Miami Fusion FC 1999
1999 Club by Club
After a successful first season in MLS, the Fusion tried to build a foundation and force their way into the playoffs once again. They managed to do that with a record of 13-19, but lost in the playoffs (for the second season running 2-0) to eventual MLS Cup champions and Supporters’ Shield winners D.C. United. Ivo Wortmann was in his second full season in charge and had a promising crop of youngsters who wowed the South Florida natives. They finished fourth in the Eastern conference with a total of 29 points with an average attendance of 8,689, as slowly but surely the lure of professional soccer began to take off for the league’s newest franchise.
Several hot and cold spells ensued throughout the season as Miami won all four of their games in the month of July, but they also lost all of their games in June and in May their matchups were equally disappointing, losing five of six in a topsy-turvy campaign.
However when it mattered Wortmann’s men delivered as they won their final two league games against Columbus and Colorado to seal qualification into the playoffs for the second straight year since they joined the league.
There was a plethora of talent on show for the Fusion as a mix of youth and experienced proved fruitful for the most part, however the young franchise was still developing its own style and prestige, in just their second season.
The MLS Rookie of the Year award was won by Miami’s Jay Heaps after an exceptional first year in the league. Heaps, the second overall pick in the 1999 MLS Draft, led all rookies in minutes played (2511) and ranked second in goals (3), points (7) and games played (29). The Duke University graduate was second on the Fusion squad in minutes and fifth in points.
The team’s MVP went to the Henry Gutierrez, as he shone on the field after stints playing in the French first division. The Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School graduate enjoyed a banner 1999 season, breaking Carlos Valderrama's single season and all-time team records for assists (14 in '99, 18 overall). On September 8, he represented the U.S. National Team for the first time in his career, earning a start in a 2-2 tie vs. Jamaica.
The Fusion's Scoring Champion Award was won by the diminutive American attacker Henry Gutierrez, who led the Fusion in scoring with six goals and 14 assists for 26 points.
The Defensive Player of the Year award went to tough tackling midfielder Pablo Mastroeni. The Fusion's second round pick in the 1998 MLS College Draft, developed into one of the most consistent defensive midfielders in the game. He drew praise from opposing attackers for his aggressive style and patented slide tackles.