Maintained and written by David Litterer email@example.com
World Cup qualifying ramped up in intensity this year as the US men's team cruised through group competition, winning Group 1 to qualify again for the hexagonal. The competition was interrupted briefly for the Olympic competition where the women's team won their third gold medal, and the men struggled in pool play. Some Major League Soccer clubs had their hands full while balancing SuperLiga matches, Open Cup fixtures, CONCACAF Champions League games in addition to their regular schedules. The Women's teams shone as always, with the senior squad taking Olympic Gold, while winning three other tournaments, and the U-20 team took the U-20 World Cup, while the U-17's placed second in the inaugural U-17 Girl's World Cup.
Success would come in some surprising ways -- New England Revolution Houston Dynamo beat their Mexican competition in the Superliga, and Montreal & Puerto Rico outlasted their MLS counterparts in the inaugural Champions League, defeating some prominent Mexican clubs along the way. The launch of the US Soccer Development Academy promised to provide a more effective route for the development of skilled and creative players. The lower divisions saw some successful performances as well. In USL Division 1, the Puerto Rico Islanders took the league crown before making an impressive run in the Champions league. The NPSL and WPSL both expanded, finally establishing themselves as national leagues. The indoor game continued to struggle, as the MISL folded, with teams dispersing to other competitions. Overall, another varied and successful year in many ways, but with some concern about the health of the game at the Division 2 and 3 levels.
Major league Soccer had another successful season, buoyed by a healthy David Beckham, continued strong performances by Houston and Columbus, a surprising playoff run by Red Bull New York, and an all-MLS final in the SuperLiga, all seen by more fans on the expanded television contract.
A new San Jose Earthquakes team, run by Oakland A's owners Lewis Wolff and John Fisher, was added this season to replace the original Earthquakes, who had moved to Houston in 2006. Boxer Oscar De La Hoya, and businessman Gabriel Brener, purchased a 50% share in Houston, leaving only AEG (Los Angeles and half of Houston) and Hunt Sports Group (Columbus, Dallas) controlling more than one team, bringing MLS closer to its goal of separate ownership for every team.
Teams took advantage of the Designated Player option and expanded allotment of international slots (8 per team, 112 league wide), signing nearly two dozen international players to join David Beckham, Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Juan Pablo Angel. MLS instituted a $415,000 salary cap hit for DP's, with a reported cap of $2,200,000 per team, and minimum salaries of $34,000 for regular players and $18-19K for developmental players. There was a notable influx of Latin American players who brought some flair to the field. Current roster limit was 18 players + developmentals. Allocation funds were now available to either resign players or sign new ones. MLS planned to review the DP process after the 2008 season, with a fuller review in 2009.
MLS continued to address shortcomings with their player development academies where the profits from entry fees were seen as a cash cow, leading to excessive emphasis on winning games rather than developing technical skills & imaginative players. To address these issues, clubs were now allowed to directly sign its best players rather than being forced to enter them into the draft. This would allow them to retain the rights to a player should he/she decide to play in college. In addition they would be allowed to keep 2/3 of any money from the sale of those players as long as that revenue is used for player development, including the academies. By the start of the season, nine of the 14 teams had launched free academies, many established in the U. S. Soccer Development Academy, which has expanded to 62 teams plus the U-17 residency squad. Six MLS teams (DC United, New York, Chivas, Chicago, Columbus and Colorado) participated in the academy's inaugural season (07-08) with Los Angeles, the Revolution and New York scheduled to join in 2009. Teams would also be allowed to create satellite teams outside of their respective areas.
The Television contracts were more bountiful - for the 2nd straight season, all MLS games were televised, with more than 100 of the 210 games appearing on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, HDNet, Fox Soccer Channel/FSC Espanol, and Telefutura, with DP Dellacamera taken over play-by-play for MLS and the US National team. Even better, the number of pre-game and post-game 30 minute windows on ESPN2 was expanded from 9 to 16, and all FSC games included such windows. By this season, eight teams boasted sponsor logos on their jersey fronts, including Glidden, Best Buy, BMO, and Comex. "2008 Sueno MLS", the "American Idol" style open-trout promotion was expanded to 4,000 players who would compete for a chance to play with either Chivas USA or FC Dallas. The program had shown itself to be successful in uncovering hidden talent among players too poor to work through the ODP program.
The SuperLiga was moved up, to July 15 - August 5, to avoid conflict with the Olympics and World Cup qualifying. To facilitate their participation, D. C. United scheduled no league matches in July, and New England & Houston only had one. MLS Teams had a financial disadvantage, with salaries 1/3 to 1/4 of their Mexican counterparts, yet they performed well, besting their competition to make an all-MLS final match.The Earthquakes were not interested in returning to Spartan Stadium; they set up shop at Santa Clara's 11,500 seat Buck Shaw Stadium while they pursued a new stadium project. The Kansas City Wizards, who unveiled a first class training facility, were forced out of Arrowhead Stadium (undergoing two years of renovations) to play at the 10,000 seat Community America Ballpark. Season ticket sales league wide were up 25%, with Toronto having cut them off at 16,000. Late in the season, Real Salt Lake opened their new stadium in Sandy, Utah, to the immediate acclaim of the fans.
The Revolution lost striker Pat Noonan, but received veteran attacking defender Chris Albright in a trade. The Chicago Fire signed long-time apprentice Denis Hamlett to his first head coach job, replacing Juan Carlos Osorio who led a late-season resurgence before heading off to Red Bull New York. Mexican star Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Columbian Wilman Conde were expected to continue their strong inaugural performances the previous season which excited fans and filled the stands during the Fire's late season rush. Chris Armas retired, but Costa Rican Andy Herron returned from Columbus to provide scoring punch.
Kansas City, under their new ownership, signed their first DP, Argentine Striker Claudio Lopez, a veteran of the 1998 and 2002 World Cups and extended stints in Italy, Spain and Mexico. The Wizards also signed Colombian forward Ivan Trujillo and brought back US Striker Josh Wolff. Red Bull New York signed their tenth coach, Juan Carlos Osorio, their latest hope to bring some soccer success to the US's largest Metropolitan area. The Red Bulls boasted the league's top scorer, Colombian Juan Pablo Angel, National team standout Jozy Altidore who combined for 28 goals last season, Venezuelan midfielder Jorge Rojas, Argentine defender Juan Pietravallo, and Mexican defender Diego Jimenez. Their major challenge was to shore up the defense to allow Claudio Reyna to provide more scoring opportunities. The Columbus Crew signed Argentinean Gina Padula at left back, sold Chilean defender Marcos Gonzalez, and moved midfielder Danny O'Rourke to middle defender. Toronto FC signed Marcos Velez of the Puerto Rico Islanders to shore up the defense while they continued the search for more scoring power to improve on the 17 total goals from 2007.
Out west, two-time defending champion Houston Dynamo lost strikers Nate Jaqua and Joseph Ngweyna and defender Ryan Cochrane. To compensate, coach Dominic Kinnear signed Bobby Boswell from D. C. United and Argentinean striker Franco Caraccio. Chivas USA looked to improve on their 2007 divisional title, but faced a busy schedule as a result of their success, with stints in the SuperLiga, CONCACAF Champions Cup and U. S. Open Cup. They signed Alecko Eskandarian, and Atiba Harris to improve scoring, as well as Raphael Wicky, a veteran of 80 matches for the Swiss National team. National team midfielder Sacha Kljestan, left back Jonathan Bornstein, and GK Brad Guzan returned to provide strength on the defensive side. Chivas only had 2 Mexican players, but it did have the most successful MLS youth academy filled with Mexican-American prospects.
Dallas's partnership with Paranaense of Brazil yielded midfielder Andre Rocha, and lost Carlos Ruiz, who returned to the Galaxy. David Beckham and Landon Donovan were expected to mentor the many newcomers to the Galaxy Roster as Los Angeles looked to pull themselves out of the nether regions of the league table. Brazilian Alvaro Pires joined Beckham at midfield. Real Salt Lake jumped into the DP market, signing Scottish striker Kenny Deuchar, Argentine midfielder Matias Cordoba and Colombian defender Jamison Olave, to give a noticeable international flair to their lineup. Expansion San Jose signed two former Earthquakes, Goalkeeper Joe Cannon and defender John Doyle to start their roster. Among other notable players on the squad were Ronnie O'Brien (from Toronto), midfielder Ramiro Corrales, defender Ryan Cochrane defender Nick Garcia, and Honduran Ivan Guerrero, who would form the nucleus of this team as they launched their challenging first season.
During the season, D. C. United initially benefited from the scoring prowess of Luciano Emilio, and the Galaxy surged with the front line of David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle helping the team score 34 goals during the team's first 16 games. Scoring alone wasn't enough though and both teams ended up far down the league tables, and out of the playoffs. San Jose struggled as expected, finishing last in the West yet only 7 points out of third place. They also got a solid professional in Darren Huckerby, a 16 year veteran at 32 who helped launch a nine game unbeaten streak. Colorado got off to a good start but faded as the season progressed. MLS made some cash in the transfer market: Toronto FC lost Maurice Edu to Rangers of Scotland for a reported $5,000,000 transfer fee. Eddie Johnson left Kansas City for Fulham for $4,000,000. Five more transfers ranged from $225,000 to $1.5 million.
