MLS announces finalists for 2004 Coach of the Year, Kraft Fair Play and U.S. Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year

NEW YORK - Major League Soccer today announced the 2004 finalists for the MLS Coach of the Year, the Kraft Fair Play award and the U.S. Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year.

The Columbus Crew Head Coach Greg Andrulis, who led his team to the best record in the League, is joined by recently crowned Western Conference Champion Bob Gansler (Kansas City Wizards) and Eastern Conference Champion Peter Nowak (D.C. United) on the ballot for the 2004 MLS Coach of the Year. Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Ritchie Kotschau (Colorado Rapids) and Eddie Pope (MetroStars) are nominees for the MLS Fair Play awards while Chris Henderson (Colorado Rapids), Steve Jolley (Dallas Burn), and Jesse Marsch (Chicago Fire) are candidates for the U.S. Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year.

The 2004 MLS Honda Most Valuable Player will be announced live on ESPNews from the ESPNZone in Anaheim, California on Thursday, November 11 at 1:00 p.m. PT / 4:00 p.m. ET. The winners of every other year-end honor will be unveiled at the MLS Cup Media Luncheon on Friday, Nov. 12, while the 2004 MLS Best XI will be announced at the MLS Awards Gala on Saturday, Nov. 13. Online voting for the Sierra Mist Goal of the Year has ended and the winner will be announced with all others on Friday, Nov. 12.

Following are the finalists for the 2004 MLS Coach of the Year, the MLS Fair Play Awards and the U.S. Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year:

2004 MLS Coach of the Year Finalists:

Greg Andrulis (Columbus Crew) - In his fourth season at the helm of the Crew, Greg Andrulis led his club to the best regular-season record in the league, as a result winning the Supporters' Shield. In the process, the Crew set an MLS-record 18-game winning streak. The former long-time coach at Wright State University, Andrulis saw his team overcome a winless streak at the start of the season by making a pair of vital changes in tactics, going to a three-defender scheme and changing the role of Kyle Martino. The Crew finished the season with it's best record in club history and the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Bob Gansler (Kansas City Wizards) - This year might have been Bob Gansler's best coaching performance in his five seasons in MLS. With his two top scorers from last season going down to injury in preseason (2003 MLS MVP and Scoring Champion Preki and Igor Simutenkov) - then losing energetic winger Chris Klein during the season, Gansler nevertheless was able to lead his team to the top of the Western Conference standings. The Wizards finished with the most wins in MLS this season and also won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Peter Nowak (D.C. United) - After an illustrious playing career both in Europe and MLS, Nowak turned to the sidelines for his first year as a head coach with D.C. United in 2004. Since taking over United, the sense of discipline and professionalism he has instilled into his squad has been widely tipped as a key to the club's resurgence. The MVP of MLS Cup 1998 - when he led the Chicago Fire to a victory against D.C. United - Nowak's team was the hottest in the League down the stretch as United returned to MLS Cup after a five-year absence.

2004 MLS Fair Play Finalists:

Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire) - After playing a career-high 24 matches in 2004, the 20-year-old midfielder took a pounding from defenders all season long, enduring 54 fouls while committing only 19 and not once picked up a yellow card. The speedy player took over DaMarcus Beasley's left flank position at mid-season and seemed equally unstoppable, making an immediate impact by registering a three-game point streak from Aug. 28 at Dallas to Sept. 4 vs. D.C. United (2g, 2a during that stretch) before going down with a season-ending injury on Sept. 10. He tallied three goals and four assists for a career-best 10 points in 2004.

Ritchie Kotschau (Colorado Rapids) - Defender Ritchie Kotschau has proven that you can play successfully in the back line of a Black & Blue-mentality team and still stick to the FIFA principles of "Fair Play". In 26 games started, the seven-year MLS veteran played a key role in the defensive line. Kotschau helped the Rapids to an MLS-best goals-against-average. Kotschau was part of the best defensive team at home (allowing a League low six goals) while plying his defensive skills game in and game out without receiving a single caution on the year.

Eddie Pope (MetroStars) - The MetroStars veteran and U.S. international once again demonstrated his classy playing style in the center of defense, issued just one yellow card over the course of the season. An eight-time MLS all-star, Pope was surrounded by a group of young defenders in the Metros back four, and not only transferred his skill and knowledge of the game, but also demonstrated true leadership by committing only 17 fouls in 22 games played.

