The Year in American Soccer, 1998

1998 World Cup | MLS | USISL | A-League | D3Pro | PDSL | W-League | NPSL | PSA | EISL | Men’s National Team | Women’s National Team | U. S. Open Cup | International Tours | The College Game | Awards & Cups

This year saw the beginning of a major turnover of leadership in many important soccer institutions at all levels. Although these events were mere blips in the newspapers at the time they foreshadowed major long term shifts in power bases and philosophies that would affect soccer for the near future. These started with the selection of Sepp Blatter who was elected president of FIFA on June 8, 1998 in a historic vote marking the transfer of FIFA to a more democratic and modern mode of management. It also was a major defeat for the European Football Union which had heavily supported their President Lennart Johansson in a bid for the position. This foreshadowed possible trouble between FIFA and UEFA but bode well for the US and developing countries. Later in the year, the USSF elected Robert Contigula as president to replace Alan Rothenberg who was ineligible to serve a third term. This in turn put USSF under charge of a leader with a background in youth and amateur soccer, in contrast to Rothenberg’s focus on the National team. This time however, drastic changes in the overall soccer administration had occurred leading to hopes that the rivalries between the national, professional and youth/amateur factions would not resurface. Meanwhile, the US National team got a new coach in Bruce Arena who replaced Steve Sampson after the disastrous 1998 World Cup results, and he promised a future more focused on the new generation of players. Meanwhile all four leagues in the USISL were given their first full-time commissioners allowing director Francisco Marcos to focus on overall league activities. The final parts of this turnover took place in 1999 with a new commissioner of Major League Soccer and a new head coach for the women’s national team.

1998 World Cup/Men’s National Team

The US Men’s National Team entered 1998 with high hopes after the successful World Cup qualifying rounds, where they had proven the skeptics wrong by finishing 2nd in the final qualifying standings. Thus, unlike the previous two Cups, they had qualified without the benefit of (1) being the host country, (2) disqualification by perennial superpower Mexico, or (3) because of the 3rd allocation to CONCACAF. All of the excuses that had been thrown at the Americans by world skeptics had been rendered null and void, and this was a significant development for the long run. The actual performance by the team at the 1998 World Cup in France, was another matter. Months of simmering tensions between players and coach Steve Sampson had wreaked havoc on the team’s focus and morale, and ultimately led to the team being poorly prepared for the intense competition at the cup, and the results showed. In short, a tremendous letdown for the team, after so much hope had been engendered because of the performances over the past year.

The cause of the team’s problems was a matter of endless debate, but it appeared to be a combination of Sampson’s increasingly authoritarian coaching style clashing with some of the major veteran stars, as well as a number of last minute personnel and tactical changes. Added to that was a lack of adequate playing experience against top competition during early 1998. Outside of the first two post-Gold Cup games, against Netherlands and Belgium, none of the other post Gold-Cup opponents was truly of top caliber, and the scheduling of friendlies against Macedonia and Kuwait because their playing style was supposedly similar to first round opponents Yugoslavia and Iran was questionable at best. In fact that could have been detrimental, lulling the US into a sense of complacency against those relatively weak teams.

The year actually started fairly well for the Americans beginning with a good, closely fought 1-0 victory over Sweden on January 24, with the lone goal coming from Roy Wegerle. This was followed by the 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup, to decide the North American champion. The US was eager to reclaim the cup after having lost to Mexico on the two previous occasions. The Americans opened on February 1, 1998 with an easy 3-0 win over Cuba, which the US had not played since 1949. Wegerle, Eric Wynalda, and Joe-Max Moore scored in that effort. This was followed by a 2-1 win over Costa Rica, with goals by Eddie Pope and Preki Radosavljevic, who were quickly winning their spots on the world cup roster. That was especially true for Preki, who scored the US’s only goal in the semifinal stunner over Brazil at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, as the US beat the defending world champions for the first time ever in a full international.

Although this Brazilian team only fielded half of their top stars, and had managed only two draws so far in the tournament, the event was significant nonetheless, and was goalkeeper Kasey Keller’s best performance ever as he stopped a number of excellent shots by the Brazilians (including three by Romario) who basically dominated the offensive part of the game. That lone goal was scored against the run of play as Eric Wynalda took a long pass down the left wing, sent the ball back to Preki who worked around a Brazilian defender before sending the goal in off his left foot from 25 yards out. The US thus qualified for the championship game, which was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before a record crowd of 91,255 of mostly Mexican supporters. Mexico had had by far the best performance of the tournament, coming into this game undefeated, and they took control of the field right from the start, holding the US scoreless, as they took the game 1-0 with a Luis Hernandez goal just before halftime. Mexico had won their third consecutive Gold Cup, increasing the frustrations for the Americans.

The remainder of the run-up to the World Cup was a series of friendlies against a variety of teams, although hindsight would lead one to question the wisdom of scheduling so many games against relatively weak teams. The first two games were the exception: Both Netherlands and Belgium were top powers and world cup qualifiers, and their experience showed, as the US was shut out by both 0-2. The Netherlands game was the first ever between the two nations at the top level, and the Belgium game was at Belgium, so the challenges were great, but the games clearly showed the shortcomings both in the US attack and the defense. This was emphasized on March 14, when the US could only manage a 2-2 draw against Paraguay (goals by Chad Deering and Marcelo Balboa), in a game where Sampson started trying out some younger talent.

At this point, Sampson made some personnel changes and major shifts in strategy. He stunned the soccer world by dropping team captain John Harkes, although there was disagreement on whether this was due to Harkes not being willing to accept his new role on the field or because of some deeper personality clashes. Whether this reflected badly on Harkes or Sampson (or both) was a matter of some discussion, and although this bold move shook up the team, this move ran the risk of shattering the team’s morale. Sampson also introduced a new 3-6-1 lineup which filled the field with midfielders, and led to a decisive 3-0 victory over Austria in Vienna on April 22. Two of the goals were scored by newcomers Frankie Hedjuk and Brian McBride. This apparently convinced Sampson that his moves were the right ones, although some veterans didn’t agree, especially after a lackluster draw against Macedonia and a pedestrian 2-0 win over Kuwait. The practice run ended with a friendly over Scotland in Washington DC on May 30 which ended in a 0-0 draw, leading the team into the World Cup with high hopes, but much trepidation and uncertainty, despite a #11 spot in the FIFA June world rankings.

The World Cup would not be an easy road for the US. The draw had put them into one of the toughest divisions in the tournament, matched up against Germany, Iran and Yugoslavia. Because of the expansion of the divisions, there would no longer be any wild cards qualifying for the knock-out competition. In order to advance, a team had to finish in the top two slots. The US held little hope of defeating Germany, one of the top teams in the world, and Yugoslavia was also a powerhouse. The strength of Iran was more unclear, although they performed admirably in their final qualification playoff, defeating Australia to become the final team to qualify for the tournament. The best the US could hope for was an expected win against Iran and an upset over Yugoslavia.

The World Cup competition began as expected for the US, as they lost to Germany 0-2 on June 16 at Parc de Princes, in Paris. But this was not immediate cause for alarm, given Germany’s position as the #2 team in the world, and a victory or even a draw would have been a major upset. The real stunner was their loss six days later in Lyon, to Iran, who through a combination of skill and luck, either deflected or avoided every shot the US could send their way, while taking a 2-0 lead. Only in the 89th minute could the US score, on a header by Brian McBride. Because Germany and Yugoslavia had both been victorious in that round, the US became the first team to be eliminated from the competition. At this point, all the discontent on the team exploded into the press, with acrimonious statements being made by both the players and Steve Sampson, with blame being shared freely but accepted by none. This rendered the final game fairly meaningless for both the US and Yugoslavia, but the US put out a fairly respectable effort in holding Yugoslavia to a 1-0 victory. The rest of the Cup then proceeded without the US, whose members went home separately, in disgust and frustration, and Sampson immediately announced his resignation as coach. Roy Wegerle announced his retirement; several other players would never play for the National Team again, and a wonderful opportunity for the National team to promote soccer in the United States was lost. But the rebuilding process began almost immediately as Bruce Arena was hired from D. C. United to be the new head coach. In his debut, the Nats closed out the year with a 0-0 draw against Australia, the team who just missed qualifying for WC’98.

The World Cup itself was an enormous success, one of the best competitions ever, with many exciting games, and nail-biting results. Perhaps the biggest winner of all was France, and not just because they won the cup. The competition, bundled together with France’s victory revived the domestic French soccer program as nothing else had in decades. Attendance at league games was up over 50% for the 1998-99 season, and French soccer began a period of true renaissance.

