The Year in American Soccer, 2009

MLS | WPS | USL | USL First Division | USL Second Division | USL-PDL | WPSL | NPSL | W-League | NISL | XSL | CONCACAF Gold Cup | Confederations Cup | CONCACAF Champions League | Men’s National Team | Women’s National Team | U-20 World Cup | U-17 World Cup | U.S. Open Cup | International friendlies |a href=”#abroad”>Americans Abroad | The College Game | Awards & Tournaments

The year leading up to WC’2010 saw a number of advancements in the US game as the National team qualified for their 6th consecutive World Cup finals. The Men’s senior team again topped the Hexagonal table and qualified with a game to spare, but questions remained about whether they were prepared for the tougher competition now facing them. Major League Soccer welcomed Seattle to their fold, and the Sounders had the most impressive debut of any expansion club in league history, setting a new performance benchmark for all the teams. In an equally important development, the launching of Women’s Professional Soccer filled a yawning gap that had existed since the collapse of the WUSA, allowing the top US (and international) players to return to American soil and providing fans with a top-level competition for the women’s game.

As usual, the summer found some pro clubs overwhelmed with extramural commitments, whether it was the CONCACAF Champions League, the SuperLiga, Asian Pacific Championship, U. S. Open Cup, and exhibition friendlies, as well as frequent national team callups, forcing the league to consider ways of breaking the logjam. Clubs made impressive runs in the inaugural CONCACAF Champions League. The Men’s National Team made their first ever appearance at a worldwide international tournament when they stunned Spain in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup, only to lose the title in a heartbreaker against Brazil, where they blew a 2-0 lead. They similarly came up just short in the Gold Cup.

At the lower levels, dissension marred the 2009 season of the 2nd division USL-D1 where a dispute over the league’s sale lead some teams to split and attempt to form their own circuit. In the 3rd and amateur divisions, the leagues continued to expand, becoming truly national in scope, and two new indoor leagues rose from the ash heap of the Major Indoor Soccer League. The U. S. Soccer Development Academy expanded for its 2nd year, up from 63 to 74 teams, nine of them being MLS developmental squads, and North Carolina continued their streak of success winning the NCAA Women’s D1 title yet again. On a more downbeat note, the U.S. again disappointed in the U-17 and U-20 Men’s World Cups, again leading to questions about the readiness of the next generation of players – We were getting more good players, but at the very top level, the numbers weren’t yet there when it came to competition against the world’s best. Major questions needed to be asked about the best route to take from here.

Major League Soccer (Division 1)

Division 1 soccer returned in a big way to Seattle this season. The new Seattle Sounders followed on the heels of a longstanding successful franchise in USL First Division and the legendary NASL Sounders of the 1970s, and boasted powerful ownership, including actor Drew Carey and principals associated with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks with whom the Sounders shared administrative staff. Such was the excitement that the team had to cut off season ticket sales at 20,000 (2nd among all Seattle teams), and averaged over 30,000 fans per game. This is the kind of home-grown success the league had been looking for, and raised the bar for the rest of the league as far as franchise development and community involvement was concerned

In a fortuitous event, the strongest bids for the 2011 expansion slots went to groups representing Vancouver and Portland, two other soccer hotbeds with a long history of success at the gate, providing the league with an instant three-way rivalry. The flood of investors willing to pay a $40,000,000 expansion fee showed how far MLS had come in the past few year. These events dovetailed with the continual improvement of the quality of playing talent, growing international respect for the players, success at the continental club competitions and increasing corporate sponsorship to erase any doubts about the long-term viability of the league and professional soccer in the United States.

The reserve league was eliminated, rosters were limited to 24 players. This, combined with the expansion to 8 international slots put the squeeze on American players, particularly those drafted from college. Another development merited scrutiny: with the transfer market largely drying up for all except the top players (outside of MLS salary range), MLS teams acquired players on loan at a markedly higher rate – over a dozen this season. The expediency of this tactic, which can land some excellent players for fairly low prices, had to be weighed by its transciency – fans found it difficult to identify with players who leave after a fleeting presence. Although some of these loans had options for a permanent transfer at an already-negotiated price, players were subject to recall, which could happen during playoffs or other inconvenient times. Rookies got an unusually generous amount of playing time, possibly due partially due to a slight dilution in talent as a result of recent expansion.

The Seattle Sounders’ first signing was Sebastien Le Toux of USL First Division’s Sounders, a longtime fan favorite. In a controversial move, they signed Columbus helmsman Sigi Schmid as head coach, after buying out his non-compete clause. Former standout Chris Henderson signed on as technical director and Adrian Hanauer as GM. They did not draft many established first names, outside of Peter Vargas, a nine-year veteran with the Galaxy, Columbus’s midfielder Brad Evans, and defender Jeff Parke of New York, and striker Nate Jacqua, and Tyrone Marshall from Toronto FC. Two Colombians, Jhon Hurtado and Freddy Montero, as well as a number of former Sounder USL players rounded out the remaining roster. They used their the #1 draft pick on Steve Zakuani of Akron. The most noteworthy signing was Kasey Keller who returned from 20 seasons in Europe, finally making his MLS debut in his hometown. Stephen King, a rookie from the Fire was expected to get significant playing time.

Columbus, the defending champion, made league MVP Barros Schletto a designated player to keep him at his $650,000 salary, and re-signed Chad Mitchell, but otherwise made few changes. Many of Red Bull New York’s 2008 acquisitions flamed out, and they made wholesale roster changes, including the retirement of Claudio Reyna, and promotion of Juan Pablo Angel to designated player. Tops among newcomers was Albert Celades, a veteran of Barcelona and FC Madrid, who joined Mike Petke on the back line, as a defensive forward. Khano Smith arrived from New England to replace van den Bergh, who was traded for Domoduro.

Western Division champ Houston’s major challenge the void left by Dwayne DeRosario, which was filled largely by the remaining players, the only major acquisition being Julius James from Toronto FC. Real Salt Lake sold Scottish striker Kenny Deuchar, terminated the loan of Fabial Espinola, and traded midfielder Dema Kovalenko to the Galaxy for allocation cash and a 2011 draft pick. They also made a surprise selection of Lynn’s Jean Alexander in the draft. Findley and Movsisyan were paired up front, giving RSL one of the strongest scoring tandems in the league.

The Chicago Fire re-signed Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who with veteran Brian McBride constituted one of the league’s most powerful front lines. The Revolution lost Michael Parkhurst to FC Nordsjaelland (Denmark) leaving a major defensive void, but signed Michael Videira to flesh out the midfield. Meanwhile, Steve Ralston entered his 14th season, poised to extend his USA Div 1 all-time record for most games played (currently 358), and co-set a new outdoor record for most Div. 1 seasons. Khano Smith was lost to the expansion draft. Chivas USA lost midfielder Francisco Mendoza to Chivas Guadalajara and picked up defender Ante Jazic from the Galaxy and striker Eduardo Lillingston, a 12 year veteran of the Mexican League with 50 goals to his name. Kansas City’s Kerry Zavagnin retired to the coaching staff, and the Wizards added Adam Cristman of the Revs to their front line, with Matt Besler of Notre Dame vying for a spot at defense. Los Angeles added Jamaican goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and Stefano Miglioranzi to join Kovalenko at midfield. They reached a compromise with David Beckham, allowing him to join the team after the finish of Serie “A” in mid-July.

Toronto FC, a victim of player turnover and frequent national team callups and was hoping to earn their first playoff spot, gained Dwayne DeRosaio and lost Carlos Ruiz, and signed veteran striker Danny Dichio, who was expected to be prolific along with line mate Chad Barrett. They used the #2 draft pick to select San Cronin. Dave van den Bergh joined FC Dallas, and worked to fill the void left by the departure of Duilio Davino and Adrian Serioux, joining new defenders Steve Purdy and Daniel Torres. DC United was hobbled by injuries to Ben Olsen and Marcelo Gallady in 2008, and both remained question marks, but they re-signed striker Santino Quaranta, and acquired defender Dejan Jakovic from Red star Belgrade, midfielder Christina Gomez from Colorado and Josh Wicks from the Galaxy. Jaime Moreno was ready to extend his all-time scoring record as he entered his 14th season with the team. Hoping to improve on their 3-win debut, San Jose signed Bobby Convey from Reading, Cam Weaver from FK Haugensund and Pablo Campos from Djurgarden, and former Galaxy defender Simon Elliott. Colorado Rapids, who just missed the playoffs last season, dispatched Christian Gomez and Mike Petke, signing Ivan Guerrero, and signed Matt Pickens from Queen’s Park Rangers to take over primary goalkeeper duties, while resigning veteran Pablo Mastroeni.

Seattle started off their season with a bang, with nearly 40,000 attending their opening game, and attendance averaging over 30,000 for the rest of the season. Better yet, the team dominated on the field, taking an early lead and finishing third in the Western division. Chivas got off to a roaring start, gaining an early lock on the top spot in the West with a 7-1-1 record. It didn’t last, but was enough for them to finish the season in a respectable 3rd place. The Galaxy’s season was marred by a public spat between David Beckham and Landon Donovan upon Beckham’s return to the Galaxy, but things settled down, and both Donovan and Beckham produced enough to allow L.A. to begin a major run and finish the season winning the Western Division in a climactic battle, with four teams fighting for top spot until the last weekend. Los Angeles also cut their goals allowed in half.

Chicago and Columbus fought for the Eastern spot, with Columbus finally winning by 3 points and New England taking third. Houston Dynamo were the close winners of 2nd in the west, barely a point ahead of the surprising Seattle Sounders, who delighted their numerous fans with a close 3rd. Red Bull New York crashed from their Cinderella performance last season, finishing worst in the league. San Jose Earthquakes brought up the rear in the west, far behind the disappointing FC Dallas squad.

In the playoffs, close matches were the order of the day in the quarterfinals with a scoreless draw, three shutouts, and only one match decided by more than a goal. Houston, Los Angeles and Chicago cruised through their quarterfinal matches, while 8th ranked Real Salt Lake stunned the defending champion Crew 1-0 and 3-2 to advance. In the semifinals, Los Angeles cruised past Houston 2-0 while Real Salt Lake needed penalty kicks to dispatch Chicago.

MLS Cup’09 was held on November 22, 2009 on a cool cloudy day at Qwest field in Seattle before 46,011 fans. This was a close match, with neither team able to find the net through much of the first quarter. Los Angeles pressed Salt Lake relentlessly, and finally David Beckham and Landon Donovan set up Mike Magee for a great scoring shot to put the Los Angeles Galaxy ahead in the 41st minute. The Galaxy adopted a more defensive posture in the 2nd half, and in the 64th minute Robbie Findley equalized on an unassisted shot, pulling Real Salt Lake even. The teams retreated to their bunkers and held off all further scoring opportunities through regulation and extra time. It all came down to penalty kicks, and after several misses on both sides, the teams were deadlocked into the 6th round. With the Anschutz trophy on the line, #3 Robbie Russell sent the ball left, as the GK went right, and Salt Lake prevailed 5-4, winning their first MLS Cup trophy. Nick Rimando was named Cup MVP.

