The Year in American Soccer, 1997

MLS | USISL | A-League | D3Pro | PDSL | W-League | NPSL | CISL | EISL | Men’s National Team | Women’s National Team | U. S. Open Cup: | International Tours | The College Game | Awards & Cups

The year 1997 saw developments along many fronts in the ever-growing world of American Soccer. Major League Soccer completed its sophomore year with some slumps and some consolidations. Meanwhile, the Men’s National Team successfully completed the qualifying rounds for the 1998 World Cup, although not without a couple bumps along the way. The A-League and USISL reached a historic merger, completing the transition to a unified multi-divisional league structure for US soccer. Meanwhile, a new minor indoor league took to the field, and college soccer consolidated its gains as one of the top college varsity sports. In other words, a busy year, with many important developments preparing the way for the major world events to take place in 1998 and 1999.

Major League Soccer (Division 1)

Major League Soccer looked to consolidate its position after a debut season that exceeded all expectations. The league expanded marketing budgets, and the salary cap was increased from $1.19 million per team to $1.3 million. Teams were allowed to add a fifth allocated foreigner to their rosters, and a significantly larger number of games were scheduled on weekends, which drew better than weekday matches. Recognizing the league’s successful launch, the Sports Business Daily named Major League Soccer its 1996 Sports Industrialist of the Year. Responding to fan complaints, the league changed Kansas City’s nickname from the Wiz to the Wizards, and redesigned the uniforms for seven of the ten teams to more traditional designs. The league also established a point system to give weight for yellow cards depending on the severity of the infraction. Finally, with the merger of the A-League into the USISL, MLS was able to strengthen its farm system by establishing relationships with the six surviving A-League teams, and benefit from their stronger team infrastructure. MLS also announced it would expand to Chicago and Miami for the 1998 season.

Coaching changes were in order for the second season, with Carlos Alberto Parreira taking over the MetroStars. Meanwhile, Thomas Rongen switched from Tampa Bay to New England, while John Kowalski took over at Tampa Bay and Glenn Myernick was tapped for Colorado. There was an influx of new players from overseas, including former Italian National Team goalkeeper Walter Zenga who joined the New England Revolution, former Scottish National captain Richard Gough with the Wizards, and Guatemalan midfielder Martin Machon. This was offset somewhat by the temporary loss of Dallas star Leonel Alvarez to the Mexican 1st division. But most of the major players, particularly the Americans remained, including Roy Lassiter and Thomas Dooley who had joined during the previous season. Trades almost completely remade the Colorado Rapids roster, with the addition of Paul Bravo, Adrian Paz, Wilde Harris and Peter Vermes, but D. C. United adopted the credo “don’t mess with success”, although they would need to compensate for player losses during world cup qualification matches. The college draft was a bust this year with few drafted players establishing themselves. The drafts were important to fill the spaces left by over 40 players who were waived after the first season. Significantly, only four of those players were reclaimed during the waiver draft, indicating the teams had learned their mistakes in 1996, and found better sources of talent elsewhere. This was borne out by the significantly improved quality of play in 1997.

D. C. United continued their championship form this season, going undefeated until June 1, when the Kansas City Wizards defeated them 6-1 to end a 22 game unbeaten streak. They took top place in the East and never looked back. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay struggled on the field and at the gate, although they still finished in 2nd place, just one game above .500. New England was the major mystery. Substantial changes had led to uneven performances. When Walter Zenga was in goal they performed well, when he was injured they floundered, although they did manage to squeak into the playoffs. The MetroStars sank into a sea of futility, unable to win consistently despite rapid turnover of coaches.

In the West, the major success story was the Kansas City Wizards who won the conference title, on the strength of 1997 MVP Preki, who made an impressive performance in World Cup qualifying as well as on the MLS fields. Dallas was another surprise. They appeared on paper to be the best in the West, but the inability to match players up when they were hot left the team struggling under continual clashes of differing playing styles. Being forced to replace Leonel Alvarez with Swiss star Alain Sutter didn’t help. Part of their struggle lay in the absence of an investor-operator, the Burn being one of three teams run directly by the league. A key to success this season was exemplified by D. C. United who had simply the best coaching in the league, which brought players up to peak performance.

The playoffs brought one major surprise, as the high flying Kansas City Wizards crashed to earth, losing to the lowly Colorado Rapids 3-0 and 3-2. Colorado then defeated Dallas 1-0, 2-1 to make a Cinderella appearance in the MLS Cup, where they played a remarkably effective game against the defending MLS champs D. C. United before succumbing 2-1 in front of a sold out RFK Stadium in the driving rain before an exuberant crowd of 57,000+ United fans.

Overall, it was a successful sophomore season, despite the drop in attendance, and flagging marketing efforts. The league lost $40,000,000 during the first two seasons, but that had been expected, and planned for in the initial budgeting. One item that was of some concern was the 16% drop in attendance, although that could be partly explained by the boost in 1996 from the debut games and a couple special matches which drew enormous crowds. Another problem for the future was a lawsuit filed by a group of players unhappy over low pay and the single entity system which did not allow them to bargain collectively. For the long term however, there were many good signs. The quality of play was noticeably better this year as teams stabilized, and overall, more talent arrived than left.

The league had survived continual losses of major players to World Cup qualifying. For the first time ever, a 1st division league in the USA had played two seasons without a single franchise change, and MLS had committed itself to not moving or folding teams. The multidivisional structure meshed well, with the USISL and A-League teams proving to be viable farm clubs, and high hopes for the new Project-40 teams to be established in 1998 in the A-League. There were major problems apparent in the inconsistent promotional and marketing efforts, and the lax performance of the league-owned teams. This led to some nervousness about how the new teams would perform next year. Finally, in October MLS signed a landmark five year television deal with ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 with substantially improved terms. No more would MLS buy air time, but would instead be paid a small, but not insubstantial rights fee.

Official 1997 MLS Season Stats
Official MLS History Archives
Dave Wilson’s MLS Commentaries

                          Final 1997 MLS Standings

                           GP   W  WS  LS   L   GF  GA   Pts
	Eastern Conference
DC United                  32  17   4   4   7   70  53   55
Tampa Bay Mutiny           32  14   3   2  13   55  60   45
Columbus Crew              32  12   3   4  13   42  41   39
New England Revolution     32  11   4   4  13   40  53   37
NY/NJ MetroStars           32  11   2   2  17   43  53   35

	Western Conference
Kansas City Wizards        32  14   7   2   9   57  51   49
Los Angeles Galaxy         32  14   2   4  12   55  44   44
Dallas Burn                32  13   3   2  14   55  49   42
Colorado Rapids            32  12   2   3  15   50  59   38
San Jose Clash             32   9   3   6  14   55  59   30

Conference Semifinals:   D. C. United defeated New England, 4-1, 2-1(SO)
                         Columbus defeated Tampa Bay 2-1, 2-0
                         Colorado defeated Kansas City, 3-0, 3-2
                         Dallas defeated Los Angeles, 1-0(SO), 3-0
Conference Finals:       D. C. United defeated Columbus, 3-2, 1-0
                         Colorado defeated Dallas, 1-0, 2-1
MLS CUP '97              D. C. United defeated Colorado, 2-1

