Work in Sports
On the pitch
CNNSI.com's Green: Official starting lineups set
Updated: Sunday October 15, 2000 2:40 PM
By Jeff Green, CNNSI.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sunday brought no lineup surprises for either team as the Chicago Fire and Kansas City Wizards took the RFK Stadium field for pregame warm-ups at MLS Cup 2000.
Fire coach Bob Bradley included midfielder Jesse Marsch in the starting lineup despite the slight concussion that he suffered Saturday in practice when he was struck in the head by a shot from Bulgarian forward Hristo Stoitchkov.
Wizards coach Bob Gansler was also able to start the same lineup that got him to the championship game.
"This is what we worked for nine months," Gansler said on the field before the match. "We are exactly where we want to be."
Any predictions from Gansler?
"A good game," he said.
Gansler's Wizards were booed when they took the field for warm-ups, as Chicago's Barnburners' fan club established a raucous presence in the corner of the stadium.
Kansas City investor-operator Lamar Hunt was on hand for his team's first MLS Cup, forcing him to miss only the 13th game ever for his own Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL. Also milling around on the field before the game was Chicago Fire investor operator Philip Anschutz, who is notorious for his avoidance of the media.
Talking with D.C. United's Dutch-born coach Thomas Rongen at RFK was his legendary countryman, Johan Cruyff. MLS officials could not confirm reports that Brazilian star Ronaldo, in the U.S. for rehabilitation, was to attend as well.
Wizards defender Peter Vermes was eager to take the field on the clear and warm autumn day.
"I'm actually glad it's an afternoon game, because it comes quicker," said Vermes. "I don't feel like waiting around all day to 7:30."
Vermes said Saturday that the Wizards were sticking to their routine. MLS Cup gameday would be no different than any other.
"We have a pregame meal at I think nine o'clock or 9:30 in the morning. I always eat at least five or six hours before. I don't do four hours before like most people do," said Vermes, who goalkeeper Tony Meola called the healthiest person he knows. "I'll wake up and have my own breakfast, then I'll go to the pregame meal with everyone.
"After that we usually have a pregame talk. Then it's back to our rooms to prepare to get ready to go over to the stadium."
With a win at RFK Stadium, the Fire would be in position to capture a "double" championship for the second time in the team's three years, with next Saturday's Lamer Hunt U.S. Open Cup final.
The Fire will host the final at Soldier Field against the Miami Fusion, the league's other expansion team in 1998. A study in contrasts with its expansion brethren, the Fusion is a surprise finalist in the Open Cup after having failed to make the MLS playoffs.
Fire GM Peter Wilt said his team would be highly motivated for the historic competition.
"You don't get too many opportunities in life to win a championship," said Fire GM Peter Wilt. "You get even fewer opportunities to win two championships in a single year."
In RFK Stadium scouting for the Open Cup on Sunday was Fusion coach Ray Hudson.
"Looking at that set of bums that we're going to play next week, trying to devise strategy to take them apart in their own backyard, in sub-Antarctic weather, missing a couple of players," Hudson said. "It should be easy."
And how's that?
"We'll start with 10 across the goal line, put one up front and take our chances," he said. "No, we're working on stuff to give them a surprise next week. It's not going to be easy for us.
Would Hudson prefer that Chicago win or lose in MLS Cup?
"What the hell does it matter?" the Newcastle-born coach said.
"Either way, we're looking down the barrel of a shotgun," he said. "If they win today against Kansas City, they're going to looking for the double. If they lose, we're going to be facing an angry bear."
Official starting lineups:
Chicago: Zach Thornton; C.J. Brown, Tenywa Bonseu, Carlos Bocanegra; Chris Armas, Jesse Marsch, Dema Kovalenko, Diego Gutierrez, Peter Nowak; Hristo Stoitchkov, Ante Razov.
Kansas City: Tony Meola; Nick Garcia, Peter Vermes, Brandon Prideaux; Kerry Zavagnin, Matt McKeon, Chris Klein, Chris Henderson, Preki; Mo Johnston, Miklos Molnar.