Attendance was up, to 3,608,359 due to the addition of a very successful Seattle, but the average, due to the economy, was down slightly to 16,037 per game. Landon Donovan of the Galaxy was league MVP, and Jeff Cummington of Dallas was leading goalscorer. Overall, league officials breathed a sign of relief; the MLS did not suffer major effects from the economic meltdown; Seattle had set an all-time mark for success by an expansion soccer franchise, with numbers not seen since the heyday of the Cosmos in NASL. Television contracts were bringing in upwards of 17 million dollars a season, and the league had $200 million in expansion fees to endow the circuit. MLS was making inroads into the Hispanic community, who constituted nearly a third of the audience at matches. Three more franchises had been awarded in former NASL hotbeds and historically significant regions. Two new stadiums were nearing completion, and MLS players were able to command substantial transfer fees.

As the year drew to a close, the major concerns were the slight decline in attendance in several of the markets, and the increasingly difficult task of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement in time to avoid a strike or lockout.

Official 2009 MLS Season Stats
Official MLS History Archives

              Final 2009 Major League Soccer Standings

Before the season, Seattle was added.

                           GP   W   L   D   GF  GA  Pts
     Eastern Division
Columbus Crew              30  13   7  10   41  31   49
Chicago Fire               30  11   7  12   39  34   45
New England Revolution     30  11  10   9   33  37   42
D. C. United               30   9   8  13   43  44   40
Toronto FC                 30  10  11   9   37  46   39
Kansas City Wizards        30   8  13   9   33  42   33
Red Bull New York          30   5  19   6   27  47   21

     Western Division
Los Angeles Galaxy         30  12   6  12   36  31   48
Houston Dynamo             30  13   8   9   39  29   48
Seattle Sounders FC        30  12   7  11   38  29   47
Chivas USA                 30  13  11   6   34  31   45
Real Salt Lake             30  11  12   7   43  35   40
Colorado Rapids            30  10  10  10   42  38   40
F. C. Dallas               30  11  13   6   50  47   39
San Jose Earthquakes       30   7  14   9   36  50   30

Conference Semifinals:    Houston defeated Seattle 0-0, 1-0
                          Real Salt Lake defeated Columbus 1-0, 3-2
                          Chicago defeated New England 1-2, 2-0
                          Los Angeles defeated Chivas USA 2-2, 1-0
Conference Championships: Los Angeles defeated Houston 2-0
                          Real Salt Lake defeated Chicago 0-0 (5-4-PK)
MLS CUP ’09               Real Salt Lake defeated Los Angeles 1-1 (5-4-PK)


Jeff Cunningham, F. C. Dallas         28  17
Conor Casey, Columbus Crew            24  16
Juan Pablo Angel, Red Bull New York   25  12
Guillermo Schletto, Columbus Crew     24  12
Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy    25  12
Robbie Findley, Real Salt Lake        27  12
Fredy Montero, Seattle Sounders FC    27  12
Dwayne de Rosario, Toronto FC         28  11
Ryan Johnston, San Jose Earthquakes   30  11
Josh Wolff, Kansas City Wizards       27  11

GOALKEEPING LEADERS  (Minimum 1800 minutes)
                                  GP   MIN  SHTS SVS  GA   GAA  SO

Zach Thornton, Chivas USA         28  2305   106  63  23  0.87  12
Kasey Keller, Seattle Sounders    29  2549   104  78  26  0.92  10
Matt Reis, New England Revolution 24  2160   137 114  23  0.96   8
Pat Onstad, Houston Dynamo        30  2700   118  89  29  0.97  10
Donovan Ricketts, Los Angeles     26  2274   108  82  26  1.03   9
Jon Busch, Chicago Fire           30  2700   137 103  34  1.13  10
Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake      26  2285   102  73  29  1.14   9
Kevin Hartman, Kansas City Wizards30  2700   147 105  42  1.40   7
Stefan Frei, Toronto FC           26  2295   136  98  38  1.45   5
Joe Cannon, San Jose Earthquakes  28  2520   144  97  47  1.68   3

All-Star Game: Everton FC (England) defeated the MLS All-Stars 1-1 (4-3-PK) on July 29, 2009 before 20,120 at Salt Lake City, UT. MLS goal was scored by Brad Davis in the 26th minute. Tim Howard was goalkeeper for Everton.

MLS Award Winners:

Most Valuable Player: Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy
Coach of the Year: Bruce Arena, Los Angeles Galaxy
Goalkeeper of the Year: Zach Thornton, Chivas USA
Defender of the Year: Chad Marshall, Columbus Crew
Rookie of the Year: Omar Gonzalez, Los Angeles Galaxy
Golden Boot Award (Top goalscorer) : Jeff Cunningham, F. C. Dallas
Supporters' Shield Award: Columbus Crew
Comeback Player of the Year: Zach Thornton, Chivas USA
Humanitarian of the year: Jimmy Conrad, Kansas City & Logan Pause, Chicago
Newcomer of the Year: Fredy Montero, Seattle Sounders FC
Fair Play Award: Steve Ralston, New England Revolution

MLS Best 11:
G - Zach Thornton, Chivas USA
D - Geoff Cameron, Houston Dynamo
D - Wilman Conde, Chicago Fire
D - Chad Marshall, Columbus Crew
M - Dwayne De Rosario, Toronto FC
M - Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy
M - Stuart Holden, Houston Dynamo
M - Shalrie Joseph, New England Revolution
M - Freddie Ljungberg, Seattle Sounders FC
F - Conor Casey, Colorado Rapids
F - Jeff Cunningham, F. C. Dallas

SuperLiga 2009

The 3rd annual SuperLiga consisted of the four top MLS clubs that had not qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League, and the top four overall (combining Apertura and Clausera) Mexican Football League teams not qualified for the Champions League.

New England and UANL won their respective groups, with Chicago and UANL prevailing in the semifinals. The title match was a close affair, finally heading to penalty kicks with a 4-3 victory by UANL.

            Final Pool Play Standings, 2009 SuperLiga

                        G  W  D  L GF GA Pt
     Group A
UANL                    3  2  0  1  5  5  6
Chicago Fire            3  2  0  1  3  2  6
San Luis                3  1  1  1  4  3  4
Chivas USA              3  0  1  2  2  4  1

     Group B
New England Revolution  3  2  1  0  6  3  7
Santos Laguna           3  1  1  1  5  5  4
Atlas                   3  0  2  1  0  1  2
Kansas City Wizards     3  0  2  1  2  4  2

Semi-finals:   Chicago defeated New England 2-1
               UANL defeated Santos Laguna 3-2
FINAL:         UANL defeated Chicago 1-1 (4-3-PK)

2009 Pan-Pacific Championship

All games at Home Depot Stadium, Carson, CA. 2/18 & 2/21

Teams:  Los Angeles Galaxy (USA, MLS; host); 
        Oita Trinita (Japan, J-League Cup winner), 
        Shandong Luneng Taishan (China, Super League champion)
        Suwon Samsung Bluewings (South Korea; K-League & Hauzen Cup champion)

Semi-finals:  Los Angeles Galaxy defeated Oita Trinita 2-0
              Suwon Bluewings defeated Shandong Luneng 1-0
Third Place:  Oita Trinita defeated Shandong Luneng 2-1
FINAL:        Suwon Bluewings defeated Los Angeles Galaxy 1-1 (4-2-PK)

The Pan-Pacific Championship became defunct after the 2009 edition.

Women’s Professional Soccer

The launching of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) marked a triumphant return of women’s soccer to the top level in the USA. Determined to avoid the fate of the WUSA, the new league’s business model was focused more on stability, quality players and viability, rather than flashy front offices and excessive top-down administration. There was a more grass-rooted administrative model, and the league engaged in a close relationship with MLS which allowed sharing of facilities and staff and coordinated marketing. They envisioned a relatively modest debut with slow and steady growth based on long-term planning. Team budgets were $2,500,000 for the first season. They did not, however, cut on efforts to secure top world talent, and were able to sign an impressive array of international stars as well as the bulk of the National Team and top W-League and WPSL talent. And they made a very impressive debut.

The league started on a somewhat lower level than the WUSA, which burned through $100,000 million dollars through its three years. With $20 million budgeted for the first year, the league sought to infuse financial constraints with quality play and economical administration. Two of the seven inaugural teams had predecessors in the old WUSA – the Boston Breakers and Washington Freedom, and several teams shared stadia with MLS.

Average player salaries were set at $30,000 to $40,000 for a six-month, 20 game season. Attendance goal for year 1 was set at 4,000-6,000 per game, only slightly lower than that set by WUSA. Most importantly, before the inaugural draft had even taken place, WPS had signed a television contract with Fox Sports Channel (with a minimum guarantee with Soccer United Marketing (SUM) which secured the rights) providing for a weekly match plus the all-star and championship games. They also signed a $10,000,000 5-year sponsorship deal with Puma. Another sponsor was secured by the start of play, and several more during the season, and several local TV contracts were signed.

Tanya Antonucci was appointed league Commissioner, and faced a landscape somewhat changed from WUSA days. With strengthened pro leagues in Germany and Switzerland and a new league in Australia, they would face increased competition for top international players. In addition, Germany’s international stars stayed in Germany to defend the European Women’s Championship and play in the 2011 Women’s World Cup, which they were hosting. The league used the FIFA standard 3-1-0 scoring system, but adopted a unique playoff format to ensure the league table had real significance: Fourth place team played third place team with winner played 2nd place team; that winner played 1st place team in the WPS Final.

The rosters for the inaugural season were peppered with major world stars. Marta, the Brazilian three-time FIFA World Player of the Year was signed by the Los Angeles Sol.

On September 15, the league allocated 21 National Team players, 3 to each team. Bay Area: Nicole Barnhart (GK), Rachel Buehler (D), Leslie Osborne (M). Boston: Angela Hucles (M-F), Kristine Lilly (F), Heather Mitts (D). Chicago: Carli Lloyd (M), Kate Markgraf (D), Lindsay Tarpley (M). Los Angeles: Shannon Boxx (M), Stephanie Cox (D), Aly Wagner (M). Sky Blue F. C.: Natasha Kai (M), Heather O’Reilly (M), Christie Rampone (D). St. Louis: Lori Chalupny (M-D), Tina Ellertson (D), Hope Solo (G). Washington Freedom: Ali Krueger (M), Abby Wambach (F), Cat Whitehill (D).

Two weeks later, the International Draft supplied 4 players to each team. Brazil and Sweden were particularly well represented, while Norway and Germany reserved their players due to upcoming international competition. Some of the major players: Formiga (FC Gold Pride), Marta (L.A.), Daniela (St. Louis), Christiane (Chicago), Fabiana (Boston), Renata Costa (St. Louis), Rosana (Sky Blue) hailed from Brazil. Kelly Smith (Boston), and Karen Carney (Chicago) were from England. Australia contributed Sarah Walsh (Sky Blue), Heather Garrick (Chicago) and Lisa de Vanna (Washington). Lotts Schelin (St. Louis), and Caroline Jonsson (Chicago) hailed from Sweden, and Sonia Bompastor (Washington) came from France. October 6, they held the General Draft, picking up the cream of the crop from the W-League and WPSL, as well as a few more internationals. After a combine for college and undrafted players, the final draft was held January 16, with teams taking college players and a few more from the other leagues. Allison Falk scored the first WPS Goal for Los Angeles in the 6th minute.

The season opened in April before 14,000 fans at Home Depot Center in Carson, where the Los Angeles Sol beat the Washington Freedom 2-0. The teams played an unbalanced season due to the odd number of teams; The Sol took advantage of this to win the regular season by a comfortable margin. St. Louis finished seven points back slightly ahead of Washington. Sky Blue (New York) took 4th. There were also some issues with discipline and a rash of injuries at the end of the season. League scoring was only 2.03 goals per game, a statistic the league hoped to improve next year.