  1  Preki                  KC     27     12      17       41
  2  Jaime Moreno           DC     20     16       8       40
  3  Raul Diaz Arce         DC     22     15       6       36
  4  Ronald Cerritos        SJ     22     12      10       34
  5  Giovanni Savarese      MET    29     14       4       32
  6  Dante Washington       DAL    30     12       6       30
     Lawrence Lozzano       SJ     29     10      10       30
  8  Damian                 DAL    19     11       7       29
  9  Mark Chung             KC     32     10       8       28
     Chris Henderson        COL    30      7      14       28
 11  Antony De Avila        MET    23      9       9       27
 12  Welton                 LA     29     11       4       26
 13  Carlos Valderrama      TB     20      3      19       25
 14  Mauricio Cienfuegos    LA     22      6      12       24

GOALKEEPING LEADERS  (Minimum 1,000 minutes)
  NAME                TEAM(S)  GP   MIN   SHTS   SVS  C/P   GA   GAA    W   L
 1  Brad Friedel          CLB  29   2609   168   131  104   35   1.21  14  15
 2  Walter Zenga          NE   22   1980   110    79   86   28   1.27  15   7
 3  Jorge Campos          LA   19   1584    85    60   54   23   1.31  12   5
 4  Marcus Hahnemann      COL  25   2157   144   111   97   37   1.54  13  11
 5  Mike Ammann           KC   29   2597   157   110  101   45   1.56  21   8
 6  Mark Dodd             DAL  30   2700   240   183  143   48   1.60  14  16
 7  Tony Meola            MET  30   2683   207   147  117   48   1.61  12  18
 8  David Kramer          SJ   21   1832   115    84   82   33   1.62   7  14
 9  Dave Salzwedel        SJ   20   1678   115    71   54   35   1.88   7  11
10  Mark Dougherty        TB   25   2143   150   109   64   45   1.89  15   8

Honda Most Valuable Player: Preki, Kansas City
MLS Coach of the Year: Bruce Arena, D.C. United
Pepsi Goalkeeper of the Year: Brad Friedel, Columbus
BIC Defender of the Year: Eddie Pope, D.C. United
Bandai Rookie of the Year: Mike Duhaney, Tampa Bay
Umbro Golden Whistle: Esse Baharmast
MLS Cup '97 Most Valuable Player: Jaime Moreno, D.C. United

AT&T Best 11:
G - Brad Friedel, Columbus 
D - Eddie Pope, D.C. United 
D - Richard Gough, Kansas City 
D - Jeff Agoos, D.C. United 
D - Thomas Dooley, Columbus 
M - Marco Etcheverry, D.C. United 
M - Preki, Kansas City 
M - Mark Chung, Kansas City 
M - Carlos Valderrama, Tampa Bay 
F - Ronald Cerritos, San Jose 
F - Jaime Moreno, D.C. United 

United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues

The United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues underwent a major reorganization following its merger with the A-League, and completed its vision of being an all-encompassing, unified developmental soccer organization for the United States. The USISL envisioned this structure as a pyramid of divisional soccer leagues, with youth soccer providing the base (to be realized by the envisioned Y-League scheduled for launch in 1999), followed by the Amateur league (renamed the Premier Developmental Soccer League, unofficially a “4th division”, a professional 3rd division (The renamed D3-Pro League), and the upper professional division 2 league, created through the merger of the A-League and the USISL’s select League. On the other plane of the pyramid were the other support structures, the national women’s league (W-League), and indoor soccer (the I-League). At the pinnacle of this pyramid was the independent division 1 league, Major League Soccer.

The league clarified and strengthened its qualifications for membership in the three divisions and this led to some changes. With the increased club affiliations between MLS and the USISL, including the new A-League teams, the introduction of promotion (automatic promotion to the A-League for the D3-Pro League champion), and cooperation between MLS and the NPSL, there was cooperation for the first time between all of the professional outdoor soccer leagues in the United States. The USISL adhered to FIFA standard rules except for three approved modifications: A shootout to decide draws, an optional kick-in for out of bounds balls, and a 15 yard wall for penalty kicks. Following the successful conclusion of the season, the USISL established separate offices for the individual leagues which led to more efficient administration and public relations. The USISL continued its successful television contract with Prime Sportschannel and sponsorship arrangement with Umbro.

Final 1996-97 USISL standings and playoff results

USISL A-League (Division 2)

Less than a month after the conclusion of the 1996 season, the A-League reached a merger agreement with the USISL, bringing all outdoor lower divisions into one corporate entity. What actually happened is the original A-League folded, and five of the six remaining teams joined the USISL Select League which adopted the “A-League” name. Also joining were the two expansion A-League teams, Toronto and Hershey. The old A-league’s New York Fever sat out the year, eventually joining the USISL D3Pro League as the Staten Island Vipers. This new league provided a stronger training ground for up and coming MLS players.

To facilitate this, the A-League laid plans to establish an elite team consisting of promising newcomers culled from the top ranks of the NCAA college ranks. Dubbed “US Project 40”, this team, starting in 1998, would practice full time, and play a full schedule against the other A-League teams. All players would be signed with MLS clubs and be subject for promotion to the MLS for varying lengths of service. This was intended to bypass the shortcomings of college soccer as a training ground for future professionals and give the amount of playing/practice time and quality of competition required to develop players to their fullest potential and ensure a steady flow of new talent to MLS, and ultimately the National Team.

The reconfigured A-League consisted of 24 teams in four divisions. The new teams from the old A-League immediate made their impact felt, as they immediately assumed commanding positions within the league standings. Montreal and Rochester finished 1-2 in the Northeast Division while expansion Toronto finished a respectable 4th. The fledgling Hershey Wildcats won the Atlantic, while Seattle, Vancouver and Colorado finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the Pacific. Only the struggling Atlanta Ruckus failed to make an impact. Making their first impact this season were future MLS stars Stern John and Dominic Mobilio.

The old A-League teams generally were top performers at the box office, with the notable exception of Colorado who were feeling the competition from the MLS Rapids; they would move to San Diego after the season. The Rochester Rhinos averaged an incredible 10,677 per game, better than a couple MLS teams, leading to a push for them to apply for the MLS. Total league attendance was 1,085,777 (2,828 per game).

To make the different leagues more consistent, the round robin tournaments were eliminated in favor of straight divisional playoffs followed by a final four. Surprisingly, the A-League teams, who performed so well during the regular season, fell short when it really counted, as only Vancouver made it to the Conference Finals where they bowed to the Milwaukee Rampage 3-1, 0-1, after a mini-game and shootout. Carolina defeated the Long Island Rough Riders, leading to the first unified Championship, where Milwaukee won their first league title, defeating Carolina 1-1 in the shootout. Thus capped an amazing surge by a team that had not qualified for the playoffs until the final week of the season.

              Final A-League Standings, 1997

The USISL Select League changed its name to the A-League.  It then absorbed
Montreal, Rochester, Toronto, Hershey, Atlanta, Colorado, Seattle and 
Vancouver from the old A-League which then folded.  Orlando and Orange 
County were added, and South Carolina dropped to the D3Pro League.