There were a number of silver linings to this fiasco. The US was not swamped as much as the final results would suggest. Germany and Yugoslavia were both top ten teams, Yugoslavia had been held to a 0-1 score, and the Germany game was closer than the score would suggest. Iran was clearly underestimated, as they performed strongly in all their first round games. Several youngsters on the US team had showed their skills, including Eddie Pope, Brian McBride, and Frankie Hedjuk, who was later signed by a European team. His signing started a trend towards top MLS players being signed back to foreign clubs, which picked up speed in 1999 as Tony Sanneh, Joe-Max Moore, Eric Wynalda and others followed suit. Although this had a detrimental effect on MLS, it did bring in badly needed transfer money, and would eventually be a major boon for the National team as its top players would gain the kind of competitive experience essential for winning top world competitions. Finally, the US team would make its overdue transition to a new generation with younger players and a new coaching philosophy. The rebuilding process began during MLS playoffs when D. C. United head coach Bruce Arena, who had also brought great success to the University of Virginia, was signed as the new head coach. He immediately began to bring younger players into the player pool to participate in the first friendlies scheduled for the following January. Another important development was the signing of a new major sponsorship deal with major partners which would provide $125,000,000 to the USSF over the next ten years, as well as improved television packages.

1998 USA Men’s National Team results

Complete 1998 World Cup results

Major League Soccer (Division 1)

Major League Soccer added its first expansion teams in 1998, with the debut of the Chicago Fire and the Miami Fusion. Both cities had seen considerable success in the NASL, and Chicago was the third largest metropolitan area in the US, with a long history of soccer extending back to the beginning of the century. Several other major new developments marked the league’s consolidation and growth. The television package was restructured to provide better payment terms to MLS. No longer would MLS be buying time on ESPN and ESPN2, but was getting modest rights fees, and ABC began broadcasting regular season games for the first time.

One of the most important developments was the launching of Project 40, a joint venture with the United States Soccer Federation. Project 40 is a program to identify and develop the talents of the best emerging young players aged 18-22, to develop them for professional careers, both in Major league Soccer, and ultimately with the National teams. These players are recruited from the college ranks as well as the top youth programs, and are signed to MLS teams and earn the minimum MLS salary while training full time. The players are also awarded five year academic tuition packages paid by the USSF. They are guaranteed 40-60 games a year at various professional levels to ensure a better level of playing experience than had been available before. A centerpiece of the program is a full-time developmental team consisting of Project 40 players, which plays in the A-League, playing a road schedule against the other A-League teams. Project 40 players, whether assigned to the developmental team, or the other A-league affiliates of MLS clubs would be subject to recall by the parent MLS clubs. Project 40 was thereby poised to fill a major gap in the existing ODP and NCAA college programs which simply could not provide adequate playing experience, or effectively discover and recruit many of the talented young players active in the existing youth leagues. The most immediate impact was expected to be felt by the U-23 Olympic team which showed a clear lack of experience at the 1996 Olympics. These players would then represent the vanguard of new MLS stars, and ultimately become the new generation of players on the full National Team. Project 40 yielded results for MLS almost immediately as D. C. United Rookie of the Year Ben Olson, Chicago Fire forward Josh Wolff, and New England Revolution forward Jamar Beasley made an impact with the league, Olson going on shortly to secure a spot on the National team.

Another ground-breaking event this year was the beginning of construction of the new stadium for the Columbus Crew. Columbus, being forced out of Ohio State University’s football stadium which would undergo major renovations, was facing the prospect of either relocating to another city, which MLS opposed, or building a new facility, there being no other suitable stadium nearby. After a long process, agreements were signed for the construction of the first major league quality stadium designed specifically for soccer in the United States since the construction of Marks Stadium in Tiverton RI, for the Fall River Marksmen of the original American Soccer League in the 1920’s. This new facility was eagerly awaited by the league and purist soccer fans alike who had chafed at games played in facilities designed for gridiron football, where crazy schedules and gridiron lines were a constant irritant. Other positive stadium developments were the renovation of Ft. Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium into a new soccer-specific facility for the Miami Fusion (after a deal for Joe Robbie Stadium fell through), and a complete renovation of Spartan Stadium in San Jose into a more soccer-friendly site.

The expansion Chicago Fire were headed by owner/investor Philip Anschutz, who also ran the Los Angeles Galaxy and Colorado Rapids. He hired D. C. United assistant coach Bob Bradley, who soon stocked his roster with a defensively oriented lineup, including several prominent players, including Czech World Cup veteran Defender of the Year Lubos Libik, Polish National team forward Jerzy Podbrozny, and All-league midfielder Peter Nowak. He also drafted Mexican World Cup goalkeeper Jorge Campos and defender Francis Okaroh from the Revolution. The Miami Fusion, headed by owner/investors Kenneth Horowitz and Jon Stoll, hired Carlos Cordoba as their first head coach. Their roster featured Tampa Bay star Carlos Valderrama, Colombian star Diego Serna, and former National team defender Kle Kooiman, and veteran midfielder Nelson Vargas. Miami also offered a preview of Columbus’s stadium endeavor as they remodeled Ft. Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium into a soccer-specific facility offering excellent sightlines and a wide field meeting FIFA international standards. Both teams had very successful debuts in front of large enthusiastic crowds, but from there their fortunes diverged.

Another major trade of note was a complex three team deal that sent Alexi Lalas from New England to New York, Raul Diaz Arce from D. C. United, and A. J. Wood and future considerations to D. C. United. This created shock waves in all three cities, but the immediate beneficiary appeared to be New England who would finally get the first rate striker they desperately needed. In another major victory for the league. Leonel Alvarez returned to the Dallas Burn. Before the season, MLS presented a videotape, entitled “Sending-off offenses” which featured 28 of the most brutal tackles from last season. It then announced its new FIFA-approved rule change calling for an automatic red card for any tackle from behind which endangered the safety of an opponent.

Once again, the league suffered from competition as players were lost to other distractions like the US Open Cup, the World Cup, CONCACAF Champions Cup, etc. This was a simple fact of life and reflected the reality of the soccer world, made more difficult because MLS played a summer season. Overall, the season was adjusted to reduce the number of games during the World Cup schedule, avoiding a split season. MLS also earned a bit of history on August 28 as Nancy Lay and Sandra Hunt took to the field as the first female referees in US division 1 professional history. They would see increased duties in 1998 and 1999. A measure of how far the women’s cause had come was the fact that their debuts were taken completely in stride with hardly a mention in the media or in the stands.

During the season, D. C. United continued their dominance on the field, again easily winning the Eastern Conference title. Despite losing their top scorer, D. C. United had such a deep roster, they were able to compensate with Roy Lassiter, all-star Jaime Moreno, and Marco Etchevarry. The MetroStars brought a measure of good cheer to the New York region, as they improved enough for 3rd place and returned to the playoff scene. New England continued their hapless ways, falling again to the bottom, even behind expansion Miami who finished a respectable 4th. Even the scoring prowess of Raul Diaz Arce and the addition of coach Walter Zenga late in the season wasn’t enough. In the West, defending division champ Kansas City went into free fall, coming in last place, allowing the Los Angeles Galaxy to reclaim the divisional title they had won back in ’96.

The Galaxy were a scoring machine this year, boasting the league’s 2nd and 3rd best scorers in Cobi Jones and Welton. The Chicago Fire, on the strength of strikers Ante Razov, Roman Kosecki and Jerzy Podhorozny came in a surprising second. Chicago also impressed many for its defensive strengths which had brought criticism earlier in the season, but this combination of strength at both ends of the field proved the doubters wrong. One delightful surprise this season was Stern John, an unheralded A-League veteran from Trinidad who won the league scoring title with 26 goals and 57 points. The other major disappointment was Tampa Bay who fell to 5th place and out of the playoffs.

In the playoffs, Columbus defeated New York 5-3 and 2-1, D. C. United beat Miami in a surprisingly close duel, first by 2-1, and then in a shootout after a 0-0 draw. Los Angeles defeated Dallas 6-1 and 3-2, while Chicago survived a close series with the Rapids 1-1 and 0-0 (shootout). Chicago got another close victory, narrowly defeating Los Angeles 1-0 and 1-1 (shootout), while D. C. United had an easier time with Columbus 2-0, 2-4 and 3-0, despite being forced to a third game. MLS Cup ’98 moved to the west coast, being held at the Rose Bowl, where a crowd of 51,350 saw a tough, closely fought match ultimately dominated by the Fire’s steady goalkeeping from Zach Thornton and playmaking of Peter Nowak as the Fire brought United’s dynasty to an end, with a 2-0 shutout. Chicago won on the strength of their tenacious defense which totally disrupted United’s attack. Chris Armas effectively shut down Marco Etcheverry at Midfield, while Zach Thornton blocked three excellent shots by Roy Lassiter. Meanwhile, all-star Peter Nowak scored in the 29th and 45th minutes, and the rest was history. Chicago then went on to win the US Open Cup in 1998, defeating the Columbus Crew in the final 2-1, off of a Frank Klopas goal in the 99th minute, becoming the first expansion club ever to win the “double” (League and Cup titles).