The Revolution was without scoring star Taylor Twellman for a considerable part of the season but was able to nab third place in the East. Chicago got a big boost when Brian McBride finally arrived from Fulham. Inspired, they won a close race for 2nd in the East. Despite the presence of David Beckham and the other new stars, the Galaxy struggled again, failing to make the playoffs. Beckham was healthy this year, and excited the fans with 5 goals and 10 assists in 25 games. He was also a major draw on the road where Los Angeles averaged 28,132 fans. San Jose sold out its small stadium frequently, and averaged 29,000 fans in three games at Oakland County Coliseum. Red Bull New York struggled, and lost Jozy Altidore to Villareal, Spain (for a reported $10,000,000 transfer fee), but the skilled play of their international recruits kept the Bulls in contention, nabbing them a near .500 record and their first playoff spot in some time. Guillermo Schletto electrified the crowd with his dynamic scoring as he led Columbus to an easy Eastern Division title. Houston simply chugged along with solid play and easily took the West crown, while Real Salt Lake took a perfectly even 10-10-10 record to third place. Columbus won the Eastern Division title as well as the Supporters' Shield for as the regular season winner.
In the playoffs quarterfinals, Chicago advanced after beating New England 0-0 and 3-0. In the major upset of the season, Red Bull New York drew with Houston 1-1 before stunning them 3-0 in the second match. Real Salt Lake had a close opening win against Chivas USA 1-0, and drew 2-2 in the rejoinder, still enough to advance. Kansas City and Columbus drew 1-1 in their first leg, but Columbus came alive for a 2-0 shutout to advance on a 3-1 aggregate. The two Midwestern semifinalists met in Ohio on November 13. McBride opened scoring for the fire in the 29th minute, but Columbus drew even 20 minutes later, and early in the 2nd half, Moreno and Schletto set up Eddie Gaven for the winning goal. New York traveled out west where they played a tough match with Real Salt Lake. Van der Bergh found the net in the 28th minute, and the Bulls held on for the 1-0 win to earn their first appearance in the MLS Cup.
MLS Cup 2008 was played at Home Depot Field in Carson, CA on November 13 before a sellout crowd of 27,000. Columbus went on the offense early, spending much of the first minutes in New York's end of the field, and before long, Chris Leitch took down Robbie Rogers earning a yellow card. A few minutes later, Rogers took a Schletto free kick and scored only to have it called back due to being offside. New York came to life at this point, making several good runs into Crew territory. Dave Van de Bergh sent three crosses in short order to Wolnyniec in the box but the Wolyniec's first shot was headed out for a corner, and he was unable to get a clean shot for the others. Richards then took the initiative, with several good runs that he could not finish. But then in the 31st minute, Schletto stole the ball from van den Bergh passed to Moreno who tapped it inside the right post to open scoring, giving New York their first deficit of the playoffs. Early in the second half, the Red Bulls equalized on an amazing zig-zag run by Richards who was all over the field in evading four defenders, before easing the ball to Wolyniec who easily scored the equalizer. New York barely had time to congratulate themselves when Schletto's picture-perfect corner kick was headed by Marshall into the goal giving the Crew the lead again. Schletto nearly sealed the game in the 77th, setting up Moreno wide open in front of the goal, but Moreno's shot hit the crossbar, keeping the Bulls in the game. Soon after, Hedjuk took a chip shot from the boxed up Schletto and sent it in for the insurance goal. The Columbus Crew held on to win the game 3-1, earning them their first league championship.
The Reserve Division was eliminated after the 2008 season. The reserve squad had helped dozens of players establish themselves as starters, but the league suffered from a limited schedule, inconsistent player ability often forcing guest players to be drafted to fill out rosters, frequent cancellations due to callups due to injuries or for Open Club and exhibition matches, and mixed commitment from coaches. The influx of Latin American players engaged the fans with their dynamic play and scoring prowess.
Total attendance was 3,456,641 for an average of 16,460 per game, a slight decrease from the 16,700 of the prior season. MLS clubs, facing increased their participation in extra-league competitions with the SuperLiga, Pan-Pacific championship, CONCACAF Champions League and Champions Cup, and friendlies against visiting teams, in addition to the Confederations Cup and Gold Cup in the mix for 2009, as well as call-ups for World Cup qualifying, the league planned to suspend their schedule for some of the international dates, and redo their qualification protocols so the same four teams aren't entered into both the Superliga and CONCACAF Champions League.
Official 2008 MLS Season Stats
Official MLS History Archives
Final 2008 Major League Soccer Standings Before the season, San Jose was added. GP W L D GF GA Pts Eastern Division Columbus Crew 30 17 7 6 50 36 57 Chicago Fire 30 13 10 7 44 33 46 New England Revolution 30 12 11 7 40 43 43 Kansas City Wizards 30 11 10 9 37 39 42 Red Bull New York 30 10 11 9 42 48 39 D. C. United 30 11 15 4 43 51 37 Toronto FC 30 9 13 8 34 43 35 Western Division Houston Dynamo 30 13 5 12 45 32 51 Chivas USA 30 12 11 7 40 41 43 Real Salt Lake 30 10 10 10 40 39 40 Colorado Rapids 30 11 14 5 44 45 38 F. C. Dallas 30 8 10 12 45 41 36 Los Angeles Galaxy 30 8 13 9 55 62 33 San Jose Earthquakes 30 8 13 9 32 38 33 Conference Semifinals: Chicago defeated New England 0-0, 3-0 New York defeated Houston 1-1, 3-0 Real Salt Lake defeated Chivas USA 1-0, 2-2 Columbus defeated Kansas City 1-1, 2-0 Conference Championships: Columbus defeated Chicago 2-1 New York defeated Real Salt Lake 1-0 MLS CUP 2008: Columbus defeated New York 3-1 MLS Reserve League: League Champ: Houston Dynamo LEADING GOALSCORERS GP G A Pts Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy: 25 20 9 49 Kenny Cooper, F. C. Dallas 30 18 3 39 Edson Buddle, Los Angeles Galaxy 27 15 3 33 Juan Pablo Angel, Red Bull New York 23 14 3 31 Brian Ching, Houston Dynamo 25 13 5 31 Luciano Emilio, D. C. United 27 11 5 17 Conor Casey, Colorado Rapids 21 11 2 24 Jaime Moreno, D. C. United 25 10 10 30 Chad Barrett, Chicago/Toronto 29 9 7 25 Chris Rolfe, Chicago Fire 26 9 7 25 GOALKEEPING LEADERS (Minimum 2000 minutes) GP MIN SHTS SVS GA GAA SO Pat Onstad, Houston Dynamo 24 2098 100 76 24 1.03 7 Jon Busch, Chicago Fire 30 2700 155 122 33 1.10 10 William Hesmer, Columbus Crew 29 2610 130 97 33 1.14 10 Joe Cannon, San Jose Earthquak 30 2700 162 124 38 1.27 9 Kevin Hartman, K. C. Wizards 30 2700 156 117 39 1.30 10 Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake 30 2700 135 96 39 1.30 8 Dario Sala, F. C. Dallas 28 2520 129 92 37 1.32 7 Matt Reis, New England Revs 28 2485 145 107 38 1.38 6 Greg Sutton, Toronto F. C. 24 2160 151 116 35 1.46 6 Jon Conway, Red Bull New York 28 2520 140 98 42 1.50 7
All-Star Game: MLS All-Stars defeated West Ham United 3-2 on July 24, 2008 before 20,844 at Toronto, Ontario. MLS goals were scored by Christian Gomez, Cuahtemoc Blanco and Dwayne DeRosario.
MLS Award Winners: Most Valuable Player: Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Columbus Crew Coach of the Year: Sigi Schmid, Columbus Crew Goalkeeper of the Year: Jon Busch, Chicago Fire Defender of the Year: Chad Marshall, Columbus Crew Rookie of the Year: Darren Huckerby, San Jose Earthquakes Golden Boot Award (Top goalscorer) : Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy Supporters' Shield Award: Columbus Crew Fair Play Award: Michael Parkhurst, New England Revolution Comeback Player of the Year: Kenny Cooper, F. C. Dallas Humanitarian of the Year: Jose Burciaga, Jr., Colorado Rapids MLS Best 11: G - Jon Busch, Chicago Fire D - Jimmy Conrad, Kansas City Wizards D - Bakary Soumare, Chicago Fire D - Chad Marshall, Columbus Crew M - Cuahtemoc Blanco, Chicago Fire M - Guillermo Barros Schletto, Columbus Crew M - Robbie Rogers, Columbus Crew M - Shalrie Joseph, New England Revolution M - Sacha Kljestan, Chivas USA F - Kenny Cooper, F. C. Dallas F - Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy
MLS romped in the Super Liga this year, with the Houston Dynamo and New England winning their respective divisions, and shutting out their Mexican opposition in the semi-finals, leading to an all-American championship. In that match, New England emerged victorious, narrowly tipping the Dynamo 6-5 on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw in regulation time.
