D.C. United poised to take 3rd Major League Soccer Cup
The 1999 Major League Soccer season comes to a close on Sunday, November 21, when the D.C. United take on the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS Cup at Foxboro (Mass.) Stadium. The game is a rematch of the first MLS Cup in 1996, coincidentally played in Foxboro, and won by D.C. 3-2 in overtime.
A United Stance
The United have clearly been the showpiece of the MLS since the league's inception in 1996. They have reached the MLS Cup each year, winning the first two while being rebuffed by the Chicago Fire in 1998. On Sunday they look to reclaim their lofty perch atop the league with a victory over the Galaxy.
The United boasts three of the league's most explosive offensive threats in Roy Lassiter, Jaime Moreno and Marco Etcheverry (the league's top passer) and the defensive pairing of U.S. National Team members Jeff Agoos and Eddie Pope. This powerful lineup seems almost unfair.
Etcheverry boasts a glowing resume not just on the MLS circuit, but on an international level as well. The 29-year-old serves as captain of the Bolivian National Team and should play a major role this summer in the Copa America and Confederations Cup.
On Sunday however, he'll have his sights set on winning his third MLS Championship. The midfielder, dubbed "El Diablo" because he dribbles the ball like he's possessed by the devil, earned the MVP award in the 1996 championship game, setting up Pope for the overtime golden goal, and won regular season MVP honors in 1998. His goal and three assists in a 4-0 win over Columbus in the semifinals vaulted the United to their fourth Championship Game.
Out of This World
While the Galaxy may not have anyone with the ability to control a game quite like Etcheverry, the team's participation in their second MLS Cup is certainly well deserved. They finished atop the Western Conference standings in 1999 with 54 points (second overall behind D.C.) and their stingy defense gave up a mere 29 goals in 32 games.
Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman is the backbone of the defense. Hartman has played in every Galaxy game this year and led the league by giving up a ridiculous 0.91 goals per game. Los Angeles also feature a deep offensive attack, led by the diminutive (5-6) midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos, forward Carlos Hermosillo and fan favorite Cobi Jones.