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A-League Weekly Report

by A-League Press Release
May 10, 2000 - USL First Division (USL-1)

A-League Weekly Report

A-League Press Release

A-League attendance up nearly 19 percent a month into 2000 season

TAMPA, Fla. (Wednesday, May 10, 2000) -- The defending A-League champion Minnesota Thunder opened the season with a successful two-win swing out west, while the reigning Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion Rochester Raging Rhinos suffered a season-opening loss at the hands of the Toronto Lynx before a sold-out crowd of 13,284 at Frontier Field.

Overtime was called into play to decide Minnesota's season-opener at El Paso on Friday. After falling behind, 1-0, to the Patriots on a goal in the 11th minute, Thunder forward John Menyongar leveled the score on an assist from Mike Gentile in the 17th minute. Both defenses played to a stalemate as both teams would tally nine shots in the second half and overtime. And just as everyone thought that the game was over, Thunder midfielder Eric Wilson sent an 18-yard direct free kick over the Patriots wall to win the game with just 10 seconds remaining.

In San Diego Saturday, it was all Minnesota early as the Thunder's Morgan Zeba and Luis Labastida scored two unanswered first half goals. San Diego forward Mark Baena pulled the Flash back to within one in the 64th minute but Minnesota's Paul Schneider put it out of reach at 3-1 in the 72nd minute. Baena, the 1999 and 1998 A-League scoring leader, scored his second goal of the night as the game wrapped up in the final moments.

On the flip side, the Raging Rhinos lost their second straight home-opener Saturday.

Rochester nearly sent the game into overtime when Yari Allnut got his foot on the ball for a point-blank shot, but Toronto goalkeeper Theo Zagar tipped it high with a few minutes remaining. The tip was followed by a Darren Tilley header that went off the crossbar. Toronto's smoking gun Saturday, Francisco Dos Santos, set up the first goal of the night with a hard right wing cross to Colombian newcomer Juan Arango, who put a six-yard header past Bill Andracki in the 32nd minute. After Rochester's Jimmy Glenn scored the equalizer in the 38th minute, Dos Santos headed an eight-yard game-winning shot just inside the post on a high pass from Brian Ashton.

The sellout crowd in Rochester was the largest in Raging Rhinos history and was representative of the rise in league attendance nationwide. Nearly a month into the season, the attendance league-wide has increased 19 percent. Several teams have witnessed drastic jumps in attendance so far. Three games into the season, both El Paso, at an increase of 65 percent, and Atlanta at 48 percent, have seen dramatic improvements from their 1999 average attendance.

OPEN CUP QUALIFYING HEATING UP -- Seattle, Orange County, Hampton Roads and Charleston have taken early leads in their Open Cup qualifying groups with four weeks remaining untill the qualification stage comes to a close. Six of the 14 matches this coming weekend will double as Open Cup qualifiers, including Rochester's first game as reigning champions against the Boston Bulldogs. In the lower levels, the D3 Pro League Riverside County Elite became the first USL team to clinch a spot in the second round of the tournament against either an A-League or MLS opponent.

BULLDOGS BITTEN BY MLS' REVOLUTION -- The Boston Bulldogs put up a good fight against the New England Revolution Tuesday in an exhibition match at Bowditch Stadium in Boston, narrowly losing, 2-1. Carlos Parra put the Revolution on the board first in the 39th minute and William Sunsing scored what proved to be the game-winner on an assist from Paul Keegan in the 80th minute. The Bulldogs fired right back with a goal one minute later from defender Chaka Daley on an assist from Will Hench but were unable to tally the equalizer.