Final Pool Play Standings, 2008 SuperLiga Group A: G W L T Pts Houston 3 2 1 0 6 Atlante 3 2 1 0 6 Guadalajara 3 2 1 0 6 D. C. United 3 0 0 3 0 Group B: G W L T Pts New England 3 2 0 1 7 Pachuca 3 1 1 1 4 Chivas USA 3 1 1 1 4 Santos Laguna 3 0 2 1 1 Semifinals: New England defeated Atlante 1-0 Houston defeated Pachuca 2-0 FINAL: New England defeated Houston 2-2 (6-5-PK)
2008 Pan-Pacific ChampionshipAll games at Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI, 2/20 & 2/23 Teams: Los Angeles Galaxy (USA, MLS; host) Sydney FC (Australia, NSL Champion) Houston Dynamo(USA, MLS Cup '07 Champ) Gamba Osaka (Japan; J-League champion) Semi-finals: Gamba Osaka defeated Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 Houston Dynamo defeated Sydney FC 3-0 Third Place: Los Angeles Galaxy defeated Sydney FC 2-1 FINAL: Gamba Osaka defeated Houston Dynamo 6-1
Final 2008 USL standings and playoff results
Final 2008 W-League standings and playoff results
Two thousand eight was a year that Division 1 clubs shone outside of league play. The Charleston Battery upset several MLS teams on their way to the U. S. Open Cup finals where they lost to D. C. United. Puerto Rico and Montreal made excellent showings in the inaugural CONCACAF Champions League, outlasting their MLS counterparts and playing some competitive matches (and winning games) against the top Mexican clubs of 2007-08. USL Division 1 continued to develop its own nucleus of established stars, some with foreign experience, who played major roles in their teams' successes. Whether it was Osvaldo Alonso and veteran Dusty Hudock of Charleston, Tony Donatelli and Matt Jordan of Montreal, Macoumba Kandji of Atlanta, or Sebastian Le Toux of Seattle, these players demonstrated that USL was less and less a farm system for MLS and an entity in their own right filling a significant market in the US soccer landscape.
Defending champions Seattle Sounders returned for their final season, hoping to go out with a bang, before giving way to their MLS counterpart in 2009. The Sounders were favored to win in 2008, with the scoring line again anchored by Sebastain Le Toux, Roger Levesque and Hugo Alcarez-Cuellar. Despite losing scoring ace Daniel Antoniuk to Carolina, the Atlanta Silverbacks were expected again to do well with the addition of Jason McLaughlin, from Vancouver. The Portland Timbers signed Japanese World Cup 2002 veteran Takayuki Suzuki and Vancouver signed Takashi Hirano, who had planed for Japan at the 1998 World Cup. The Montreal Impact, besides opening their new Saputo Park, put substantial resources into the team, signing players and undertaking pre-season tours in Portugal and Italy.
Rochester encountered financial difficulties. After defaulting on bank loans for their new stadium, the team was sold, and veteran coach Laurie Calloway was fired and replaced by former Rhinos forward Darren Tilley. Brazilian World Cup 1994 star Zinho, who had played the last two seasons with D. C. United, was hired to coach, and he brought in 27-year old Brazilian Alex Afonso, a veteran of ten seasons in the Brazilian leagues. Carolina signed Steve Curfman, a former U-17 standout and Jacob Coggins from USL Division 2. Minnesota and Charleston were expected to struggle, but the Thunder improved to finish in 7th place.
In the end it was Puerto Rico and Vancouver who rose to glory - with the Islanders taking the regular season title, and the Whitecaps only one point behind in the standings. Far back in the league table, it was nearly a five way tie for third place with only 3 points separating Montreal, Rochester, Charleston, Seattle and Minnesota. Atlanta struggled greatly, falling to tenth place, but the real downfall was the Portland Timbers, who were campaigning for a MLS franchise, falling from second to last place. On a brighter note, Minnesota had a marked improvement, but was beginning to suffer from financial problems that did not bode well for the future.
The Islanders received a bye to the semifinals in order to accommodate six teams in the first round. Those games were wild and unpredictable, with the first round victors all losing their second match, yet two of the 2nd round losers advanced due to goal differential. The biggest nail biter was Vancouver who shut out the Minnesota Thunder 2-0, and then hung on for dear life, keeping their margin of loss to 1 goal as a 3-4 loss gave them a 5-4 aggregate for the win in a match that could have become an all-time comeback attempt for the Thunder.
The semifinals were comeback city, as the favorites - Puerto Rico and Vancouver were shutout on the first leg, only to come back and return the favor with enough margin to win the aggregate, although Puerto Rico needed overtime to get that third goal. The championship was a nail biter, with the Islanders squeaking out a 2-1 victory.
USL Division 1 average attendance was 5,164, for a total of 852,054 fans. This showed some healthy increases from Portland, Puerto Rico and Charleston, offsetting decreases from Rochester and Seattle. Alex Afonso of Miami was the top scorer with 15 goals and 34 points, and Jonathan Steele of the Islanders was league MVP. After their miserable season, Atlanta went on hiatus, but the league announced plans to add the Austin Aztex for 2009.
Final USL Division 1 Standings, 2008 GP G A PTS Puerto Rico Islanders 30 15 6 9 43 23 54 Vancouver Whitecaps 30 15 7 8 34 28 53 Montreal Impact 30 12 12 6 33 28 42 Rochester Rhinos (-1) 30 11 10 9 35 32 41 Charleston Battery 30 11 12 7 34 36 40 Seattle Sounders 30 10 10 10 37 36 40 Minnesota Thunder 30 10 11 9 40 38 39 Carolina Railhawks 30 9 11 10 34 43 37 Miami F. C. Blues 30 8 12 10 28 34 34 Atlanta Silverbacks 30 8 12 10 37 50 34 Portland Timbers 30 7 13 10 26 33 31 Quarterfinals: Rochester defeated Charleston 2-0, 0-1 Montreal defeated Seattle 1-2, 3-1 Vancouver defeated Minnesota 2-0, 3-4 Semi-Finals: Puerto Rico defeated Rochester 0-2, 3-0 (OT) Vancouver defeated Montreal 0-1, 2-0 CHAMPIONSHIP: Vancouver defeated Puerto Rico 2-1 After the season, Seattle folded and Atlanta went on hiatus. Leading Scorers: GP G A PTS Alex Afonso, Miami FC Blues 27 15 4 34 Sebastian Le Toux, Seattle Sounders 30 14 4 32 Macoumba Kandji, Atlanta Silverbacks 21 11 5 27 Eduardo Sebrango-Rodriguez, Vancouver 29 12 3 27 Ricardo Sanchez, Minnesota Thunder 28 10 4 24 Duncan (Melvin) Tarley, Minnesota 27 10 1 21 Chris Browne, Portland Timbers 27 8 2 18 Hamed Diallo, Carolina Railhawks 16 7 3 17 Randi Patterson, Charleston Battery 25 8 1 17 Luke Kreamalmeyer, Rochester Rhinos 30 4 9 17 Johnny Menyongar, Rochester Rhinos 30 6 5 17 Cristian Arrieta, Puerto Rico Islandrs26 7 2 16 Goalkeeping Leaders: (Min 1200 minutes) GP MIN GA GAA Matthew Jordan, Montreal Impact 25 2250 19 0.760 Bill Gaudette, Puerto Rico Islanders 27 2430 23 0.851 Jay Nolly, Vancouver Whitecaps 23 2070 24 1.043 Scott Vallow, Rochester Rhinos 29 2610 31 1.068 Dustin Hudock, Charleston Battery 22 1908 24 1.132 Christopher Eylander, Seattle Soundrs29 2610 33 1.137 Josh Saunders, Miami FC Blues 27 2430 33 1.222 Nicolas Platter, Minnesota Thunder 30 2700 39 1.300 Chris McLellan, Carolina Railhawks 30 2700 43 1.433 Felipe Quintero-Monsivais, Atlanta 17 1530 28 1.647 All-Star Game:TBA USL Division 1 Award Winners: Most Valuable Player: Jonathan Steele, Puerto Rico Islanders Goalkeeper of the Year: Bill Gaudette, Puerto Rico Islanders Defender of the Year: Cristian Arrieta, Puerto Rico Islanders Rookie of the Year: Osvaldo Alonso, Charleston Battery Coach of the Year: Colin Clarke, Puerto Rico Islanders All-League Team: G - Bill Gaudette, Puerto Rico Islanders D - Cristian Arrieta, Puerto Rico Islanders D - Taylor Graham, Seattle Sounders D - David Hayes, Atlanta Silverbacks D - Nevio Pizzolitto, Montreal Impact M - Osvaldo Alonso, Charleston Battery M - Stephen deRoux, Minnesota Thunder M - Martin Nash, Vancouver Whitecaps M - Jonathan Steele, Puerto Rico Islanders F - Alex Afonso, Miami FC Blues F - Macoumba Kandji, Atlanta Silverbacks
USL Division 2 remained at ten teams for 2008, losing New Hampshire and Cincinnati to relegation, but welcoming back Pittsburgh from hiatus and adding the Real Maryland Monarchs. There was little surprise through the season as strong teams remained strong and week teams continued to populate the cellar. Charlotte returned to top form, winning the regular season championship on head-to-competition after tying with Richmond on points. Pittsburgh struggled in its return, and Maryland performed like an expansion club.