MLS clubs continued to distinguish themselves at the continental tournaments. On August 17, D. C. United defeated Mexico’s Toluca to win the CONCACAF Champion’s Cup in Washington, the first one in MLS history. D. C. United had qualified as a result of their MLS Cup victory in 1997. Earlier in July, Dallas Burn hosted the first round of the CONCACAF Cup Winners Cup. Dallas had qualified as a result of winning the previous US Open Cup tournament. But the second round was never scheduled, and as of January 2000, the series is considered abandoned. On a brighter note, D. C. United’s Champions Cup victory qualified them for the Interamerican Cup, which pitted the North American and South American champions in a two leg series in November. This was the first time in the 30 year history of the cup that an American club had qualified. The US lost the first leg 0-1, but stunned a tired Vasco De Gama of Brazil, 2-0 in the second game at Ft. Lauderdale to win the cup. Vasco, a perennial Brazilian champion from Rio de Janeiro, had just finished a grueling touring schedule highlighted by their 2-1 loss to Real Madrid one week previously in the World Club Championship in Tokyo. United won off of a sliding goal by Tony Sanneh in the 34th minute, from a low pass by Jeff Agoos. Thirteen minutes later, Eddie Pope booted in Lassiter’s crossing volley off of an Etcheverry corner kick for the clincher.

The league overall had a mixture of successes and concerns in 1998. On the positive side were the solid success of Chicago in its debut season, and the beginning of construction of Columbus’s new soccer-specific stadium. On the international front, the league brought home honors as with the victories at the CONCACAF Champions cup and the stunning upset victory at the Confederations Cup. Of concern however, were the flagging attendance and television ratings. Although the drops were very small, growth had been anticipated this year, although there was no drop noticeable as a result of the disappointing world cup performance, and the loss of top players for the Cup did not affect the league as seriously as had been feared. These issues were critical at this time because the league’s major sponsorships were coming up for renewal. At the end of the season, Fuji and Bandai chose not to renew, although the league did gain Naya and Yahoo as new sponsors. The real test would come after the 1999 season when all the remaining sponsorships would expire. The new television contract would yield MLS approximately $5,000,000 per year. On the field, there were continuing good signs. A large crop of successful players had been drafted from college and signed from abroad, and the successes were more notable than the previous season. Towards the end of the season, Robert Kraft signed on as the investor/operator of the San Jose Clash, solving a vexing problem for the league. The league-operated teams had continually suffered from absentee ownership and had struggled both on the field and at the gate. This left only two teams still without direct management.

Official 1998 MLS Season Stats
Official MLS History Archives

                         Final 1998 MLS Standings

Before the season, Chicago and Miami were added.

                           GP   W  WS  LS   L   GF  GA   Pts
      Eastern Conference
DC United                  32  17   7   3   5   74  48   58
Columbus Crew              32  15   0   5  12   67  56   45
MetroStars                 32  12   3   0  17   54  63   39
Miami Fusion               32  10   5   0  17   46  68   35
Tampa Bay Mutiny           32  11   1   5  15   46  57   34
New England Revolution     32   9   2   4  17   53  66   29

      Western Conference
Los Angeles Galaxy         32  22   2   2   6   85  44   68
Chicago Fire               32  18   2   1  11   62  45   56
Colorado Rapids            32  14   2   2  14   62  69   44
Dallas Burn                32  11   4   2  15   43  59   37
San Jose Clash             32  10   3   5  14   48  60   33
Kansas City Wizards        32  10   2   4  16   45  50   32

Quarterfinals:        Columbus defeated New York, 5-3, 2-1(SO)
                      D. C. United defeated Miami, 2-1, 1-0(SO)
                      Los Angeles defeated Dallas, 6-1, 3-2
                      Chicago defeated Colorado, 1-1, 1-0(SO)
Semifinals:           Chicago defeated Los Angeles, 1-0, 2-1(SO)
                      D. C. United defeated Columbus, 2-0, 2-4, 3-0
MLS CUP '98:          Chicago defeated D. C. United, 2-0

1  Stern John             CLB       27     26       5      57
2  Cobi Jones             LA        24     19      13      51
3  Welton                 LA        31     17      11      45
4  Roy Lassiter           DC*       31     18       8      44
   Raul Diaz Arce         NE        32     18       8      44
6  Jaime Moreno           DC        31     16      11      43
7  Mauricio Cienfuegos    LA        30     13      16      42
8  Marco Etcheverry       DC        29     10      19      39
9  Ronald Cerritos        SJ        31     13      12      38
10 Eduardo Hurtado        MET*      29     11      15      37
11 Giovanni Savarese      MET       30     14       7      35
12 Preki                  KC        25     10      13      33
13 Diego Serna            MIA       26     11       9      31
14 Wolde Harris           COL       27     13       4      30
   Paul Bravo             COL       30     11       8      30
16 Joe-Max Moore          NE        21      7      15      29
   Ante Razov             CHI       30     10       9      29
18 Mauricio Ramos         TB        22      9       9      27
   Brian McBride          CLB       24     10       7      27
   Roman Kosecki          CHI       25      9       9      27
21 Jerzy Podbrozny        CHI       26      6      14      26
   Ross Paule             COL       30     10       6      26
   Jason Kreis            DAL       30      9       8      26
   Martin Machon          LA        31      6      14      26
25 Alan Prampin           TB        31      7      11      25
      * Played for more than one team - Most Recent Team Listed

GOALKEEPING LEADERS  (Minimum 1,000 minutes)
NAME             TEAM(S)  GP   MIN  SHTS  SVS  C/P   GA   GAA    W   L  SO
1  Zach Thornton   CHI    25  2076  118    85   86   27   1.17  16   8   8
2  Kevin Hartman   LA     29  2544  146   103   85   39   1.38  22   7   7
3  Scott Garlick   DC     25  2205  129    88   81   35   1.43  19   5   7
4  Mike Ammann     KC     27  2430  134    85   64   42   1.56  11  16   5
5  David Kramer    SJ     24  2125  132    82   66   39   1.65  10  14   5
6  Thomas Ravelli  TB     23  2053  179   131  109   38   1.67   7  13   2
7  Juergen Sommer  CLB    21  1890  143   106   93   35   1.67  11  10   4
8  Mark Dodd       DAL    25  2205  182   134  102   42   1.71  11  13   6
9  Marcus Hahnemann COL   28  2520  200   138  135   52   1.86  16  12   4
10 Jeff Cassar     MIA    21  1890  151   107   82   41   1.95  12   9   2
11 Tony Meola      MET    31  2790  236   164  110   62   2.00  14  17   4
12 Ian Feuer       NE     26  2336  180   113  135   55   2.12   8  15   5

Honda Most Valuable Player: Marco Etcheverry, D.C. United 
MasterCard Goal of the Year: Brian McBride, Columbus
All Sport Coach of the Year: Bob Bradley, Chicago
Pepsi Goalkeeper of the Year: Zach Thornton, Chicago 
BIC Tough Defender: Lubos Kubik, Chicago 
Rookie of the Year: Ben Olsen, D.C. United 
Budweiser Scoring Champion: Stern John, Columbus
Snickers Fair Play: Thomas Dooley, Columbus
Umbro Referee of the Year: Paul Tamberino 

AT&T Best 11:
G - Zach Thornton, Chicago 
D - Lubos Kubik, Chicago 
D - Eddie Pope, D.C. United 
D - Thomas Dooley, Columbus 
D - Robin Fraser, Los Angeles 
M - Chris Armas, Chicago 
M - Peter Nowak, Chicago 
M - Mauricio Cienfuegos, Los Angeles 
M - Marco Etcheverry, D.C. United 
F - Cobi Jones, Los Angeles 
F - Stern John, Columbus 

All-Star Game, at Orlando, FL. August 2, 1998.  MLS USA defeated MLS World 6-1.  
Brian McBride MVP.  Attendance 34,416.  Goals scored by McBride, Ramos, Lalas, Preki,
Lassiter(USA) and M. Ramos (World).

United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues

The USISL built on its successful reorganization by expanding the A-League to 28 teams, and adding a half dozen amateur teams from the Pacific Coast Soccer League, a successful amateur circuit in the Seattle/Washington area, for a season in the PDSL. The major new development was the establishment of Project 40 by the USSF and Major league Soccer. Project 40, a developmental team for MLS and National team prospects was awarded a spot in the A-league’s Pacific division where it would play a road schedule, with matches against each of the other 27 teams. (see move above, under Major league Soccer). Project 40 had a very successful first year, drawing much fan interest and averaging better than 2,300 fans in its games. The club finished a respectable 4th in the A-League Pacific, considering its lack of a home site, and more importantly, provided invaluable training experience for the new crop of successful players several of whom had established themselves in MLS by the end of the season.