The playoffs provided an amazing Cinderella story – Sky Blue had just squeaked into the playoffs, securing 4th place by a single point. They then beat the Washington Freedom 2-1, earning a spot against St. Louis in the semi-final; in a close nail biter, they landed the one goal needed to win the match and advance to the Final at Carson, CA. The Los Angeles Sol, who had earned a bye to the championship with the unique playoff system, came in well rested and backed by a raucous home crowd of 7,218, but Sky Blue won the title. In a taut defensive battle, Heather O’Reilly broke through the defensive line and found the net in the 17th minute, and the teams settled down for the duration. Later, O’Reilly dispossessed Aya Miyama with a dangerous slide tackle to foil a scoring opportunity and the team held on for the victory. For this, O’Reilly was named match MVP. For the season, the Sol’s Marta took home the league MVP and top scorer awards.

League attendance totaled 323,878 for a per game average of 4,684, low, but within the margin of prediction. Overall the results were mixed, but with more positive than negative. Attendance was within predictions, but teams lost an estimated 1 to 2 million dollars each, somewhat more than expected, lack of local sponsorship was partly to blame. Overall quality of play was excellent, particularly among international players (Marta, Rosana, Francielle Abily et al), albeit a little less among the Americans. But it would improve as the teams gelled in the second season, and strong fan bases had been developed, and some US players, particularly Lloyd, Rampone, Boxx and O’Reilly, and some college draftees proved themselves more than capable.

One late development marred the first season when regular season champ Los Angeles folded when its owner AEG couldn’t find a buyer. In spite of this setback, the WPS had two more teams (Philadelphia and Atlanta) in the wings. Key tasks for year two would be to increase attendance and local sponsorship to reduce losses. Fortunately the remaining owners remained solidly committed to the league; they completed dispersal, expansion, international and general drafts to stock their new teams and flesh out the rosters for the second season.

                     Final WPS Standings, 2009

                           GP   W   L   D   GF  GA  Pts

Los Angeles Sol            20  12   3   5   27  10   41
St. Louis Athletica        20  10   6   4   19  15   34
Washington Freedom         20   8   7   5   32  32   29
Sky Blue F. C. (NY/NJ)     20   7   8   5   19  20   26
Boston Breakers            20   7   9   4   18  20   25
Chicago Red Stars          20   5  10   5   18  25   20
FC Golden Pride            20   4  10   6   17  28   18

First Round:       Sky Blue F. C. defeated Washington 2-1
Super Semi-Final:  Sky Blue F. C. defeated St. Louis 1-0
WPS FINAL:         Sky Blue F. C. defeated Los Angeles 1-0

After the season, Los Angeles folded.

Leading Scorers:
                                     GP  G  A Pts
Marta, Los Angeles Sol               19  9  3  23
Abby Wambach, Washington Freedom     17  8  5  21
Camille Abily, Los Angeles Sol       18  8  1  17
Lisa De Vanna, Washington Freedom    20  5  5  17
Eniola Aluko, St. Louis Athletics    19  6  4  16
Cristiane, Chicago Red Stars         18  7  0  14
Kelly Smith, Boston Breakers         15  6  2  14
Sonia Bompastor, Washington Freedom  19  4  6  14
Christine Sinclair, FC Gold Pride    17  6  1  13
Natasha Kai, Sky Blue F. C.          18  6  1  13
Lindsay Tarpley, Chicago Red Stars   17  4  4  12
Tiffany Milbrett, FC Gold Pride      19  4  1   9

Goalkeeping Leaders: (Min 270 minutes)
                                    GP   MIN SHTS SVS  GA   GAA  SO

Jilian Loyden, St. Louis Athletica   3   270   18  16   1  0.33   2
Karina LeBlanc, Los Angeles Sol     18  1620   87  73   9  0.50  12
Ali Lipsher, Boston Breakers        11   928   46  37   6  0.58   5
Hope Solo, St. Louis Athletica      15  1350   86  71  13  0.87   7
Jenni Branam, Sky Blue F. C.        16  1395   82  62  15  0.97   6
Caroline Jonsson, Chicago Red Stars 19  1710  109  87  23  1.21   4
Alison Whitworth, FC Gold Pride      4   360   22  17   5  1.25   1
Kristin Luckenbill, Boston Breakers  9   782   41  24  12  1.38   2
Nicole Barnhart, FC Gold Pride      12  1260   83  61  20  1.43   2
Erin McLeod, Washington Freedom     13  1170   69  46  19  1.46   3
Brianna Scurry, Washington Freedom   3   270   17  11   6  2.00   0

All-Star Game: The WPS All-Stars defeated Umea (Sweden) 4-2 
on August 30, 2009 before 4,115 at Fenton, MO.  WPS Goal scorers were 
Kristine Lilly (24), Marta (40), and Christine Sinclair (47, 49)

WPS Award Winners:
Michelle Akers Player of the Year: Marta, Los Angeles Sol
Golden Boot Award: Marta, Los Angeles Sol
Goalkeeper of the Year:  Hope Solo, St. Louis Athletica
Defender of the Year: Amy LePeilbet, Boston Breakers
Coach of the Year: Abner Rogers, Los Angeles Sol
Sportswoman of the Year: Christie Rampone, Sky Blue F. C.

United Soccer Leagues

On August 27, 2009, USL announced that it had been sold by Nike to NuRock Soccer Holdings LLC, an Atlanta-based consortium headed by Rob Hoskins, a major residential real estate developer, and Alec Papadakis, a franchise attorney, and former NASL player. NuRock already had an Atlanta-based team in the PDL, and rights to establish USL First Division teams in Atlanta and Birmingham. Nike and Umbro remained as uniform suppliers. Owners of several major USL First Division teams objected to the nature of the sale, and when unable to resolve their differences with the league, they broke away to form an independent league for which they sought USSF Division 2 sanctioning. USL filed litigation in response to this, and as year ended it was unclear what form Division 2 soccer would take for 2010. On a more positive note, the league was in serious negotiations with a number of investor groups with strong applications to form new USL First Division teams.

Final 2009 USL standings and playoff results

Final 2009 W-League standings and playoff results

USL First Division (USA Division 2)

USL First Division grew to eleven teams with the promotion of Cleveland from USL Second Division, and the addition of Austin, but lost Seattle to MLS and would do so again in 2011 with Portland and Vancouver. But the teams remaining were the strongest ever and gaining respect, especially after Montreal and Puerto Rico advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2008 CONCACAF Champions Cup. Teams fortified their rosters with a number of MLS castoffs as well as an increasing stream of foreign players. Fan support was astounding for USL Second Division clubs in their Champions league play – Puerto Rico filled the 19,000 seat stadium to capacity for their home semifinal leg, and Montreal drew 55,000 to the Olympic Stadium, setting a CONCACAF Champions League record.

For 2009, Puerto Rico added Nicholas Adderly from Vancouver former LA Galaxy defender Kyle Veris and Dominic Mediate from DC United. Montreal kept most of their core players, adding Cuban forward Eduardo Sebrango and all-league pick Stephen deRoux from Montreal. The Whitecaps traded Adderly and Sebrango and added Marcus Haber, a youth international from Groningen in the Netherlands. Charleston, the 2008 Open Cup finalist, lost Alonso, but added a battery of players, including Cuban defector Yeniel Bermudez, a defender, Tyler Hemming from Toronto, Kenji Treschuk from Seattle and Japanese midfielder Tsuyoshi Yoshitake.

Carolina did a major housecleaning, both on the roster and in the front office; replacing their entire starting line. Portland underwent a similar process, with major player changes, including the acquisition of Steve Cronin, the starting goalkeeper for the Galaxy in ’08. Cleveland had the task of restocking their roster while preparing for the rigors of USL First Division, as several players were picked up by MLS squads. Rochester, which anticipated greeting its 2 millionth fan this season was sold after an extended period of financial difficulty, and cut its operating budget. Austin, which had fielded a U-23 team last year, made their debut, bringing along Miguel Gallardo and Kieron Bernard from the PDL squad. After losing league top goalscorer Alex Afonso back to Brazil, Miami F. C. restocked adding Argentine defender Facundo Erpen and former Miami Fusion star Diego Serna.

Portland Timbers won the regular season after pulling ahead of a four-way scrum that left the league season up for grabs until the final matches. Carolina finished 3 points behind with Puerto Rico and Charleston tied for third. Minnesota finished well down the chart, and Austin struggled in their first season, finishing only ahead of last place Cleveland, who learned the hard way they may not be quite up to snuff for the First Division. In the playoffs, US teams were all eliminated as Vancouver, Puerto Rico and Montreal advanced to the semi-finals. There, Vancouver won the first leg against Portland, drawing 3-3 in the rejoinder, and Montreal was victorious over Puerto Rico with a pair of 2-1 victories. The final was all Montreal, as they won the first match 3-2 before 5,886 at Swangard, and cruised onto an easy 3-1 win before 13,034 at Saputo Stadium, delighting the hometown crowd.

League average attendance fell to 744,106 for 4,680 per game, primarily due to declining attendance at Rochester and Minnesota. Montreal and Portland continued to lead at the gate and Puerto Rico continued to show healthy numbers. Mandjou Keita of Portland was the league’s top scorer, with 11 goals and 29 points in 29 games. Christian Arrieta of Puerto was named the league’s Most Valuable Player, as well as Defender of the Year. Overall, it was a fairly successful season, albeit one with some concern about the health of a few teams. The year ended on a foreboding note as the disputed sale of the league and withdrawal of several major teams put USL First Division’s future for 2010 in a state of uncertainty.

                   Final USL First Division Standings, 2009

Before the season, Cleveland was promoted from USL Second Division.  
Austin was added.  

                            GP   W   L   D   GF  GA  Pts
Portland Timbers            30  16   4  10   45  19   58
Carolina Railhawks          30  16   7   7   43  19   55
Puerto Rico Islanders       30  15   7   8   44  31   53
Charleston Battery          30  14   5  11   33  21   53
Montreal Impact             30  12  11   7   32  31   43
Rochester Rhinos            30  11   9  10   34  32   43
Vancouver Whitecaps         30  11  10   9   42  36   42
Minnesota Thunder           30   7  13  10   39  44   31
Miami F. C. Blues           30   8  17   5   26  52   29
Austin Aztex  (-2)          30   5  17   8   28  51   21
Cleveland City Stars        30   4  19   7   22  52   19

Quarterfinals       Vancouver defeated Carolina 1-0, 0-0
                    Puerto Rico defeated Rochester 1-2, 4-1
                    Montreal defeated Charleston 2-0, 2-1
Semi-Finals:        Vancouver defeated Portland 2-1, 3-3
                    Montreal defeated Puerto Rico 2-1, 2-1
FINAL:              Montreal defeated Vancouver 3-2, 3-1.

After the season, Charleston was relegated to USL Second Division.
Minnesota left to join the NASL II, but folded.  Cleveland
folded.  Carolina, Miami (minus their nickname), Minnesota,
Montreal, and Vancouver left to form the NASL II.  Subsequently,
Rochester, Atlanta (returning from hiatus) and the new expansion
A. C. St. Louis followed suit.  USL First Division expects to add
F. C. New York for 2011.