In the playoffs, Cleveland and Crystal Palace advanced, the latter after a tough match against Harrisburg that went to penalty kicks. In the semifinals, Cleveland upset Richmond 1-0 and Charlotte defeated Crystal Palace 2-1. In the final, Cleveland upset Charlotte 2-1 for their first title. As a reward, they were promoted to Division 1 for the following season. Charlotte's Dustin Swinehart was top scorer, with 16 goals and 39 points, and was named league MVP.
Final 2008 USL Division 2 Standings Before the season, Real Maryland Monarchs were added, and Pittsburgh returned from hiatus. GP W L D GF GA Pts Charlotte Eagles 20 13 2 5 45 15 44 Richmond Kickers 20 14 4 2 48 20 44 Cleveland City Stars 20 11 8 1 30 30 37 Crystal Palace Baltimore 20 11 8 1 30 30 34 Harrisburg City Islanders 20 7 3 10 33 20 31 Western Mass. Pioneers 20 5 9 6 19 29 20 Wilmington Hammerheads 20 4 9 7 32 33 19 Pittsburgh Riverhounds 20 4 10 6 25 37 18 Bermuda Hogges 20 5 13 2 21 50 17 Real Maryland Monarchs 20 3 15 2 15 51 10 First Round: Cleveland defeated Western Mass 4-2 Crystal Palace defeated Harrisburg City 2-2 (7-6-PK) Semi-Finals: Cleveland defeated Richmond 1-0 (OT) Charlotte defeated Crystal Palace 2-1 FINAL: Cleveland defeated Charlotte 2-1 After the season, Cleveland was promoted to Division 1. Leading Scorers: GP G A Pts Dustin Swineheart, Charlotte Eagles 19 16 7 39 David Bulow, Richmond Kickers 20 11 4 26 Jorge Herrera, Charlotte Eagles 19 9 6 24 Michael Burke, Richmond Kickers 19 7 8 22 Sallieu Bundu, Cleveland City Stars 19 8 1 17 Gary Brooks, Crystal Palace Baltimore 14 7 1 15 Ryan Heins, Harrisburg City Islanders 17 7 1 15 Thabiso Khumalo, Pittsburgh Riverhounds 20 15 Stanley Nyazamba, Richmond Kickers 16 6 2 14 Robert Ssejjemba, Charlotte Eagles 16 5 4 14 Brian Cvilikas, Wilmington Hammerheads 17 6 2 14 Neil Krause, Western Mass Pionneers 18 14 Jeff Deren, Western Mass Pioneers 19 14 Leading Goalkeepers: (Min 900 minutes) GP MIN GA GAA Eric Reed, Cleveland City Stars 12 1080 7 0.583 Terry Boss, Charlotte Eagles 16 1432 11 0.691 Daniel Cepero, Harrisburg City Isldrs18 1620 18 1.000 Ronnie Pascale, Richmond Kickers 16 1416 17 1.080 Matt Glaser, Western Mass Pioneers 20 1800 29 1.450 Brian Rowland, Crystal Palace Balt. 13 1170 20 1.538 Zach Varga, Pittsburgh Riverhounds 12 1080 19 1.583 John Gerard O'Hara, Wilmington 20 1800 33 1.650 Timothy Figureido, Bermuda Hogges 15 1328 38 2.575 Most Valuable Player: Dustin Swinehart, Charlotte Eagles Defender of the Year: Mark Schulte, Cleveland City Stars Rookie of the Year: Stanley Nyazamba, Richmond Kickers Goalkeeper of the Year: TBA Coach of the Year: Mark Steffans, Charlotte Eagles All-League Team: G - Terry Boss, Charlotte Eagles D - Brady Bryant, Richmond Kickers D - Steve Shak, Charlotte Eagles D - Sascha Gorres, Richmond Kickers D - Mark Schulte, Cleveland City Stars M - Floyd Franks, Cleveland City Stars M - Shintaro Harada, Crystal Palace Baltimore F - Jorge Herrera, Charlotte Eagles F - Boyzz Khumalo, Pittsburgh Riverhounds F - Dustin Swinehart, Charlotte Eagles
After several name changes, and the usual shuffling of teams, the PDL remained quite stable on the franchise front, losing five teams and gaining seven, returning to Newark, Kalamazoo and Houston. The Michigan Bucks and Thunder Bay Chill had the most impressive performances during the regular season, and cruised through playoffs until they met in the conference finals where Thunder Bay prevailed with a convincing 4-0 shutout. Expansion Vancouver took a conference title as did Reading and defending champion Laredo. Vancouver's debut run came to an end at the hands of Laredo in the semi-finals, falling 2-1 to Laredo while Thunder Bay shut out Reading 2-0. In the championship, Thunder Bay and Laredo battled to a 1-1 draw, going right to penalty kicks, where Thunder Bay prevailed 4-1. Junior Garcia of Yakima was league MVP.
Final 2008 PDL standings and playoff results
Most Valuable Player: Junior Garcia, Yakima Reds Top Scorer: N/A Defender of the Year: Darrius Barnes, Cary Railhawks U-23's Goalkeeper of the Year: Miguel Gallardo, Austin Aztex U23 U-19 Player of the Year: Felix Garcia, Laredo Heat Coach of the Year: Wolfgang Sunholz, Austin Aztex U23
The WPSL continued its rapid expansion, adding 19 teams and establishing a foothold in the south of the country, finally becoming truly nationwide in scope. California Storm went undefeated again, as did SoccerPlus CT, Brevard County and Oklahoma. However, only Connecticut and Brevard County made it to the conference finals - and both lost. In the playoff semifinals, Ajax America defeated MYSC Lady Blues 5-0 and Arizona defeated New England Mutiny 2-1. In the championship, Ajax America defeated Arizona 3-1. Mary Frances Monroe was top scorer with 16 goals and 43 points. Sophia Perez of SD United was League MVP.
WPSL Final 2008 Standings and playoff resultsLeading Scorers: GP G A Pt Mary-Frances Monroe, New England 12 16 11 43 Betty Ann Casey, Miami 11 14 6 34 Jessica McDonald, Arizona 10 11 2 24 Sisleide Lima Do Amor, California 14 7 10 24 Stephanie Svoboda, Palm Beach 11 11 2 24 Jennifer Maurer, New England 9 8 6 22 Tessa Lennala, San Diego 14 8 2 18 Charity Weston, West Coast FC 13 7 4 18 Erin Gatto, New England 12 7 2 16 Joanna McCaughey, Miami 11 4 6 14 Caitlin Mooney, Oklahoma 8 3 8 14 Alexandria Hampton, Oklahoma 7 4 6 14 WPSL 1st All-Star Team: G - Sophia Perez, SD United D - Dani Bosio, Ajax America D - Kendal Billingsley, West Coast FC D - Nancy Goffi, Arizona Rush D - Manya Makoski, SoccerPlus CT M - Megan Dickerson, Utah Spiders M - Sissi, California Storm M - Jenny Maurer, New England Mutiny F - Mary-Frances Monroe, New England Mutiny F - Katie Schoepfer, SoccerPlus CT F - Jessica McDonald, Arizona Rush
The NPSL added 11 teams this season bringing their total to 25, with three more on hiatus. In the tradition of young leagues, two expansion clubs (Pennsylvania Stoners and Atlanta) won their divisions, with Pennsylvania advancing to the playoffs on a bye, Atlanta falling in the divisional round, and Long Island receiving a bye to the semifinals. In the semifinals, Pennsylvania defeated Sonoma County and St. Paul defeated Long Island, and in the final triumph, the Stoners took the championship courtesy of a convincing 3-0 shutout of St. Paul.
2008 NPSL Final League standings and playoff resultsNPSL Player of the Year: Tom Erlich, Pennsylvania Stoners Top Scorer: Tom Erlich, Pennsylvania Stoners (11 goals)
The W-League made a major expansion this season, adding ten teams after losing only 3 from 2007. Pali Blues, FC Indiana and Atlanta Silverbacks were most impressive this season, going undefeated to their division titles. This was particularly impressive for expansion clubs Pali and FC Indiana, who perhaps created a precedent, marking the first time that two expansion clubs in an established league went to the championship match.
Pali had an advantage, due to the arcane playoff qualification procedures, they advanced straight to the league semi-finals, while FC Indiana had to fight their way through two rounds of conference playoffs. In the semifinals, both FC Indiana and Pali had shutouts on their mind as Indiana defeated Seattle 1-0 and Pali defeated Washington 2-0. Washington had to settle for a 2-0 win over Seattle in the consolation game while Pali took the league title with a close win over Indiana 2-1. Sarah Steinman of Atlanta was top scorer with 19 goals and 40 points, and was also named league MVP.
