2004 SIERRA MIST MLS ALL-STAR NEWS AND NOTES
Washington D.C. (July 30, 2004): The following is a compilation of new and notes ahead of the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game that will kick off at 2:00 p.m. ET LIVE on ABC Sports. The Celebration Game between the MLS USA Legends and the MLS World Legends begins the day at 12:30 p.m. live on MLSNet.com.
"EL MATADOR" CONFIRMED ON WORLD LEGENDS ROSTER
Luis Hernandez, the leading goal scorer in Mexican National Team history and a two-year member of the Los Angeles Galaxy, will play for the World Legends in Saturday afternoon's Celebration Game. Known as "El Matador," Hernandez made 85 national team appearances for El Tri, scoring 35 goals, playing in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. He joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2000 and was selected to the All-Star Game in both of his years in MLS. He netted 12 goals and 9 assists during his stint with the Galaxy, including a goal in the 2001 MLS Cup Final, after plagued by injury all season. His storied career also included a brief stint with Boca Juniors in Argentina.
RFK STADIUM HOSTS MLS ALL-STAR GAME FOR SECOND TIME IN THREE YEARS
In 2004, the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game will return to Washington, D.C.'s RFK Stadium for the second time in the ninth year of the annual event. The landmark D.C. venue first hosted the League's showcase on August 3, 2002, when the MLS All-Stars defeated the U.S. National Team 3-2 in the Nation's Capital in front of 31,096 soaked fans. On a day that would celebrate the U.S. National Team's magnificent run in the FIFA World Cup, players and fans would be running for cover in the 20th minute when a severe thunderstorm forced an hour-long delay in the action. The shortened, 80-minute affair would heat up after the halftime break, with all five tallies hitting the net in the second half. D.C. United midfielder Marco Etcheverry would tally in front of the home crowd in the 72nd minute, giving the MLS All-Stars their first lead and helping the legendary Bolivian earn the MVP Award in his seventh MLS All-Star appearance. New England midfielder Steve Ralston would give the MLS squad the lead in the back-and-forth contest for good with his game-winner in the 81st minute.
EAST vs. WEST FORMAT RETURNS IN 2004
The MLS All-Star Game has featured many different match-ups in its nine years, but the League will return to a familiar format in 2004, pitting the best of the Eastern and Western Conferences against each other. This year will mark the sixth time that the East and West will have squared off, making it the first conference showdown since the 2001 MLS All-Star Game at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California. This year's contest could serve as the tiebreaker in the fight for bragging rights, with the previous five matches resulting in two wins for each side and a tie. The last time the East and West met on July 28, 2001, the match resulted in a 6-6 draw, marking the only tie in All-Star Game history. The two conferences have provided entertaining and competitive matches in the past, as only one of the five previous contests has been decided by more than two goals, when the East pummeled the West 9-4 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio in 2000.
D.C. UNITED LEADS THE PACK WITH SEVEN ALL-STAR SELECTIONS
Including players selected but unavailable for the match, D.C. United leads all teams with seven All-Star selections featuring two starters (Jaime Moreno and Dema Kovalenko). Los Angeles will have three of its six representatives in the starting XI for the West - forward Carlos Ruiz, midfielder Andreas Herzog and defender Chris Albright. West head coach Sigi Schmid will also have his usual Galaxy stalwarts Jovan Kirovski and Kevin Hartman available off the bench, while another listed All-Star, defender Danny Califf, will miss the match due to injury.
The San Jose Earthquakes and Chicago Fire carry the next largest contingent into the Nation's Capital with five players, as the five Earthquakes representatives will all start the match for the West.
"GOOSE" GOES NINE-FOR-NINE WITH 2004 ALL-STAR APPEARANCE
Another year and another MLS All-Star Game for San Jose Earthquakes defender Jeff Agoos, who became the only player in League history to be named to a roster for all nine MLS All-Star Games by earning a starting nod in this year's Western Conference squad. The 2003 MLS All-Star Game last year marked the first time that Agoos did not appear in the showcase after being named to the roster, but the veteran defender is guaranteed to play this year after earning his seventh career selection as a starter, this year for the Western Conference. Agoos will suit up for the West for the second time in his All-Star career on Saturday, this after representing the Eastern Conference four times during his days with D.C. United from 1996-2000. MetroStars defender Eddie Pope follows closely behind Agoos after being named to his eighth All-Star game this year, while Chicago Fire midfielder Chris Armas and Dallas Burn forward Jason Kreis are now seven-time All-Star selections.
NINETEEN TO MAKE ALL-STAR DEBUTS
Fans of the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game will have the chance to see plenty of new faces in the 2004 edition, as nearly half - 19 of 41 - of the players named to the Eastern and Western Conference rosters were named to their first MLS All-Star Game. Four of the 10 All-Star rookies from the Eastern Conference - MetroStars midfielder Eddie Gaven and Chicago's Jim Curtin, Damani Ralph and Henry Ring - will make their All-Star debuts as members of the starting XI. Columbus goalkeeper Jon Busch, New England forward Pat Noonan and midfielder Shalrie Joseph and D.C. United strikers Alecko Eskandarian and Freddy Adu will make their debuts in a reserve role on Saturday, while New England rookie Clint Dempsey was named as a reserve but will not appear due to injury.
