After Amado Guevara turned in an MVP season in 2004, the MetroStars announced at their annual media day in New York Monday that they have rewarded their star midfielder with a contract extension. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Guevara finished tied with the New England Revolution's Pat Noonan for the league's Budweiser Scoring title with 30 points from 10 goals and 10 assists, and he was voted the first MLS Honda MVP in MetroStars history.
Guevara said he feels unencumbered by the demands that often come with a new contract, namely repeating or improving on the performance that earned the new deal. He said he's focused on the task at hand.
"I don't feel any pressure at all," Guevara said. "I've got a dream to get a Cup for everybody, and we'll work hard to try to reach it. I think we can be a real team and put it up together and get a championship."
Near the end of the 2004 season, Guevara's point production slowed, and some observers said the perceived slump was a large factor in the Metros' elimination from the playoffs. Guevara's commitments to the Honduran national team were seen as a contributing factor, but head coach Bob Bradley said he thought Guevara balanced his MetroStars and Honduras duties well last year.
"A lot was asked of Amado last year, both from the MetroStars and from Honduras, and you know how important it is for the captain of a national team to see his team through qualification," Bradley said. "I think for the most part he handled everything really well. You get to the end of the year, and small things tip that bar one way or another."
Guevara said the disappointment of being eliminated from CONCACAF World Cup qualifying is tempered by the chance to dedicate himself to the MetroStars' drive toward MLS Cup. When asked on Monday if Honduras' early exit from the road to the World Cup will have a knock-on effect of helping him avoid wearing down during the MLS campaign, Guevara emphatically said it will.
"One hundred percent, sure, I agree with that," Guevara said. "I know for sure I will have the opportunity to be, 100 percent of the time, with the team, and we have to take advantage of that every single minute."
As Bradley pointed out, being perhaps the most talented player on the team and a leader in the locker room means Guevara will always be under pressure to help the team succeed. The coach said he hasn't decided who will be the team captain this season, but stressed that Guevara will be counted on to help lead the team to a title.
"The top players always come under the greatest scrutiny. When their team loses, then everyone is going to hold them accountable," Bradley said. "Amado is used to that given the roles he's had with the national team and the MetroStars.
"We'll also continue to challenge him to take a bigger role and be more of a leader. We keep talking about how important it is to win a championship. Ultimately it still comes down to the best players taking that challenge to heart, and knowing at key moments in the year what needs to get done, and Amado is one of those players."
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.