NEW YORK - Dallas Burn midfielder Ronnie O'Brien was selected as the Honda MLS Player of the Week by the Professional Soccer Reporters Association (PSRA) for the week ending August 29, 2004 (Week 22). The 25-year old was involved in three of his team's four goals (one goal, two assists) as the Dallas Burn defeated the visiting Chicago Fire 4-1 on Saturday night to capture the Brimstone Cup, awarded by the supporters clubs of the two teams for the winner of the season series.
O'Brien opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark with a great individual run into the Chicago box. The Irish winger forced defender Orlando Perez to backpedal into the area before slipping the ball through his legs and then calmly finishing past Fire goalkeeper Henry Ring for his second goal of the season.
"Ronnie's a good player," said Burn head coach Colin Clake after the game. "He came out and he was lively and he got off to a good start and I think that gave everyone a lift."
O'Brien then turned provider just five minutes later when he chipped a pass over the Fire defense for Eddie Johnson to run on to from inside the center circle. The U.S. youth international turned on his jets to blow past the Fire back line and poked the ball through a gap between Ring's legs to double the Burn's advantage in the 33rd minute.
"It was a good team performance tonight," said O'Brien after the game. "With the playoffs coming up soon we've got to move up in the table. We took a step in that direction tonight. We played well as a team and passed the ball better than we have in a while and we got a good result."
Forward Toni Nhleko was the beneficiary of O'Brien's second assist on the night. The two played a neat one-two on the corner of the penalty area, with O'Brien delivering the return pass when he scooped it over a pair of defenders into Nhleko's path. The South African international gave Ring no chance on the finish, powering home a volley to make the score 3-1.
"Two of the last three games I've been pretty poor and it's time to step up," O'Brien said. "Coming to the end of the season it's an important time for all of us to step up. It was my time tonight so hopefully it's someone else in the next game."
O'Brien is the third Burn player to win the award in 2004 (Jeff Cassar - Week 15 and Brad Davis - week 17) and edged out teammate Eddie Johnson and Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Joe Cannon. 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 WINNER
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)
Week 13: Amado Guevara (MetroStars)
Week 14: Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards)
Week 15: Jeff Cassar (Dallas Burn)
Week 16: Brian Ching (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 17: Brad Davis (Dallas Burn)
Week 18: Edson Buddle (Columbus Crew)
Week 19: Brian Mullan (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 20: Jaime Moreno (D.C. United)
Week 21: Kyle Martino (Columbus Crew)
Week 22: Ronnie O'Brien (Dallas Burn)