MetroStars midfielder Amado Guevara was announced as Major League Soccer's Honda Most Valuable player Thursday afternoon at ESPNZone in Anaheim, Calif., but despite his joy at winning the honor, there's another trophy he'd like more.
After being presented with the MVP trophy in an event that was broadcast live on ESPNews, Guevara turned to fellow finalist Jaime Moreno of D.C. United and said, "I'd like to trade this with Jaime and play Sunday."
Sunday is the day Moreno and United will battle the Kansas City Wizards for the right to raise the Alan I. Rothenberg trophy as MLS champions. Having lost to United in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Guevara and the Metros will have to wait until next year to have another shot at the crown.
At the same time that he expressed his heartfelt thanks to his team and its fans, Guevara lamented the Metros early exit from the postseason. After their loss to United that knocked them out of the title hunt, Guevara said, he was extremely upset at falling short.
"I don't feel as a player. I feel like a fan of the MetroStars. It's part of me, and I was very sad to know the team that we had had stopped there," he said through an interpreter. "I was very sad to feel that the objective that the team's coaches had and I had was finishing right there."
Guevara cited the Metros youth and lack of experience as the main reason the club came up empty in 2004 and said that will not be the case next year, when he and his teammates will be a year older and a year wiser.
"When you have young players, at least in Honduras, we having a saying that says, 'You can win a lot of games with young players, but you can't win championships,'" Guevara said. "So these kids next year will not be young. They will have experience. With what we have right now, we should win it."
Moreno, who made a remarkable comeback from a back injury to lead the league in assists and guide United to the MLS Cup, was gracious in defeat, hugging Guevara after the Honduran was announced as the winner.
"The MVP is in good hands," Moreno said.
Just as Guevara did in victory, the Bolivian international stressed that the trophy he will try to win this weekend is more important to him, saying to win MLS Cup will be the "most amazing" event of his "amazing year."
The MetroStars were one of the preseason favorites to be playing this Sunday at The Home Depot Center, and though the team didn't live up to everyone's expectations, Guevara shone. In his second year in MLS and with the Metros, Guevara stepped to the forefront in the U.S. first division, tying New England Revolution forward Pat Noonan for the Budweiser Scoring Championship. Guevara led his team in both assists (10) and points (30), while tying for the team lead in goals (10) with forward John Wolyniec.
In addition to guiding the Metros' attack in 2004, dictating the team's fortunes with his performance in the midfield, the Honduran national team captain played much stronger defense than he did a year ago and again displayed his remarkable ability to hold the ball in midfield and lead the transition to the attack, showing his mettle as a leader.
The fiery attitude Guevara displayed a year ago -- an attitude that occasionally led the player's temper to get the best of him -- was cooled for large portions of this season, as the playmaker showed poise in the middle of the park.
Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Joe Cannon was the third MVP finalist. He did not appear in person at the announcement, but did take part via satellite from Columbus, where he is training with the U.S. national team for their World Cup qualifier on Wednesday against Jamaica.
Guevara is the fifth Budweiser Scoring Champion to win MVP honors in the same season and the second Honduran-born player to win the award after Alex Pineda Chacon, who was named the MLS MVP in 2001 while with the Miami Fusion.
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.