                               PD   W  SW  SL   L    F    A  Pts
     Northeast Division
Montreal Impact                28  20   1   1   6   58   19   61
Rochester Raging Rhinos        28  14   0   5   9   56   47   42
Long Island Rough Riders       28  13   3   2  10   44   36   42
Toronto Lynx                   28  12   2   0  14   44   43   38
Connecticut Wolves             28   8   4   1  15   31   45   28
Worcester Wildfire             28   6   1   2  19   26   61   19

     Atlantic Division
Hershey Wildcats               28  18   1   1   8   56   33   55
Carolina Dynamo                28  16   2   2   8   63   33   50
Richmond Kickers               28  15   0   2  11   41   35   45
Charleston Battery             28  10   2   3  13   39   50   32
Raleigh Flyers                 28   8   4   3  13   34   52   28
Jacksonville Cyclones          28   4   1   1  23   28   73  131

     Central Division
New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers 28  13   3   2  10   45   42   42
Nashville Metros               28  10   7   2   9   42   34   37
Orlando Sundogs                28  12   0   4  12   39   40   36
Milwaukee Rampage              28  11   3   2  12   33   36   36
Minnesota Thunder              28  11   2   5  10   22   30   35
Atlanta Ruckus                 28   9   3   1  15   39   48   30

     Pacific Division
California Jaguars             28  17   1   0  10   48   34   52
Seattle Sounders               28  16   2   3   7   42   19   50
Vancouver 86ers                28  15   1   1  11   50   29   46
Colorado Foxes                 28  15   1   2  10   55   49   46
Orange County Zodiac           28  10   1   0  17   35   62   31
El Paso Patriots               28   5   3   3  17   30   50   18

Division Semi-finals:   Long Island defeated Rochester 1-0 (SO), 2-1 (SO)
                        Montreal defeated Toronto 2-1, 4-0
                        Carolina defeated Richmond 2-1, 1-4, 1-0(MG-SO)
                        Charleston defeated Hershey 2-1(SO), 1-2(SO), 1-0(MG-SO)
                        New Orleans defeated Orlando, 2-1, 6-2
                        Milwaukee defeated Nashville, 2-1, 3-0
                        Seattle defeated Colorado, 3-0, 2-0
                        Vancouver defeated California, 4-1, 3-2(SO)
Division Finals:        Long Island defeated Montreal 2-1, 0-2, 1-0(MG-SO)
                        Carolina defeated Charleston 3-4 (SO), 2-1, 1-0(MG-SO)
                        Milwaukee defeated New Orleans, 2-1 (OT), 4-3
                        Vancouver defeated Seattle, 3-0, 0-1(SO), 2-1 (MG-SO)
Conference Finals:      Carolina defeated Long Island 2-1, 2-0
                        Milwaukee defeated Vancouver 3-1, 0-1, 1-0(MG-SO)
CHAMPIONSHIP:           Milwaukee defeated Carolina 2-1(SO)

After the season, Orlando folded.  
Leading Scorers:
                               GP   G   A Pts
Doug Miller, Rochester         25  23   5  51
Mark Baena, California         27  20   4  44
Stern John, New Orleans        26  16   5  37
Steve Patterson, Colorado      26  16   3  35
Jamel Mitchell, Nashville      23  17   0  34
Jimmy Glenn, Rochester         28  13   8  34
Yari Allnutt, Carolina         20  12   9  33
Domenic Mobilio, Vancouver     21  14   5  33
Darren Tilley, Montreal        27  13   7  33
Gustavo Leval, Orange County   27  16   1  33
Sebastian Barnes, Orlando      23  14   3  31
Garret Kusch, Vancouver        22  10  10  30
Michael Galley, Seattle        27  10   7  27
Rob Ukrop, Richmond            28  12   3  27

Goalkeeping Leaders: (Min 1600 minutes)
                             GP  Min   GA  SO  GAA
Dusty Hudock, Seattle        28  2568  19  15  0.67
Paolo Ceccarelli, Montreal   23  2113  18  10  0.77
John Swallen, Minnesota      21  1950  20   8  0.92
Paul Dolan, Vancouver        22  1902  20   6  0.95
Pat Onstad, Toronto          19  1678  20   3  1.07
Kevin Rueda, California      26  2374  31  10  1.18
Randy Dedini, Nashvile       28  2569  34   9  1.19
Marcos Machado, Orlando      26  2341  31   6  1.19

Most Valuable Player:  Doug Miller, Rochester Ragin' Rhinos 
Top Goal Scorer:  Doug Miller, Rochester Ragin' Rhinos
Top Goalkeeper:  Dusty Hudock, Seattle Sounders
Coach of the Year: Bob Lilleo, Hershey Wildcats
Championship Game MVP: Carmine Isacco, Milwaukee Rampage
Rookie of the Year:  Stern John, New Orleans Storm

All A-League Team:

G - Dusty Hudock, Seattle Sounders
D - John Limniatis, Montreal Impact
D - Scott Schweitzer, Carolina Dynamo
D - Mark Watson, Seattle Sounders
D - Travis Rinker, Long Island Rough Riders
M - Yari Allnutt, Carolina Dynamo
M - Mauro Biello, Montreal Impact
M - Garret Kusch, Vancouver 86ers
F - Mark Baena, California Jaguars
F - Doug Miller, Rochester Rhinos
F - Stern John, New Orleans Riverboat Gamblers

All-Star Game, July 15, 1997, at Rochester:  West defeated East 5-3.  

USISL D3-Pro League (Division 3)

The renamed D3-Pro League expanded to 38 teams in six divisions, partly as a result of demotions from the former Select League, promotions from the PDSL, and partly due to new expansion. Some turnover among the powerhouses took place, with strong runs made by Reading, Myrtle Beach, the North Jersey Imperials and expansion Albuquerque Geckos, who won their division titles. Attendance figures for the D3Pro League totaled 337,487 (862 per game), but the relatively low numbers can be explained by the loss of teams over the past two years to the Select league and again to the A-League. Still, more than half of the teams averaged more than 1,000 fans per game.

The big story of the year was the incredible performance by the young San Francisco Bay Seals, who not only won their division with a 12-3-0-3 record, but also completed one of the most amazing performances in the 85 year history of the US Open Cup. This run began with decisive victories over amateur and PDSL clubs, followed by a major upset of the A-League’s Seattle Sounders. The Seals then shocked the US soccer community by defeating MLS finalist Kansas City Wizards-1 on the strength of a Marquis White goal 52 seconds into the match, followed by his response to the Wizards’ later return goal. As if this wasn’t enough, the Seals then went on to oust the MLS San Jose Clash before forcing defending MLS champions D. C. United into a shootout after a close-fought semifinal match. This, from a team that began on an amateur basis only a few years ago! Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of this performance was the Open Cup itself, as it proved to the American soccer community that the Cup was not doomed to be a routine alternative championship series for Major League Soccer. Anything was still possible, and this was the intent of the Open Cup all along.