Leading Scorers:
                                   GP   G  A  PTS
Mandjou Keita, Portland Timbers    29  11  7   29
Cristian Arrieta, Puerto Rico      28  10  5   25
Charles Gbeke, Vancouver Whitecaps 28  12  4   25
Johnny Menyongar, Rochester Rhinos 26  11  1   23
Ryan Pore, Portland Timbers        23  10  2   22
Ricardo Sanchez, Minnesota Thunder 27   7  8   22
Marcus Haber, Vancouver Whitecaps  30   8  4   20
Marlon Alex James, Vancouver       17   9  1   18
Nicholas Adderly, Puerto Rico      22   8  1   17
Roberto Brown Perea, Montreal      25   7  3   17
Duncan Tarley, Minnesota Thunder   27   8  1   17

Goalkeeping Leaders: (Min 1200 minutes)
                                 GP   MIN  SVS  GA  GAA   SO
Dusty Hudock, Charleston Battery    18  1611        5 0.279  12
Caleb Patterson-Sewell, Carolina    15  1350   66   8 0.533  10
Steve Cronin, Portland Timbers      28  2508   97  19 0.681  10
Eric Reed, Carolina Railhawks       15             11 0.733   7
Bill Gaudette, Puerto Rico          27  2430  119  20 0.740  12
Scott Vallow, Rochester Rhinos      19  1597   69  20 1.127  
Jay Nolly, Vancouver Whitecaps      30  2700  118  36 1.200   7
Matthew Jordan, Montreal Impact     20  1800   81  24 1.200   6
Nicolas Platter, Minnesota Thunder  29  2520  115     1.535   6
Miguel Gallardo-Aparicio, Austin    15         65  21 1.555  

USL Div. 1 Award Winners:
Most Valuable Player:  Cristian Arrieta, Puerto Rico Islanders
Goalkeeper of the Year:  Steve Cronin, Portland Timbers
Defender of the Year: Cristian Arrieta, Puerto Rico Islanders
Rookie of the Year: TBA
Coach of the Year: Gavin Wilkinson, Portland Timbers

All-League Team:

G - Steve Cronin, Portland Timbers
D - Nelson Akwari, Charleston Battery
D - Cristian Arrieta, Puerto Rico Islanders
D - Matt Bobo, Charleston Battery
D - David Hayes, Portland Timbers
M - Daniel Paladini, Carolina Railhawks
M - Ryan Pore, Portland Timbers
M - Ricardo Sanchez, Minnesota Thunder
F - Charles Gbeke, Vancouver Whitecaps
F - Keita Mandjou, Portland Timbers
F - Johnny Menyongar, Rochester Rhinos

USL Second Division

Having lost Cleveland to the PDL, USL Second Division continued with ten teams, and the latter half of the season saw quite a race to the regular season championship, with the Wilmington Hammerheads and Richmond Kickers locked in a tight race right to the end of the season, where they ended tied at 39 points. Wilmington prevailed after application of tie-breaking procedures.

In the playoffs, Charlotte defeated Real Maryland to set up a four-team field. Charlotte main a triumphant return to the title match with their tough 1-0 shutout of Wilmington, while Harrisburg fell to Richmond in an evenly matched defensive marathon marred by a single goal that sent them packing. In the championship, Richmond let loose with their strikers pulling ahead to a 3-1 win and their second league title.

Attendance totaled 140,559 and 1,562 per game. Jamie Watson of Wilmington was leading scorer with 12 goals and 30 points, and also took the league Most Valuable Player award. D-2 could have been renamed the Disappearing League at season’s end as two teams were relegated, one went on hiatus and one moved to another league, leaving D2 with just six franchises for 2010.

                    Final 2009 USL Second Division Standings

                            GP   W   L   D   GF  GA  Pts
Wilmington Hammerheads      20  12   5   3   42  24   39
Richmond Kickers            20  11   3   6   39  18   39
Harrisburg City Islanders   20   9   7   4   31  23   31
Charlotte Eagles            20   8   5   7   40  28   31
Real Maryland Monarchs      20   8  10   2   22  31   26
Crystal Palace Baltimore    20   6   9   5   16  20   23
Western Mass. Pioneers      20   6   9   5   21  34   23
Pittsburgh Riverhounds      20   6  10   4   18  27   22
Bermuda Hogges              20   4  12   4   19  43   16

Quarterfinals:     Charlotte defeated Real Maryland 3-1
Semi-Finals:       Charlotte defeated Wilmington 1-0
                   Richmond defeated Harrisburg 1-0
FINAL:             Richmond defeated Charlotte 3-1

After the season, Western Mass and Bermuda were relegated to the PDL.
Wilmington went on hiatus.  Crystal Palace left for the new NASL, and
(for 2010) the USSF D2Pro League.

Leading Scorers:
                                   GP   G  A  Pts
Jamie Watson, Wilmington H'Heads   16  12  6   30
Matthew Delicate, Richmond Kickers 20  13  2   28
Amaury Nunes, Charlotte Eagles     12   9  2   20
Almir Barbosa, Western Mass Pionrs.19   9  1   19
Chad Severs, Harrisburg City       19   9  1   19
Tiyselani Shipalane, Harrisburg    18   6  6   18
David Bulow, Richmond Kickers      19   9  0   18
Jorge Herrera, Charlotte Eagles    19   6  6   18
Kenneth Bundy, Wilmington          20   4  9   17
Dustin Swinehart, Charlotte Eagles 20   7  3   17
Gary Brooks, Real Maryland         14   6  3   15
Diego Martins, Charlotte Eagles    18   2  6   14

Leading Goalkeepers:  (Min 900 minutes)
                                 GP   MIN  SVS  GA  GAA   SO
Chase Harrison, Harrisburg City     16  1440   54  13  0.812  8
Ronnie Pascal, Richmond Kickers     20  1800   59  18  0.900  8
Steward Ceus, Charlotte Eagles      10   900   42  10  1.000  4
James Thorpe, Western Mass Pioneers 10   900   74  10  1.000  4
Brian Rowland, Crystal Palace       20  1679   76  19  1.018  7
Danny Waltman, Pittsburgh R'Hounds  16  1407   61  20  1.279  4
Daryl Sattler, Wilmington H'Heads   13  1050       16  1.371  5
Dave Kern, Real Maryland Monarchs   13  1170   54  19  1.461  4
Jason Williams, Bermuda Hogges      11   965   46  25  2.331  3

Most Valuable Player: Jamie Watson, Wilmington Hammerheads
Top Scorer: Jamie Watson, Wilmington (30 P); Matthew Delicate, Richmond (13 G)
Defender of the Year: Yomby William, Richmond Kickers
Rookie of the Year: Ty Shipaline, Harrisburg City Islanders
Goalkeeper of the Year: Ronnie Pascale, Richmond Kickers
Coach of the Year: David Irving, Wilmington Hammerheads

Premier Development League

Ten teams were added to the PDL to replace the nine that had folded the previous season. Among the standouts were the Ottawa Fury who went undefeated and took the Northeastern Division title in a close race with the Long Island Rough Riders. The Reading Rage dominated in the Mid-Atlantic Division while the Mississippi Brilla won a squeaker over Bradenton in the Southeast. Laredo had a close race in the Mid-South but the Des Moines Menace had their usual excellent season in easily winning the Heartland. The major success story of 2009 was the expansion Kitsap Pumas who pulled ahead of the Portland Timbers I-23’s to win in the Northwest.

The playoffs were not kind to these divisional champs however, as only Des Moines and Laredo made it to the conference finals. They both fell at that point; Laredo at the hands of a 3-1 thrashing by Bradenton and Des Moines came up short against the Cary Clarets. The Chicago Fire Premier was dominant in their 3-0 shutout of Ocean City, and Ventura County Fusion brought Kitsap’s debut season to a close 2-1. In the semi-finals, Chicago beat Cary 2-1 and Ventura County smashed Bradenton 6-1. They went on to win their first league title by defeating Chicago Fire Premier 2-1.

Attendance totaled 292,204, for an average of 542 per game, continuing a trend of slow but steady increases. Aaron Wheeler was named the league’s most valuable player and also took top scorer honors, with 37 points and 17 goals.

Final 2009 PDL standings and playoff results

Most Valuable Player: Aaron Wheeler, Reading Rage
Top Scorer:  Aaron Wheeler, Reading Rage (37 P, 17 G)
Defender of the Year: Christian Ibeagha, Cary Clarets
Goalkeeper of the Year: James Maurer, Chicago Fire Premier
U-19 Player of the Year: Christian Ibeagha, Cary Clarets
Coach of the Year: Casey Mann, Des Moines Menace

Women’s Premier Soccer League

Nine teams were added to the WPSL to replace seven who had folded. The WPSL lost a number of major players to WPS as it stocked its initial rosters. Nevertheless, the league had an exciting season and remained the top national amateur league for women’s soccer in the USA. Boston Aztec and Long Island Fury both went undefeated and tied atop the standings in the East Division, but Boston won the title due to their GF-GA totals. Dallas Premier likewise went undefeated to take the Big Sky South division, while familiar names prevailed out west — the Arizona Rush easily took the big Sky North division and Ajax America Women won a close race with San Diego United to take the Pacific South. California Storm, an original franchise, won the Pacific North crown, edging out the San Francisco Nighthawks.

In the Eastern finals, Long Island defeated Millburn 3-0, Dallas defeated Arizona 3-2, Miami defeated Ohio 2-0, and in the great battle of the west, Ajax America defeated California 6-5 in penalty kicks after a grueling 1-1 draw. In the semi-finals, Ajax trounced Miami 5-0 while Long Island Beat Dallas 3-0. In the championship, Long Island returned to the victor’s podium for the first time since 2006 by beating defending champions Ajax America in a close 1-0 shutout. Shannon Cross of Ajax America was the leading scorer with 19 goals and 39 points, more than doubling the production of the 2nd most prolific scorer.

WPSL Final 2009 Standings

 Leading Scorers:
                                   GP   G   A   Pt
Shannon Cross, Ajax America        12  19   1   39
Leah Jones, San Francisco           9   9   1   19
Victoria DiMartino, Long Island     7   9   1   19
Kristina Larsen, West Coast FC      7   8   0   16
Mary-Frances Monroe, Boston Aztec   5   6   4   16
Lindsay Browne, SD United          12   7   2   16
Katy Cross, Ajax America Women      9   6   3   15
Erin Scott, Dallas Premier          6   7   1   15
April Perry, Miami Kickers FC       9   7   1   15
Rebekah Patrick, SD United         11   6   3   15
Sabrina Demonte, Ajax America       9   4   6   14
Kaitlin Ryan, Millburn              9   7   0   14
Tamara Kochen, Miami Kickers FC     9   5   4   14

WPSL 1st All-Star Team:

G - Ashley Phillips, Boston Aztecs
D - Analisa Marquez, Arizona Rush
D - Alyssa Pember, Long Island Fury
D - Jennifer Brewer, Ajax America
D-F - Ro Hernandez, San Francisco Nighthawks
M - Sophia Mundy, Boston Aztecs
M - Kendall Juett, Dallas Premier Women's SC
M - April Perry, Miami Kickers FC
F - Erin Scott, Dallas Premier Women's SC
F - Vicki DiMartino, Long Island Fury
F - Shannon Cross, Ajax America

National Premier Soccer League

After 2008, seven teams had folded, Milwaukee Bavarians had returned to their local municipal league and three more teams went on hiatus. To compensate, 12 new teams from across the country were added. The season remained fairly short, with divisions playing either 8, 10 or 12 matches per team. Erie Admirals went undefeated in taking the Keystone Conference title, and Sonoma County did likewise in the West. Three teams battled to finish in a tie for top spot in the Midwest, with the St. Paul Twin Stars taking the title based on tiebreaking procedures.

