. The theme for MLS -- "It's Your Game" – highlighted League rules returning to the international standard. The shootout was eliminated while overtime and ties made their MLS debut. In addition the clock returned to counting from 0 è 90 and time was officially kept only on the referee's watch. The impact of young American players was seen as the U.S. Olympic Team advanced to the medal round for the first time ever. World-class international players also brought global exposure for the League as Hristo Stoitchkov Lothar Matthäus and Luis Hernández made their MLS debuts.
Year Six (2001) featured an amazing turnaround by the San Jose Earthquakes who went from worst to first on the shoulders of Jeff Agoos and Landon Donovan to claim MLS Cup 2001. The League's sixth campaign also saw increased attendance as well as the exciting and successful conclusion of World Cup Qualifying for the U.S. Men's National Team. Despite a series of injuries that sidelined superstars like Clint Mathis Josh Wolff and Brian McBride for long stretches MLS and American soccer persevered to play through what became an extremely difficult year for all Americans following the terrorist attacks on September 11. The Soccer United Relief Fund set up to unite the American soccer family has raised more than $500000 for the rebuilding effort through SURF merchandise sales events like the Unity Games and charity auctions on Yahoo.com.
Year Seven (2002) began with the difficult but necessary (and later lauded) decision to cease operations in Miami and Tampa Bay and return to a 10-team league with dedicated investor-operators in each market. For the seventh consecutive season the on-field product improved exponentially and the rapid development of MLS play led the U.S. to the quarterfinals of World Cup Korea/Japan. Attendance increased for the second consecutive season capped by an unbelievable MLS Cup final featuring more than 61000 fans at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. Newcomers Carlos Ruiz and Taylor Twellman's heated regular-season scoring and MVP races culminated with their teams Los Angeles and New England facing off in the Cup. Ruiz' golden goal gave Los Angeles its first MLS Cup trophy in four trips to Major League Soccer's crowning event.
Year Eight (2003) will be remembered as "The Year of the Stadium as American soccer's true cathedral The Home Depot Center opened in Carson California. The HDC played host to the League's jewel events the 2003 Pepsi MLS All-Star Game and MLS Cup 2003 as well as the FIFA 2003 Women's World Cup Finals. The Los Angeles Galaxy sold out the 27000-seat $150 millon complex on five occasions. The 2003 MLS campaign culminated with the League's highest-scoring final as the San Jose Earthquakes defeated the Chicago Fire 4-2 in late November to capture their second title in three seasons. At midseason the MLS All-Stars defeated the pride of Mexico 3-1 as CD Guadalajara known to its supporters as Chivas saw its owner commit to an MLS expansion team for the 2005 season.
Major League Soccer began its ninth campaign (2004) with a new look and strong teams enjoying more promise and purpose than any time since the League kicked off in 1996. With expanding network and cable television packages a commitment to long-term funding and a heightened profile and deeper credibility for the sport coming out of the 2002 FIFA World Cup MLS Investors remained focused on cultivating the explosion and development of American soccer. Teenage sensation Freddy Adu gained worldwide headlines as he took the field at age 14 and perhaps the extra buzz surrounding their team helped as Adu's DC United took the title again in 2004 winning 3-2 over the Kansas City Wizards at MLS Cup. The year 2004 ended with the promise of 2 new expansion teams in 2005: Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA.
Expansion and the long-term growth of the League from its current size of 12 teams to 14 and eventually 18 to 20 teams remains a priority. Several communities – including but not limited to (in alphabetical order) – Atlanta Cleveland Houston Milwaukee Minneapolis Oklahoma City Philadelphia Phoenix Portland Rochester San Antonio San Diego and Seattle – have expressed interest in bringing Major League Soccer to their region. MLS currently plans to add two more teams in 2006 and has set its sights on being a 16/18-team League in 2010.
However expansion will not occur at the expense of the quality of play the dilution of player talent or without suitable professional venues in which to showcase the League. The League is also targeting markets with potential ownership groups committed to the long-term success of MLS and its constituents in addition to communities with the proven ability to support major professional sports including soccer.
In order to sustain the success of the first nine MLS seasons the League's Board of Governors will continue to seek the funding and construction of soccer-specific stadiums in each market. The Home Depot Center opened in 2003 as one of the most awe-inspiring cathedrals for sport in the world with the Dallas Burn's Frisco Sports and Entertainment Center set to open in August of 2005. In 2004 the Chicago Fire announced that the Village of Bridgeview in suburban Chicago has committed to fund the majority of a 25000-seat soccer-specific venue for the Fire a site which would become the League's fourth development in its first decade.
The Colorado Rapids also announced major plans for a new stadium complex due to be completed by the 2007 MLS season at the Prairie Gateway site in Commerce City CO. Voters overwhelmingly approved this initative on the ballots in November of 2004. Projects in the metropolitan areas of Washington D.C. and northern New Jersey among others remain under serious consideration at various stages of development.
In markets such as New England and Kansas City a different model operates part of MLS' "dual path" to showcasing the beauty of the sport the ability of MLS players and the passion of American soccer fans. Gillette Stadium in Foxboro and Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City are venues which house both MLS and NFL teams and are facilities owned and operated by MLS investors. The Kraft family in New England and the Hunt Sports Group in Kansas City have tapped into the power and influence of the NFL and its long history in those communities to extend and integrate their MLS brands. This model based on operational control of a large facility extension of existing resources leveraging of staffing and business relationships and the management of the soccer atmosphere has proven to be an acceptable parallel to the development of soccer-specific stadiums.
The future looks very bright for Major League Soccer as the league moves forward into its 10th season. With the promise of more teams coming into the fold new stadiums being announced every year and America's best and brightest players shining in the league and other major leagues around the world there is no limit to what MLS can accomplish.