Final 1997 D3-Pro League standings and playoff results

Top Scorers:
                                 G   A  Pts
Orett Prendergast, Florida      29   3  61
Luis Labistada, Albuquerque     20   9  49
Luis Orellana, Chico            16  15  47
Ron Murphy, New Hampshire       19   4  42
Kobie Washington, Arizona       15  10  40
Kerwin Johnson, Austin          17   5  39
Jerome Lee Yaw, South Carolina  16   6  38
Rogel Galo, Houston             13   6  32
Thomas Silva, Chico              8  13  29

Leading Goalkeepers: (min 720 minutes)
                                 Min  GA  GAA
J. J. Wozniak, San Francisco Bay 1305  10  0.690
Jason Berry, Albuquerque         1168   9  0.693
Patrick Trade, Chicago           1161  10  0.780
Scott Schweitzer, Wilmington     1210  12  0.890
Steve Quinones, Cape Cod         2295  23  0.900
Markus Roy, Chicago               952  10  0.950

Most Valuable Player:  Orett Prendergast, Florida Strikers
Top Scorer:  Orett Prendergast, Florida Strikers
Top Goalkeeper:  J. J. Wozniak, San Francisco Bay Seals 
Coach of the Year: Tom Simpson, San Francisco Bay Seals
Defender of the Year:  Omid Namazi, New Jersey Stallions
Rookie of the Year:  Gabe Eastman, Stanislaus County Cruisers

USISL Premier Development Soccer League (PDSL)

The Premier League was renamed the Premier Development Soccer League, and added five teams to replace the eight lost last season. This 10th anniversary season saw the league retain their six divisions, but the PDSL eliminated their conference setup, as well as the round robin playoff tournament. Once again, as often can happen in an amateur league, expansion teams can get off to a fast start, as Cincinnati Riverhawks proved as they won the Mid-South division and drew large crowds. Newcomers Lincoln and San Gabriel Valley won the Central and Southwest Divisions respectively.

The same could not be said of the Southwest Florida Manatees, who lost all sixteen games and quickly folded. Cocoa repeated their 1996 success by taking the Southeast. One of the most significant features of the PDSL was its increasingly important position as a showcase for top college players, who were eligible to play because of the league’s amateur status, and this gave much needed additional experience to players who would otherwise be hamstrung by the short NCAA season.

The Central Coast Roadrunners established a mini-dynasty, winning the PDSL Championship by defeating the Cocoa Expos 2-1 at home in San Luis Obispo at the Cal-SLO campus. Ironically, this result meant the final tournament standings were exactly the opposite of the initial seedings, but the Runners didn’t mind as they savored their upset, and third league championship.

Final 1997 PDSL standings and playoff results

Most Valuable Player:  Lester Felicia, Jackson Chargers
Top Scorer:  Rodrigo Costa, Detroit Dynamite (21 goals, 2 assists, 44 points)
Goalkeeper of the Year:  Alan Beilke, Central Coast Roadrunners 
(1519 minutes, 20 goals, 1.18  GAA)
Coach of the Year: steve Burns, Mid-Michigan Bucks
Defender of the Year:  Craig Demmin, Jackson Chargers
Rookie of the Year:  Rodrigo Costa, Detroit Dynamite

The W-League

With the Women’s World Cup just two years away, the W-League drew more attention as the top league in the USA for women. Several National Team players now dotted the rosters, and the skill level improved at a rapid clip. The league now boasted MVP Debbie Keller and former National Team goalkeeper Kim Wyant, along with current stars Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain, Sara Whalen, Bryn Blalock, Amanda Cromwell, and Christie Pearce. Attendance surged this year, nearly tripling to 70,233 from 24,547 in 1996, led by the Boston renegades who far outdrew all other teams by averaging 1,785 per game, better than a majority of the USISL men’s teams. The Rochester Ravens set a W-League single-game record when 9,131 filled SUNY-Rockport Stadium to watch the Ravens play the Women’s National Team.

The Long Island Lady Riders became the first team to win a second championship as they defeated the Chicago Cobras in an exciting 2-1 shootout. Tournament MVP Kim Wyant allowed just one of 9 shots to score during that shootout. She managed an amazing 0.36 goals against average during the regular season by allowing only 4 goals in 1,000 minutes. The success of the league in 1997 led to its split the following year into two divisions, with the elite division looking to attract more top college players and national team members.

Final 1997 W-League standings and playoff results

Leading Scorers:
                                     G  A  Pts
Jenny Crawford, Atlanta             12  4  28
Kerry Rogers, Connecticut            8  7  23
Bryn Blalock, Dallas                 9  3  21
Megan Hanshek, Rochester             7  5  19
Debbie Keller, Rockford              8  3  19
Megan Nelson, Norcal                 9  1  19
Sarah Comeau, Jackson                9  0  18

Leading Goalkeepers: (Min. 450 minutes)
                                 Min  G   GAA
Kim Wyant, Long Island          1000  4  0.36
Merit Elzey, Chicago             750  6  0.72
Joannie Schockow, Rochester      590  5  0.76
Danielle Dion, Atlanta           955  9  0.85
Tina Phil, Maryland              585  6  0.92

Most Valuable Player  Debbie Keller, Rockford 'Dactyls
Leading Goalie:  Kim Wyant, Long Island Lady Riders
Coach of the Year:  Michael Sabatelle, Atlanta Classics
Defender of the Year:  Dawn Crow, Charlotte Speed
Tournament MVP:  Kim Wyant, Long Island Lady Riders
Organization of the Year:  Boston Renegades

USISL I-League (Indoor)

The newly renamed I-League was down to seven teams this year, with Baltimore Bays landing a perfect 11-0 record in the East and Tulsa Roughnecks winning the West. Several teams also played limited informal indoor schedules. The indoor playoff tournament was eliminated in favor of a single championship game, won by Baltimore, who beat Tulsa 5-4 (OT) and 13-10.

Final 1996-97 I-League standings and playoff results

Most Valuable Player:  Billy Ronson, Baltimore Bays
Top Point Scorer:  Billy Ronson, Baltimore Bays (70)
Top Scorer:  Brian Adams, Omaha Flames (23)
Top Goalkeeper:  Dave Tenney, Baltimore Bays
Rookie of the Year:  Jessie Williams, Tulsa Roughnecks
Coach of the Year:  Kevin Healey, Baltimore Bays

National Professional Soccer League

For the 1996-97 season, the NPSL went international, adding the Toronto Shooting Stars, and also entered one of the largest soccer markets, with the new Philadelphia Kixx, playing in a traditional soccer hotbed. The Kixx were owned by Ed Tepper, who had been witness to the first professional indoor game in modern soccer history in 1974, and was instrumental in the formation of the Major Indoor Soccer League in 1978. Meanwhile, the veteran Chicago Power moved to Edmonton, becoming the Drillers.

The Drillers brought back memories of the old NASL club by the same name, and were an immediate hit with the fans, and climbed to 21-19 for the year, bringing home Coach of the Year honors for Ross Ongaro. Hector Marinaro set an all-time single game scoring record, with 25 points in a 52-18 victory over Columbus. The Buffalo Blizzard got a new owner, John Bellanti, a new home, the new Marine Midland Arena, and a new coach Gary Hindley.

The NPSL was split into four divisions, two for each of the existing conferences. The first beneficiaries of this new structure were the Buffalo Blizzard, St. Louis Spirit and Harrisburg Heat which won their respective divisions. The biggest comeback was enjoyed by Edmonton, who came from their dismal 6-34 record (as the Chicago Power) to share divisional honors with Buffalo in the North Division. The big action took place in the Midwest Division which featured four of the league powerhouses, with St. Louis, Kansas City and Milwaukee fighting it to the wire, with all of one game separating the three by the end of the season.

