Following the results of the weekend's round of MLS regular season matches, Peter Nowak (D.C. United) and Sigi Schmid (Los Angeles Galaxy), head coaches of the leaders in the Eastern and Western Conferences respectively, will manage the East and West teams at the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game on Saturday, July 31. The ninth annual All-Star showcase will be televised live on ABC Sports beginning at 2 p.m. ET from RFK Stadium.
Nowak, in his first year as a head coach, has guided D.C. United to first place in the Eastern Conference on the strength of 20 points (5-5-5) and will lead the East squad on United's home field of RFK Stadium. United handed the MetroStars a 6-2 defeat on Saturday to take over first place in the East for the first time since Opening Day.
Nowak, at the age of 39, became D.C. United head coach in January following a decorated playing career which included five years as captain of the Chicago Fire. A veteran of the German Bundesliga, a former Polish National Team captain and a three-time MLS All-Star, Nowak led the Fire to the 1998 MLS Cup title and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championships in 2000 and 2001. Nowak will be the third D.C. United head coach to lead an All-Star contingent after Bruce Arena (1997, 1998) and Thomas Rongen (1999). Nowak was elected to three consecutive MLS All-Star Games (1998-2000) and participated in two after sitting out the 1998 match due to a right knee injury. He started in both appearances and recorded one goal (2000) and one assist (1999).
Schmid and his Los Angeles Galaxy coaching staff will lead the West All-Star team after concluding the Independence Day weekend atop the Western Conference with a league-best 27 points (8-5-3) following the team's 2-1 victory over the defending champion San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday night behind two goals by Carlos "El Pescadito" Ruiz. Schmid will be taking the helm of an All-Star team for the first time in his MLS career. Galaxy coaches have been part of the midsummer festivities on two other occasions as Lothar Osiander (1996) and Octavio Zambrano (1998) finished on the losing end of All-Star score lines.
"We are pleased for Sigi that he is being rewarded for the work he has put into building this Galaxy team," said Los Angeles Galaxy president and general manager Doug Hamilton. "It is an event that Sigi will enjoy, one that he will make competitive and one that reflects the success the team has enjoyed."
The 51-year-old Schmid has led the Galaxy to every major club championship in the United States and the CONCACAF region since taking over the reins of the squad six games into the 1999 season. Currently in his sixth season with the club, Schmid has guided the Galaxy to MLS Cup 2002, the 2001 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the 2000 CONCACAF Champions Cup. A fixture on the California soccer scene, Schmid served as head coach of his alma mater UCLA for 19 seasons prior to joining the Galaxy and he led the Bruins to three NCAA championships and 16 consecutive postseason appearances. Of his various roles with U.S. Soccer over the years, Schmid was also an assistant for Bora Milutinovic on the 1994 U.S. World Cup team, which will be celebrated on July 31 with an MLS Reunion Game featuring several of the players on that squad.
"It is a great honor for me and it is a reflection of what the team has accomplished so far this season," said Schmid. "I am looking forward to it -- I am happy to be doing it because it means we are in first place."
Nowak and Schmid have coached against one another twice this season. D.C. United and the Galaxy tied 1-1 on April 10 at The Home Depot Center and the Galaxy defeated United at RFK Stadium by the score of 4-2 on May 19.
The Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game on July 31 will bring together the top stars of the sport in America as MLS' two conferences go head-to-head for the first time since 2001. Online fan balloting via the league's official web site (www.MLSnet.com) will close on Tuesday with All-Star starters unveiled on Friday. All-Star Reserves (six per team) and two MLS Commissioner's picks (one per team) will round out the two squads three days later (July 12).
Prior to the East vs. West contest, MLS will honor its tradition, history and pioneers by hosting an MLS Reunion Game, which will feature players who participated in the 1994 World Cup and then went on to play in MLS. The game will serve as a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the historic 1994 World Cup which was played in the United States and saw the host country advance to the second round. The game will kick off at 12:30 p.m. ET, with two 25-minute halves divided by a 10-minute halftime, in a U.S. vs. the World format that has been used in previous all-star matches.
The 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game and the MLS Reunion Game celebrating the 1994 World Cup offers six levels of ticket pricing, ranging from $25 to $60 for individuals, and $16 to $40 for groups of varying sizes. For Group Sales information, fans can reach D.C. United via telephone at (703) 587-5000, online at www.dcunited.com or at RFK Stadium advance sales during all D.C. United home games. Individual tickets can be acquired through TicketMaster - (202) 432 - SEAT (metro D.C.); (410) 481 - SEAT (Baltimore & MD); (703) 573 - SEAT (Virginia); or online at www.ticketmaster.com and at all TicketMaster outlets including HECHT's, Tower Records and at RFK Stadium.