CARSON, Calif. - The National Finals of the Sierra Mist MLS Dribble, Pass & Score™ competition, the largest national grassroots soccer skills competition in the country, were staged Saturday during the 2004 MLS Cup Weekend at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Six youth soccer players will be honored by New England Revolution midfielder Pat Noonan, who will present them with their National Championship medals during halftime of the League's championship game on Sunday between the Kansas City Wizards and D.C. United.
The six age-group winners, including three San Jose Earthquakes supporters, represented four different MLS teams. The following are the names of the six DPS National Champions:
|Jason Romero||San Jose, CA.||8-9 Boys||Leah Sparks||Castro Valley, CA||8-9 Girls||Konnor Tranoris||W. Des Moines, IA||10-11 Boys||Taylor Rohde||Scotts Valley, CA||10-11 Girls||Brandon Bairos||N. Dighton, MA||12-14 Boys||Holly Tilley||Columbus, OH||12-14 Girls|
The Sierra Mist MLS Dribble, Pass & Score™ program provides young players ages 6-14 the opportunity to test their skills in three basic areas: dribbling, passing and shooting. The 30 finalists from around the country earned an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles for the National Finals after advancing past three previous levels of competition within their local markets. Upon emerging from Local and Sectional Competitions, they moved on to the Team Championship with the top five scorers nationwide in each age division winning the opportunity to compete in the DPS National Finals at MLS Cup 2004.
Sierra Mist recently finished its first year as the official sponsor of the MLS Dribble, Pass & Score™ (DPS) program. Since the program kicked off in 1998 as Dribble, Pass & Shoot, nearly one million youth soccer players have participated in the free competition designed to test core soccer skills. The name of the program was eventually altered to Dribble, Pass & Score, which sends the proper message about the ultimate objective of the sport of soccer: scoring goals.
Sierra Mist is the refreshing new lemon-lime soft drink brand from PepsiCo, an Official Sponsor of Major League Soccer since the League's inception in 1996. Sierra Mist, the title sponsor of the 2004 Sierra Mist All-Star Game, is also the annual presenting sponsor of the League's Goal of the Year Award, which honors the best goal-scoring effort in the regular season.
The Sierra Mist MLS Dribble, Pass & Score™ competition will return next year with the 2005 edition beginning in February. Individuals interested in bringing a local competition to their community may call the DPS hotline, (888) MLS-9008, or visit the Youth Soccer section on www.MLSnet.com for more information.The following are brief bios of the winners:
Boys 8-9 Division
Jason Romero, 9, San Jose, CA - Jason, playing in his home state, was thrilled to compete at the Home Depot Center. A staunch supporter of the Earthquakes, Jason loves soccer and is excited to share his victory with his teammates from CD Tigres, his club team.
Girls 8-9 Division
Leah Sparks, 9, Castro Valley, CA - Leah, another Earthquakes fan, captured her first DPS Championship in front of family and friends. Though her favorite player is San Jose star forward Landon Donovan, she jumped at the opportunity to meet New England Revolution midfielder Pat Noonan and LA Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.
Boys 10-11 Division
Konnor Tranoris, W. Des Moines, IA - Konnor took the Boys 10-11 age group medal on the strength of his shooting ability. A native of Iowa, Konnor thought the Home Depot Center was the best soccer stadium he had ever seen. An avid Wizards supporter, Konnor's favorite player is Josh Wolff, who will be competing on Sunday for the MLS Cup 2004 title.
Girls 10-11 Division
Taylor Rohde, 10, Scotts Valley, CA - Taylor, who loves playing for the SCC Breakers, was surprised with an unexpected victory in the Girls 10-11 Division. Taylor capped off a fantastic day for Earthquakes fans as she shared her victory with two other northern California natives.
Boys 12-14 Division
Brandon Bairos, 12, N. Dighton, MA - Brandon, competing over 3000 miles away from his hometown in Massachusetts, had to beat soccer players as much as two years older than he in order to capture the Dribble, Pass, and Score National title. A die-hard Revolution fan, Brandon was able to meet one his favorite players as New England midfielder Pat Noonan took part in the festivities.
Girls 12-14 Division
Holly Tilley, 12, Columbus, OH - Holly had a fantastic showing at her first Sierra Mist MLS DPS National Finals. While Holly is from Columbus and cheers for the Crew, her favorite player is Sierra Mist spokesperson and soccer phenom Freddy Adu. Holly could not be happier to have an opportunity to see him in action during Sunday's Championship match.