Cleveland set an NPSL regular season scoring record for the fifth consecutive year. Led by star forwards Hector Marinaro and Zoran Karic, the Crunch scored 772 points in 40 games (19.3 ppg.). Marinaro’s 265 points led the NPSL in scoring for the fourth time in five seasons and was two points from the all-time record 267 scored by Karic in 1993-94. Marinaro, who was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player Award for a record fourth time, set several single-game marks on March 15, in Cleveland’s 52-18 triumph in Columbus over the Invaders in which eight league records were broken or tied.

The Tampa Bay Terror won eight of 10 games down the stretch to clinch its first playoff berth in its second season. Cincinnati also made the playoffs for the first time since moving from Dayton two years ago and the Philadelphia Kixx secured a playoff berth as an expansion team. The playoffs were most competitive. Ten of the first 20 post-season games played were decided by two points or less. The Edmonton Drillers, who won seven of their final eight regular season games behind NPSL Coach of the Year Ross Ongaro merely to claim the sixth seed in the National Conference playoffs, upset the third-seeded Milwaukee Wave in the first round.

The playoffs generally went to the top teams with the exception of a notable upset of Buffalo by the Kansas City Attack. In the conference semifinals, Cleveland defeated Harrisburg 11-8, 13-19, 17-14, 14-12, and Kansas City defeated St. Louis 15-11, 22-16, 13-11. The Championship series reunited the participants from last year, with Cleveland seeking to retain the trophy, and Kansas City seeking revenge. Revenge was the order of the day as the Attack turn the tables on the Crunch, sweeping Cleveland 18-14, 25-19, 14-8, and 15-12.

                          Final NPSL 1996-97 Standings

Before the season, Toronto and Philadelphia were added, and Chicago moved
to Edmonton.

                                                  POINTS POINTS
EAST DIVISION             GP   W   L    PCT   GB    FOR    AG   HOME  ROAD
2-Harrisburg Heat         40  22  18   .550  ----   523   457   13-7   9-11
4-Baltimore Spirit        40  20  20   .500   2.0   506   494   12-8   8-12
5-Philadelphia Kixx       40  17  23   .425   5.0   451   593   11-9   6-14
6-Tampa Bay Terror        40  15  25   .375   7.0   503   541   10-10  5-15
1-Cleveland Crunch        40  29  11   .725  ----   772   550   18-2  11-9
3-Cincinnati Silverbacks  40  21  19   .525   8.0   570   517   12-8   9-11
Columbus Invaders         40   5  35   .125  24.0   479   895    4-16  1-19

                                        NATIONAL CONFERENCE
                                                  POINTS POINTS
NORTH DIVISION            GP   W   L    PCT   GB    FOR    AG   HOME  ROAD
2-Buffalo Blizzard        40  21  19   .525  ----   545   469   13-7   8-12
6-Edmonton Drillers       40  21  19   .525  ----   538   475   15-5   6-14
Detroit Rockers           40  20  20   .500   1.0   563   532   14-6   6-14
Toronto Shooting Stars    40   6  34   .150  15.0   416   685    6-14  0-20
1-St. Louis Ambush        40  27  13   .675  ----   637   545   17-3  10-10
3-Milwaukee Wave          40  26  14   .650   1.0   525   472   18-2   8-12
4-Kansas City Attack      40  26  14   .650   1.0   605   500   14-6  12-8
5-Wichita Wings           40  24  16   .600   3.0   589   497   15-5   9-11

Conf. Quarterfinals: Cincinnati defeated Tampa Bay 13-11, 15-17(OT), 16-11
                     Baltimore defeated Philadelphia, 15-8, 18-8
                     Edmonton defeated Milwaukee, 20-6, 10-9
                     Kansas City defeated Wichita, 13-11, 13-14, 22-5.
Conf. Semi-finals:   Cleveland defeated Baltimore, 14-19, 21-9, 14-13.
                     Harrisburg defeated Cincinnati, 11-9 (OT), 13-12.
                     St. Louis defeated Edmonton, 19-18, 9-19, 16-11.
                     Kansas City defeated Buffalo 18-12, 13-11.
Conf. Finals:        Cleveland defeated Harrisburg, 11-8, 13-19, 17-14, 14-12
                     Kansas City defeated St. Louis, 15-11, 22-16, 13-11.
FINALS:              Kansas City defeated Cleveland 18-14, 25-19, 14-8, 15-12

NPSL All-Star Game:  February 9, 1997, at Baltimore.  National Conference defeated
American Conference 20-14.  High scorers: Steve Kuntz, (National, 6 pts), 
Hector Marinaro (American, 5 pts) 
Leading scorers:  
                    TEAM  GP  3PG  2PG  1PG  AST  POINTS
Marinaro, Hector    CLE   36  13   70   21   65    265
Karic, Zoran        CLE   34  16   48   17   81    242
Brose, Dennis       DET   39  15   53   34   51    236
King, Michael       MIL   38  12   45   15   44    185
Reiniger, Joe       STL   39  17   39    6   39    174
Moser, Mark         STL   37   3   53   26   24    165
McIntosh, Franklin  CIN   36   8   32    8   65    161
Hunjak, Goran       KCY   39   5   38   18   42    151
Vuckovic, Bojan     BAL   40   8   40   13   33    150
Vignjevic, Nikola   CLE   40   5   46    7   35    149
Dunn, Jason         WCH   38   6   39    7   26    129
Pulisic, Mark       HAR   40   2   36   10   28    116
Miller, Doug        BUF   32   3   40   10   15    114
D'Onofrio, Carmen   EDM   40   5   30    8   29    112
Martinez, Genoni    WCH   33  14   20   14   16    112
Desantis, Nick      EDM   38   5   21   17   36    110
Mella, Adolfo       TOR   40   5   27    5   35    109
DiFlorio, Gino      BUF   29   6   26    5   33    108
Tschantret, Lee     KCY   35   5   33    7   19    107   

Leading Goalkeepers: (min. 1410 minutes)

GOALKEEPER         TEAM GPI   MIN      SF   SV  3PG  2PG  1PG  PTS   W  L    AVG
Harrington, Pat    BUF   25  1416:14  415  302  13   91    9   230  14  9   9.74
Nogueira, Victor   MIL   39  2218:58  751  540  23  149   39   406  26 13  10.98
Pena, Carlos       CIN   33  1827:23  631  455  16  136   24   344  18 14  11.29
Hileman, Scott     EDM   39  2317:22  712  488  23  166   35   436  21 18  11.29
Westcoat, Warren   KCY   39  2204:28  732  502  19  171   40   439  23 13  11.95
Finnerty, Bryan    DET   39  2238:21  950  711  21  173   45   454  20 19  12.17
Damico, Chris      WCH   40  2351:01  699  457  30  176   36   478  24 16  12.20
Pappas, Pete       PHL   33  1743:48  637  452  20  143   22   368  15 16  12.66
Dobson, Stuart     TAM   39  2262:03  732  479  25  188   40   491  14 24  13.02
Swanner, Jamie     STL   36  2070:17  883  655  21  181   26   451  23 13  13.07
Orf, Otto          CLE   37  1993:10  817  582  17  175   43   444  28  9  13.37

Most Valuable Player:  Hector Marinaro, Cleveland Crunch
Goalkeeper of the Year:  Victor Noguiera, Milwaukee Wave
Coach of the Year:  Ross Ongaro, Edmonton Drillers
Defender of the Year:  Daryl Doran, St. Louis Ambush
Rookie of the Year:  Jason Dunn, Wichita Wings

First All-NPSL Team:

G - Victor Nogueira, Milwaukee
D - Wes Wade, Kansas City
D - Daryl Doran, St. Louis
F - Hector Marinaro, Cleveland
F - Zoran Karic, Cleveland
F - Dennis Brose, Detroit

Continental Indoor Soccer League

The final season of the CISL was one of tumult, starting with the demise of the San Diego Sockers, the oldest operating US professional team, with roots back to the 1974 NASL. Major operational problems within the league led to dissatisfaction from a number of teams, and it was a challenge simply to finish the season. In the fall of 1997, first one, then two, then four teams withdrew to pursue other options. Facing this expanding revolt, the league folded in December, but several teams who had withdrawn started laying the groundwork for a new indoor summer league to start play in 1998. Monterrey and Indiana briefly considered joining the NPSL, but this did not come to pass.

