As we come to the end of the year 2009 and look forward to what is sure to be a jam packed 2010 for American soccer, it is time to consider, like most people, what has happened in the past year. So from 10 to 1, here are my top American soccer stories of 2009:
10. Arguably the best rookie class in Major League Soccer history. This year, at least in soccer households, Steve Zakuani, Chris Pontius, Rodney Wallace, Stephan Frei, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. Delagarza, Sam Cronin became household names long before anyone thought they would. IN five years, I predict that everyone of these players will be superstars in MLS or playing in Europe and I hope it is a mix of both.
9. The playoff run of Sky Blue FC in the WPS. Like Real Salt Lake (See #5), they were the last place qualifier for the playoffs and won the whole thing by playing their game.
8. The rebirth of women's professional soccer in America. Say what you want about the ladies game, it truly is some good soccer and if America wants to keep in Women's World Cups, they need this league.
7. The massive outpouring of support for Charlie Davies and the #9 Displays both at the qualifier and around the MLS. Classy stuff from the supporters.
6. The resurgence of the L.A. Galaxy--at least until the second half of the MLS Cup Final.
5. The playoff run of Real Salt Lake in the MLS. Jason Kreis showed the MLS that a TEAM of lesser known players can play their brand of soccer and win championships.
4, Two Words--Seattle Sounders. The rave green mass is changing the way we look at and support professional soccer in America.
3. The U.S. qualifying for their sixth consecutive World Cup. It got a little hairy there for a while, but they pulled it out.
2. Jonathan Bornstein's header in the final qualification game against Costa Rica. The only thing that could have made that goal any sweeter would be if the header had eliminated Mexico instead of Costa Rica.
1. Duh! The U.S. 2-0 win over Spain at the Confederations Cup to cap an amazing run and the U.S. first finals appearance in a world international competition.