To further strengthen league operations, Commissioner Marcos created separate administrative offices for each league, headed by Directors who would assume full day-to day operations for their respective leagues. This lead to greatly improved administrative coherence at all levels. Meanwhile, the working relationship between MLS and USISL clubs was strengthened as more players passed through the USISL on the way to MLS stardom, as had been planned. Finally, the USISL put into effect their promotion system whereby the D3Pro champion was automatically promoted to the A-League. Unlike the previous season, there was no miracle on the US Open Cup, the best the A-League could do was to get the Nashville Metros into the quarterfinals.

Final 1998 USISL standings and playoff results

USISL A-League (Division 2)

The A-League added several new teams, including Staten island and the new Project 40 team. San Francisco, Cincinnati and D3Pro champion Albuquerque were promoted. Project 40 was a major new initiative which would help to strengthen the ties between the USISL and MLS, while providing more opportunities for the development of new talent for MLS and the National Team (See details above). The team had a respectable showing in its first season, finishing 5th in the Pacific Division. Another major success story was the San Diego Flash, who had moved from Colorado. The new team was an immediate hit, averaging over 3,000 fans per game, and winning the Pacific division. On the downside, the Atlanta Ruckus failed partway through the season following several weeks of missed paychecks. The league took over the franchise for the duration of the season, and then awarding it to new investors. Another disappointment was the first team to be promoted after winning the D3Pro championship. The Albuquerque Geckos collapsed, finishing 5-22, and folded after the season. Total league attendance was 992,245 (2,531 per game), a slight decline from the previous year. After the season, management problems with the Montreal Impact resulted in the team leaving the A-League to concentrate full-time on indoor soccer in the NPSL.

The season was lengthened to accommodate the larger field of teams, starting in early April and extending through September. The major success story was the continuing domination of the Rochester Rhinos who led the league in goals scored (72), and strongest defense (15 goals allowed) while setting a new attendance record (11,498 per game). This was definitely the year of the roo9kie, with four players among the leading scorers: Kirk Wilson of El Paso, Cincinnati’s Jason Kairns, Project 40’s Josh Wolff, and Mike Burke of Charleston. One of the most productive teams was the San Francisco Bay Seals, who sent three players up to MLS, C. J. Brown, Marquis White and Tim Weaver. Cincinnati made a respectable performance despite having been promoted from the Premier League over the winter. Otherwise, there were few surprises this season, outside of the rapid decline of the California Jaguars and the ruse of the Nashville Metros who won their first divisional title.

Sixteen teams entered the playoffs with no byes and single elimination for the first round. These playoffs were distinguished by the large number of shootouts (6 of 22 games). The first round only saw one upset as Nashville was ousted by New Orleans. The conference semifinals were won by Hershey, Rochester, Minnesota and San Diego. In the conference finals, Rochester defeated upstart Hershey 3-1 and 1-0, while Minnesota ended San Diego’s amazing debut run 2-1 and 2-1. Rochester completed its banner year with a decisive 3-0 shutout over Minnesota to take the A-League title. A novel twist for the season was the annual all-star game. This time it pitted an established team, the Hershey Wildcats against an A-League select squad at Hershey’s home stadium. In a major surprise, the Wildcats not only defeated the best of the rest, but shut them out 3-0.

              Final A-League Standings, 1998

Before the season, Staten Island and US Project 40 Select were added.
New Orleans became the Storm.  Hampton Roads rejoined the league.  
San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Albuquerque were promoted.  Colorado 
moved to San Diego.  Carolina is on hiatus for the 1998 season.

                           GP   W  SW  SL   L          F    A  Pts
     Northeast Division
Rochester Rhinos           28  23   1   1   3   +57   72 - 15   70   
Impact de Montreal         28  13   8   2   5   +14   47 - 33   47   
Staten Island Vipers       28  15   1   1  11    +9   46 - 37   46   
Long Island RR             28  14   3   1  10   +11   46 - 35   45   
Worcester Wildfire         28  10   2   2  14   -13   37 - 50   32   
Toronto Lynx               28   8   1   2  17   -15   27 - 42   25   
Connecticut Wolves         28   2   5   3  18   -25   32 - 57   11

     Atlantic Division
Richmond Kickers           28  18   3   2   5   +26   48 - 22   57   
Hershey Wildcats           28  17   2   1   8   +20   51 - 31   53   
Hampton Roads Mariners     28  15   1   3   9    +5   44 - 39   46   
Charleston Battery         28  11   1   1  15    -3   37 - 40   34   
Jacksonville Cyclones      28  10   0   2  16   -17   36 - 53   30   
Atlanta Ruckus/A.L.L.      28   7   0   1  20   -36   31 - 67   21   
Raleigh Flyers             28   5   0   2  21   -35   31 - 66   15   

     Central Division
Nashville Metros           28  18   2   1   7   +39   70 - 31   56   
Minnesota Thunder          28  16   3   1   8   +19   52 - 33   51   
Milwaukee Rampage          28  16   1   3   8   +22   61 - 39   49   
New Orleans Storm          28  14   1   1  12    +3   53 - 50   43   
Cincinnati Riverhawks      28  11   0   0  17   -17   48 - 65   33   
El Paso Patriots           28   9   3   1  15    -3   51 - 54   30   
Albuquerque Geckos         28   5   0   1  22   -61   39 -100   15   

     Pacific Division
San Diego Flash            28  20   1   1   6   +35   58 - 23   61   
Seattle Sounders           28  17   1   0  10   +35   63 - 28   52   
Orange County Zodiac       28  15   1   3   9    +6   49 - 43   46   
Vancouver 86ers            28  13   2   1  12   +13   55 - 42   41   
MLS Project 40             28  10   1   2  15   -10   45 - 55   31   
SF Bay Seals               28   9   1   5  13   -16   31 - 47   28   
California Jaguars         28   6   0   1  21   -63   32 - 95   18   

Conference Quarterfinals:  Rochester defeated Charleston 3-0
                           Hershey defeated Hampton Roads 2-1(SO)
                           Montreal defeated Staten Island 3-1
                           Richmond defeated Long Island 1-0(SO)
                           San Diego defeated Vancouver 4-1
                           New Orleans defeated Nashville 3-2(SO)
                           Minnesota defeated Milwaukee 5-1
                           Seattle defeated Vancouver 2-1
Conference Semifinals:     Hershey defeated Richmond 1-0(SO), 4-2
                           Rochester defeated Montreal 3-2(SO), 4-1
                           Minnesota defeated Seattle 2-1, 1-2
                           San Diego defeated New Orleans 2-1, 4-3(SO)
Conference Finals:         Rochester defeated Hershey, 3-1, 1-0
                           Minnesota defeated San Diego, 2-1, 2-1
CHAMPIONSHIP:              Rochester defeated Minnesota, 3-1

During the season, Atlanta was revoked by the league, and their standings 
awarded to a new franchise, A-League Atlanta.  After the season, Montreal 
withdrew to play full time indoors in the NPSL, and Nashville folded.  
California was relegated to the D-3 Pro League.
Leading Scorers:
                               GP   G   A Pts
Mark Baena, Seattle            28  24   5  53
Darren Tilley, Rochester       24  21   6  48
Amos Magee, Minnesota          23  15  10  40
Kirk Wilson, El Paso           27  15   7  37
Mauro Biello, Montreal         27  11  13  35
Mike Burke, Charleston         27  16   2  34
Gary Glasgow, New Orleans      24  15   4  34
Antonio Robles, San Diego      24  15   4  34
Yari Allnutt, Rochester        27  14   5  33
Jon Szczepanski, Milwaukee     27   8  14  30
Jason Cairns, Cincinnati       28   8  14  30
Luis Labastida, Albuquerque    27   9  11  29
John Smith, Nashville          27   9  11  29
Patrick Beech, Seattle         23  12   4  28
Steve Patterson, Orage County  27  11   6  28
Martin Reynders, Nashville     21  11   6  28
Giuliano Olivero, Montreal     23   8  11  27
Gino DiFloria, Cincinnati      23  12   2  26
Jimmy Glenn, Rochester         20  10   6  26

Goalkeeping Leaders: (Min 980 minutes)
                             GP  Min   GA SHO   GAA
Pat Onstad, Rochester        26  2362  13  16  0.50
Mike McGinty, Richmond       15  1330  11   6  0.74
Joe Cannon, San Diego        28  2475  22  11  0.80
Alex Deegan, Richmond        14  1186  11   5  0.83
Dusty Hudock, Seattle        28  2523  28  10  1.00
Peter Pappas, Staten Island  18  1626  18   6  1.00
Khalil Azmi, Hershey         23  2122  24   7  1.02
John Swallen, Minnesota      26  2397  29   7  1.09
Paolo Ceccarelli, Montreal   11   984  12   2  1.10
Paul Shepard, Montreal       19  1701  21   7  1.11

Most Valuable Player:  Mark Baena, Seattle Sounders 
Top Goal Scorer:  Mark Baena, Seattle Sounders
Top Goalkeeper:  Pat Onstead, Rochester Raging Rhinos
Coach of the Year: Pat Ercoli, Rochester Raging Rhinos
Defender of the Year: Scott Schweitzer, Rochester Raging Rhinos
Rookie of the Year:  Mike Burke, Charleston Battery

All A-League Team:

G - Pat Onstead, Rochester
D - Scott Schweitze, Rochester
D - Gabe Eastman, Nashville
D - Craig Demmin, Rochester
M - Yari Allnutt, Rochester
M - John Ball, Staten island
M - Mauro Biello, Montreal
M - Lee Tachantret, Hershey
F - Amos Magee, Minnesota
F - Darren Tilley, Rochester
F - Mark Baena, Seattle

All-Star Game, at Hershey:  Hershey Wildcats defeated A-League All-Stars 3-0.  

