For the second time in a series of fan polls conducted on MLSnet.com in celebration of the league's 10th season, D.C. United legend Marco Etcheverry has edged Colombian great Carlos Valderrama, this time being selected as the best playmaker in league history. Etcheverry received 30 percent of the total votes to make him the first two-time poll winner after also being named the best international.
Etcheverry spent eight years with the Black-and-Red, helping the club to MLS Cup championships in 1996, 1997 and 1999, as well as a U.S. Open Cup title and the Interamerican Cup. Known for his fierce competitiveness and deadly left foot, Etcheverry scored 34 goals and provided 101 assists in 191 regular season games. The Bolivian national team star seemed to turn up his game in the MLS Cup Playoffs, setting up 13 goals and scoring three himself in 23 appearances.
The Honda Most Valuable Player in 1998, Etcheverry was also a member of the RadioShack MLS Best XI four times (1996-1999) and a six-time MLS All-Star, winning MVP honors in 2002. His vision on the field, creativity and ability to make the most difficult of plays look simple helped make Etcheverry one of the most entertaining players in MLS history.
A player with similar qualities, Valderrama came in a close second with 24 percent of the total votes. Also a great passer, Valderrama holds the all-time record for career assists with 114 in 174 matches. His seven-season MLS career was split between the Tampa Bay Mutiny, the Miami Fusion and the Colorado Rapids. Valderrama was named the Honda MLS MVP in the league's inaugural season, was a three-time RadioShack MLS Best XI selection and an All-Star on six occasions. He was named the All-Star Game MVP in both 1996 and 1997.
Third place in the poll was Los Angeles Galaxy and U.S. national team superstar Landon Donovan with 13 percent. After joining the league in 2001 as a member of the San Jose Earthquakes, the Southern California native has won two MLS Cups (2001 and 2003) and been one of the most effective and popular players in the league. Donovan has played just over 100 games in his MLS career, notching 39 goals and adding 35 assists.
Kansas City Wizards midfielder Preki (eight percent) and D.C. United's current head coach Peter Nowak (seven percent) round out the top five. Preki is just three assists away from tying Valderrama's all-time assist mark. Now in his 10th MLS season, the former U.S. national team member is still playing at age 42. Nowak is the only man to have won an MLS Cup as both a captain and a coach, leading the Chicago Fire to a title in their first year in the league (1998) as a player before taking D.C. United back to the top as their head coach last season.
Other players receiving votes in the poll were Los Angeles Galaxy great Mauricio Cienfuegos (five percent), Real Salt Lake midfielder Andy Williams (also five percent), current MetroStars captain Amado Guevara (four percent), ex-MetroStars Tab Ramos (two percent), FC Dallas midfielder Oscar Pareja (one percent) and one-time Honduran international Alex Pineda Chacon.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.