MLS: The Crop of 2001

With no clear-cut favorite, the 2001 Rookie of the Year vote could be just as tight as Carlos BocanegraÆs two-point edge over Nick Garcia last year.

From the ranks of attackers, teen-ager Santino Quaranta (D.C. United) and Rodrigo Faria (MetroStars) have the best numbers. Defenders Ryan Suarez (Dallas) and Jim Curtin (Chicago) have racked up a lot of minutes, as has midfielder Mark Lisi (D.C. United).

Duncan Oughton (Columbus) would get the MLS equivalent of the NBA Sixth-Man Award if it had one.

Suarez says he watches tapes by the hour to improve. HeÆs seen a missed slide tackle at midfield more than one hundred times.

Clint Mathis went on to score what will most likely be the Goal of the Year.

ôI thank Clint Mathis for doing that to me,ö said the former San Jose State All-American. ôOn that one goal, there are five things I could have done, I should have done, I would have done if I knew then what I know now.ö

Quaranta strengthened his claim by assisting on two goals in the All-Star Game, but heÆll be gone for several weeks in September with the U.S. under-17s for the Under-17 World Cup. And he and Lisi are on a poor team.

ôI joke with him a lot,ö said Lisi. ôFor a kid whoÆs 16, he takes it pretty well. And a lot of the time he doesnÆt play like a rookie.ö

Oughton has already played three new positions.

ôMost the time in college I played attacking center midfield, and my last season I played up front,ö the New Zealander said of his days at Cal State Fullerton. ôIÆve played defensive midfielder and right back, and against Chicago I played left back for the first time in my entire life. Against [Hristo] Stoitchov! ItÆs pretty amazing when you think about it.ö

by Soccer America Senior Editor Ridge Mahoney

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