D.C. United forward Alecko Eskandarian was named Honda MLS Player of the Week by the Professional Soccer Reporters Association (PSRA) for the week ending June 21 (Week 12). Eskandarian earns his first career Player of the Week award following his second career multi-goal game on Saturday as he notched his second and third goals of the season to lead D.C. United to a crucial 3-1 win against the hottest team in the league, the Columbus Crew, who had previously been unbeaten in their last seven matches.
"We hadn't scored much in our previous games," Eskandarian said after the match. "In the tunnel before the game I was thinking, 'why don't we go out and score four, five goals on these guys' -- I finished my chances and it was a great overall night."
The 21-year old Eskandarian, last year's No. 1 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft, doubled United's 1-0 lead in the 34th minute. In a nifty series of one-touch passing Eskandarian laid the ball off to Demo Kovalenko, who in turn sent it toward Moreno at the top of the box. With his back to goal, Moreno then flicked the ball with the outside of his right foot to Eskandarian who struck a half-volley in full stride from the left corner of the penalty area. His strike to the far right post left goalkeeper Jon Busch unable to react to the blast.
Eskandarian's second goal came off a direct kick ten minutes later. From 22 yards out, Eskandarian curled a world-class left-footed free kick just over and past the Crew wall into the right corner of the net for a 3-0 United lead.
"It always helps when a guy like Alecko scores two great goals," said United midfielder Ben Olsen. "We needed a hero. We haven't had any guy consistently step up and be that guy out there that's going to take it on his shoulders."
Saturday's win was D.C United's first victory in three matches and their first multi-goal game in a month thanks to the goal-scoring heroics of Eskandarian, who had been sidelined for the two previous matches with a sore left hamstring. The former Hermann Trophy winner, who now has six career MLS goals, was also making his first start in nearly two months.
Eskandarian is the second United player to win the Player of the Week award this season, following Jaime Moreno, who won the award in the first week of the season. Two other American forwards, Kansas City forward Matt Taylor and MetroStars forward Mike Magee, were this week's runner-ups for the honor. The Honda Major League Soccer Player of the Week is selected every week throughout the MLS regular season by a panel of journalists from the Professional Soccer Reporters Association (PSRA).
2004 PLAYER OF THE WEEK WINNERS:
Week 1: Jaime Moreno (D.C. United)
Week 2: Pat Onstad (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 3: Fabian Taylor (MetroStars)
Week 4: Carlos Ruiz (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 5: Henry Ring (Chicago Fire)
Week 6: Jovan Kirovski (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 7: Pat Onstad (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 8: Alejandro Moreno (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 9: Jovan Kirovski (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 10: Pat Noonan (New England Revolution)
Week 11: Jeff Cunningham (Columbus Crew)
Week 12: Alecko Eskandarian (D.C. United)