Final 2008 W-League standings and playoff results
Leading Scorers: GP G A Pts Sarah Steinmann, Atlanta 14 19 2 40 Laura Del Rio, FC Indiana 13 13 9 35 Kelly Schmedes, Charlotte 13 13 8 34 Carolina Smith, Minnesota 12 14 1 29 Christine Latham, Atlanta 13 13 2 28 Jodie Taylor, Ottawa 11 11 2 24 Christie Welsh, Washington 12 6 24 Julianne (Lu) Sitch, FC Indiana 14 10 4 24 Christina Murphy, Charlotte 13 7 23 Shay Powell, Ottawa 11 11 0 22 Christine Rife, Charlotte 13 8 6 22 Lauren Sesselman, FC Indiana 14 22 Leading Goalkeepers: (min 550 minutes played) GP MIN GA GAA Valerie Henderson, Pali Blues 7 1 0.142 Kristin Luckenbill, FC Indiana 11 2 0.205 Erin Reinke, Ottawa 9 3 0.370 Chante Sandford, Washington 12 5 0.454 Allison Whitworth, Atlanta 8 4 0.500 Mallori Lofton-Malachi, Tampa Bay 12 5 0.587 Victoria Johnson, Hampton Roads 11 6 0.833 Jillian Loyden, Jersey 12 1062 0.847 Kara Linder, Fort Collins 5 6 0.857 Meghann Burke, Boston 14 1229 0.878 Most Valuable Player: Sarah Steinmann, Atlanta Silverbacks Coach of the Year: Tony Anglin, Atlanta Silverbacks Defender of the Year: Sue Leber, Long Island Rough Riders Goalkeeper of the Year: Mallori Lofton-Malachi, Tampa Bay Hellenic U-19 Player of the Year: Fortuna Velaj, Connecticut Passion All-League Team: G - Mallori Lofton-Malachi, Tampa Bay Hellenic D - Cindy Walsh, Laval Dynamite D - Sue Weber, Long Island Rough Riders M - Chelsea Cline, Minnesota Lightning M - Michelle French, Seattle Sounders M - Lori Lindsey, Washington Freedom M - Jill Oakes, Pali Blues F - Shay Powell, Ottawa Fury F - Sarah Steinmann, Atlanta Silverbacks F - Christie Welsh, Washington Freedom
The MISL, began the year with high hopes and aspirations, expanding to New Jersey, Monterrey and Orlando. But serious organizational and structural problems threatened its existence. The Milwaukee wave returned to their accustomed spot atop the league standings, in a dead tie with Detroit. Milwaukee got top spot because of head-to-head records. Monterrey had a respectable first season, finishing 4th, and cruising to the championship series after defeating Chicago and Detroit in the playoffs.
The Baltimore Blast repeated their familiar pattern in the playoffs, cruising by New Jersey and Detroit, to again reach the finals. The Blast took advantage of the unusual playoff advancement procedures. After a close win in their first game against Detroit, the Blast were demolished 21-2 in the rejoinder. Yet with no aggregate score determining advancement, they only had to win a golden goal session to take the series. In the final, the Blast earned another league title with a hard fought 14-11 victory over the expansion Monterrey.
League attendance averaged 4,577 per game, close to last season, but by the end of the season, the league was on the verge of collapse. It officially folded in June 2008, but the problems were more with the league administration than the clubs which were still financially strong for the most part. Detroit, New Jersey, Milwaukee and Chicago banded together to form the Extreme Soccer League, while Baltimore, Monterrey and Philadelphia banded together with a few teams from existing lower level indoor leagues to found the new National Indoor Soccer League.
Final MISL 2007-2008 Standings Before the season, New Jersey, Monterrey and Orlando were added. GP W L PCT GB GF GA Milwaukee Wave 30 22 8 0.733 -- 424 297 Detroit Ignition 30 22 8 0.733 -- 455 310 Baltimore Blast 30 19 11 0.633 3.00 392 289 Monterrey La Raza 30 16 14 0.533 6.00 441 399 Chicago Storm 30 15 15 0.500 7.00 321 346 New Jersey Ironmen 30 14 16 0.467 8.00 343 381 Philadelphia Kixx 30 12 18 0.400 10.00 310 349 California Cougars 30 11 19 0.367 11.00 364 450 Orlando Sharks 30 4 26 0.133 18.00 235 464 Quarterfinals: Monterrey defeated Chicago 8-10, 17-5, G.G. Baltimore defeated New Jersey 22-10, 6-4 Semi-finals: Baltimore defeated Milwaukee 13-8, 14-13 Monterrey defeated Detroit 15-11, 2-21, G.G. FINAL: Baltimore defeated Monterrey 14-11 The MISL folded in June of 2008. Baltimore, Monterrey and Philadelphia joined the new NISL. Detroit, New Jersey, Milwaukee and Chicago formed the new Extreme Soccer League. California joined the new pro division of the PASL. Orlando was to join the NISL, but folded before playing any games. All-Star Game: Cancelled. Leading scorers: (thru first quarter of season) GP 3PG 2PG A PTS Byron Alvarez, Monterrey 7 0 10 2 22 Denison Cabral, Baltimore 5 1 7 4 21 Ivan Medina, Monterrey 7 0 5 4 14 Machel Millwood, Baltimore 5 0 5 4 14 Jose Birche, Monterrey 7 3 1 1 12 Lucio Gonzaga, Baltimore 5 0 5 2 12 Giuliano Celenza, Baltimore 5 1 2 3 10 Greg Howes, Milwaukee 2 0 3 3 9 Adauto Neto, Baltimore 5 0 3 2 8 P. J. Wakefield, Baltimore 5 1 2 1 8 Leading Goalkeepers: (Through first quarter of season) GP MIN SF SV W L AVG Danny Waltman, Detroit 3 129:05 46 38 1 2 7.44 Sagu, Baltimore 5 300:00 88 66 5 0 9.20 Jose Bontti, Monterrey 6 253:04 99 77 4 2 11.14 Juarez, Monterrey 1 57:57 24 18 0 1 12.42 Jeff Richey, Chicago 3 121.55 41 28 1 2 13.78 Tony Meola, New Jersey 2 117.40 30 17 0 2 14.28 Most Valuable Player : Greg Howes, Milwaukee Wave Defender of the Year: Genoni Martinez, Monterrey la Raza Rookie of the Year: Freddy Moojen, New Jersey Ironmen Goalkeeper of the Year: Sagu, Baltimore Blast Coach of the Year: Keith Tozer, Milwaukee Wave First All-MISL Team: G - Sagu, Baltimore Blast D - Genoni Martinez, Monterrey la Raza D - Droo Callahan, Detroit Ignition M/F - Greg Howes, Milwaukee Wave M/F - Dino Delevski, Monterrey la Raza M/F - Dan Antoniuk, New Jersey Ironmen
Men's Olympic qualifying took place in March in Tampa, FL. The United States opened their qualifying on March 11 against Cuba, with Freddy Adu scoring to earn the USA a 1-1 draw. He matched this performance two days later, scoring the lone netter of the match in a 42nd minute penalty kick, to give the US the shutout over Panama. Next match was a nail biter that went scoreless until deep into stoppage time when Eddie Gaven scored on a penalty kick in the 95th minute for a 1-0 win over Honduras.
The US forged ahead on March 20 at Nashville where they routed Canada 3-0, with two more goals by Freddy Adu, and one by Kljestan. In the final on March 23, at Nashville, the U.S. battled Honduras through 90 minutes of regular play, and fought on into overtime, finally falling in the 103rd minute. A frustrating way to end the series, but it was enough to qualify them for the Olympics.
Men's coach Peter Nowak tabbed Brian McBride, Brad Guzan and Michael Parkhurst as the 3 overage players. Other players of note included Freddy Adu, Michael Oroczo, Maurice Edu, and Sacha Kljestan. All told, the team consisted of ten MLS players and 8 based overseas. The USA faced a tough challenge in group play; they were placed in Group B with the Netherlands, Nigeria and Japan.
The Olympic games were an exercise in frustration for the US Men's team, a case of so close, and so far. Group play got off to a good start as Stuart Holden found the net halfway through a defensive stalemate as the Nats edged Japan 1-0. Against the powerful Netherlands, the Americans were in good form, particularly Freddy Adu, with their aggressive play. After an early score by the Netherlands, the US regrouped, and early in the 2nd half, Sacha Kljestan scored to tie the game, and 8 minutes later, Jozy Altidore goal game them the lead. With time running out, a win and advancement appeared to be a sure thing. But with less than a minute of regulation time remaining, Sibon found the net for the Netherlands, earning them a draw. This left the US tied with Nigeria with 1 win and 1 draw each, and Netherlands with 2 draws. The US would advance if they either beat or drew with Nigeria or Netherlands lost to or drew with struggling Japan. Alas, neither was to be. Japan as expected beat Japan, and sloppy play combined with an anemic offense provided Nigeria with scoring opportunities and an early lead. The US scored late in the game on a penalty kick, but by then it was too late, and Nigeria took the win 2-1. The US came in third and did not advance out of their group. Brazil defeated Belgium 3-0 for bronze, and Argentina defeated Nigeria 1-0 to take gold, avenging its loss to them in the 1996 competition.