86ERS AND RAMPAGE'S PDL TEAMS PAY DIVIDENDS -- The Vancouver 86ers have added three players from their farm team Abbotsford 86ers Select of the Premier Development League. Forward David Morris finished 1999 with 14 goals and two assists in 15 games for the "Abbies," fourth in the league in goals and sixth in points with 30. The spectacular season included a seven-game scoring streak and two hat tricks in two days. Morris made five appearances for Vancouver in 1999. Defenders Geordie Lyall, who made seven appeances for Vancouver last year, and Bobby Thornton were also signed for 2000 by the 86ers. Morris and Lyall both played in Vancouver's two matches against the Seattle Sounders over the weekend.

The Milwaukee Rampage have also seen the benefits of having a PDL affiliate. The Wisconsin Rebels have produced current Rampage defender Steve Bernal, who picked up two assists against the Tennessee Rhythm Saturday, and midfielder Dennis Fadeski, who scored the game-winner. In his two seasons with the Rebels, Fadeski scored two goals and had six assists. Bernal scored two goals and had one assist for Wisconsin in 1999.

DOS SANTOS GETS THE NOD AS PLAYER OF THE WEEK -- Before a sold-out Rochester crowd, Toronto forward Francisco Dos Santos set up the first goal of the night for the Lynx with a hard cross to Juan Arango for a six-yard header in the 32nd minute. After Rochester leveled the score at 1-1 in the 38th minute, Dos Santos headed the game-winner past Bill Andracki just inside the post on a high pass from Martin Nash in the 44th minute.


Pos. Player Team Highlights

G, Russel Payne, Boston Bulldogs, Five saves in 1-0 shutout of Connecticut

D, David Wright, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Game-winner in 2-1 win over Montreal

D, Tim Sahaydak, U.S. Pro 40, Game-winning 90th minute assist in 2-1 win

D, Chaka Daley, Boston Bulldogs, Scored lone goal against MLS' Revolution

M, Andrew Gregor, Seattle Sounders, Two goals, including game-winner @ Vancouver

M, Ryan Edwards, Bay Area Seals, Goal, assist vs. O.C., game-winning assist @ S.D.

M, Josh Henderson, Atlanta Silverbacks, Two goals in 3-0 win against Richmond

M, Stoian Mladenov, Minnesota Thunder, Game-winner in OT against El Paso

M, Ivan Polic, Charleston Battery, Game-winner in OT against Richmond

F, Francisco Dos Santos, Toronto Lynx, Game-winning goal, assist against Rochester

F, Greg Simmonds, Hershey Wildcats, Two goals in 4-0 win over Raleigh

THE WEEK AHEAD -- One of the biggest rivalries in USL will continue on Saturday when the Thunder head to Milwaukee to take on the Rampage in a game that doubles as an important U.S. Open Cup qualifier. Minnesota has won the last nine meetings with the Rampage over the last two years, including a 5-1 1998 first round playoff win. In the eight regular season meetings, seven were decided by one goal, three in a shootout and one in overtime. The Rampage last defeated Minnesota Aug. 6, 1997 when they edged the Thunder 1-0. In a battle of the Mid-Atlantic region, Charleston will take on the Raleigh Capital Express and Hampton Roads Mariners in a road swing this weekend.