The CISL season itself still provided some competitive soccer. Monterrey La Raza won their third consecutive divisional title, while the Seattle SeaDogs took the West. In the second round of the playoffs, Monterrey, Sacramento, Seattle and Monterrey were the victors in the playoff round robin, with Seattle and Houston advancing to the Championship. Seattle won the championship match, 6-5 and 7-1, being the final champions ever in the CISL.

                Final CISL Standings, 1997

Arizona returned to action.  San Diego folded just before the start of the season.

                          GP   W   L  Pct.  GF  GA  GB
	Eastern Division
Monterrey La Raza         28  20   8  .714 190 166  ---
Indiana Twisters          28  17  11  .607 194 177  3.0
Houston Hotshots          28  17  11  .607 199 157  3.0
Dallas Sidekicks          28  13  15  .464 165 160  7.0
Washington Warthogs       28  12  16  .429 170 178  8.0
Detroit Safari            28   3  25  .107 134 217 17.0

	Western Division
Seattle SeaDogs           28  21   7  .750 170 128  ---
Anaheim Splash            28  16  12  .571 165 134  5.0
Sacramento Knights        28  14  14  .500 146 148  7.0
Portland Pride            28  13  15  .464 144 158  8.0
Arizona Sandsharks        28   8  20  .286 135 189 13.0

First Round Series:     Seattle defeated Portland, 8-2, 6-5
                        Houston defeated Indiana, ?-?, 4-7, 2-1 (MG)
Second round series:    Monterrey defeated Dallas, 7-3, 5-10, 2-1 (MG)
                        Sacramento defeated Anaheim, 7-3, 6-3
                        Seattle defeated Sacramento, ?-?, 4-3
                        Monterrey defeated Houston, 7-6, 2-3, 4-3 (MG)
CHAMPIONSHIP:           Seattle defeated Houston, 6-5, 7-1

Houston, Washington, Portland and Dallas left after the 1997 season. 
On December 23, 1997, the league folded, but Sacramento, Dallas, Portland
and Arizona (renamed Phoenix) formed the new Premier Soccer Alliance
in the summer of 1998.

Scoring Leaders:
                              GP   G   A  Pts
Paul Dougherty, Houston       28  50  42  92
Allen, Houston                27  35  29  64
Livaois, Anahiem              27  44  18  62
Tatu, Dallas                  19  26  36  62
Castillo, Indiana             27  45  14  61
Genoni Martinez, Monterrey    29  29  29  58
David Doyle, Dallas           26  32  25  57
Molomo, Seattle               25  33  24  57
Corla, Monterrey              27  32  24  56
Goran Hunjak, Washington      28  18  38  56
McCormick, Seattle            28  31  25  56

Eastern Indoor Soccer League

The Eastern Indoor Soccer League was started in 1997 as the first American minor indoor league, with the goal of being a training ground for players aspiring to the NPSL and CISL. The league featured cities from the southeastern United States. The seven teams were the Lafayette Swampcats, Baton Rouge Bombers, Tallahassee Scorpions, Huntsville Fire, Tupelo Hound Dogs, Savannah Rug Ratz, and Columbus Comets. Attendance totaled 225,221 (2,851 per game), led by Lafayette who averaged over 6,500. Lafayette was also the team to beat, going 18-6, followed closely by Baton Rouge who finished in 2nd place, 49 points to 52. Lafayette won the championship game, beating Baton Rouge 12-9. There were no playoffs outside of the championship game. Leading scorers were Reinhold Huber (42 goals, 97 points) and Renato Simpaio (34 goals, 96 points), both of Huntsville. Leading goalkeeper was Charles Granade with an 8.99 goals against average.

1997 Final EISL League Standings

1997 Final EISL League Standings

Men’s National Team

1997 Final EISL League StandingsThe USSF scheduled eighteen games for the Men’s Team this year, few of them friendlies. The main event was World Cup qualifying, with the Hexagonal rounds taking place in two phases, from March to April, and from late June through November. This series was critical, to demonstrate that the US had not merely gotten to WC’94 by virtue of hosting the event. Many people still considered the 1990 qualification a fluke due to Mexico’s disqualification. Here was America’s chance to prove that they belonged.

The year started out slowly, as coach Steve Sampson rested several of the regulars to give newcomers a chance to prove their worth. The team had many veterans who would be retiring soon, and it was important to start recruiting the new generation that would take over after the World Cup. But on the field, this didn’t work out well, as the US struggled in the USA Cup, which had been moved to January to avoid conflicts with the MLS Season. The US lost all three games against less than top competition, 0-1 to Peru, 0-2 to Mexico and 1-4 against Denmark. But the new players did get valuable playing experience. This was followed by the team’s first visit to China, where they lost the first game 1-2 and drew 1-1 with the host team.

The US successfully passed through the first round of the Hexagonal qualifying, but with some sub-par performances, leading to worries about the training methods and strategies being utilized by Sampson. The first game was a 0-0 draw on foreign turf at Jamaica, followed by a convincing 3-0 win against the relatively weak Canada (Wynalda, Pope and Stewart scored). This was followed by a 2-3 loss at Costa Rica and a 2-2 draw against Mexico in Foxboro, Mass, in a doubleheader with the New England Revolution witnessed by the largest crowd (57,000+) ever to attend a soccer game in New England. This game was problematic because one of the US scores was a Mexico own goal. The US clearly had some work to do before the Hexagonal. They followed this series with friendlies against Paraguay (0-0 draw) and Israel (2-1 victory with scores by Lalas and Kirovski).

The final round of the Hexagonal started for the United States on June 29, with a 1-1 draw at El Salvador. The US was starting to show a pattern of winning at home and struggling on the road, and they could not afford to do this in the final round, and the 0-1 friendly loss to Ecuador on August 7th didn’t help the mood. Mexico was off to a flying start, and the 1st place was pretty much conceded. Three teams would qualify for the Cup, and Costa Rica and Jamaica were making good runs for those spots.