USISL D3-Pro League (Division 3)

The D3Pro League remained steady at 38 teams, following the usual moves, promotions and relegations, but with a new seven division structure. The major success story was the Western Massachusetts Pioneers, based in Ludlow, just outside of Springfield. This club was managed by the Lusitano club, one of the premier soccer organizations in New England, with a history dating back well into the 1920’s. The Lusitano clubs of decades past had a number of successes in the old American Soccer League, and the well established community provided a major base of fan support, as the tem averaged over 2,000 fans per game. On the field, the big news was the rise of the Miami Breakers, who compiled a league best 17-1 record in winning the Southeast Division. League attendance totaled 311,811 (783 per game). In other action, the Rhode Island Stingrays, Delaware Wizards and Indiana Blast had successful seasons, while the Austin Lone Stars returned to glory, taking the South Central.

The playoffs were a major upset for many of the better teams, with only Austin among the division titleists advancing to the quarterfinals, along with New Hampshire, Chicago and Orlando. The entire playoffs were single elimination, giving the underdogs many opportunities to stage surprises. In the semifinals, Chicago defeated Orlando 2-0 and New Hampshire defeated Austin 3-2 in overtime. The championship game saw New Hampshire’s impressive run come to an end as the Chicago Stingers took the title 3-2 in an exciting overtime match. Chicago took the unusual step of declining their promotion to the A-league, after assessing their financial ability to compete at the text level. Interestingly, the Stingers actually relegated themselves down to the PDSL, along with several other teams, in order to take advantage of the amateur status and ability to field college players.

Final 1998 D3-Pro League standings and playoff results

Top Scorers:
                                 G   A  Pts
Luis Orellana, Chico            15   9   39
Michael Butler, Western Mass.   15   9   39
Mark Phillips, Indiana          14   9   37
Virgil Stevens, Tulsa           15   5   35
Edar Hernandez, Texas           14   4   32
Phil Kam, Reading               14   3   31
Aaron Muth, Arizona             12   6   30
Matthew Miles, South Jersey     14   2   30
Paulo Dos Santos, Rhode Island  11   8   30

Leading Goalkeepers: 
                                  GA  GAA
Daniel Britton, Roanoke           11  0.83
Joe Schafer, Delaware             16  0.92
Marcus Roy, Chicago               16  0.93
Paul Royal, South Jersey          20  1.03
Jeremy Bailey, New Hampshire      13  1.07
Reggie Pierre-Jerome, Miami       12  1.08

Most Valuable Player:  Luis Orellana, Chico Rooks
Top Scorer:  Luis Orellana, Chico Rooks
Top Goalkeeper:  Daniel Britton, Roanoke Wrath 
Coach of the Year: Mate Kozul, Arizona Suaharos
Defender of the Year:  Lovelace Ackah, Chicago Stingers
Rookie of the Year:  Michael Butler, Western Massachusetts Pioneers

USISL Premier Development Soccer League (PDSL) (“Division 4”)

The PDSL took to the field with 33 teams this season, including four associate members from the Pacific Coast Soccer League who played shortened schedules after their PCSL season was over. The major story was the return of the Colorado Comets, one of the original outdoor teams from ten years past, and a frequent champion. They quickly gained their stride, winning the Central division with 39 points, good for a tie with 3rd in the league. The top team for the season was the Jackson Chargers who compiled a perfect 16-0 record in the Southeast.

Like the D3Pro league, success in the season didn’t necessarily mean success in the playoffs. as only Detroit and Jackson among division titlists advanced to the second round. The semifinals saw Jackson defeat Kalamazoo and San Gabriel Valley who came in a strong 2nd in the Southwest, defeated Des Moines 3-1. In the championship, Jackson’s stellar performance came to an abrupt end as San Gabriel Valley upset them to take the PDSL title in a nailbiter, 3-2. A great way to end the season for a club only in its third season.

Final 1998 PDSL standings and playoff results

Most Valuable Player:  Rodrigo Costa, Detroit Dynamite
Top Scorer:  Boniventure Manati, Jackson Chargers (27 goals, 63 points)
Goalkeeper of the Year:  Joshua Fouts, Spokane Shadow
Coach of the Year: Peter Fuller, Jackson Chargers
Defender of the Year:  Dave Adams, Colorado Comets
Rookie of the Year:  Brian Ching, Spokane Shadow

The W-League

The W-league signed National team members Tracy Ducar and Michelle Akers, plus National Team Captain Carla Overbeck this season. They joined fellow Nationals Debbie Keller, Brianna Scurry, Danielle Fotopoulos and Kristine Lilly. This was truly the breakthrough year for the W-League. In order to provide a better venue for top competition, the league split into two divisions, with the W-1 Elite division consisting of the strongest teams. This followed the defection of all the west coast teams who formed their own league, the Women’s Premier Soccer League. Expansion franchises kept the league’s size comparable to last year however. Attendance surged 24% this season, to 86,780. Because of its amateur status, the W-League provides the opportunity for college players to compete with the top stars of the National Team, providing many opportunities for the stars of tomorrow to gain experience from the best of today. The W-League strengthened working relationships with the USSF, USASA and NCAA to expand its major role in the overall blueprint for the development of women’s soccer.

The Raleigh Wings compiled a perfect season, and surged to the W-1 finals, defeating the powerful Boston Renegades to win their first title. They had shut out Maryland 5-0 and defeated Atlanta 2-1. In the W-2 division, the Ft. Collins Force defeated the Hampton Roads Piranhas 2-1 at Miami Beach, FL, on the strength of a 2 goal performance by Maren Hendershot.

Final 1998 W-League standings and playoff results

Leading Scorers:
                                   G  A  Pts
Charmaine Hooper, Chicago           23  6   52
Mikka Hansen, Denver                17  9   43
Alissa Lord, Charlotte              14  1   29
Nickie Kelly, New Jersey            11 12   34
Kristin Kurzynowski, New Jersey     16  1   33
Jessica Reifer, New York            11  8   30

Leading Goalkeepers: 
                                 GA   GAA
Kim Wyant, Long Island           13  0.97
Jen Mead, Boston                 15  1.21
Camille Thomas, Chicago          15  1.26
Amy Pseja, New Jersey             9  0.68
Danielle Dion, Miami             15  1.32
Katie Carson, Cleveland          16  1.57

      W-1 Award Winners:
Most Valuable Player  Charmaine Hooper, Chicago Cobras
Top Scorer:  Charmaine Hooper, Chicago Cobras
Leading Goalkeeper:  Kim Wyant, Long Island Lady Riders
Coach of the Year:  Bill Paladino, Raleigh Wings
Defender of the Year:  Nel Fettig, Raleigh Wings
Organization of the Year:  Charlotte Speed

      W-2 Award Winners:
Most Valuable Player  Jessica Reifer, New York Magic
Top Scorer:  Nickie Kelly, New Jersey Lady Stallions
Leading Goalkeeper:  Amy Pseja, New Jersey Lady Stallions
Coach of the Year:  Kim Shaw, Cleveland Eclipse
Defender of the Year:  Ingrid Wagner, Cleveland Eclipse
Organization of the Year:  Fort Collins Force

USISL I-League (Indoor)

The I-League just barely stayed alive this year, as five teams took to the field, including long-time stalwarts Oklahoma city and Tulsa. Three teams also played limited schedules. The Baltimore Bays again won the season undefeated, and then beat the Tulsa Roughnecks 13-10 for the title.

Final 1997-98 I-League standings and playoff results

National Professional Soccer League

This was a year of consolidation for the NPSL. Toronto and Tampa Bay sat out the season (Toronto would later fold), while the A-League’s Montreal Impact joined the league, absorbing the Canton Invaders, one of the last two remaining original franchises. Before the season, the NPSL established a relationship with Soccer Leagues of America, Inc. (SLA) a new organization that was designed to establish and manage minor indoor soccer leagues throughout the country. SLA teams would develop farm club agreements with NPSL clubs to provide a developmental pool for future indoor stars. Hector Marinaro became the first player in indoor history to score 1,000 goals on December 30, 1997. Attendance fell somewhat to 1,794,819, but this was due to the loss of three teams for this season. the average attendance rise to an all-time high of 6,254 per game.