Wednesday, May 10, 2000

39 -- U.S. Pro 40 @ Bay Area Seals 10:30

Friday, May 12, 2000

40 -- Charleston @ Raleigh 7:00

41 -- Hershey @ Richmond 7:00

42 -- Boston @ Rochester 7:00

43 -- El Paso @ Tennessee 8:30

44 -- Minnesota @ Indiana 8:35

Saturday, May 13, 2000

45 -- Charleston @ Hampton Roads 7:30

46 -- Atlanta @ Pittsburgh 7:35

47 -- Minnesota @ Milwaukee 8:00

49 -- U.S. Pro 40 @ Bay Area 10:30

50 -- Connecticut @ San Diego 10:35

Sunday, May 14, 2000

51 -- Boston @ Hershey 1:30

52 -- Cincinnati @ Tennessee 5:00

53 -- Connecticut @ Orange County 8:00

All times listed are Eastern

BEYOND USL -- Two former USL players are statistical leaders in Major League Soccer. Former Minnesota Thunder forward Manny Lagos of the Tampa Bay Mutiny leads MLS in points per game at 2.15 off four goals and one assist in 377 minutes played... Former Long Island Rough Rider goalkeeper Tony Meola has led Kansas City to first place with a 6-0-2 record and is the top goalkeeper in MLS, leading the league with a 0.49 goals-against-average... Indiana Blast goalkeeper Chuck Browder was called up by the Columbus Crew for tonight's charity exhibition match against the Kansas City Wizards in Dayton, Ohio... Tennessee Rhythm midfielder Danny DeVall was called up and started for the Colorado Rapids in a 5-2 loss to D.C. United Saturday... Vancouver 86ers midfielder John Sulentic will be training with Chicago of MLS for a week in a tryout for the Fire.

TRANSACTIONS -- The Bay Area Seals signed former MLS player Jeff Baicher for the 2000 season with an option for 2001. The Seals acquired his rights from Major League Soccer and the Kansas City Wizards for an undisclosed transfer fee. Baicher is the third leading scorer for San Jose of MLS with 20 goals and 15 assists from 1996 to 1999 before joining the New England Revolution, where he tallied one goal, late in the 1999 season... The Cincinnati Riverhawks signed goalkeeper Greg Sutton, who played for the Chicago Fire in their first two games of the year... The Montreal Impact signed former Staten Island Viper goalkeeper Peter Zaratin to a one-year deal... Ronald Valderrama, whose famed brother Carlos plays for the Tampa Bay Mutiny, signed a short-term contract with the Minnesota Thunder that could be extended for the remainder of the season... The Wichita Wings of the NPSL announced the signing of former Cincinnati Riverhawks General Manager Dave Snuggs as their new GM.

SIDE VOLLEYS -- The Toronto Lynx ended their five-game losing streak against the Rochester Raging Rhinos Saturday... The Atlanta Silverbacks' win over the Richmond Kickers on Saturday was the first in the Silverbacks/Ruckus franchise history. The Kickers were formerly 6-0 against Atlanta... Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Preston Burpo saved a penalty kick in both games against the Vancouver 86ers this past weekend... The Minnesota Thunder are 7-0 in season openers since joining USL in 1994 have started 2-0 for the first time since 1995... The Connecticut Wolves are 3-1 all-time against Western Conference teams... Five-year Columbus Crew defender Rob Smith retired from professional soccer last Thursday, one week after playing his last professional game on loan to the Indiana Blast against the Tennessee Rhythm.

AT THE GATE -- On Saturday, the Richmond Kickers were represented at the St. Catherine's Spring Festival, "Daisy Days." The Kickers will also participate in the Race For the Cure, walking in their jersyes to help benefit the Breast Cancer Foundation on Saturday, May 13th... The Milwaukee Rampage set a franchise-record for home opener attendance Saturday with 5,483. The Rampage gave out schedule magnets to everyone at the game courtesy of Edy's Grand Ice Cream and Kohl's Food Stores... The Boston Bulldogs held "Mascot Night" as part of their exhibition match against the Revolution. The mascots for the Bulldogs, Revolution, Renegades (W-1) and many others played in mini-games and contests at halftime... The Bay Area Seals are encouraging fans to wear their best disco outfits for a halftime costume contest and are conducting a contest for naming their mascot... The San Diego Flash will participate in the annual Pacific Beach Block Party Saturday... The Tennessee Rhythm will be paying tribute to mothers on Mother's Day Sunday with free game admission and a special halftime Beat the Keeper contest... The Indiana Blast will be giving out schedule magnets to the first 3,000 fans Friday courtesy of Shell and Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon will perform the coin toss. Friday will also mark the return of "Kilt Night," where Blast Head Coach Jimmy McDonald, who will be wearing a traditional Scottish kilt, will be led onto the field by a bagpipe band.

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