The Women's Team (see below) had an easier time of it than the Men, cruising easily in their quest to recapture the gold. The women were placed in Group G with Japan, Norway and New Zealand. Sloppy defending hobbled the US in the first game, bringing back nightmares of the previous Olympiad as Norway shut out the Americans 2-0, leaving them in a hole. Fortunately, they took the lesson to heart and buckled down. Against Japan, Carli Lloyd slammed the ball into the net to start the scoring and the US held on for a 1-0 win. Things looked better in the next tie as Japan stunned Norway 5-1, virtually assuring the US of advancement. Not taking any chances, the Nats came to life for their final pool play match against New Zealand. Heather O'Reilly scored in the first minute, and the US never looked back, scoring again near the end of the first half and early in the 2nd, to give them a 4-0 shutout, and first place in the Group.
Canada came out fighting for the quarterfinal match, quickly tying the game after a Hucles goal in the 12 minute. The teams battled in stalemate well into overtime, when Natasha Kai's goal in the 101st minute won the game. They were matched again with Japan in the semi-final, which was a comparative goal fest. Ohno put Japan on the scoreboard first, but Hucles and Chalupny scored successive goals just before halftime to give the US a lead which they never relinquished. O'Reilly scored in the 70th, and Hucles got her second ten minutes later. Arakawa scored in stoppage time to close the gap to 4-2 as the US guaranteed themselves at least a silver. Germany beat Japan for the bronze.
The gold medal match was held in Beijing at the "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium on August 21 before 51,612, against perennial rival Norway, and this was a defensive struggle between two impregnable walls of force through regulation and stoppage time. Finally in the 96th minute, Carli Lloyd's blast hit the net, giving the US an overtime win and the gold, their third gold medal in the four women's Olympic competitions to date. Angela Hucles was #2 scorer for the tournament with 4 goals, behind Christiane of Brazil who had 5.
2008-09 Champions League. After their aborted 2002 attempt to establish a North American Champions League, CONCACAF was successful this time, establishing a 24-team competition which featured 4 teams from the US, 1 from Canada and 1 from Puerto Rico, among the other participants. For the US, Houston Dynamo qualified as MLS Cup winner, DC United as MLS regular season champ (Supporters Shield winner), New England Revolution as US Open Cup winner and MLS Runner-up, and Chivas USA as MLS regular season runner-up (behind New England who qualified as US Open Cup champ). Canada held a qualification series among their three pro teams (Vancouver Whitecaps (USL D1), FC Toronto (MLS) and Montreal Impact (USL D1). Puerto Rico qualified as winner of a playoff between the two losing semifinalists of the 2007 CFU Club Championship, defeating San Juan Jabloteh of Trinidad & Tobago.
D. C. United and the Houston Dynamo received byes directly to Pool Play. D. C. United was placed in Group A with Marathon (Honduras - Apertura champion), Cruz Azul (Mexico - Clausura runner-up), and Deportivo Saprissa (Costa Rica - Apetura & Clausura champion). Houston was placed in Group B with Pumas UNAM (Mexico - Apertura runner-up), Luis Angel Firpo (El Salvador - Apertura & Clausera champion) and San Francisco (Panama - Clausura, Apertura champion) In the preliminary round, New England Revolution (MLS) lost to Joe Public (Trinidad - CFU Club champion) 1-2, 0-4. Chivas USA (MLS) lost to Tauro FC (Panama - Apertura regular season champion) 0-2, 1-1. Montreal Impact (USL D1) beat Real Esteli (Nicaragua - League champion) 1-0, 0-0. Puerto Rico Islanders (USL D1) defeated Alajuelense (Costa Rica - Clausura Regular season champion) 1-1, 2-1. As a result, Montreal was placed in Group C with Atlante (Mexico - Apertura champion), Olimpia Tegucigalpa (Honduras - Clausura Champion), and Joe Public. Puerto Rico was placed in Group D with Santos Laguna (Mexico - Clausura champion), Tauro and Municipal - Ciudad de Guatemala (Clausura champion).
In Pool play, (September-October), D. C. United struggled, earning a 2-2 draw against Deportivo Saprissa, and earning 2 goals while conceding 11 in their five losses. Houston did better, earning a 2-1 win and a 0-0 draw against San Francisco, a 1-0 shutout and 1-1 draw with Luis Angel Firpo and battling Pumas to a 4-4 draw before losing to them 1-3. they scored and gave 9 goals each, but the 2-3-1 record was enough to advance. Montreal fared even better, beating Joe Public 4-1 and 2-0, splitting with Olimpico (2-1 win, 1-1 draw) and looking respectable against Mexican champ Atlanta with a 0-0 draw and a close 1-2 loss. The Impact drew over 46,000 tickets for their first leg game. Ten goals scored vs. 5 conceded, and a 3-2-1 record advanced them. Puerto Rico won 2, draw 2 and lost 2 (9 GF, 10 GA). They beat Tauro 2-1 and drew 1-1; against Municipal they drew 2-2 and lost 1-2, and against Santos they won 3-1 and lost 0-3. Again, enough to advance. The year ended with 1 MLS team, 1 Canadian team and Puerto Rico anxiously waiting for their quarterfinal matches starting in late February.
CONCACAF Champions Cup: In the quarterfinals, D. C. United (MLS) defeated Harbor View (Jamaica) 1-1, 5-0; and Houston Dynamo (MLS) defeated Municipal (Guatemala) 0-0, 3-0. In the semi-finals, Pachuca defeated D. C. United 2-0, 1-2 and Saprissa defeated Houston 0-0, 3-0. In the final, Saprissa defeated Pachuca, 1-1 and 2-1. This was the final edition of the Champions Cup; it was replaced by the Champions League for 2008-09.
The USA started preparations for World Cup qualifying with a series of friendlies, starting with an easy 2-0 shutout of Sweden at Carson, CA. They then traveled to Houston to play before 70,000 fans cheering mostly for their opponent, Mexico. Despite the hostile atmosphere, they pulled off a 2-2 draw. Steeled by the experience, they were prepared when they traveled to Krakow for a friendly against Poland. Carlos Bocanegra set the tone early, putting one past a stumbling keeper 12 minutes in, and from there the Americans never looked back. Onyweu and Eddie Lewis scored to give the US a 3-0 win, marking the US's 4th straight road victory against Poland.
The US made their first visit to the new Wembley Stadium on May 28 in a highly anticipated friendly that could not help but bring back memories of the 1950 World Cup triumph. This time it was not to be however, as a lackluster US side, missing Landon Donovan, fumbled throughout the game, allowing England to score in each half for a 2-0 shutout before 71,233 fans. They traveled south to Spain for a June 4 match up, showing some more energy and a firmer defense but were still shut out 1-0. In the final match up before WC qualifying, a record crowd of 78,682 turned out at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, to see a revitalized USA hold Argentina to a scoreless draw. Tim Howard put on a marvelous performance shutting out the powerful Argentine striker corps.
Worlds Cup qualifying started off June 22 with an easy 8-0 shutout of Barbados, Dempsey and Ching each scoring twice. It was then off to more training and conditioning before flying down to Guatemala City on August 20 for a tough match. The US fought tenaciously, keeping the game scoreless into the second half before the hostile crowd, when Steve Cherundolo received a red card. Fortunately, Guatemala's advantage didn't last long as three minutes later Gustavo Cabrera was also sent off evening the field. Six minutes later, Carlos Bocanegra scored off a pass following a corner kick, and the US hunkered down and protected their lead to the final whistle, giving the US their first-ever road qualifying win against Guatemala. This was followed by a road trip to Cuba, on September 6, the American's first trip there since a loss in 1947. The evening game was played before dim lights in a driving rainstorm before 8,000 fans enthused by the prospect of a rare chance to see Americans at play. Both teams were off their game, and despite their significant advantages, the US remained scoreless until Clint Dempsey found the net in the 40th minute. They couldn't really get anything going after that and simply held on for the 1-0 win.
The team flew north to Chicago to battle Trinidad and Tobago, and the revitalized team took a 2-0 lead early, and then held firm, eventually earning a 3-0 win. Cuba came to Commerce City, OK for the rematch with the US, and fared no better, playing short handed for more than half the game, and falling 6-1. This was the Americans' sixth straight victory in 2010 qualifying, their best start ever, and a world record for most consecutive wins in a single qualifying cycle. The streak was broken next game in Trinidad, always a rough game for the Amerks. The US squad, which included seven players from the Olympic team, never got off the ground, but kept Trinidad off the board until the 61st minute. Jozy Altidore set up Charlie Davies for the tying goal. However an unfortunate foul gave Trinidad a penalty kick which they converted. The US remained listless after that disappointment, and lost 2-1. But they bounced back in November to close the year, shutting out Guatemala 2-0 and easily winning Group 1 undefeated with a 5-1-0 record, and earned advancement to the Hexagonal along with Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Trinidad and Honduras.
