Following his first start with the Chicago Fire since arriving from Costa Rica's Club Sport Herediano, forward Andy Herron was selected as the Honda MLS Player of the Week by the Professional Soccer Reporters Association (PSRA) for the week ending Sept. 26 (Week 26). The 26-year old scored both goals in Chicago's 2-0 home win over the New England Revolution on Saturday in only his second MLS appearance. Chicago (32 points) is now five points ahead of the Revolution with three games remaining for both teams in their battle for the fourth and final MLS Cup Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The first Fire goal was ignited by a strong run down the right touchline by midfielder Nate Jaqua, who was able to thread a pass through to captain Chris Armas, who had deftly slipped between the Revolution defense with a clear run to the New England goal. As New England goalkeeper Matt Reis raced out to play the onrushing Armas, he was left helpless as Armas slid a perfect pass to the streaking Herron, who was able to redirect the pass into a wide-open Revolution goal, the first Fire goal scored by the Costa Rican international.
"Andy Herron's debut was a beauty," said Fire head coach Dave Sarachan. "He's a real forward and good around the goal and that combination played out real well. From day one he felt very comfortable here and our guys got to understand him pretty quickly, and vice versa."
The Fire added an important insurance goal in the 77th minute, with Armas and Herron again connecting. After being set free on the right flank by Andy Williams, Armas directed a perfect cross to the back post, where Herron was perfectly placed to deftly redirect the cross past Reis.
"I came to Chicago to work and score some goals and I was doing it in practice, but I was never sure that I'd score two goals in the first game," said Herron afterward. "The chances were there and I just tried to get them in."
Prior to Herron, the last player to be recognized following his first start in MLS start was Carlos Ruiz of the Los Angeles Galaxy, who was honored for his two-goal performance in the Galaxy's season opening win of the 2002 regular season. Herron joins goalkeeper Henry Ring (Week 5) as the only Fire players to be recognized with this honor during the 2004 season.
Herron narrowly edged out Columbus Crew goalkeeper Jon Busch for the weekly award. 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)
Week 23: Ross Paule (Columbus Crew)
Week 24: Alecko Eskandarian (D.C. United)
Week 25: Edson Buddle (Columbus Crew)
Week 26: Andy Herron (Chicago Fire)