A left-footed volley by Chicago Fire forward Damani Ralph that completed a hat trick for the Jamaican international in a 3-0 victory against D.C. United on June 5 was voted by fans as the Sierra Mist Goal of the Week for the week ending June 6, 2004 (Week 10). The MLS Goal of the Year award winner in 2003, the second-year player registered his first career multi-goal game.
The weekly Goal of the Week winner is determined from a selection of finalists through a fan vote conducted on the Sierra Mist Goal of the Week section of Major League Soccer's official web site: www.MLSnet.com.
Ralph captured 39 percent of the vote edging out the late game-winning heroics of Kansas City midfielder Francisco Gomez on the road at Los Angeles (25 percent) and New England Revolution forward Pat Noonan (22 percent) at Kansas City. Los Angeles Galaxy forward Alejandro Moreno and the Dallas Burn’s Toni Nhleko also received votes.
"He [Ralph] is a confident kid when he's in and around the box," Fire Head Coach Dave Sarachan said. "He strikes the ball well with both feet and he's a powerful kid. You add all that up and you're going to get goals."
Having already scored twice from close range, Ralph needed little space in the 69th minute of last Saturday’s match against D.C. United to notch his third of the game. Teammate Nate Jaqua received a throw-in with his back to goal on the right side and flicked the ball backward over his head across the box to a tightly-marked Ralph. The 23-year old trapped the service with his thigh and was still able to turn and fire a shot past United goalkeeper Troy Perkins in the upper corner of the near post.
"Like coach says, sometimes I overdo it,” said Ralph following the game. “But I have confidence that once I get in the area, if I hit it good, I think I have a good chance. I have to give credit to the midfielders to get the ball to me behind the defense."
Streaming video highlights and goals from MLS games are available for viewing every weekend on MLSnet.com just hours after the conclusion of the final match of the weekend. The Sierra Mist Goal of the Week winner is announced the following Wednesday.
At the end of the regular season, each of the 29 Goal of the Week winners selected throughout the season will be featured in voting for the Sierra Mist MLS Goal of the Year, an award presented annually to the author of the season's most spectacular scoring play. The Sierra Mist Goal of the Year award will be presented at the annual Gala Awards ceremony in the days leading up to MLS Cup 2004.
2004 SIERRA MIST GOAL OF THE WEEK WINNERS:
Week 1: Alecko Eskandarian (D.C. United)
Week 2: Ronald Cerritos (D.C. United)
Week 3: Dwayne De Rosario (San Jose Earthquakes)
Week 4: Carlos Ruiz (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Week 5: Joe Franchino (New England Revolution)
Week 6: Cornell Glen (MetroStars)
Week 7: Jaime Moreno (D.C. United)
Week 8: Freddy Adu (D.C. United)
Week 9: John Wolyniec (MetroStars)
Week 10: Damani Ralph (Chicago Fire)