2004 U.S. Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Finalists:

Chris Henderson (Colorado Rapids) - Continuing his long-standing tradition of high performance both on and off the field, Chris Henderson raised the bar for community outreach in Colorado this past season. He accomplished his goal of launching the Chris Henderson Foundation this year, which is now able to give cash grants to aid underprivileged kids around the state. The nine-year veteran continues to sponsor the "Henderson's Heroes" section at the stadium, bringing kids from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Association to every Rapids home game. The nine-year veteran was named the Sports Profiles Colorado Rapids Humanitarian of the Year Award for his endless efforts within the local community. One of the most giving members of the team, Henderson championed a number of charitable endeavors this season, including serving as the Rapids' Spokes-Player for Child Car Seat Safety, the Special Olympics, the Rapids Food Drive for the Compa Food Ministry, and ProActive ProAthletes Fighting Domestic Violence, while also taking time to make numerous Rapids community appearances throughout the season.

Steve Jolley (Dallas Burn) - Steve Jolley has proven himself to be both a leader on and off the field since his start with Major League Soccer in 1997. Off the field Steve heads his own charitable foundation, "Just Jolley", which supports America Scores- a soccer and writing program in urban cities throughout the country. In just one year, the Just Jolley Foundation raised over $20,000 for America Scores. Since moving to Dallas, Steve has connected himself with the Dallas SCORES organization, which is the only after-school program that uses soccer to inspire literacy in public schools. With the Dallas SCORES program, Steve has helped set up and run a cleat drive in order to provide the kids of the program with the equipment necessary to play soccer. Steve has made himself known in the Dallas/Ft.Worth Metroplex by leading a number of soccer clinics and a number of player appearances.

Jesse Marsch (Chicago Fire) - Jesse Marsch is well known for his attributes on the field, and those in his community know his value off of it. Serving on the board of the FireWorks For Kids Foundation, Marsch donates his time as the featured celebrity speaker at FWFK events. Jesse supports Christopher House Foundation by lending his name to an annual 5K Walk/Run event as well as helping raise awareness and cash for the charity. In addition, Marsch is involved with the Chicago Fire - American Lung Association anti-smoking and asthma awareness assemblies, the Gurnee branch of PADS, the Gurnee school district, as well as the Thresholds organization, a charitable group that assists mentally ill young adults. Marsch was recognized as Fox Sports Chicago / March of Dimes Chicago Fire Player of the Year.

2004 MLS FINALISTS ANNOUNCEMENT SCHEDULE

Sat., Oct. 16
Winner 2004 Supporters' Shield - Columbus Crew

Sun., Oct. 17
Winner 2004 Budweiser Scoring Champion - Amado Guevara (MetroStars) and Pat Noonan (New England Revolution)

Mon., Oct. 25
MLS Honda MVP Finalists - Joe Cannon (Colorado Rapids), Amado Guevara (MetroStars), Jaime Moreno (D.C. United)
MLS Defender of the Year Finalists - Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Robin Fraser (Columbus Crew), Eddie Pope (MetroStars)
MLS Comeback Player of the Year Finalists - Brian Ching (San Jose Earthquakes), Jaime Moreno (D.C. United), Ronnie O'Brien (Dallas Burn)

Mon, Nov. 1
Gatorade Rookie of the Year - Freddy Adu (D.C. United), Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew)
MLS Goalkeeper of the Year - Jon Busch (Columbus Crew), Joe Cannon (Colorado Rapids), Kevin Hartman (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Official Sports International Referee of the Year - Abiodun Okulaja, Kevin Stott, Kevin Terry

Wed, Nov. 3
Sierra Mist Goal of the Year finalist

Mon, Nov. 8
MLS Coach of the Year - Greg Andrulis (Columbus Crew), Bob Gansler (Kansas City Wizards), Peter Nowak (D.C. United)
MLS Fair Play Award - Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Ritchie Kotschau (Colorado Rapids), Eddie Pope (MetroStars)
U.S. Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year - Chris Henderson (Colorado Rapids), Steve Jolley (Dallas Burn), Jesse Marsch (Chicago Fire)

Thurs, Nov. 11
MLS Honda Most Valuable Player winner (ESPNZone, Anaheim - 1:00 p.m. PT)

Friday, Nov. 12
Announcement of award winners at the MLS Cup Media Luncheon: MLS Defender of the Year, MLS Comeback Player of the Year, Gatorade Rookie of the Year, MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, MLS Coach of the Year, MLS Fair Play Award and U.S. Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year, Sierra Mist Goal of the Year (The Home Depot Center - 12:00 p.m. PT)

Saturday, Nov. 13
Announcement of MLS Best XI at MLS Gala Awards


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