The Western Conference will have nearly as much new blood, as nine of its 19 rostered players were named to their first All-Star Game this year. More than half of the West's starting XI will be fresh faces in the All-Star Game, with two players from the Dallas Burn (defender Cory Gibbs and midfielder Ronnie O'Brien), Los Angeles Galaxy (defender Chris Albright and midfielder Andreas Herzog) and San Jose Earthquakes (goalkeeper Pat Onstad and forward Brian Ching) getting their first All-Star action Saturday. Kansas City Wizards Jimmy Conrad and Kerry Zavagnin and Los Angeles forward Jovan Kirovski will look to make their first All-Star Game appearance from off the reserves bench.
2004 MLS ALL-STAR GAME FOR ALL AGES
There is no age discrimination in Washington, D.C. this weekend, as MLS players both young and old have made their marks on the Sierra Mist 2004 MLS All-Star squads. Making his first return to the All-Star Game since 2000, 37-year-old Columbus Crew defender Robin Fraser will serve as the elder statesman of the event, but the Western Conference will have the most experience on its side thanks to San Jose goalkeeper Pat Onstad (36), defender Jeff Agoos (36) and Los Angeles midfielder Andreas Herzog (35).
While age prevails for the Western Conference, plenty of youth will be served for the Eastern Conference Saturday at RFK Stadium. The four youngest players named to the 2004 MLS All-Star rosters - Freddy Adu (15), Eddie Gaven (17), Clint Dempsey (21) and Alecko Eskandarian (22) - were all named to the East squad as reserves and all except for the injured Dempsey will make their All-Star debuts. The youngest player suiting up for the Western Conference Saturday will be 22-year-old Landon Donovan, who has already played in three All-Star Games and was named the MVP of the 2001 contest.
ADU SETS ANOTHER NEW MARK
As a 14-year-old, D.C. United forward Freddy Adu made history by becoming the youngest professional in the U.S. team sports in over a century. Now, at the grizzled old age of 15, Adu has again made history by becoming the youngest All-Star in the history of American professional sports. After turning 15 on June 5, Adu beat the previous record for the youngest All-Star that was held by his D.C. United teammate Santino Quaranta, who was 16 years, 287 days old when he made his All-Star debut in 2001.
LAST THREE MVPs REPRESENT IN FRONT OF HOME CROWD
If the last three MLS All-Star Games are any indication, the RFK Stadium faithful can look for a big showing from one of D.C. United's own this Saturday. In each of the last three MLS All-Star Games, MVP honors have been awarded to a player from the MLS side that calls the All-Star venue home. The trend started in 2001 when then 19-year-old Landon Donovan registered a hat trick in the first 19 minutes that earned him "Man of the Match" honors in a 6-6 draw between the Eastern and Western Conferences at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, CA. D.C. United's Marco Etcheverry continued the trend in 2002 when the "Commissioner's Pick" scored a goal and flashed the brilliance he displayed throughout his storied MLS career, helping the MLS All-Stars to a 3-2 win over the U.S. National Team at RFK Stadium. Last year it was Los Angeles Galaxy forward Carlos Ruiz's turn to shine, as the Guatemalan striker entered at halftime and impacted the match by scoring the game-winning goal for the MLS All-Stars in a 3-1 victory over CD Guadalajara (Chivas) at The Home Depot Center. Five members of D.C. United - Freddy Adu, Ben Olsen, Alecko Eskandarian, Dema Kovalenko, and Jamie Moreno - will have the chance to keep the streak alive at RFK on Saturday.
THERE FROM THE BEGINNING
Three players in this year's MLS All-Star Game - Columbus defender Robin Fraser, San Jose defender Jeff Agoos and Dallas forward Jason Kreis - are the only three players in this year's MLS All-Star Game that also participated in the League's inaugural All-Star Game at Giants Stadium in 1996. All three players started in the match, and Kreis - the League's all-time goal scoring leader - scored his first career All-Star goal for the Western Conference. The East defeated the West 3-2 in that inaugural affair, which was played in front of a sell-out crowd of 78,416 at Giants Stadium as part of a doubleheader that also included Brazil defeating the FIFA All-Stars 2-1. That audience in East Rutherford marked the second highest attended event at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, second only to the Pope's visit to New Jersey one year prior.
BEASLEY AND CONVEY TRANSFER BEFORE SIERRA MIST MLS ALL-STAR GAME
A pair of 2004 MLS All-Star midfielders, DaMarcus Beasley and Bobby Convey, will be absent from the Nation's Capital on Saturday after agreeing to transfer deals last week that sent the duo of bright U.S. stars to European clubs. The 22-year-old Beasley was to represent the Chicago Fire in the All-Star Game for the fourth time in his burgeoning career before leaving for Dutch powerhouse PSV Eindhoven. Convey signed with Reading of the English First Division prior to what would have been his second All-Star appearance as a member of D.C. United.
SEVERAL ALL-STARS TO MISS SATURDAY SHOWCASE DUE TO INJURY
Five players named as 2004 All-Stars will miss Saturday's MLS All-Star Game while they nurse injuries. Each conference will miss one defender voted in as a starter - Colorado's Pablo Mastroeni (quadriceps strain) for the West and D.C. United's Ryan Nelsen (hernia surgery) for the East. Eastern Conference head coach Peter Nowak will also be without the services of New England rookie standout midfielder Clint Dempsey (fractured jaw), while West coach Sigi Schmid will have to do without Los Angeles defender Danny Califf (torn meniscus) and Kansas City forward Josh Wolff (knee).