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Stoitchkov signs contract to spend two more years with Chicago Fire.

CHICAGO (Wednesday, February 7, 2001) -- Bulgarian international striker Hristo Stoitchkov has signed a two-year contract with Major League Soccer to return to the Chicago Fire.

"I'm very excited with the deal because this is where I want to be," said Stoitchkov, 35, who was allocated to the Fire before the 2000 season in which Chicago captured the U.S. Open Cup. "I enjoyed my first year with the Fire, I think we were very successful. It would have been better if we had won MLS Cup, but I strongly believe we can accomplish that. That's part of the reason why I decided to stay here a while longer. The Fire has the best group of players in this league, the best head coach, and the best organization. We're going for two cups this year."

Despite missing 13 games to a series of groin injuries, Stoitchkov recorded nine goals and seven assists in helping the Fire to an MLS championship game loss to the Kansas City Wizards.

"It is wonderful for the league, the Fire and the fans that Hristo has extended his contract with MLS," Fire general manager Peter Wilt said. "Hristo exemplifies everything the Fire looks for in a player on and off the field."

Stoitchkov made his international debut on September 23, 1987 and retired from his country's side with 84 caps and 37 goals for the Bulgarian national team. Voted Bulgarian "Football Player of the Year" five times (1989-92, 1994), he was also named Bulgarian "Athlete of the Year" and FIFA "Footballer of the Year" after leading Bulgaria to a fourth-place finish in the 1994 World. The second leading goal scorer in Bulgaria history, he also played a key role with the nationís 1998 World Cup entry.

"We are very excited that Hristo has chosen to stay in Chicago for two more years," Fire coach Bob Bradley said. "From the beginning, he took a lot of responsibility to work with our younger players. That was part of the reason he wanted to come to the U.S. in the first place. Younger players look up to him and they feel he has taught them a great deal. He has been a terrific part of our team and I look forward to a continued, positive relationship with him."

Additionally, Fire defender Tom Soehn will be honored Monday by the March of Dimes at the annual Fox Sports Net Sports awards dinner.

Fusion enters charitable Miami Cup

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Miami Fusion will play for the first time ever at Miami's Orange Bowl next Wednesday when it takes on Colombian powerhouse Atletico Nacional in the opening day of the 2001 Miami Cup as part of the two day, four team 2001 Miami Cup.

The game is set to start at approximately 9:30 p.m., following the 7 p.m. opener between Haitian champion Violette A.C. and the Miami Athletic Club, a local club team with a mixture of Haitian and international players.

The tournament will close February 17 with the consolation match at 5 p.m., followed immediately by the championship game.

Cup organizers will donate $1 for every ticket sold to victims of the recent El Salvador earthquake.

All escorted women will be admitted free to the opening doubleheader honor of Valentine's Day.

Mutiny lists three exhibitions

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Mutiny will play exhibitions against the United States under-18 men Friday at 11 a.m. at the Soccer Academy in Bradenton, Fla., then take on the Miami Fusion Saturday at 4 p.m. at Gateway Community Park in Fort Myers.

On Tuesday, the Mutiny will face the University of South Florida at USF Soccer Stadium at 7 p.m.

All these exhibitions are free to the public, but the Christian Soccer Association of Lee County is asking for donations at the gate for Saturday's match versus the Fusion, with all proceeds benefiting the American Red Cross of Lee County.

The Mutiny then will take a short trip to Colombia, scheduled to meet the first divisionís Millonarios February 22 and the second divisionís Soacha FC on February 24.

Vanderpool joins Galaxy front office

PASADENA, Calif. -- Steven Vanderpool, who served as MLS director of public relations during its 1996 inaugural season, and later as vice president for communications for the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup, has joined the Los Angeles Galaxy staff as director of public relations, it was announced today by General Manager and Vice President of Business Operations Tim Luce.

Galaxy Olympic team members Peter Vagenas and Sasha Victorine will be honored as members of the Muscular Dystrophy Association 15th Annual "Muscle Team" at a dinner tomorrow.

Pisano rejoins Crew coaching staff

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Following a three-year hiatus, Oscar Pisano is back with the Columbus Crew as an assistant coach.

Pisano served as a Crew assistant with the club during the 1996 and 1997 seasons, then spent the last three seasons in a similar role with the Dallas Burn.

"We are very fortunate to be able to bring Oscar back to Columbus," Crew coach Tom Fitzgerald said. "He is an excellent coach who complements Greg (Andrulis) and I very well. Our team will benefit from his addition to our staff."

Prior to his MLS coaching career, Pisano enjoyed a successful professional playing career which spanned 16 seasons and both the outdoor and indoor varieties of the game. He moved to the U.S. in 1979 from his native Argentina and went on to play outdoors in the North American Soccer League and American Soccer League as well as three American indoor leagues.

He capped his career as a member of Argentina's national indoor team where the legendary Diego Maradona was a teammate.

MetroStars to hold National Anthem auditions

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- The MetroStars will hold their first open audition for national anthem singers March 1 in Macyís Court at Westfield Shoppingtown Garden State Plaza from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The winner will perform the national anthem before a MetroStars home game at Giants Stadium.

The auditions are open to all age groups and all types of performers. Musical groups and instrumental performances are welcomed

Registration starts at 4 p.m. MetroStars players will be among the judges and will sign autographs. For further information, Jason Verdino of the MetroStars at (201) 583-7018.

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