The US position was helped greatly by their 1-0 victory over Costa Rica on September 7, but a draw against Jamaica in the Nation’s capital, led nay-sayers to claim that the effort was doomed. Certainly the team was at the brink with three games remaining, including the all-important match at Mexico City against COCACAF’s strongest team. But that game proved to be a watershed. Against all expectations, the US held Mexico scoreless, capitalizing on an unfocused and lethargic Mexican presence that led the home crowd fans (110,000 at Aztecs) to boo their own team, and cheer every good US move. For the record, the few American fans at the stadium were treated like royalty by the Mexican fans.

This immensely improved the US position, going to Canada, as either a loss by Costa Rica or a win by the US would guarantee them at least the final berth. The US got off to a quick lead in the Canadian game at Vancouver off of a Claudio Reyna goal in the 5th minute, cheered on by an American contingent that outnumbered the Canadian fans, and gained confidence as the game progressed in a stalemate. During the second half, it was announced that Costa Rica had lost, ensuring the US a berth. Emboldened, Roy Wegerle scored two more goals near the end of the game to cap off a wonderful night for the Americans.

What a turnaround! Within a week, the US went from facing elimination to being able to challenge for the top spot in the standings. The final game against El Salvador, once again held in Foxboro, Mass, now provided the US a chance to finish first, but it was not to be as Mexico won their final game, but the US landed the victory anyway, beating El Salvador 3-2. So the US had qualified, and the skeptics couldn’t claim the US benefitted from CONCACAF’s third allotment, since the US came in second. The team then returned to their training grounds in much higher spirits to prepare for their next game in January 1998.

The Junior teams did not have a great time this year in their respective World Cups. The U-17 team was put in Group C for the U-17 World Cup, held in Egypt. They were shut out 0-4 by Oman, and 0-3 by Brazil before turning the tables on Austria 4-0. Not enough to advance. The Cup was eventually won by Brazil who defeated Ghana in the title game. The U-20 team did not advance either. The US did not qualify for the U-20 World Cup, which was ultimately won by Argentina, who defeated Uruguay 2-1 in the final.

1997 USA Men’s National Team results

Women’s National Team

Like the Men, the Women’s National team also had an 18 game schedule, but with much more impressive results, gaining 16 victories and only two losses. This was a less intensive season, with the World Cup still three years off. The team was heartened by the announcement that the World Cup, to be hosted in the United States would for the first time be promoted as a full-fledged top flight event, with games played in major stadiums all across the nation. This would ensure maximum exposure and give the women’s game the presentation it deserved.

The only major events of the year were the USA Cup ’97 in June, and a doubleheader with a Major League Soccer game, which gave 17,000 San Jose fans an excellent introduction to the team as they shut out England 5-0. Unlike the men, the English women’s team did not have that vaunted history, struggling in a very traditional country that was only slowly waking up to the changing realities of the soccer world, and accepting women’s soccer. Elsewhere, the games were friendlies, and the results fairly predictable, win after win after win. The US won three straight victories over Australia in early March, followed by doubleheaders against France and South Korea. The USA Cup consisted of two doubleheaders with the US beating Canada 4-0 and Australia 9-1. The only losses of the year were a 1-3 defeat at the hands of powerhouse Germany on their turf, and a surprising 0-1 loss to relatively weak Brazil in Sao Paulo, their last game of the year.

The depth of the team showed in the scoring; even though Mia Hamm continued to shine with an incredible 16 goals (including three hat tricks), many other players were simply unstoppable, including Michelle Akers, Cindy Parlow, Shannon MacMillan, and Kristine Lilly. More importantly, some of the new younger players were beginning to make their presence felt, and the future looked bright for the team even beyond the next World Cup.

1997 USA Women’s National Team results

U. S. Open Cup

The first round of the Open Cup finals saw a three MLS teams upset when 3rd division Chicago Stingers ousted MLS’s Colorado Rapids by 2-1, and the A-League’s Long Island Rough Riders eliminated the New England Revolution 3-0 and the San Francisco Bay Seals upset the Kansas City Wizards 2-1. In the quarterfinals, the MLS reasserted their supremacy when Dallas defeated the Stingers 4-1 and the MetroStars beat Long Island 1-0. San Francisco Bay seals however, kept hope alive for the A-League, beating the cross-town rival San Jose Clash 2-1.

In the semifinals, Dallas Burn defeated the MetroStars 2-1 and D. C. United eliminated the bay Seals 2-1. The Final was held at Kuntz Stadium in indianapolis where the Dallas Burn and D. C. United battled to a 0-0 draw before 9,776 fans, with Dallas winning on penalty kicks.

International Tours

International Clubs vs Major League Soccer Total record: 8 wins, 8 draws, 16 losses.

Thirty Two international exhibitions were held between MLS and international clubs. Below are the rsults of the more significant games.

(home teams listed first)
2/20/97  Genoa (Italy) 2, Metrostars 1
2/22/97  New England Revolution 1, Viborg (Denmark) 0 (at Sarasota, FL.)
3/5/97   Regiana (Italy) 2, Metrostars 1
3/9/97   Instant Dictation (Japan) 1, D. C. United 7 (at Hong Kong)
5/13/97  San Jose Clash 1, Aston Villa (England) 1
5/14/97  Columbus Crew 2, Leeds United 1
5/14/97  Metrostars 0, Colombian National Team 2
5/16/97  D. C. United 1, Leeds (England ) 1
5/21/97  Los Angeles Galaxy 1, Aston Villa (England) 1
6/7/97   Metrostars 1, Sampdoria (Italy) 0
6/25/97  Metrostars 1, Alianza (Peru) 1
7/6/97   Los Angeles Galaxy 1, Guadalajara (Mexico) 0 (PKs)
7/11/97  Dallas Burn 0, Guadalajara (Mexico) 5
7/16/97  Metrostars 1, Galatasaray (Turkey) 3
7/16/02  Colorado Rapids 0, Guadalajara (Mexico) 6
7/23/97  New England Revolution 0, Palmeiras (Brazil) 1
9/16/97  Kansas City Wizards 1, Veracruz (Mexico) 1
11/7/97  San Jose Clash 1, Atlas (Mexico) 1
11/10/97 Los Angeles Galaxy 1, Atlante (Mexico) 1
11/21/97 Alianza Lima (Peru) 2, Tampa Bay Mutiny 0
12/3/97  Bueneventura (Coolombia) 0, Tampa Bay Mutiny 1
12/6/97  Tampa Bay Mutiny 1, Veracruz (Mexico) 0
12/10/97 Guatemalan National team 5, Dallas Burn 1
12/12/97 Communicaciones (Guatemala) 1, Dallas Burn 0
12/16/97 Tampa Bay Mutiny 1, JFK Gothenburg (Sweden) 2

The College Game

The NCAA soccer program’s growth continued to level off in 1997, but this was primarily because of saturation, not flagging interest. The vast majority of women’s colleges already had teams, and the men’s teams were continuing to face competition from other sports with scholarship restrictions. But growth continued nonetheless, with 686 men’s varsity programs (up from 681) and 721 women’s programs (up from 690). As a response to the continuing growth, the Men’s Division II tournament expanded from 12 to 16 teams. Likewise, the Women’s Division II tournament expanded from 12 to 16 teams, and the Division III tournament expanded from 24 to 40 teams.

