WASHINGTON, D.C. - D.C. United Head Coach Peter Nowak, Assistant Coach Mark Simpson, and Director of Youth Development John Harkes are among 53 finalists for induction into the 2005 National Soccer Hall of Fame. Coach Nowak joined United last year and promptly led them to the 2005 MLS Cup Championship; United's forth overall. Harkes, one of the founding members of Major League Soccer, is being honored for his performances for the Black-and-Red and the U.S. National Team. Mark Simpson, now a member of Nowak's technical staff, was a winner of three MLS Championships with D.C. United.
"The Hall of Fame is proud to send this ballot to the voters. In 2005 the Hall of Fame inducted its first class of players who played their careers in today's high visibility media world. This years ballot continues that trend," stated Will Lunn, President/CEO of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. "These stars of U.S. Soccer and MLS provide us an opportunity to bring that wonderful tradition to today's soccer fans."
Peter Nowak's reign as United's fourth Head Coach in club history became official with his signed contract on January 7, 2004. Nowak, 39, began his coaching career with Major League Soccer's most decorated franchise following an illustrious professional playing career of nearly 23 years. His five years on the field for the Chicago Fire made him a fan favorite not only in Chicago but around the entire league. During his half-decade playing career in MLS, Nowak accumulated 100 points on 26 goals and 48 assists. He led the Fire to an MLS Cup championship in 1998 and U.S. Open Cup titles in 2000 and 2001. Three times each, he was an MLS All-Star (1998, 1999, 2000), a member of the MLS Pepsi Best XI (1998, 2000, 2001) and the Fire's MVP (1998, 2000, 2001). Nowak was also selected as the MVP of MLS Cup 1998.
John Harkes is one of America's most successful soccer players and the first member of the Black-and-Red to be honored by the club's Tradition of Excellence. The former midfielder spent the final seven years of his career in Major League Soccer, including a three-year stint with D.C. United, in which he led the club to back-to-back MLS Cup Championships in 1996 and 1997. The Black-And-Red also captured the 1996 U.S. Open Cup, 1998 CONCACAF Champions Cup, and 1998 Inter-American Cup during his captaincy.
From his first game between the pipes in 1996, Simpson was a steady and sure-handed goalkeeper during his playing career. He was recognized with the Coaches' Choice award in July 2000 for his performance in United's victories over Rochester in U.S. Open Cup play and Newcastle United of the English Premiership. He finished his playing career in 2001 with 53 appearances and an 1.49 goals against average. After serving as United's goalkeeping coach in 2002 and as an assistant with the A-League's Virginia Beach Mariners in 2003, Simpson joined Coach Nowak's technical squad prior to last year's championship season. Simpson's honors include four MLS Cup championships (1996, 1997, 1999, and 2004), the U.S. Open Cup (1998), the CONCACAF Champions Cup (1998) and the Inter-American Cup (1998).
The list of the 53 finalists included 11 former Black-and-Red players including United's second leading career goal scorer Raul Diaz Arce and current assistant coach Mark Simpson. Also on the list are Roy Wegerle, David Vaudreuil, Diego Sonora, Geoff Aunger, Jeff Causey, Mario Gori, and John Maessner. The election of Hall of Famers in 2005 will be completed by a special committee consisting of current and past U.S. National Team coaches, MLS coaches with at least four years tenure, the Secretary General of U.S. Soccer, the Commissioner of MLS and selected media. Of the 53 finalists, up to three will become Hall of Famers.