SALT LAKE CITY - Real Salt Lake, Major League Soccer's 12th team, has acquired U.S. National Team defender Eddie Pope from the MetroStars, announced RSL General Manager Steve Pastorino and Head Coach John Ellinger via conference call this morning. In return, RSL will send an allocation and future considerations to the MetroStars.
Pope, one of the most decorated defenders in American history, has won three MLS Cup championships, been named to four Best XI teams, and has scored clutch goals in championship-level games, beginning with his sudden-death overtime game winner in MLS Cup '96 to give D.C. United the league's first MLS Cup.
"We are extremely excited to have a player of Eddie Pope's experience and ability on the Real Salt Lake squad," said Ellinger. "Bringing a veteran of two World Cups to our organization provides a tremendous boost as we head into our first preseason. It's just not his technical ability, but his physical ability that makes him a special player and great acquisition for our team. Most importantly, the addition of another leader and role model for the young team we have assembled is crucial."
The 6'1", 180-lb defender is a perennial anchor of the U.S. National Team's central defense. He has accumulated 65 caps with the U.S. National Team and is currently training in Carson, Calif., for the United States' World Cup Qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago on February 9 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Pope started six of 10 final-round qualifiers in 2001 and all five contests in the FIFA 2002 World Cup Korea/Japan. He was also a key member of the 1998 World Cup side, starting two matches in France. Pope also started all three games for the USA in the 1996 Olympics. His penchant for the dramatic was most recently evident with his 93rd-minute game-winner in the United States' 1-0 win over Mexico at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on April 28, 2004.
"Quite simply, Eddie Pope is one of the best defenders this country has ever produced," Pastorino said. "He will bring leadership and stability to our back line - and he's another individual whose reputation off the field exceeds his prowess on it."
Pope, 31, has been honored with six MLS All-Star selections during his nine MLS seasons, making his mark as one of the most accomplished defenders in U.S. soccer history and one of the best ever in MLS. The High Point, NC-native helped capture MLS Cup championships on three occasions for D.C. United in 1996, 1997, and 1999, including the dramatic "golden goal" in MLS Cup '96 as a rookie to defeat the L.A. Galaxy, 3-2, at a rain-soaked Foxboro Stadium. Pope also helped D.C. United capture the U.S. Open Cup title in 1996, completing the double, the 1998 CONCACAF Champions Cup and the 1998 InterAmerican Cup with Pope again finding the back of the net in dramatic fashion against Brazil's Vasco da Gama.
On the individual side, Pope was named the winner of the 1997 Honda Player of the Year Award as the top player in the U.S. The classy defender has also claimed personal accolades by winning the 1997 MLS Defender of the Year award, along with MLS Best XI honors in 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2004. He was honored for his work in the community in 2000, when he accepted D.C. United's New York Life Humanitarian of the Year award for his work with the foundation in the D.C. area that bears his name. Pope captured MLS Defender of the Year honors in 2003 and has been a finalist for the award several times during his career.
Pope started every collegiate game of his career at the University of North Carolina where he was named to the 1994 first-team NCAA All-America, All-Atlantic Coast Conference and All-South Region teams. He was named second team All-ACC in 1993 and as a freshman he practiced with the Tar Heel football team as a placekicker.
Real Salt Lake season ticket packages for the inaugural 2005 season at Rice-Eccles Stadium are now on sale. The RSL 2005 season ticket package features 20 games, including all 16 MLS regular season games and four special bonus games. Real Salt Lake's season ticket pricing consists of a Youth (15 and younger) and an Adult in four price levels. Prices for the 2005 season ticket packages are $200 adult ($180 youth) for the North Goal, $300 adult ($240 youth) for the Corner Flag, $400 ($320 youth) for East Sideline and $500 ($400 youth) for VIP seats. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the RSL Ticket Office at 515 South 700 East, #2R, SLC, UT 84102, by logging onto www.RealSaltLake.com or by contacting the Real Salt Lake Ticket Office at (866) 9-SOCCER.