2008 Totals: 9W, 2D, 3L DATE Score Opponent Attendance Location (Event) Nov 19 08 W 2-0 Guatemala 9,303 Washington, DC, USA (WCQ’10) Cooper (54), Adu (69) Oct 15 08 L 1-2 Trinidad & Tobago 18,000 Port of Spain, Trinidad (WCQ’10) Davies (75) Oct 11 08 W 6-1 Cuba 20,293 Commerce City, CO, USA (WCQ’10) Beasley (10,30), Donovan (48), Ching (63), Altidore (87), Onyewu (90) Sep 10 08 W 3-0 Trinidad & Tobago 11,452 Bridgeview, IL, USA (WCQ’10) Bradley (9), Dempsey (18), Ching (57) Sep 06 08 W 1-0 Cuba Havana, Cuba (WCQ’10) Dempsey (40) Aug 20 08 W 1-0 Guatemala 25,000 Guatemala City, Guatemala (WCQ’10) Bocanegra (68) Jun 22 08 W 1-0 Barbados 2,000 Bridgetown, Barbados (WCQ ’10) Lewis (21) Jun 15 08 W 8-0 Barbados 11,476 Carson, CA, USA (WCQ’10) Dempsey (1,63), Bradley (12), Ching (20,89), Donovan (59), Johnson (82), o.g. (86) Jun 08 08 D 0-0 Argentina 78,682 East Rutherford, NJ, USA Jun 04 08 L 0-1 Spain 14,232 Santander, Spain May 28 08 L 0-2 England 71,233 London, England Mar 26 08 W 3-0 Poland 20,000 Krakow, Poland Bocanegra (12), Onyewu (350, Lewis (63) Feb 06 08 D 2-2 Mexico 70,103 Houston, TX Onyewu (30), Altidore (40) Jan 19 08 W 2-0 Sweden 14,878 Carson, CA Robinson (15), Donovan (PK-48)
The Women's National Team had their busiest year ever in 2008, 36 matches, and a record breaking 34 wins. The packed schedule included a return to the Four Nations Tournament, as well as Olympic Qualifying, the Olympic tournament, a triumphant performance in the Peace Queen Cup, their regular appearance at the Algarve Cup, the usual friendlies and an extended victory exhibition tour after the Olympic triumph.
First off for the Nats was a sweep of the competition at the Four Nations Tournament where sound thrashings of Canada and Finland were followed by a tough 1-0 shutout of host China. Tarpley scored four goals during the tournament. She opened scoring early in the first two Algarve Cup matches to set the US on their usual breeze through pool play. The Algarve Cup opened March 5 with the US bludgeoning China 4-0. The next match against Italy was closer, but still a 2-0 shutout. Stalemate ruled early in the 3rd match against Norway, but a mid-game scoring binge by Kai, Wambach and O'Reilly set the US towards their 4-0 shutout over Norway. Denmark provided a bigger challenge in the final, limiting the US to a 2-1 squeaker on March 12, enough to win the Cup.
For the Olympic Qualifying series, new head coach Pia Sundhage promoted three U19-U20 veterans, midfielder Tobin Heath, forward Amy Rodriguez and defender Rachel Buehler as part of a continuing youth movement. She defused the goalkeeper situation by dropping Brianna Scurry and going with Hope Solo and Nicole Barnhart. Heather Mitts returned after recovery from an ACL injury, but Cat Whitehill and Leslie Osborne were out with injuries and Kristine Lilly had taken a leave to start a family. Half of the 18-woman squad had played in the 2004 Olympics, with Shannon Boxx, Abby Wambach, Lindsay Tarpley, and Christie Rampone expected to be the backbone of the team. Lori Chapulny was moved from midfield to outside back. The back line was also shuffled, with Sundhange moving team Captain Christie Rampone from right back to middle, with Cat Whitehill and Kate Markgraf sharing duties as Rampone's counterpart. Stephanie Cox moved to right back while Carli Lloyd and Shannon Boxx anchored the midfield.
Qualifying got off to a grand start as the US trounced Jamaica 6-0 on April 4, followed two days later Kai stepped up, scoring the first 2 goals in a 3-1 win over Mexico. In the semi-finals on April 9, Kai again scored the first two, after a scoreless first half, to put the US on top over Costa Rica. The final match was surprisingly competitive against Canada, with Canada holding the US to a single netter, and forcing the game to penalty kicks, where the US prevailed 6-5. Messy perhaps, but enough to qualify the team for the Olympics and hopefully the gold medal.
After a couple weeks rest, the Nats beat Australia 3-2 at Cary, NC and 5-4 at Birmingham. Then a quick thrashing of Canada 6-0 (Kai scoring a hat trick) in May and they took another rest before heading off to South Korea in June for the Peace Queen Cup. This tournament was yet another sweep for the US as they beat Australia 2-1 before accomplishing three straight shutouts, beating Brazil 1-0 and 2-0, then defeating Canada 1-0 in a close final match before 25,280 in Suwon, South Korea for the title.
Back from the tournament, the team continued their shutout streak keeping the net pristine through four more games against three of the tougher opponents, Sweden, Brazil and Norway, the final being an impressive 4-0 win. This left them with two more weeks to practice before leaving for Beijing for the Olympics (See Olympic review above).
After the Olympics, the team launched their victory "AYG" Tour. First up were three shutouts of Ireland, held in Philadelphia, East Rutherford and Bridgeview IL respectively. After a month off, they resumed in November in Richmond, VA with an easy 3-1 win over South Korea. Both teams traveled to Cincinnati where they battled to a scoreless draw 4 days later. Then it was south to Tampa FL on November 8, where South Korea battled valiantly before finally falling to a Heather O'Reilly goal in the 72nd minute. China was the opponent for the final two matches in December. At Carson, CA on December 13, China held the US to 1 goal but that was enough for a shutout. Four days later they clashed in Detroit before a sizeable crowd of 11,933. Heather O'Reilly scored in the 32nd minute and the team held on to close out the tour with a 1-0 shutout.
With the Olympics and victory tour concluded, the team wound down as coach Sundhange began the long term project of developing the next generation of players to be groomed for the World Cup looming three years down the road. The team would not play again until the following March, with a light schedule for the foreseeable future. But what a year it was! A record 34 wins against only 1 loss and 1 draw, a gold medal and three tournament championships was a landmark in the history of the Women's national soccer program and a benchmark for future teams to aspire to.
The United States won the U-20 Women's World Cup in grand style, showing the upcoming generation of players were ready to take up the reins as the vets retired. In qualifying, the US was not scored upon through pool play, beating Trinidad 3-0, Cuba 9-0 and Mexico 3-0. They beat Costa Rica 4-0 in the semifinals, before losing to Canada 1-0 in the finals, qualifying for the finals. The US Virgin Islands team was not so lucky; after beating Grenada 3-2 they were swamped by Trinidad 11-0 and did not advance.
The United States got off to a good start with this tournament, beating France 3-0, and with consecutive 3-0 shutouts of France and Argentina. They hit reality the following week, as China handed them a 2-0 loss. They regained their stride in the quarterfinals, defeating England 3-0, and again in the semifinals, defeating Germany 1-0. In an exciting championship, the US beat North Korea 2-1 to take the world title.Sydney Leroux was top scorer with 5 goals, and won the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot. Teammate Alex Morgan won the Bronze Boot.
Kazbek Tambi was hired to coach the US U-17 Girls Team for the inaugural FIFA U-17 Girls World Cup. He saw the girls' talent pool as being physically fit, with an improving technical foundation, and not suffering from the hidden-talent phenomenon afflicting the boys' side of things, but saw room for improvement in technique and skill development. Like the boys' side, youth soccer coaches stressed league and tournament competition over player development. Nevertheless he felt confident that he had found the top players to make the journey.
The girls cruised in qualifying. They started out June 18 with a 6-0 shutout of Costa Rica, and then slaughtered El Salvador 9-0 two days later. Trinidad and Tobago opened scoring against the Nats in the third match but still lost 9-1. Advancing out of Pool Play, the Americans beat Mexico in a close 1-0 shutout before winning the final in a rematch against Costa Rica. The US was still in fine form, heading to an easy 4-1 win to qualify for the finals.
The World Cup kicked off in New Zealand on October 28, the US placed with Japan, Paraguay and France in Group C. They got off to a rough start, allowing Japan to get off to a fast start. The Nats came to life later in the game but fell 3-2. They rebounded three days later, beating Paraguay 3-1. Pool play closed out with a 1-1 draw against France, enough for them to advance. In the quarterfinals on October 9, the USA dominated South Korea, with Verloo scoring twice and leading the team to a 4-2 win. The semifinal match was closer, but the US held together in fine form, beating Germany 2-1. The final, in Auckland in November 16, pitted the US against a surprisingly strong North Korea before 16,162 fans. The US took an unexpected early net due to an own goal, after which the two teams settled down for a battle of attrition. It was well into the second half before North Korea finally found the net. The stalemate remained through the end of stoppage time, and well into overtime before Jang scored to give North Korea a 2-1 victory and the title.