In the 1997 Men’s Division 1 Tournament, third round action saw Indiana defeat Southern Florida 2-1, UCLA defeat Clemson 2-1, St. Louis defeat Southern Methodist 0-0 (penalty kicks after 4 overtimes), and Virginia defeat American 2-1 (double overtime). In the semifinals, UCLA defeated Indiana 1-0 in triple overtime, and Virginia defeated St. Louis 3-1. The Championship game returned to Richmond Virginia, where on December 14, UCLA defeated Virginia 2-0.

In the Women’s Division 1 tournament, third round action saw North Carolina defeat Harvard 1-0, Santa Clara defeat Clemson 3-0, Connecticut defeat William & Mary 4-0, and Notre Dame defeat UCLA 8-0. In the semifinals, North Carolina defeated Santa Clara 2-1, and Connecticut defeated Notre Dame 2-1. The Championship game, held in Greensboro, NC on December 7, North Carolina defeated Connecticut 2-0 to repeat as National Champion.

Division II Men’s champion: Cal State Bakersfield defeated Lynn 1-0
Division II Women’s champion: Franklin Pierce defeated West Virginia Weslayen 3-0
Division III Men’s champion: Wheaton (IL) defeated College of New Jersey 3-0
Division III Women’s champion: UC San Diego defeated William Smith 1-0
NAIA Men’s Champion: Seattle defeated Rockhurst 2-1 (OT)
NAIA Women’s Champion: Mobile defeated Simon Fraser 2-1
NJCAA Division I Men’s Championship: Yavapai College 3, Mercer County Comm. Coll. 0
NJCAA Division III Men’s Championship: Nassau 4, Herkimer Comm. Coll. 3 (4 OT)
NJCAA Women’s Championship: Brevard College 1, Champlain 0
NCCAA Division 1 Championship: Judson 4, Lee 2
NCCAA Division 2 Championship: Northland Baptist Bible College 4, Philadelphia College of Bible 1
NCCAA Women’s Championship: Indiana Weslayen 2, Cumberland 1

Final Men's Division 1 Coaches' Poll:

1.  UCLA
2.  Virginia
3.  Indiana
4.  St. Louis
5.  American
6.  Southern Methodist
7.  Washington
8.  South Carolina
9.  St. John's (N.Y.)
10. Creighton

Final Women's Division 1 Coaches' Poll:

1.  North Carolina
2.  Connecticut
3.  Notre Dame
4.  Santa Clara
5.  William & Mary
6.  Harvard
7.  Nebraska
8.  UCLA
9.  Hartford
10. Clemson

Men's Division 1 NSCAA All-Americans (1st team):

G - Matthew Jordan, Clemson
D - Leo Cullen, Maryland
D - Kevin Daly, St. John's (NY)
D - Pete Santora, Furman
M - Daniel Hernandez, Southern Methodist
M - Alen Kozic, Florida International
M - Ben Olsen, Virginia
F - Wade Barrett, William & Mary
F - Sigurdur Eyjolfsson, UNC Greensboro
F - Dema Kovalenko, Indiana
F - Johnny Torres, Creighton

Women's Division 1 NSCAA All-Americans (1st team):

G - LaKeysia Beene, Notre Dame
D - Jennifer Grubb, Notre Dame
D - Kate Sobrero, Notre Dame
D - Stephanie Yarem, Georgia
M - Erin Baxter, Florida
M - Ann Cook, William & Mary
M - Erica Iverson, Massachusetts
M - Jennifer McElmury, Minnesota
M - Laurie Schway, North Carolina
F - Traci Arkenburg, UCLA
F - Cindy Parlow, North Carolina
F - Sara Whalen, Connecticut

Men's National Award Winners:

Hermann Trophy:  Johnny Torres, Creighton
Missouri Athletic Club Award:  Johnny Torres, Creighton
ISAA Player of the Year (Division 1):  Daniel Hernandez, Southern Methodist
NSCAA Coach of the Year (Division 1): Sigi Schmid, UCLA

Women's National Award Winners:

Hermann Trophy: Cindy Parlow, North Carolina
Missouri Athletic Club Award:  Cindy Parlow, North Carolina
NSCAA Coach of the Year:  Len Tsantiris, Connecticut

Awards & Cups

US Open Cup Championship:Dallas Burn (MLS) drew with Washington DC United (MLS) 0-0. (Dallas won on penalty kicks
US Women’s Open Cup Championship: Sacramento Storm defeated Dallas Lightning 3-2.
National Amateur Cup Championship: St. Petersburg McCormick Kickers defeated Milwaukee Sport Club 4-0.

Reebok Cup: Cup held at Moamo and Chicago July 25 & 27. In the semi-finals, Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany) defeated Nexaca (Mexico) 2-1, and Athletico Junior (Barranquilla, Colombia) defeated SE Palmeiras (Brazil) 2-2 (PK). Nexaca defeated Palmeiras 4-1 in the 3rd place match. Athletico Junior defeated Borussia 2-0 in the final.
James P. McGuire Cup (US Youth Soccer Boys U-19): Clearwater (FL) Chargers
Andy Stone Cup (US Youth Soccer Boys U-18): Columbia (MD) City United
Don Greer Cup (US Youth Soccer Boys U-17): (Southern California) Nomads
D.J. Niotis Cup (US Youth Soccer Boys U-16): Javanon ’81 (Louisville, KY)
J. Ross Stewart Cup (US Youth Soccer Girls U-19): Ridgefield (CT) Yankee United Nova
Frank Kelly Cup (US Youth Soccer Girls U-18): Sting ’79 (Dallas)
L. Moynihan Cup (US Youth Soccer Girls U-17): Central Valley Mercury (San Jose, CA)
Patricia Masotto Cup (US Youth Soccer Girls U-16): Northport/Cow Harbor (NY) Piranha

CONCACAF Champions Cup:In the qualifying playoff, the Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS) defeated Santos (Mexico 4-1. In the quarterfinals, the Galaxy defeated Luis Angel Firpo (El Salvador) 2-1, and D. C. United defeated United Petritrin (Trinidad & Tobago) 1-0. In a first, two American clubs played against each other in the semifinals, with the Galaxy defeating D. C. United 1-0. United drew 2-2 with Guadalaraja leaving them to share 3rd place, while Cruz Azul (Mexico) defeated the Galaxy 5-3 in the final, held at Washington, DC, to take the title.

CONCACAF Cup Winners Cup: The Dallas Burn (MLS) lost to Nexaca (Mexico) 4-0 and Cruz Azul (Mexico) 2-1, and did not advance. Olimpia (Honduras) and Nexaca (Mexico) advanced to the final, but the tournament was abandoned.

Hall of Fame: In 1997, the US Soccer Hall of Fame inducted Walt Czychowych, Alex Ely, Johnny Moore, Jimmy Roe, and Phil Woosnam. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Hall of Fame inducted Ray Buss and Walter Czychowych. The National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (NISOA) Hall of Fame inducted George Faragallah. The American Youth Soccer Organization inducted Ken Aston, Howard Krolfeifer, Jr., and Ron Rickels.

Honda Award (Player of the Year): Eddie Pope

USSF Players of the Year: Kasey Keller, Mia Hamm

NSCAA Honor Award: Joseph Morrone, Connecticut, and Timothy O. Schum, Binghamton

NISOA Honor Award: Abbot Leonard, New York

NISOA Merit Award: Ron Robacker, Delaware Valley School; Stephen Negoesco, Univ. San Francisco