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The greatest MLS team ever
by Paul Kennedy, April 28th, 2011 11:42PM

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TAGS:  brazil, concacaf champions league, d.c. united, mls, my view

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[MY VIEW] Let's begin with a kudos to Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts and its head coach, Jason Kreis.

Checketts has done the greatest job of an MLS owner in history, taking Salt Lake City, hardly a soccer haven when he launched the team in 2005, and turning it into a soccer town, where average folks care about their soccer team.

And Kreis has done the greatest coaching job in MLS history, beginning with nothing and turning RSL into the best team in MLS.

But all this talk about RSL being the greatest team ever and Wednesday's RSL-Monterrey game being the most important game in MLS history? Please ...

The greatest team in MLS history? That's an easy one: 1998 D.C. United -- and it didn't even win MLS Cup that year.

D.C. won the Concacaf Champions Cup -- the original Concacaf club tournament -- playing at home and needing to win only three games.

But the greatest victory ever by an MLS team came months later in a competition that no longer exists and in a game few ever saw but whose highlights are available below.

D.C. United won something called the Interamerican Cup, beating Vasco da Gama of Brazil, 2-0, in Ft. Lauderdale after losing to the Rio team, 1-0, at RFK Stadium.

D.C. was coached by Bruce Arena, who had six weeks earlier begun his new job as U.S. national team coach with a friendly against Australia in San Jose.

D.C. featured Bolivian stars Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno, kingpins of the team that had won MLS Cup 1996 and 1997 but was stunned by the expansion Chicago Fire (coached by Bob Bradley) at MLS Cup 1998 at the Rose Bowl.

What is so amazing about the D.C.-Vasco game at Lockhart Stadium is that both goals were created by Americans: Jeff Agoos to a sliding Tony Sanneh at the far post for the first goal and Roy Lassiter with a header to Eddie Pope -- with his left foot no less -- for the winner.

In an era when MLS clubs stock on foreign players, D.C. United's triumph is all the more remarkable because all the starters except Etcheverry and Moreno were Americans: Scott Garlick in goal, Carlos Llamosa on the backline with Pope and Agoos, current D.C. United coach Ben Olsen, Richie Williams, John Harkes and Sanneh in midfield with Etcheverry and Lassiter up front.

(Editor's note: earlier reference had Tom Presthus in goal. He started in first leg.)

There were some extenuating circumstances, as Arena acknowledges in the post-game interview (below) with the late Gordon Bradley. Vasco da Gama was en route back from Japan, where it had played against Real Madrid in the Toyota Cup, and was tired.

But losing to an American team obviously had its effect on the South Americans.

The Interamerican Cup -- played between the Concacaf and Conmebol (South American) champions 18 times -- was never played again.



7 comments
  1. Scott garlick
    commented on: April 29, 2011 at 9:31 a.m.
    Check your facts about who was playing in goal. I guess you did not see this game either.

  1. Richard Christiansen
    commented on: April 29, 2011 at 10:48 a.m.
    Ok, so because Paul confused Tom Presthus (who started in goal the first leg of the cup) with Scott Garlick, you accuse him of not seeing the game? In spite of all the other facts in this article, which I find pretty impressive, you automatically discredit him even seeing the game because of one minor error of who was the keeper in the second leg game? Wow... Hey Paul, you also forgot to mention that Geoff Aunger, who is CANADIAN came on in the 88th minute, and played all of 12-15 minutes, which makes your statement about all but two players being American, false too. You must not have watched that game Paul.

  1. Bubba McBubba
    commented on: April 29, 2011 at 11:34 a.m.
    All details aside, you're as right as rain - best MLS side ever!

  1. David Huff
    commented on: April 29, 2011 at 1:03 p.m.
    be for real, DC United did not have to play in a hostile 'away' environment like RSL did when they travelled down to Monterrey. Jason Kreis and his staff are working magic in Utah, he will perhaps be a future USMNT coach once the dinosaurs like Flynn, Gulati and Bradley are swept aside in the future, consigned to the dustbin of mediocrity.

  1. Kevin Jones
    commented on: April 30, 2011 at 1:56 a.m.
    That InterAmerican Cup was a friendly. An Intercontinental Cup berth was NOT at stake, therefore it was meaningless. If the berth was at stake, DCU would have gotten smashed. I'm sorry, but this league is terrible. There are no 2 ways about it. I have no interest in it

  1. Richard Christiansen
    commented on: April 30, 2011 at 10:38 a.m.
    Meaningless? I don't think thats how Vasco da Gamas approach was like going into these two games.

  1. Henrique Silva
    commented on: May 1, 2011 at 8:44 a.m.
    As a Brazilian and Vasco supporter, it was quite obvious to me that Vasco faced these encounters basically as a friendly tournament (much like the Teresa Herrera or Ramon de Carranza trophies in Spain), as evidenced by the fact that the clubs agreed to play both matches at the same country (a decision which was, of course, mostly regarding the money). By that I don't mean to diminish DC's victory, that took good advantage of Vasco's fatigue and low morale after losing to Real Madrid only four days prior to that.


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