2000 Club by Club
The dawning of a new millennium also sparked a new era for MLS as the 12 teams were split into three regional conferences for the first time. The new setup of the league, with four-team conferences named the East, West and Central, helped create more regional rivalries as teams played against in-conference foes with increased regularity.
Change was the overriding theme of the year, as the league also introduced a points system for playoff games. Each playoff win was rewarded with three points, a tie with one point and sudden death overtime periods were introduced to ignite excitement and intensity into each and every playoff game.
The new changes saw clubs previously not in the MLS Cup mix have great success in the postseason. The Dallas Burn, MetroStars and Kansas City Wizards all made deep runs into the playoffs as they thrived from the change in format.
The latter, Kansas City, went all the way to MLS Cup and defeated the Chicago Fire 1-0 in front of a crowd of 39,159 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Danish striker Miklos Molnar emerged as the Wizards hero, his 11th minute strike proving enough to overcome a stubborn Fire side as the Wizards, the Central Conference champions, lifted the MLS Cup for the first time in team history. Molnar ended his career on a high, retiring after scoring the winning goal for the Midwestern side.
The Wizards also took the Supporters’ Shield as they finished the year with 57 points, as did the Chicago Fire, but the Wizards’ goal differential was two goals better, thus winning the Shield by the slenderest of margins. Chicago must have been ruing the sight of Kansas City blue and white after losing both titles in agonizingly close circumstances.
The Los Angeles Galaxy were also triumphant on the year, winning the 2000 CONCACAF Champions League title, recording a 3-2 win over Honduran side Club Deportivo Olimpia in the final.
The Wizards’ Tony Meola won MLS Most Valuable Player, Goalkeeper of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year awards to mark an exceptional season as he stood on his head at times to concede just 29 goals. Kansas City‘s Peter Vermes was the Defender of the Year. Future US captain Carlos Bocanegra was named Rookie of the Year after his stellar performances for Chicago, under the most successful coach of the season, Bob Bradley. But arguably the biggest story of all was the emergence of Senegalese striker Mamadou Diallo of the Tampa Bay Mutiny, as he recorded 56 points, scoring a mammoth 26 goals in the process.
Most Valuable Player: Tony Meola – Kansas City Wizards
Goalkeeper of the Year: Tony Meola – Kansas City Wizards
Scoring Champion: Mamadou Diallo – Tampa Bay Mutiny, 56 points
Rookie of the Year: Carlos Bocanegra – Chicago Fire
Defender of the Year: Peter Vermes – Kansas City Wizards
Goal of the Year: Marcelo Balboa – Colorado Rapids at Columbus Crew – April 22, 2000
Coach of the Year: Bob Gansler – Kansas City Wizards