In the divisional finals, Erie beat Boston 2-0 while Sonoma County dispatched NorCal 2-1. In the semi-finals, Norcal continued their surge, knocking out St. Paul 4-1, while Erie beat Rocket City 4-2. In the championship, Sonoma County defeated Erie 2-1 to take the title.

2009 NPSL Final League standings

2009 NPSL Final League standingsThe W-League

2009 NPSL Final League standings

2009 NPSL Final League standingsThe W-League lost six teams from the 2008, and had more name changes than new franchises, with only Buffalo and Quebec City added. The W-League also lost a number of their top players to the inaugural draft of WPS but continued otherwise largely unscathed. Buffalo and Quebec City had impressive debut seasons, finishing 2nd and 3rd in the Great Lakes division, just a few points behind Ottawa. The voluminously named Hudson Valley Quickstrike Lady Blues went undefeated in their conquest of the Northeast division but they had to battle the Washington Freedom Reserves down to the wire to snag the title by a single point. The Atlanta Silverbacks took the Southeast with a single loss on their record, while FC Indiana and the defending champion Pali Blues enjoyed undefeated seasons and top spot in the Midwest and West respectively.

Ottawa, Washington and Pali prevailed in the conference championships, defeating FC Indiana 2-1, Charlotte 2-1 and Colorado 5-2 respectively. Hudson Valley joined the fray for the semi-finals, having won a bye as regular season best team, and fell convincingly to the defending champs 4-0, while Washington battled Ottawa in a scoreless draw through extra time and prevailed 3-1 on penalty kicks to march towards the finals. In the title match, the Pali Blues successfully defended their league crown, by beating Washington in a close 2-1 match.

Attendance totaled 94,463 for an average of 405 per game, showing the W-League’s continuing erosion compared to WPS and the WPSL. Laura Del Rio was the league’s leading scorer with 18 goals and 40 points, while Angelika Johnson of Hudson Valley took the award for league Most Valuable Player.

Final 2009 W-League standings and playoff results

Leading Scorers:
                                 GP   G   A  Pts
Laura Del Rio, FC Indiana        11  18   4   40
Angelika Johnsson, Hudson Valley 13  14   8   36
Lisa-Marie Woods, FC Indiana     11  11   9   31
Jennifer Parsons, Washington     14  12   6   30
Nikki Lyons, FC Indiana          10  14   1   29
Amber Hearn, Ottawa Fury         14  13   2   28
Monica Ocampo Medina, FC Indiana  9   8  11   27
Caroline Smith, Minnesota        12  13   1   27
Christina Julien, Laval Comets   12  11   1   23
Maria Ruiz, Buffalo Flash        12           22

Leading Goalkeepers: (min 550 minutes played) 
                                    GP  GA  GAA   SO
Lynn Shannon, FC Indiana Lionesses  12   2  0.166 10
Michelle Betos, Atlanta Silverbacks 11   2  0.188  9
Mallori Lofton-Malachi, Tampa Bay   11   3  0.400  4
Erin McNulty, Hudson Valley         11   3  0.400
Chante Sandiford, Washington        10   4  0.495
Lindsey Carstens, Chicago            9   5  0.596  6
Amanda Becker, Buffalo Flash        14      0.714  7
Jasmine Phillips, Ottawa Fury       11   8  0.770  4
Genevieve Richard, Laval Comets      7   6  0.857  4
Katie Hultin, Seattle Sounders      10      0.900

W-League Award Winners:
Most Valuable Player: Angelika Johnsson, Hudson Valley Quickstrike Lady Blues
Goalkeeper of the Year: Michelle Betos, Atlanta Silverbacks Women
Defender of the Year: Brittany Taylor, Hudson Valley Quickstrike Lady Blues
U-19 Player of the Year: Chante Sandiford, Washington Freedom Reserves
Coach of the Year: Fabien Cottin, Quebec City Arsenal

National Indoor Soccer League

The NISL was one of three pro indoor soccer leagues to form in the wake of the demise of the Major Indoor Soccer League and the American Indoor Soccer League. Four teams from the MISL joined together with the Rockford Rampage and Massachusetts Twisters of the failing American Indoor Soccer League to form the National Indoor Soccer League. Two of these teams, the Philadelphia Kixx and Baltimore Blast had long and successful tenures in their former circuit; Monterey La Raza and Orlando Predators were coming off their first MISL seasons. Orlando folded before the season started.

The Baltimore Blast continued their winning ways, easily winning the regular season, with Monterrey, Rockford and Philadelphia in a three-way tie for second. Rockford gained the 2nd spot in the tables, but fell to Baltimore in the championship match. Byron Alvarez of Monterrey was named league MVP.

Average attendance for the season was 4,163 per game, on par with the MISL’s 2008 season. After season’s end, the Twisters left the league and the NISL attempted to acquire some of the other former MISL teams who had formed the ill-fated and now defunct Xtreme Soccer League. A result of this was the arrival of the Milwaukee Wave, the dean of indoor soccer teams, which began preparations for their 27th season. Later in the year, the league purchased the intellectual property and trademarks of the MISL and renamed themselves accordingly.

Final NISL standings and playoff results

                           GP   W   L   PCT.   GB   GF   GA
Baltimore Blast            18  14   4   .777   --  277  144
Rockford Rampage           18  10   8   .556  4.0  248  168
Monterrey La Raza          18  10   8   .556  4.0  275  218
Philadelphia KiXX          18  10   8   .556  4.0  251  184
Massachusetts Twisters     18   1  17   .056 13.0  127  464

CHAMPIONSHIP:     Baltimore defeated Rockford 13-10.

After the season Massachusetts folded. 

Leading Scorers:
                                 GP   G   A  Pts
Leading Goalkeepers: (min 550 minutes played) 
                                 GP    GAA

NISL Award Winners:

Most Valuable Player: Byron Alvarez, Monterrey La Raza
Goalkeeper of the Year: Sagu, Baltimore Blast
Defensive Player of the Year: Pat Morris, Philadelphia KiXX
Coach of the Year: Danny Kelly, Baltimore Blast
Rookie of the Year: Pat Healey, Baltimore Blast

All-NISL Team: 
GK - Sagu, Baltimore Blast
D -  Genoni Martinez, Monterrey La Raza
D -  Pat Morris, Philadelphia Kixx
M -  Ricardinho, Philadelphia KiXX
F -  Machel Millwood, Baltimore Blast
F -  Byron Alvarez, Monterrey La Raza

Xtreme Soccer League

When the Major Indoor Soccer League folded, four of its teams joined together to form the Extreme Soccer League. Brian Lofton was the league commissioner. The teams played a 20-game season with no playoffs. The four MISL teams were the venerable Milwaukee Wave, along with the Chicago Storm, Detroit Ignition and New Jersey Ironmen. The seasonal race was close and exciting, with Detroit winning the league title, finishing one game ahead of New Jersey.

Average attendance for the season was 3,435 per game. Lucio Gonzaga was the league’s top scorer with 63 points in 19 games. The league incurred financial problems and announced they were going on hiatus for the following season. The hiatus looked to be permanent however, as the Milwaukee Wave left to join the NISL, and the Chicago Storm joined the semi-pro Ultimate Soccer League. New Jersey and Detroit decided to sit out the year as well.

Final 2008-09 XSL standings and playoff results

                           GP   W   L   PCT.   GB   GF   GA
Detroit Ignition           20  12   8   .600   --  238  208
New Jersey Ironmen         20  11   9   .550  1.0  246  239
Milwaukee Wave             20  10  10   .500  2.0  236  216
Chicago Storm              20   7  13   .350  5.0  176  233

League Champion:  Detroit Ignition.

After the season, the XFL folded.  Milwaukee joined the MISL III, 
Chicago joined the Ultimate Soccer League, while Detroit
And New Jersey went on hiatus.

Leading Scorers:             GP  3G  2G   A  Pts
Lucio Gonzaga, New Jersey    19   8  15   9   63
Marco Teminsei, Milwaukee    20   2  17  12   52
Adauto Neto, New Jersey      18   0  15  16   46
Ryan Mack, Detroit           19   3  12  10   43
Chile Farias, New Jersey     18   5   6  16   43
Guillano Oliviero, Milwaukee 20   0  20  20   40
Ian Bennett, Chicago         20   2  11   7   35
Goran Vasik, New Jersey      16   0   9  16   34
Kyt Selaidopoulos, Detroit   20   1   8  14   33
Miodrag Djerisilo, Detroit   20   2   9   8   32
Rey Martinez, New Jersey     20   1  12   4   31

Leading Goalkeepers:         GP    MIN     SA  SV   Avg.
Marcel Feenstra, Milwaukee    8   461:24  142  107   9.49
Jeff Richey, Chicago         15   868:23  293  226   9.74
Danny Watsman, Detroit       20  1198:01  414  319  10.02
Nick Vorberg, Milwaukee      12   699:59  193  137  10.46
Brett Phillips, New Jersey   16   943:11  298  215  11:13


The tenth CONCACAF Gold Cup was held from July 3 to July 26, 2009 at various venues across the United States. The US qualified as host nation, and arrived hot on the heels of their second place finish in the Confederations Cup. The venues ranged from the intimate field at Florida International University to the largest soccer-specific stadium, the Home Depot Center, to the big megaplex Quest Field at Seattle. Old standbys such as R. F. K. Stadium in the nations capital and Gillette Field near Boston were also used. In a nod to the past and the future, the soon-to-be demolished Giants Stadium in East Rutherford NJ hosted its last major tournament, and the brand new 80,000 seat Cowboys Stadium in Dallas had its official grand opening, as it hosted a quarterfinal doubleheader.

With many of the top players exhausted and well tested from the Confederations Cup, Coach Bradley gave them a rest, filling the roster with mostly MLS players. This would still give a valuable opportunity to evaluate other potential first stringers without the pressure and risks of the Hexagonal and qualification on the line.

The tournament opened with Canada’s 1-0 defeat of Jamaica at the sold out Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. For the US, the matches were a sigh of relief after the Confederations Cup, and they started off on Independence Day in grand style, trouncing Grenada 4-0, with Freddy Adu landing the first goal in the 7th minute and Rogers and Davies providing a one-two punch in the 2nd half. Four days later, they continued their streak, shutting out Hexagonal opponent Honduras 2-0, with another one-two; after 74 minutes of scoreless drudgery, Quaranta and Ching found the net just five minutes apart. Perhaps overconfident, the team fell to earth in their next match against Haiti, as a couple of quick goals at the start of the 2nd half allowed the Haitians to pull ahead 2-1. In desperation, the US made run after run, and finally Holden found the net in stoppage time to salvage a draw. This gave the US two wins and a draw for group play, and they won their group on goal differential over Honduras.