The season started with a bang as Gino DiFlorio scored ten points in his debut with the Cincinnati Silverbacks as they routed Cleveland 27-17. The Milwaukee Wave were unstoppable during the early part of the season, and had built up a 20 game home winning streak by December 13. (They would only lose at home once this season). Meanwhile, Milwaukee Goalie Victor Nogueira continued to cement his position as the NPSL’s premier goalkeeper, holding Harrisburg to 4 points as he makes 13 saves to preserve the win. In January, Wichita’s Eric Rasmussen broke NPSL records for assists in a quarter (6) and half 99) as the Wings defeat Cleveland 25-13. Shortly afterwards, St. Louis Goalkeeper Jamie Swanner became the first NPSL goalkeeper to play 400 games.

While all the scoring feats were occurring, the regular season was somewhat of a replay of last season. St. Louis and Buffalo retained their titles, while Milwaukee, took advantage of the weaker Central Division to take the Central, with the league’s best record (28-12), and the Philadelphia Kixx finished their sophomore season atop the East. Of these teams, only Buffalo failed to make the conference finals. Thus began the battle of the titans: And tough battles they were. Milwaukee defeated Philadelphia 7-9 (OT), 19-5, 12-3, and 16-10, whole St. Louis topped Wichita in a closer battle 17-9, 18-0, 21-14, and 19-11, setting up an eagerly awaited championship series. This was the first time in NPSL history that the two best teams from the regular season met in the final series. The Milwaukee Wave capped their record season by winning their first league championship 16-14, 18-10, 17-14, 8-12, and 22-10 over St. Louis, with a stellar performance by rookie Chris Jahr who netted a pair of three point goals. the victory was sweet for the Wave, an original league franchise whose 14 years of perseverance finally paid off.

                     Final NPSL 1997-98 Standings

Before the season, Columbus was absorbed by the A-League's Montreal Impact, who joined the NPSL for the winter season.  Toronto and Tampa Bay sat out the 1997 season.

                          GP   W   L    PCT   GB     GF    GA
Philadelphia Kixx         40  26  14   .650  ----   569   484
Harrisburg Heat           40  21  19   .525   5.0   530   518
Baltimore Spirit          40  12  28   .300  14.0   487   569
Milwaukee Wave            40  28  12   .700  ----   593   486
Cleveland Crunch          40  21  19   .525   7.0   627   612
Cincinnati Silverbacks    40  15  25   .375  13.0   563   604

     NORTH DIVISION       GP   W   L    PCT   GB    FOR    AG
Buffalo Blizzard          40  21  19   .525  ----   495   504
Edmonton Drillers         40  18  22   .450   3.0   428   418
Montreal Impact           40  16  24   .400   5.0   455   518
Detroit Rockers           40  13  27   .325   8.0   464   571
St. Louis Ambush          40  27  13   .675  ----   625   513
Wichita Wings             40  22  18   .550   5.0   575   559
Kansas City Attack        40  20  20   .500   7.0   442   497

Conference Quarterfinals:  Kansas City defeated Edmonton 8-4, 14-8
                           Harrisburg defeated Cincinnati 14-12 (OT),
                                 5-27, 18-13.
Conference Semifinals:     St. Louis defeated Kansas City, 17-8, 18-15
                           Wichita defeated Buffalo, 19-16,15-14
                           Milwaukee defeated Harrisburg, 19-4, 18-11
                           Philadelphia defeated Cleveland, 10-4, 29-27 (OT)
Conference Finals:         Milwaukee defeated Philadelphia, 7-9 (OT), 19-5,
                                 12-3, 16-10
                           St. Louis defeated Wichita, 17-9, 10-8, 21-14,19-11
CHAMPIONSHIP:              Milwaukee defeated St. Louis, 16-14, 18-10, 17-14,
                                 8-12, 21-10

After the season, Cincinnati, Toronto and Tampa Bay (both on hiatus) folded.  

NPSL All-Star Game:  February 17, 1998.  American Conference defeated 
National Conference 28-17.  High scorers: MVP:  Victor Nogueira. 
Leading scorers:  

                    TEAM  GP  3PG  2PG  1PG  AST  POINTS
Marinaro, Hector     CLE   36   7   68   12   43    212
Karic, Zoran         CLE   35   8   37   17   91    206
DiFlorio, Gino       CIN   40  15   32   20   48    177
Reiniger, Joe        STL   39  12   40    9   39    164
Lilavois, Bernie     CIN   40   4   52   10   24    150
Vuckovic, Bojan      BAL   32   2   46   12   38    148
King, Michael        MIL   40   4   44    4   35    139
Pikuzinski, Rudy     BUF   38   2   44    7   38    139
Sloan, Kevin         PHL   36   4   43   10   23    131
McIntosh, Franklin   STL   34   4   26    8   55    127
Brose, Dennis        DET   29   6   33   17   23    124
D'Ambra, Don         PHL   40   3   46    3   17    121
Knowles, Matt        PHL   38   7   27   14   30    119
Hesch, Jim           HAR   38   7   21   12   44    119
Richardson, Mike     MIL   38   4   27    5   42    113
Moser, Mark          STL   29   0   44    9   12    109
Salgado, Eloy        MON   42   0   32   15   30    109
Bascome, David       HAR   36   6   27    8   26    106
Barber, Dan          CIN   39   2   35    4   25    105
Dunn, Jason          WCH   39   3   35    6   16    101

Leading Goalkeepers: (min. 900 minutes)

GOALKEEPER         TEAM GPI   MIN      SF   SV  3PG  2PG  1PG  PTS   W  L    AVG
Hileman, Scott     EDM   39  2252:46  664  475  24  142   23   379  17 19  10.09
Nogueira, Victor   MIL   30  1652:29  540  387  15  113   25   296  22  6  10.75
Pappas, Pete       PHL   34  1886:52  669  491  18  130   30   344  24  9  10.94
Stanisic, Scoop    KCY   28  1639:53  550  395  16  115   24   302  15 12  11.05
Ceccarelli, Paolo  MON   27  1435:52  487  348  12  115   12   278  12 13  11.62
Andracki, Bill     BUF   39  2231:54  704  481  18  180   25   439  19 16  11.80
Swanner, Jamie     STL   36  2123:48  849  623  18  178   30   440  24 12  12.43
Kluba, John        HAR   19   975:46  375  270   9   85   11   208  10  8  12.79
Damico, Chris      WCH   32  1794:14  672  481  21  151   19   384  17 14  12.84
Azmi, Khalil       BAL   37  1792:12  692  486  13  152   41   384  10 21  12.86
Finnerty, Bryan    DET   40  2251:31  906  644  24  196   42   506  13 26  13.48
Pena, Carlos       CIN   27  1541:25  611  436  15  144   16   349  13 13  13.58
Orf, Otto          CLE   36  2057:49  785  531  19  201   34   493  20 16  14.37

Most Valuable Player:  Victor Nogueira, Milwaukee Wave
Goalkeeper of the Year:  Victor Noguiera, Milwaukee Wave
Coach of the Year:  Keith Tozer, Milwaukee Wave
Defender of the Year:  Matt Knowles, St. Louis Ambush
Rookie of the Year:  Travis Roy, Detroit Rockers

First All-NPSL Team:

G - Victor Nogueira, Milwaukee
D - Matt Knowles, Philadelphia
D - Daryl Doran, St. Louis
F - hector Marinaro, Cleveland
F - Zoran Karic, Cleveland
F - Joe Reininger, St. Louis

Premier Soccer Alliance

The Premier Soccer Alliance was founded on the ashes of the Continental Indoor Soccer League by several teams who had withdrawn from the CISL after dissatisfaction with growing discord in the league office. Given that the league consisted of the core of the CISL, it got off to a very good start, with the bulk of CISL players still with their old teams. Fan attendance was high, over 200,000 for the season, capped by 13,665 for the championship game in Dallas, where the Dallas Sidekicks defeated the Sacramento Knights for the inaugural trophy. This season was more of a provisional season while the teams solidified their organizational base, but the results were extremely encouraging. The league already had expansion plans when it decided to go global, reaching an arrangement with an English indoor league. It was decided the PSA and the English Indoor Football league would merge for 1999 as the new World Indoor Soccer League.

                Final PSA Standings, 1998


                            League Standings   Int'l   Overall
                            G   W   L   PCT.   W   L    W   L
Dallas Sidekicks           10   8   2   .800   4   0   12   2
Sacramento Knights          8   4   4   .500   2   1    6   5
Arizona Thunder             7   3   4   .429   1   0    4   4
Portland Pythons            7   1   6   .143   4   0    5   6
Mexico                                         1   2
Canada                                         0   1
El Salvador                                    0   1
Argentina                                      0   3
Brazil                                         0   4

CHAMPIONSHIP:        Dallas defeated Sacramento, 6-2.

