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U.S. Women 'Stars of the Century team

U.S. men

Gannett releases its 'Stars of the Century' team.

By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

(Tuesday, February 2, 1999) -- As part of the Gannett News Service’s millennium project, sports editor Jerry Langdon has selected the United States men's national soccer "Stars of the Century" team.

Goal -- Kasey Keller (1990-active)
Defender -- Marcelo Balboa (1988-active)
Defender -- Paul Caligiuri (1984-97)
Defender -- Alexi Lalas (1991-active)
Midfielder -- Tab Ramos (1988-active)
Midfielder -- John Harkes (1987-active)
Midfielder -- Cobi Jones (1992-active)
Midfielder -- Hugo Perez (1984-94)
Midfielder -- Rick Davis (1977-88)
Forward -- Eric Wynalda (1990-active)
Forward -- Billy Gonsalves (1930-34)

Comments: The most controversial decisions were on defense. No problem with Balboa, on the last three World Cup teams, who bounced back from a severe mid-career knee injury. Caligiuri gets the nod for starting in two World Cups and for his perseverance in coming back from oblivion in 1993 to regain his role with the national team. He had the historic goal in 1989 against Trinidad & Tobago that put the United States in the 1990 World Cup. Lalas is under fire for his ineffective play the past two years. But he was an outstanding performer in the 1994 World Cup, is the only American to have played (and started) in famed Italy Serie A, and has scored nine goals. Eddie Pope may turn out to be the best defender in U.S. history, but he has just 2 1/2 years' experience on the national team. Thomas Dooley is a tough omission; he split between defense and midfield since coming here from Germany.

Goalkeeper Keller is picked due to his consistently brilliant play in the England Premier League and for his strong efforts with the national team, the highlight an extraordinary display in stopping Brazil 1-0 in the 1998 Gold Cup semifinals.

A 3-5-2 formation is used here, giving five midfielders. Ramos was on three World Cup teams, probably the most skillful player in U.S. history. He fought back courageously from serious knee injuries in recent years. Harkes' legacy was tarnished when Steve Sampson booted him off the 1998 team for attitude problems, but he was a starter on two World Cup teams and performed well in the England Premier League in the early 1990s. Jones, 28, a member of two World Cup teams, is the youngest international player to reach 100 caps (appearances) and was most valuable player in U.S. Soccer last year. Davis was the top player of his era, starting every game in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. Perez was a mainstay for a decade. Claudio Reyna has the potential to be a star but his national team performances have been erratic.

Wynalda was a member of three World Cup teams and is the top scorer in U.S. history with 32 goals and 14 assists. Gonsalves, a star in the old American Soccer League, was called the Babe Ruth of American soccer, playing in the 1930 and 1934 World Cups. Joe Gaetjens had the historic goal that produced a 1-0 upset of England in the 1950 World Cup, but the Haitian-born forward played in just three games. Bruce Murray was the goal-scoring force with 27 goals before Wynalda's arrival.

Coach of the Century is Bora Milutinovic, who took the United States into the second round in the 1994 World Cup.

Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at jlangdon@gns.gannett.com.

Wednesday: The U.S. women’s "All-Century Team."

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