The Americans were placed in the knockout round where they faced Panama in the Quarterfinals at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on July 18. Panama took it to the Americans early on, stifling the offense, and defeating several scoring runs, and making attacks of their own. Finally, Panama opened scoring as time was running out of the first half. Kyle Beckerman equalized for the USA early in the second half, and then the stalemate resumed, and they remained deadlocked until the final whistle of regulation. Deep into extra time, Kenny Cooper, who had been brought in late in the second half, found the net to give the Nats a 2-1 win and a spot in the semi-finals. Cowboys Stadium opened with a doubleheader featuring Guadeloupe, Mexico, Mexico and Haiti before a sellout crowd of 85,000.

It was deja-vu for the Americans in the semis, held in Chicago. They faced their opening foe, Honduras and beat them by an identical score, 2-0, this time with the US scoring each goal just before the whistle was to close each half. This brought them back to familiar ground at East Rutherford for the title match against Mexico. At this point, the team simply fell apart, with a porous defense and an ineffective attack. The teams battled back and forth fruitlessly until the US collapsed in the second half, allowing Mexico to score at will, handing the US their worst ever loss in a Gold Cup final, sending the facility-record 79,126 fans home disappointed. The US salvaged a little pride, winning the Fair Play award, and landing four players (Goodson, Marchall, Holden and Cooper on the all-tournament team.

Complete Results at RSSSF

Confederations Cup

The US qualified for the eight-nation FIFA Confederations Cup as winner of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and this tournament served as a challenging precursor to the 2010 World Cup. South Africa hosted, and was able to show off some of the new and renovated stadiums that would host WC’10. The United States, got a tough assignment, being assigned to a group with five-time world champion Brazil, four-time champion Italy and African champion Egypt. The event was a see-saw ride of emotions for the US club, going from stunning losses to incredible victory back to a heartbreaking final, but what a ride it was.

Coach Bradley assembled an A-team for the tournament, including Carlos Bocanegra, Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, Freddy Adu, Clint Dempsey and Sacha Kljestan. The US arrived in South Africa on the heels of their Hexagonal win over Honduras. Perhaps it was lack of rest or practice opportunities, but the team was rusty at the start, and was beaten soundly by Italy 3-1. Things got no better against top-rated Brazil. The listless offense was powerless, and the defense succumbed to the relentless scoring attacks as they fell 3-0.

By this point only a miracle could save them from elimination, but that is exactly what happened. It all started as the US was falling on its face against Brazil; Egypt had stunned Italy with a 1-0 shutout, keeping the US hopes alive. Egypt provided the US their best opportunity for a long-shot victory, and they got it. The Americans got on top early, Charlie Davies, who had been impressive in his substitution role against Italy, nabbed a starting spot, and in the 21st minute, hunted down a throw-in collected by Altidore, and squeezed it into the goal for the early lead. Michael Bradley extended the lead in the 63rd minute when he and Dempsey passed the ball up through the field, with Bradley scoring on the second pass. Dempsey scored the third goal eight minutes later when he headed a Spector cross into the net, giving the US a 3-0 victory to keep their hopes alive. Prayers were answered as Brazil defeated Italy by the same score, creating a three-way tie for second, with the US nabbing the spot on goal differential.

The only problem was, this put the US into the semi-final against Spain, a top 10 ranked squad who had never lost to them. In the upset of the decade (at least for the USA), the Americans took command of the field against mighty Spain and held them scoreless. Jozy Altdore scored in the 27th minute to put the Americans up, and they held the line, adding an insurance goal in the 74th minute for a 2-0 upset and a re-match with Brazil in the final. The final marked the men’s team’s first ever appearance in the final of a worldwide tournament. They took the early initiative, opening the scoring in the tenth minute courtesy of Clint Mathis’s hard drive into the net. Landon Donovan extended the lead in the 27th, and it appeared that a major upset was in the making, with the US earning consecutive defeats of top superpowers. It was not to be however. The US held on, but their offense lost focus, and the relentless attacks by Brazil eventually wore them down, allowing Luis Fabiano to score early in the second half. Thirty minutes later he scored again to even the score, and with their anemic attack, it appeared the best the US could hope for would be a 50-50 chance in the penalty kicks. That hope vanished in the 86th minute when Lucio found the net to dash the American hopes and give Brazil the tournament cup.

The loss was as sudden as it was devastating, especially when the US appeared to have the game in hand, but it still marked the Americans’ best effort in a world tournament at the top men’s level, with two solid wins, and an apparent end to the scoring drought suffered during the Hexagonal. The strikers had also been able to break the barrier of being unable to executive their scoring drives without everything falling apart once they approached the net. Clint Dempsey won the Bronze Ball for his goals in consecutive games against Egypt, Spain and Brazil, and Tim Howard won the award for top goalkeeper. There was little rest for the squad, as they had barely six days to fly back north and prepare for the Gold Cup (see above).

The Gold Cup loss was a tougher blow than that of the Confederations Cup. Whereas the Gold Cup was always a toss-up when powerhouses US and Mexico matched skills, the US had surprised everybody by nearly toppling Brazil in South Africa. Bradley was now tasked with deciding which of his now-tested players were best suited for the final leg of the hexagonal.

Complete Results at RSSSF

CONCACAF Champions League

In the 2008-09 Champions League, During the qualifications in 2008, Houston Dynamo of the MLS, and Montreal Impact and Puerto Rico Islanders of USL First Division advanced to the quarterfinals. There, Houston put up a good fight against Atlante, the Mexican Apertura champion, drawing 1-1 in the first game, but they fell to relentless attacks in the 2nd leg, being shut out 3-0. Montreal gave a bigger fight to Santos, the Mexican Clausura champion, winning the first leg 2-0, but fell badly in the rejoinder 2-5. Puerto Rico was more successful against Marathon, the Honduran Apertura champion, winning 2-1 and 1-0, taking them to the semifinals against mighty Cruz Azul (Mexican Clausura runner-up). The Islanders were not intimidated however, as they earned an impressive 2-0 shutout in the opener. They fell badly 1-3 in the 2nd leg, before battling to a 3-3 draw in the tiebreaking game. This forced penalty kicks where they finally fell 2-4. In an all-Mexican final, Atlante defeated Cruz Azul 2-0 and 0-0 for the Cup.

In the 2009-2010 Champions League, MLS entered Columbus Crew (MLS Cup and Supporters Shield winner), Houston Dynamo (Supporters Shield runner-up), Red Bull New York (MLS Cup runner-up) and D. C. United (U. S. open Cup Champion). In addition, USL First Division sent Toronto FC (Canadian Cup champion) and Puerto Rico Islanders (CFU Championship runner-up). Columbus and Houston received a bye through the preliminaries.

In the preliminaries, Red Bull New York fell to W Connection (Trinidad, CFU Champ) 2-2 and 1-2. D. C. United defeated Luis Angel Firpo (Costa Rica Clausura and Apertura runner-up) 1-1, 1-1 (5-4-PK), and Puerto Rico defeated Toronto 1-0, 0-0

In pool play, Houston (Group A) defeated Isidro Metapan (El Salvador, Apertura and Clausura champ) 1-0, drew with Arabe Unido (Panama Clausura champ) 1-1, lost to Pachuca (Mexico, Clausura runner-up), 2-0, beat Arabe Unido 5-1, lost again to Pachuca 1-0 and fell to Isidro Metapan 3-2, failing to advance. D. C. United (Group B), fell to Marathon (Honduras Apertura champ) 3-1, fell to Toluca (Mexico Apertura ’08 champ) 3-1, beat San Juan Jabolteh (Trinidad, CFU Club 3rd place) 1-0, beat Marathon 3-0, beat San Juan Jabolteh 5-1, and drew with Toluca 1-1, but failed to advance. In Group C, Columbus Crew drew with Puerto Rico 2-0, lost to Cruz Azul (Mexico Apertura ’08 runner-up) 5-0, beat Saprissa (Costa Rica Invierno ’08 champ) 1-0, lost again to Cruz Azul 2-0, drew 1-1 with Saprissa, and drew 1-1 with Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, in addition to its games with Columbus, fell to Saprissa 3-1, drew 3-3 with Cruz Azul in a surprising performance, drew with Saprissa 1-1, and lost to Cruz Azul 2-0. Columbus earned enough points to advance to the Championship bracket, but Puerto Rico was eliminated.

Complete results at RSSSF

Men’s National Team

As the US prepared for the final round of World Cup qualification, questions remained about the depth of the player pool. Some players were givens: DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Landon Donovan, Pablo Mastroeni, Oguchi Onyweu, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Brad Guzan. Chances looked good for others such as Jozy Altidore, Frankie Hedjuk, Charlie Davies, Mauricio Edy and Jimmy Conrad. But the remainder were on the bubble – no replacement had been found to replace Brian McBride after his 2006 retirement. And the search was still on for a prolific foreword who would free up Donovan to work in midfield. Was Kljestan seasoned and consistent enough to join the midfield line? Would Ricardo’s speed and range make up for his late tackles? Could Mauricio Edu return to his Rookie of the Year form? Was Michael Orozco’s sub par performance in the Olympics just a temporary lull? The top priority was to manage the flux in the midfield line, and whether to move Donovan back. All these questions would hopefully be answered during the early rounds of the hexagonal. Sacha Kljestan shone in the team’s final exhibition where he scored all 3 US goals in a 3-2 win over Sweden at Carson, CA on January 24.

The Hexagonal started with a bang as the US shut out Mexico convincingly, 2-0 at Columbus. Michael Bradley opened the scoring shortly before the half, and the team hunkered down to protect the lead. Mexico ramped up the pressure in the second half, and halfway through, Tim Howard was fouled as he jumped to claim a deflected ball which had fallen into the penalty area. Defender Rafael Marquez landed his studs into Howard’s thigh, possibly in retaliation for an earlier incident. He earned a red card, and the US advantage allowed Landon Donovan set up the final goal in stoppage time, controlling a ball from Jozy Altidore and setting up Bradley for the insurance goal. With this game, the US had outscored Mexico 19-3 in the last 11 matches on US soil.

Four days later, the US got a scare against El Salvador on March 28, letting a weaker team take the initiative and the lead. The US pulled itself together late in the game, and successive goals by Jozy Altidore and Frankie Hedjuk salvaged a tie. Four days later, Jozy Altidore scored a hat trick in an easy 3-0 shutout over Trinidad & Tobago. Then it was back to training camp and league action until June. The Americans had trouble keeping possession on their own end of the field during the June games, and allowed some early goals, which cost them dearly against San Jose where they suffered another away loss, 3-1. They rebounded three days later (June 6) to beat Honduras 2-1. This gave them a mere 9 days to rest and prepare for the Confederations Cup (see section above).

After their amazing run in the Confederations Cup, they had only six days to prepare for the Gold Cup, by at least they were home for this (see section above).

After some breathing space, the US resumed Hexagonal play on August 12 with their toughest match – against 110,000 raucous fans at Mexico’s Azteca Stadium. The US got on the scoreboard first, with Davies landing a shot in goal just nine minutes into the game. But from that point on, Mexico wore the Nats down, and they wilted under the intense pressure of the team and partisan crowd, eventually losing 2-1. They regrouped on September 5 before friendly crowds at Sandy, Utah. The next two games were an exercise in frustration – although the US beat El Salvador 2-1 and Trinidad & Tobago 1-0 in an away match, they did just what was needed to get a win – hardly the kind of overpowering performance that would be needed in the World Cup. From relentless attacks by the opposition to sloppy defense to blown scoring opportunities, the performance of the team was troublesome. They could qualify, but could they compete?