Scoring Leaders:
                                 GP   G   A  Pts
David Doyle, Dallas           15  18  19  37
Tatu, Dallas                  14  22  13  35
J. Betts, Portland            12  19  15  34
N. Stavrou, Dallas            15  12  13  25
P. Shamu, Dallas              13  12  12  24
D. Barber, Sacramento         10   8  12  20

Leading Goalkeepers: (Min 180 minutes)
                              GP    Min   W   L   GAA
S. Ray, Dallas                10  578:18  8   2   3.53
Dan Madsen, Sacramento         7  336:36  4   1   3.57
J. de La O, Portland           4  222:33  2   2   4.32
B. Quinn, Sacramento           8  333:40  2   4   4.86
N. Vorberg, Portland           8  373:47  2   4   6.74
C. Sagar, Arizona              8  388:19  3   3   6.80

Most Valuable Player:  Tatu, Dallas Sidekicks
Goalkeeper of the Year:  Dan Madsen, Sacramento Knights
Coach of the Year:  Tatu, Dallas Sidekicks
Defender of the Year:  Rusty Troy, Dallas Sidekicks
Rookie of the Year:  Jorge Fernandez, Sacramento Knights

All-PSA First Team:

G - Dan Madsen, Sacramento
D - Rusty Troy, Dallas
D - Iain Fraser, Sacramento
M - Jeff Betts, Portland
F - David Doyle, Dallas
F - Tatu, Dallas

Eastern Indoor Soccer League

The EISL began their second season with two relocated teams. Columbus became the Mississippi beach Kings, while the Tupelo Hound Dogs became the Pensacola Flyers. The move benefited mainly Mississippi who jumped from last to second place. meanwhile, Lafayette again won the regular season with a 20-8 record. In the playoffs, Lafayette defeated Baton Rouge 13-5 and 14-4, while Mississippi defeated Huntsville 4-11, 15-13 (SO), and 12-4. In the championship match, Lafayette defeated Mississippi to retain the title. The league folded shortly after the season, due to heavy financial losses and low attendance in all but one market. Attendance had climbed to 268,143, (2.733 per game) but only Lafayette was anywhere breaking even. Todd Dusosky was the leading scorer (26 games, 36 goals, 36 assists for 112 points), and Chuck Granade was the leading goalkeeper (1660 min, 7.66 GAA). Lee Edgerton was the league MVP, while Stuart Dobson was goalkeeper of the year.

EISL Final league Standings, 1998

EISL Final league Standings, 1998

Men’s National Team

EISL Final league Standings, 1998See 1998 World Cup, above for the Men’s National Team events.

Another major development was the launching of Project 2010, an expansion of Project 40 launched earlier this year (ass above). Project 2010 is a long-term developmental program designed to build a national team capable of winning the World Cup by 2010. The first impact would be the gradual expansion of Project 40 to include 120 players by 2010. The program, funded with $50,000,000 from Nike and new US Soccer marketing firm IMG, will launch its Player Development Opportunity (PDO) program in 1999, with a full-time national team camp for approx. 20 U-17 players at IMG’s Bolliteri Academy in Bradenton, FL. It will also provide 360 players in six age groups with 75 days of intensive training, expanding eventually to include 1,000 players for 100 days by 2010. If successful, this would provide an unprecedented amount of competition and training previously unavailable through the NCAA and ODP.

The Men’s U-18 team played in the World Youth Games this year, highlighted by Micah Cook’s hat trick in the US’s 6-0 victory over Poland in mid July. The US Soccer Foundation increased its grant fund by 30% this year, awarding $2,650,000 to various soccer organizations. On the youth front, the US Youth Soccer expanded their Olympic development Program by launching their first SuperLeague. This league, Region 1, extending from Maine to Virginia provided top level ODP youth competition for youths aged 14-19, and was headed by former A-League commissioner Richard Groff.

Women’s National Team

The Goodwill Games added women’s soccer for the first time this year to its games being played in New York City. The soccer competition took place July 25-27 at the newly renovated Mitchell Complex in Uniondale, Long Island, the home field for the USISL D3Pro league’s Long Island Rough Riders. The competition was small, only four teams. The US took the gold, shutting out Denmark 5-0 and China 2-0. Mia Hamm was the star, scoring a hat trick in the Denmark game and scoring both goals against China. Veteran Carin Gabarra retired April 24, after a stellar career highlighted by performances in the 1991 and 1995 Women’s World Cups and the 1996 Olympics. She had 117 caps and 53 goals. Meanwhile, Kristine Lilly set the all-time world Cap record when she played in her 153rd game in the 2-0 victory over Japan at Kobe on May 21. She broke the record held previously by Heidi Stoere of Norway.. Mia Hamm reached her own milestone, getting her 100th cap later in the year.

The year started in China at the Guangzhou International Tournament, where the Americans shut out Sweden 3-0 before drawing with China 0-0 and closing out with a 3-0 shutout of Norway. Then on to the Algarve Cup in Portugal. This was another exercise in frustration, as the US’s sweep through the tournament was slammed to a halt by a 4-1 loss to Norway in the semis. Norway by now was earning a reputation as the giant killers in major tournaments versus the United States, having defeated them previously in the Algarve Cup and World Cup ’95. But the US did win the 3rd place game, downing Sweden 3-1. This was followed by a series of friendlies back on home turf, highlighted by 8-1 and 7-0 routs over Argentina. A trip to Japan left japan reeling under threee straight losses to the US, the last one 3-0, on goals by Chastain, Lilly and Venturini. At the end of May, the US enjoyed some great exposure in a MLS doubleheader at the nation’s capital, where they shut out New Zealand 5-0 in front of 46,037 fans, the largest crowd to witness the tam since the 1996 Olympics.

A few days later this was followed by the game that never happened, a follow-up match with new Zealand at the Hartwick campus in Oneonta, as part of the US Soccer Hall of Fame induction celebration which featured the induction of April Heinrichs as the first female player to be enshrined. The entire weekend had seen intermittent downpours and storm warnings, and the day before the game had seen several tornadoes rip through the valley causing extensive damage throughout the area. Nearby SUNY-Oneonta was in fact serving as an emergency relocation center at the time for displaced persons. The induction ceremony, held a day after the tornadoes, was an emotional affair, and with Franz Beckenbauer the only enshrinee absent, April’s acceptance speech was the highlight. The storms had held back during the dinner, so the decision was made to go ahead with the game; the stands were already filling with patrons, despite storm clouds on the horizon. The game itself was called after 20 minutes, and the entire sell out crowd of 6,000+ was escorted across the field as the rain approached, to the Hartwick basketball gymnasium. While the downpour gale raged outside, the team members, hall of famers and USSF officials entertained the crowd with pep talks, trivia contests and songs until the game was cancelled an hour later.

Outside of a few more friendlies, the other major event was USA Cup ’98. The first game was held in Foxboro, MA on September 12, in a doubleheader with the MLS New England revolution. Mia Hamm was three goals away from scoring her 100th goal, and the opponent was Mexico, making this a good counterpart to the Revolution/USA-Mexico men’s doubleheader of 1997. Mexico was a relative newcomer to women’s soccer, and the US totally dominated. Hamm scored twice in the first period, and had at least five excellent scoring opportunities throughout the rest of the game. Several shots missed or hit the goalpost, but three times, in her typical unselfish fashion, she bypassed a clear opportunity for #100 to pass the ball to a teammate who she felt had a better angle on the goal. The game ended 9-0, with Lilly scoring the other double. Hamm finally got $100 in the next game at Rochester as the US shut out Russia 4-0. The final was another shutout as the US downed Brazil 3-0 to take yet another USA Cup. A pair of victories over Ukraine finished the year for them. A great year for the team as they finished with a best-ever 22 wins, 2 draws a 1 loss, and for Mia Hamm who had 20 goals and 20 assists. With World Cup 1999 coming quickly, and ticket sales far ahead of expectations, this was a great preview for what would be the best year in the team’s history, and the best year ever for American soccer.

1998 USA Women’s National Team results

U. D. Open Cup

Once again, the MLS clubs largely swept the first round of the finals, with only the A-League’s Nashville Metros joining 7 other MLS teams for the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals, Columbus Crew shut out Miami 3-0, the Metrostars shut out Tampa Bay 4-0, and Nashville was trounced 5-0 by the Dallas Burn. The Chicago Fire and Dan Diego Clash fought to a 1-1 draw before Chicago won on penalty kicks. <.P>

In the semifinals, Columbus defeated the Metrostars 1-0 and Chicago defeated Dallas 3-2. The final was held at Soldier Field in Chicago where the Chicago Fire defeated Columbus Crew 2-1 and went on to win their first “double” when they won the MLS Cup.

International Tours

New England Revolution to Mexico: March 12, 1998 through March 24, 1998. Results: 4 wins, 0 draws, 0 losses.