Upsets were the order of the day in the quarterfinals, with Charleston stunning FC Dallas 3-1, and Seattle Sounders upsetting the Wizards 6-5 on penalties after a scoreless match. New England needed penalty kicks to defeat a tenacious Crystal Palace who took a 1-1 draw through overtime. Even D. C. United needed overtime to defeat Chicago, in a game where some ugly incidents caused Cuauhtemoc Blanco to receive a two year Open Cup ban. In the semi-finals, two goals from Luciano Emilio spurred D. C. United past New England in a 3-1 victory. Seattle's single season tournament record shutout streak was ended at 453 minutes when Charleston scored in the 32nd minute. Seattle battled back, and the teams played to a 1-1 draw. Charleston prevailed in penalty kicks, with Dusty Hudock's saves ousting the team with which he made his Open Cup debut back in 1995. D. C. United and Charleston were victorious in the semi-finals. The Cup Final was held September 3 at Washington DC before 8,212 fans. Emilio started the scoring for D. C. United, finding the net in the 4th minute. Fuller responded six minutes later, evening the score. Fred scored for D. C. United early in the second half to give D. C. United the lead and they held on for a 2-1 victory and the Cup.
This year saw the conclusion of the first season of the U. S. Soccer Development Academy, perhaps the biggest initiative in decades to bring the development of skilled young players to a new level. The existing national youth programs had been criticized for being ineffective in developing players to their fullest potential, a necessary condition for elevating the National teams to the top tier in international competition. The problems were several fold: Teams found themselves overburdened with competition between league games, numerous tournaments, regional league play, ODP tryouts and state cups. League competition often meant a few scattered competitive games providing opportunity to build skills, and many matches against weaker teams - no opportunity to test ones skills in a serious manner, but still time consuming and exhausting. With pressure to win cup and tournament competitions, teams would emphasize winning matches over development of skills, tactics and conditioning. A greater emphasis on player development over results was seen as key to developing the players who could further the national program at the higher levels.
With the Academy model, U15-U18 teams would exclusively play each other through the year. No longer worrying about tournaments, state cups, regional leagues and ODP tryouts that ran to 60+ dates a year. Teams would now play approximately 30 games per season against quality opponents at a reasonably measured pace, in fully competitive matches. Plenty of time for practicing skills and conditioning. They would be scouted by USA Soccer staff (3 full-time and 60 per diem) throughout the regular season, showing their skills in their natural element - playing for their regular squads, rather than in the artificial situations of tryout sessions and high stakes weekend tournaments.
For the first season, 62 of the top teams from throughout the nation took part, and were enthusiastic about the effectiveness of the program. The consistently high level of competition challenged the players in every game, leading to substantial improvements in development of skills, tactics and conditioning. This was facilitated by the ability to work on player development throughout the season, rather than having to scramble to win the tournament of the month. With the heightened competition such long range planning would be essential to prepare for the one tournament that concluded the season.
Also helping was the greater consistency and quality of refereeing and facilities. Greater practice to play ratio reduced injury and burnout, allowing for more coherent player development. Teams also benefited from the instant feedback provided by scouting staff, and the motivation it provided, when players knew they were being constantly watched and evaluated, and teams can even go on probation. Scouting staff conversed weekly, allowing them to identify prosing players and move them straight into National team camps. Coaches also praised the rule limiting substitutions to 7 per game, as this put players in an environment where they would have to manage the game on the field, and not rely on the coach to shout instructions or sub them out when they faltered.
The club list included several MLS academy teams with more in store for 2008 and 2009. The Academy worked to address issues of affordability (travel expenses were challenging for many west coast clubs), although costs were similar to that of the old system (hence, so were the financial challenges). Overall, the first year was seen as a tremendous success. All 62 original teams returned for 2008-09 along with 12 new teams, bringing the total to 74. Overall, a very promising start to a program that could have a substantial impact on the fortunes of the national team.
In other youth news, the USYSA's National Youth League completed its inaugural season. This league functioned as an extension of the four regional leagues, and invited 8 teams to compete in national U-15 and U-16 competition. The 7-game season gave additional exposure to quality coaching and competition, but teams still played in their regional leagues and state competitions. In 2008, seven of the eight U-15 teams advanced to the national finals. The league announced it would expand to U17 for 2009.
5/20/08 Chicago Fire 0, Wisla Krakov 0 (at Bridgeview, IL, att: 14,040) 6/25/08 Red Bull New York 1, Chivas Guadalajara 0 (at Phoenix) 7/9/08 Columbus Crew 2, Independiente 1 (at Columbus, att: 5,383) 7/12/08 Independiente 2, Atlanta Silverbacks 1 7/14/08 Independiente 1, Toronto FC 0 (at Toronto, att: 18,741) 7/20/08 West Ham United 3, Columbus Crew 1 (at Columbus, att: 9,117) 8/4/08 Barcelona 5, CD Guadalajara 2 (at Jalisco, att: 40,717) 8/6/08 Barcelona 6, Red Bull New York 2 (at East Rutherford, NJ, att: 38,152) Everton 2, Colorado Rapids 1 (at Commerce City, CO)
Thirty five American players made appearances in for division 1 clubs in 2007-08. They were led by Brad Friedel, goalkeeper for 38 games at Blackburn Rovers, Clint Dempsey (36 games, 6 goals) for Fulham, Tim Howard (36 games at Everton), Oguchi Oneywo for Standard Liege of Belgium (33 games, 2 goals), Steve Chernunoldo (33 games for Hannover 96, Germany), Eddie Lewis (24 games at Derby County, England), Carlos Bocanegra (22 games, 1 goal, Fulham), and Bobby Convey (20 games, Reading). Leading the goal scorers were Michael Bradley, who scored 15 goals in 33 games for Heerenween of The Netherlands, and Giuseppe Rossi (11 goals in 27 games for Villarea of Spain). Among other players, Kasey Keller minded the goals for 13 games at Fulham, and Brian McBride scored 4 goals in 17 games for Fulham. Freddy Adu scored 2 goals in 11 games for Benfica of Portugal, DaMarcus Beasley had 11 games with Rangers of Scotland, including a goal and assist in the Scottish FA Cup final, Clint Mathis was in 8 games for Ergotelis of Greece and Robbie Russell played in 4 games for Viborg of Denmark.
Final Men's Division 1 NSCAA Coaches' Poll: 1. Maryland 2. Wake Forest 3. North Carolina 4. St. John's (NY) 5. Creighton 6. Indiana 7. Northwestern 8. South Florida 9. Akron 10. UC Irvine Final Women's Division 1 NSCAA Coaches' Poll: 1. North Carolina 2. Notre Dame 3. UCLA 4. Stanford 5. Portland 6. Florida State 7. Texas A&M 8. Southern California 9. Duke 10. Florida Men's Division 1 NSCAA All-Americans (1st team): G - Jovan Bubonja, U. I. C. D - Calum Angus, St. Louis D - Matthew Besler, Notre Dame D - Omar Gonzalez, Maryland D - Tennant McVea, Loyola (MD) M - Corben Bone, Wake Forest M - Sam Cronin, Wake Forest M - Andrei Gotsmanov, Creighton M - Baggio Husidic, U. I. C. F - Andre Akpan, Harvard F - Mike Grella, Duke F - Marcus Tracy, Wake Forest F - Steve Zakuani, Akron Women's Division 1 NSCAA All-Americans (1st team): G - Alyssa Naeher, Penn State D - Carrie Dew, Notre Dame D - Becky Edwards, Florida State D - Nikki Krzysik, Virginia M - Amanda DaCosta, Florida State M - Christina DiMartino, UCLA M - Teresa Noyola, Stanford F - Lauren Cheney, UCLA F - Kerri Hanks, Notre Dame F - Casey Nogueira, North Carolina F - Lindsey Taylor, Stanford Men's National Award Winners: Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy: Marcus Tracy, Wake Forest NSCAA Coach of the Year (Division 1): Jay Vidovich, Wake Forest Women's National Award Winners: Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy: Kerri Hanks, Notre Dame NSCAA Coach of the Year (Division 1): Paul Ratcliffe, Stanford
Hall of Fame: In 2008, the US Soccer Hall of Fame had no regular inductions. The veterans committee inducted Hugo Perez, and Anson Dorrance was inducted as a Builder. The Colin Jose award was given to Ike Kuhns. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Hall of Fame inducted Paul Sanderson and Jerry Yeagley. The National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (NISOA) Hall of Fame inducted John Buckley and Donald Jennison. The American Youth Soccer Organization inducted Marilyn McDonald and Joel Mark. The United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) inducted Brian Alexander, Chanka Ken Baldeseosingh, Anthony Falcone, Debra Trapikas and John Zargrilli.Honda Award (Player of the Year): Landon Donovan
Last update: April 10, 2010
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