The first question was answered decisively when the US traveled to San Pedro Sula, Honduras and before a sellout crowd of 37,000 Conor Casey scored two goals to give the Americans a ticket to their 5th consecutive World Cup tournament. The 3-2 match was challenging and close, but it was enough. With nothing on the line, they settled for a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica to close out the hexagonal. Once again, the United States had finished on top in the hexagonal, beating Mexico by 1 point.

All in all, the US did qualify, and with a game to spare, but they still had several holes to fill on the roster and some injury concerns. But they had plenty of time to accomplish their tasks, and the World Cup draw made their task easier, placing them in group C with England, Slovenia and Algeria, giving them two relatively easy opponents for the first round.

With qualification concluded, the USA closed out the year with a pair of November friendlies – a 1-0 loss to Slovakia and a 3-1 loss to Denmark. Once again, the nagging questions about preparation were being asked. Was the US getting enough quality opponents to prepare them, and were they prepared to meet that competition?

2009 USA Men’s National Team results

     2009 Totals:   13W, 3D, 8L
   DATE    Score  Opponent        Attendance Location (Event)
Nov 18 09  L 1-3  Denmark            15,172  Aarhus, Denmark
               Cunningham (26)
Nov 14 09  L 0-1  Slovakia            7,200  Bratislava, Slovakia
Oct 14 09  D 2-2  Costa Rica         26,243  Washington, DC, USA (WCQ’10)
               Bradley, Bornstein
Oct 10 09  W 3-2  Honduras           37,000  San Pedro Sula, Honduras (WCQ’10)
               Casey (2), Donovan
Sep 09 09  W 1-0  Trinidad & Tobago          Port of Spain, Trinidad (WCQ’10)
               Clark (62)
Sep 05 09  W 2-1  El Salvador        19,066  Sandy, UT, USA (WCQ’10)
               Dempsey (41), Altidore (45+2)
Aug 12 09  L 1-2  Mexico            110,000  Mexico City, MX (WCQ’10)
               Davies (9)
Jul 26 09  L 0-5  Mexico             79,156  East Rutherford, NJ, USA (GC’10)
Jul 23 09  W 2-0  Honduras           55,173  Chicago, IL, USA (GC’10)
               Goodson (45), Cooper (90)
Jul 18 09  W 2-1  Panama             31,087  Philadelphia, PA, USA (GC’10)
               Beckerman (49), Cooper (105+-PK)
Jul 11 09  D 2-2  Haiti              24,137  Foxboro, MA, USA (GC’10)
               Arnaud (6), Holden (92)
Jul 08 09  W 2-0  Honduras           26,079  Washington, DC, USA (GC’10)
               Quaranta (75), Ching (79)
Jul 04 09  W 4-0  Grenada            15,387  Seattle, WA, USA (GC’10)
               Adu (7), Holden (31), Rogers (60), Davies (68)
Jun 28 09  L 2-3  Brazil             52,291  Johannesburg, South Africa (CC’10)
               Dempsey (10), Donovan (74)
Jun 24 09  W 2-0  Spain              35,396  Bloemfontein, South Africa (CC’10)
               Altidore (27), Dempsey (74)
Jun 21 09  W 3-0  Egypt              23,140  Rustenburg, South Africa (CC’10)
               Davies (21), Bradley (63), Dempsey (71)
Jun 18 09  L 0-3  Brazil             39,617  Pretoria, South Africa (CC’10)
Jun 15 09  L 1-3  Italy              34,341  Pretoria, South Africa (CC’10)
               Donovan (41-PK)
Jun 06 09  W 2-1  Honduras           55,647  Chicago, IL, USA (WCQ’10)
               Donovan (43-PK), Bocanegra (68)
Jun 03 09  L 1-3  Costa Rica         19,200  San Jose, Costa Rica (WCQ’10)
               Donovan (92-PK)
Apr 01 09  W 3-0  Trinidad & Tobago  27,969  Nashville, TN, USA (WCQ’10)
               Altidore (13,71,89)
Mar 28 09  D 2-2  El Salvador        30,500  San Salvador, El Salvador (WCQ’10)
               Altidore (77), Hedjuk (88)
Feb 11 09  W 2-0  Mexico             23,776  Columbus, OH, USA (WCQ’10)
               Bradley (43,92+)
Jan 24 09  W 3-2  Sweden              9,918  Carson, CA, USA
               Kljestan (40, 74-PK,89)

Women’s National Team

After their exhausting and record-breaking 2008 season, the Women arranged a light schedule for 2009, one that would facilitate the reintegration of Kristine Lilly (returning from maternity leave), Abby Wambach and Cat Whitehill (both returning from injuries) as well as groom the next generation of players to move up. A major long term concern was to ensure that the development of the U-20 and U-17 players was up to par with those of the past.

As usual, the women opened their season at the Algarve Cup, cruising through the early rounds with shutouts of Denmark, Iceland and Norway respectively. Particularly gratifying was the way the young players stepped up, with Megan Rapinoe, Angie Woznuk and Tiny DiMartino scoring 3 of the 4 goals. They came up short in the final however, battling Sweden to a 1-1 draw before losing 4-3 on penalty kicks. This was only the 2nd time the US had failed to take the crown. Much of the roster was not signed to WPS teams, whose league play took most of their time. Outside of that, there were some scattered friendlies, all of them victories. Three of the subsequent matches were shutout victories against Canada; a sound 4-0 thrashing in late May, and a pair of 1-0 shutouts in July. After an extended break, they reassembled at the end of October to top Germany 1-0, disappointing the crowd of 28,000+ at Augsburg.

USA Women’s National Team 2009 Results

    2009 Totals:  7W, 0D, 1L
Oct 29 09  W 1-0  Germany            28,344  Augsburg, Germany
               Wambach (34)
Jul 22 09  W 1-0  Canada              4,041  Charleston, SC, USA
               Nairn (90)
Jul 19 09  W 1-0  Canada              8,433  Rochester, NY, USA
               Wambach (78)
May 25 09  W 4-0  Canada             10,255  Toronto, ON, Canada
               Boxx (2), Rapinoe (46), Tarpley (77), Cheney (80)
Mar 11 09  L 1-1 (3-4 PK)  Sweden     1,200  Ferreiras, Portugal (AC'10)
               Boxx (90)
Mar 09 09  W 1-0  Norway                400  Ferreiras, Portugal  (AC’10)
               Rapinoe (21)
Mar 06 09  W 1-0  Iceland               250  Ferreiras, Portugal (AC’10)
               Kai (90)
Mar 04 09  W 2-0  Denmark               200  Lagos, Portugal (AC’10)
               Woznuk (22), DiMartino (35)

U-20 World Cup

Tab Ramos returned to the Men’s U-20 team as an assistant coach, after leading his U-14 team, the Gunners of new Jersey Soccer Academy 04 to the USYS U-14 National title. The U-20’s qualified for their 7th straight cup, but did not look good doing so. In the CONCACAF U-20 Cup (which served as the qualifications), the team only included 5 veterans from the 2007 U-17 World Cup, and had several untested members. They started strong, shutting out El Salvador 3-0, but only scored two more goals in the tournament. A victory over host Trinidad & Tobago came on penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw, and the US was out shot 20-6 by Costa Rica on their way to a 3-0 loss in the final. Nevertheless it was enough to make the finals. Two major surprises were the failure of Argentina to qualify, and the qualification of Tahiti from the Oceania group.

The Cup finals were held in Egypt, starting on September 24, with the US up against South Korea, Germany and Cameroon. The Americans got off to a rough start being shot down 3-0 by Germany, before rebounding with a convincing 4-1 over Cameroon. But they flopped badly against South Korea, losing 3-0. The 1-0-2 record dropped them into 3rd place in Group C, but they did not make the cut for advancement due to their goal differential. The US returned home disappointed at having failed to advance out of group play.

U-17 World Cup

The United States Men’s U-17 team qualified easily, trouncing Cuba 5-0, and scoring three goals in quick succession on their way to a 4-2 win over Canada, which clinched one of two berths in the knockout competition. They finished pool play with a 3-0 win over Honduras. The knockout competition was cancelled due to safety concerns regarding the Swine Flu outbreak. But their record was enough for them to qualify. The US had the distinction of being the only nation to qualify for every U-17 World Cup.

The Cup was held in Nigeria with group E matches starting October 26, 2009. The US got off to a rough start, losing 2-1 to Spain. They recovered quickly enough to earn a 1-0 victory over Malawi, and followed that with a 1-0 win over the United Arab Emirates to earn 2nd place, and advancement to the Round of 16. On November 4, they took to the field against Italy, but the dream ended there as Italy pulled out a 2-1 victory, sending the US team home early. Eleven days later, Switzerland defeated Nigeria 1-0 for the title.

U. S. Open Cup

As in previous Cups, the MLS teams received a bye into the 3rd round, and as usual, there were upsets, although it is true that MLS, with its light regard for the Open Cup and concerns about the rigors of the playoff run, fields primarily second string teams in the competition. The New England Revolution fell to USL-D2’s Harrisburg City Islanders 2-1, and D1’s Rochester Rhinos continued their upset streak, battling Columbus Crew to a 1-1 draw and winning 6-5 on penalty kicks. Meanwhile, the Seattle Sounders upset their soon-to-be MLS rival Portland Timbers 2-1. The feisty Minnesota Thunder (USL-D1) took the Kansas City Wizards into penalty kicks before finally succumbing. Arriving well-prepared, D1’s Charleston Battery trounced Chivas USA 3-1. The strongest MLS performance was put on by D. C. United who eliminated the PDL’s Ocean City 2-0. Less impressive was the Chicago Fire’s 1-0 shutout at the hands of D2’s Wilmington Hammerheads.

The MLS contingent found itself in form in the quarterfinals, with DC United defeating Harrisburg City 2-1, and Houston trouncing Charleston 4-0. The expansion Sounders showed their regular season performance was no fluke as they eliminated Kansas City 1-0, and only Rochester survived to represent USL, defeating Wilmington 2-1. In the semifinals, Rochester was sent packing at the hands of D. C. United 2-1, ensuring an all-MLS final. United was pitted against the Seattle Sounders who pulled out a 2-1 victory in extra time.

With a massive fan base, excitement over their first MLS season and amazing run to the Cup final, a massive sellout would have been a no-brainer had the final been held at Quest field, but the bid committee chose instead to give home field to DC United, and a crowd of only 17,329 showed at R. F. K. stadium in Washington for the title match, with about 200 Sounders fans forming a supporters section in the upper deck. The match itself was a fast and exciting affair with numerous scoring opportunities blocked by equally determined defense.

Scoring was finally initiated in the 67th minute by Fredy Montero who found a rolling blocked ball at his feet and promptly landed it in the net. Frustrated by the goal, DC Keeper Josh Wicks stomped on Montero’s leg while he was still on the ground, earning a red card. Despite playing short, DC United continued to control the ball, but as time was winding down, Sebastain Le Toux pushed United’s defender Jakovic off the ball, dribbled towards the goal, centered it to Roger Levesque who scored the insurance goal. In a desperate bid, United sent every many forward and launched drives, with Clyde Sims finding the net in the 89th minute, but it was too little, too late. Seattle Sounders had earned their first top-level national trophy before their first season was finished. Wicks eventually received a five game Open Cup suspension for his leg-stomping incident. The Cup triumph earned Seattle a spot in the preliminary round of the 2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League.