3/12/98  Revolution 3, Tapatio 0
3/16/98  Revolution 3, Atlas 0
3/17/98  Revolution 3, Tecos 1
3/24/98  Revolution 3, Universidad de Mexico 1

International Clubs vs. Major League Soccer: Results: 5 wins, 3 draws, 4 losses.

(home team listed first)
2/21/98  New England Revolution 2, Ikast (Denmark) 1
3/4/98   Dallas Burn 1, Nexaca (Mexico) 4
3/5/98   A. C. Milan (Italy) 3, Metrostars 1
3/8/98   Dallas Burn 1, Cruz Azul (Mexico) 2
5/5/98   San Jose Clash 1, Chivas (Mexico) 1
5/20/98  Miami Fusion 4, Honduran National Team 2
5/20/02  Tampa Bay Mutiny 0, Leicester City (England) 0
6/9/98   Metrostars 1, Benfica (Portugal) 3
6/11/98  New England Revolution 1, Benfica (Portugal) 2
7/10/02  San Jose Clash 2, Morelia (Mexico) 3
7/15/98  Chicago Fire 1, UNAM Pumas (Mexico) 0
11/18/98 San Jose Clash 0, Toluca (Mexico) 0

The College Game

NCAA soccer enjoyed a new mini boom as the men’s varsity programs increased from 686 to 719, and women’s exploded from 721 to 790. This year, over 77% of all NCAA institutions had a varsity women’s soccer program. Because of the growth of the women’s game, their Division 1 tournament was expanded from 32 to 48 teams.

In the 1998 Men’s Division 1 Tournament, third round action saw Indiana defeat Clemson 2-1, Santa Clara defeat St. John’s (NY) 2-1, Maryland defeat Creighton 3-2, and Stanford defeat Virginia 3-0. In the semifinals, Indiana defeated Santa Clara 4-0, and Stanford defeated Maryland 1-0. In the championship, held in Richmond Virginia on December 13, Indiana defeated Stanford 3-1.

In the Women’s Division 1 tournament, third round action saw North Carolina defeat Dartmouth 3-0, Portland defeated Notre Dame 2-1, Santa Clara defeated Connecticut 1-0 and Florida defeated Penn State 3-1. In the semifinals, North Carolina defeated Portland 1-0 and Florida defeated Santa Clara 1-0. In the Championship, held in Greensboro, NC on December 6, Florida upset North Carolina 1-0.

Division II Men’s champion: Southern Connecticut State defeated South Carolina-Spartansburg 1-0
Division II Women’s champion: Lynn defeated Sonoma State 3-1
Division III Men’s champion: Ohio Weslayen defeated UNC Greensboro 2-1 in overtime
Division III Women’s champion: Macalester defeated College of New Jersey 1-0 (4 overtimes)
NAIA Men’s Champion: Lindsey Wilson defeated Illinois-Springfield, 2-1.
NAIA Women’s Champion: Azusa Pacific defeated Simon Fraser, 2-1
NJCAA Division I Men’s Championship: State Fair 1, Reinhardt 0
NJCAA Division III Men’s Championship: Nassau 1, Raritan Valley 0
NJCAA Women’s Championship: Champlain 4, Meramec Community College 1
NCCAA Division 1 Championship: East Texas Baptist 3, Judson 1
NCCAA Division 2 Championship: Northland Baptist Bible College 4, Clearwater Christian 0
NCCAA Women’s Championship: Trinity International 1, Indiana-Weslayen 0

Final Men's Division 1 Coaches' Poll:

1.  Indiana
2.  Stanford
3.  Maryland
4.  Clemson
5.  Santa Clara
6.  Virginia
7.  Creighton
8.  St. John's (NY)
9.  UCLA
10. South Carolina

Final Women's Division 1 Coaches' Poll:

1.  Florida
2.  North Carolina
3.  Santa Clara
4.  Portland
5.  Notre Dame
6.  Connecticut
7.  Penn State
8.  Dartmouth
9.  William & Mary
10. Nebraska

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

G - Adin Brown, William & Mary
D - Matt Chulis, Virginia
D - jamie Clark, Stanford
D - kevin Kalish, St. Louis
M - lazo Alvanja, Indiana
M - Jay Heaps, Duke
M - Wojtek Krakowiak, Clemson
M - Maurizio Rocha, Connecticut
F - Chris Albright, Virginia
F - Seth George, UCLA
F - Dema Kovalenko, Indina
F - Richard Mulrooney, Creighton

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

G - Kristin Luckenbill, Dartmouth
D - Suzanne Eastman, Dartmouth
D - Lorrie Fair, North Carolina
D - Michelle French, Portland
M - Kelly Convey, Penn State
M - Asta Helgadottir, Vanderbilt
M - Nikki Serlenga, Santa Clara
F - Mandy Clemens, Santa Clara
F - Danielle Fotopoulos, Florida
F - Mary Frances Monroe, Connecticut
F - Cindy Parlow, North Carolina

Men's National Award Winners:

Hermann Trophy:  Wojtek Krakowiak, Clemson
Missouri Athletic Club Award:  Jay Heaps, Duke
ISAA Player of the Year (Division 1):  Dema Kovalenko, Indiana
NSCAA Coach of the Year (Division 1): Jerry Yeagley, Indiana

Women's National Award Winners:

Hermann Trophy: Cindy Parlow, North Carolina
Missouri Athletic Club Award:  Cindy Parlow, North Carolina
NSCAA Coach of the Year:  Becky Burleigh, Florida

Awards & Cups

US Open Cup Championship: Chicago Fire (MLS) defeated Columbus Crew (MLS) 2-1
US Women’s Open Cup Championship: Los Angeles Ajax defeated Dallas Lightning 5-0

Women’s Premier Soccer League: Silicon Valley Red Devils (16-13-1-2) were the league champions. Standings | Stats

National Amateur Cup Championship: Chicago Schwaben (NSL) defeated Los Angeles Cassal 2-1.

James P. McGuire Cup (US Youth Soccer Boys U-19): Cisco Flames (Phoenix)
Andy Stone Cup (US Youth Soccer Boys U-18): FAFC Lightning Gold (Atlanta, GA)
Don Greer Cup (US Youth Soccer Boys U-17): FC Delco Dynamo (Delaware County, PA)
D.J. Niotis Cup (US Youth Soccer Boys U-16): Vardar III (Detroit)
J. Ross Stewart Cup (US Youth Soccer Girls U-19): West Coast Shamrocks (Mission Viejo, CA)
Frank Kelly Cup (US Youth Soccer Girls U-18): Central Valley (San Jose) Mercury
L. Moynihan Cup (US Youth Soccer Girls U-17): Colorado Rush (Littleton)
Patricia Masotto Cup (US Youth Soccer Girls U-16): Weston (CT) Wild Thing

CONCACAF Champions Cup: In the qualification playoff, Colorado Rapids (MLS) lost to Leon (Mexico) 1-0, 2-4 losing on goals aggregate. D. C. United received a bye to the quarterfinals where they dispatched Joe Public (Trinidad & Tobago) 8-0, then beat Leon (Mexico) 2-0 in the semifinals, and finally, beat Toluca (Mexico) 1-0 for the Cup, the first by an American team. Eddie Pop scored the goal in the 41st minute; the game was played at Washington, DC before 12,607 fans.

CONCACAF Cup Winners Cup: The Dallas Burn cruised through the first round of the Cup, which was subsequently abandoned.

Interamerican Cup: D. C. United defeated Vasco de Gama (Brazil) on aggregate (0-1, 2-0).

CONCACAF Women’s Championship: This also served as the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament. The US, as host, qualified automatically and did not participate. Canada beat Mexico in the final and qualified. Mexico defeated Argentina 3-1, 3-2 in a playoff to become the other qualifier.

CONCACAF U-20 Championship: In the tournament, the US tied Costa Rica 1-1, defeated Canada 5-1 and Trinidad & Tobago 6-1. The US won the tournament, and qualified along with the runner-up, Costa Rica.

Hall of Fame: In 1998, the US Soccer Hall of Fame inducted Franz Beckenbauer, Peter Collins, April Heinrichs, Ed Murphy, and Patrick Smith. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Hall of Fame inducted Marvin Allen, and Howard DeNike. The National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (NISOA) Hall of Fame inducted Dan Keohane, David Spencer and Derk Zylker. The American Youth Soccer Organization inducted Karl Bizjak, Ricky Davis, Bill Mason, and Adrian Mercado.

FIFA Order of Merit: Michelle Akers (along with nine others including Nelson Mandela and Gerd Mueller)

Honda Award (Player of the Year): Cobi Jones

USSF Players of the Year: Cobi Jones, Mia Hamm

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

NISOA Honor Award: Dan Keohane, California

NISOA Merit Award: Rick DuShane, Graven Haven MI HS, Clive Charles, Univ. Portland