1997 Club by Club
MLS’s sophomore season proved to be just as intriguing as the first but with the same outcome as D.C. United again lifted the MLS Cup.
But D.C.’s dominance wasn’t limited to the postseason. On the back of an astounding 70 goals and 55 points in 32 games league games, United garnered the best regular season record in the league. Bolivian striker and new arrival Jaime Moreno was the league’s top goal-scorer, bagging 16 as he started off what was to be a prolific MLS career in 1997 with United. The Kansas City Wizards went on a superb winning run of 7 straight games, from July 19 to August 31, as they clinched the Western Conference ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy.
At the opposite end of the spectrum the New England Revolution went on a nine game losing spree, which spanned almost two months, but remarkably they were still able to make the playoffs.
Brad Friedel emerged as the leading goaltender in the league as he logged over 2,600 minutes of playing time, posting league best goals against average of 1.21. Friedel was also voted the Goalkeeper of the Year before he was sold to English powerhouse Liverpool FC. But as Friedel departed the Columbus Crew, the Dallas Burn brought in Swiss international and former Bayern Munich midfielder Alain Sutter.
In addition to the best record in the league, United also boasted the Coach of the Year in Bruce Arena. The soon to be US national team manager combined his duties with D.C. and the US under-23 national team, proving his coaching pedigree on multiple levels.
But the Wizards would boast the MVP in American winger Preki. In 27 games for KC, Preki bagged 12 goals and 17 assists for 41 points and the Scoring Championship as the Wizards ran riot in the Western Conference.
The MLS Cup final itself was another close encounter as United overcame the darkhorse Colorado Rapids 2-1. Goals from Moreno and Tony Sanneh put D.C. ahead with Adrian Paz’s 75th-minute goal proving to be nothing more than a consolation for the Rapids.
Most Valuable Player: Preki – Kansas City Wizards
Goalkeeper of the Year: Brad Friedel – Columbus Crew
Scoring Champion: Preki – Kansas City Wizards, 41 points
Rookie of the Year: Mike Duhaney – Tampa Bay Mutiny
Defender of the Year: Eddie Pope – D.C. United
Goal of the Year: Marco Etcheverry – D.C. United vs. New England Revolution – August 27, 1997
Coach of the Year: Bruce Arena – D.C. United