International Friendlies

Note:  Games from July 19 through July 26 constituted the World Football Challenge.  
7/19/09  America 1, Internazionale 1 (at Palo Alto, att: 31,026)
7/21/09  Chelsea 2, Internazionale 0 (at Pasadena, CA, att: 81,224)
7/22/09  America 2, A. C. Milan 1 (at Atlanta, GA, att: 53,600)
7/24/09  Chelsea 2, A. C. Milan 1 (at Baltimore, MD, att: 71,203)
7/26/09  Internazionale 2, A. C. Milan 0 (at Foxboro, MA, USA, att: 42,531)
7/26/09  Chelsea 2, America 0 (at Arlington, TX, att:  57,229)
8/1/09   FC Barcelona 2, Los Angeles Galaxy 1 (at Pasadena, att: 93,137)
8/7/09   Real Madrid 4, Toronto FC 1 (at Toronto, ON, att:  22,089)
8/9/09   Real Madrid 3, D. C. United 0 (at Fedex Field, Largo, MD, att:  72,368)
         Colorado Rapids 0, Club America 0 (at Commerce City, CO)

Americans Abroad

Carlos Bocanegra shined with Renne (France) where he scored their only goal in their 2-1 loss in the French Cup final. Mauricio Edu played with Glasgow Rangers, where he scored a goal during the teams Premier League title clinching match. Marco Vidal was a regular with Indios at Juarez, Mexico. Oguchi Onyewu scored 3 goals in 32 appearances with Standard Liege (Belgium), who repeated as Juliper League champion. Michael Bradley was editorialized as the heart of his team because of his work in helping newly promoted Borussia Moenchengladbach climb out of the relegation zone and keep its first division spot. Tim Howard set a club record with 17 shutouts for Everton, who finished in 5th, earning a spot in the Europa League (formerly UEFA Cup). He was instrumental in their defeat of Manchester United in the FA Cup Semi-final, but they fell to Chelsea 2-1 in the final.

Brad Friedel, playing with Aston Villa, broke David James’s record for most consecutive appearances in the English Premier League with his 167th straight appearance, and eventually extended that record to 182 by season’s end. Clint Dempsey scored 7 goals in 35 appearances for Fulham, helping them move from the relegation zone up to 7th place in the English Premier League, and qualify for the Europa League. He had a pair of 2-goal games, a 2-2 draw with Chelsea and a 3-1 win over Manchester City. Ben Feihaber performed so well at AGF Aarhus (Demark) that he was invited back to the National Team for the Confederations Cup. Luis Robles made 20 appearances at Kaiserslautern (Germany) and also won a spot on the US Confederations Cup roster. Jose Francisco Torres played 22 games with Pachuca (Mexico) helping them to a 2nd place finish in the Apertura 2009, and scored the winning goal in the Interligua final that gave Pachuca a spot in the Liberatores Cup.

The College Game

NCAA Division I Men’s tournament: In the quarterfinals, Akron defeated Tulsa 1-0, North Carolina defeated Drake 2-1, Wake Forest defeated UCLA 2-0 and Virginia defeated Maryland 3-0. In the semi-finals, Akron defeated North Carolina 0-0 (5-4-PK), and Virginia defeated Wake Forest 2-1. In the final, held at Cary, NC on December 13, Virginia defeated Akron on penalty kicks 3-2 after a scoreless draw to take the national championship.
NCAA Women’s Division I Tournament: In the quarterfinals, North Carolina defeated Wake Forest 5-2, Notre Dame defeated Florida State 2-0, Stanford defeated Boston College 3-1 and UCLA defeated Portland 2-1. In the semi-finals, Stanford defeated UCLA 2-1 (OT) and North Carolina defeated Notre Dame 1-0. In the championship, held at College Station, TX, North Carolina defeated Stanford 1-0 for the title.
NCAA Men’s Division II Tournament: In the quarterfinals, Le Moyne defeated Southern New Hampshire 1-1 (3-2-PK), Fort Lewis defeated Cal State Dominguez Hills 1-0, Lees-McRae defeated Tampa 1-0 and Lewis defeated Charleston WV 4-1. In the semi-finals, Fort Lewis defeated Le Moyne 8-2 and Lees-McRae defeated Lewis 2-2 (5-3-PK). In the championship, on December 5, Fort Lewis defeated Lees-McRae 1-0.
NCAA Division II Women’s Tournament: In the quarterfinals, Grand Valley State defeated Colorado Mines 3-0, St. Rose defeated California (PA) 1-0, Cal State Dominguez Hills defeated West Texas A&M; 5-2 and West Florida defeated Carson-Newman 3-2. In the semi-finals, Grand Valley State defeated St. Rose 3-2 (OT) and Cal State Dominguez Hills defeated West Florida 1-1 (4-1-PK). In the final, Grand Valley State defeated Cal State Dominguez Hills 1-0.
NCAA Division III Men’s Tournament: In the sectionals, Messiah defeated Rochester 2-1, Williams defeated Chris Newport 1-1 (4-1-PK), Dominican defeated Whitworth 2-0 and Calvin defeated Transylvania 1-1 (4-3-PK). In the semi-finals, Messiah defeated Williams 2-1 and Calvin defeated Doninican 1-0. In the final, held on December 5, Messiah defeated Calvin 2-0.
NCAA Division III Women’s Tournament: In the Sectionals, Lynchburg defeated Trinity 1-1 (4-2-PK), Washington-St. Louis defeated Calvin 2-1, TCNJ defeated Ithaca 1-0 and Messiah defeated Johns Hopkins 3-1. In the semi-finals, Washington-St. Louis defeated Lynchburg 1-1 (4-3-PK) and Messiah defeated TCNJ 1-0. In the final, Messiah defeated Washington-St. Louis 1-0.
NAIA Men’s Champion:Lindsey Wilson defeated The Master’s 1-0.
NAIA Women’s Champion:Lee defeated Point Loma Nazarene 2-0.
NJCAA Division I Men’s Championship: Tyler defeated Georgia Perimeter 0-0 (5-3-PK).
NJCAA Division III Men’s Champion: Union CC defeated Richland 1-0 .
NJCAA Division I Women’s Champion: Tyler JC defeated Johnson County CC 3-0.
NJCAA Division III Women’s Champion: Richland defeated Montgomery (MD) 2-1.
NCCAA Division 1 Men’s Champion: Judson defeated Indiana Weslayen 4-3.
NCCAA Division 2 Men’s Champion: Clearwater defeated Southeastern 2-1 (OT).
NCCAA Division 1 Women’s Champion: The Master’s defeated Olivet Nazarene 4-1.
NCCAA Division 2 Women’s Champion: Manhattan defeated Southeastern 2-0.

Final Men's Division 1 NSCAA Coaches' Poll:

1. Akron
2. Wake Forest
3. Virginia
4. North Carolina
5. Monmouth
6. Louisville
7. Maryland
9. Harvard
10. Cal/Santa Barbara

Final Women's Division 1 NSCAA Coaches' Poll:

1. North Carolina
2. Stanford
4. Notre Dame
5. Portland
6. Florida State
7. Boston College
8. Wake Forest
9. South Carolina
10. Santa Clara

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

G - Jeffrey Attinella, South Florida
D - Bobby Warshaw, Stanford
D - Zach Lloyd, North Carolina
D - Ike Opara, Wake Forest
M - Kyle Nakazawa, UCLA
M - Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Akron
M - Corben Bone, Virginia
M - Tony Tchani, Virginia
F - Teal Bunbury, Akron
F - Colin Rolfe, Louisville
F - Ryan Kinne, Monmouth
F - Andre Akpan, Harvard

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

G - Kristin Olsen, USC
D - Becky Edwards, Florida State
D - Whitney Engen, North Carolina
D - Blakely Mattern, South Carolina
M - Mandi Back, Dayton
M - Courtney Berg, Notre Dame
M - Tobin Heath, North Carolina
M - Sophie Schmidt, Portland
F - Lauren Cheyney, UCLA
F - Michelle Enyeart, Portland
F - Tiffany McCarthy, Florida State
F - Kelley O'Hara, Stanford

Men's National Award Winners:

Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy: Teal Bunbury, Akron 
NSCAA Coach of the Year (Division 1): Caleb Porter, Akron

Women's National Award Winners:

Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy: Kelly O'Hara, Stanford
NSCAA Coach of the Year (Division 1): Paul Ratcliffe, Akron 

Awards & Tournaments

US Open Cup Championship: Seattle Sounders (MLS) defeated D. C. United (MLS) 2-1.
National Amateur Cup:Aegean Hawks defeated A. A. C. Eagles
USASA National Open Cup:Milwaukee Bavarians.
USASA Women’s Cup:Eclipse.

CONCACAF U-17 Championship: See U-17 World Cup, above.
CONCACAF U-20 Championship: see U-20 World Cup above.
Women’s World Military Football Championship:The US hosted, but in pool play lost to Germany 4-3, South Korea 6-0 and Brazil 3-0, and was eliminated. Brazil beat South Korea 1-0 in the final.
Cyprus Women’s Cup: USA U-20’s defeated Scotland 2-1 and Netherlands 2-0 in pool play, sending them to the final where they lost to Canada 3-2.
Interligua: Tournament was held in Carson, CA. Participants were America, Atlas, Toluca, Morelia, San Luis, Cruz Azul, Monterrey, and UNAM. The top two from each group advanced to the two final matches, where Atlas defeated San Luis 3-0 and America defeated Cruz Azul 3-3 (5-3-PK) to earn spots in the Copa Liberatores.
James P. McGuire Cup (US Youth Soccer Boys U-19): Casa Mia Bays
Andy Stone Cup (US Youth Soccer Boys U-18): Andromeda SC
Don Greer Cup (US Youth Soccer Boys U-17): Andromeda SC
D.J. Niotis Cup (US Youth Soccer Boys U-16): Dallas Texans
ADIDAS Cup (US Youth Soccer Boys U-15): Casa Mia Bays
William J. “Billy” Goaziou Cup (US Youth Soccer Boys U-14): NJSA 04
J. Ross Stewart Cup (US Youth Soccer Girls U-19): Colorado Rush
Frank Kelly Cup (US Youth Soccer Girls U-18): FC Bucks (PA)
Laura Moynihan Cup (US Youth Soccer Girls U-17): Eclipse Select
Patricia Masotto Cup (US Youth Soccer Girls U-16): De Anza Force
Kristine Lilly Cup (US Youth Soccer Girls U-15): San Diego Surf
Elmer Ehlers Cup (US Youth Soccer Girls U-14): Mustang Soccer Blast

Hall of Fame: In 2009, the US Soccer Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Agoos and Joy Fawcett. There were no veteran or builder inductees this year. The Colin Jose award was given to Alex Yannis. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Hall of Fame inducted Gene Czyzowych and Cliff McGrath. The National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (NISOA) Hall of Fame inducted David Boland and John Kennedy. The American Youth Soccer Organization inducted Burton Haimes and Cherie Tucker. The United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) inducted Steve Gogas, Joe Gryzik, Edward Murphy, Blaz Pezorda, Mike Ryan, Janet Slausen, Consalvo Turchi and Pat Varsallona.

Honda Award (Player of the Year):Landon Donovan
USSF Players of the Year:Landon Donovan, Hope Solo
USSF Young Players of the Year:Luis Gil, Tobin Heath
NSCAA Honor Award: Jay Engelen