Power forward selected as first WUSA MVP
Updated: Thursday August 23, 2001 5:02 PM
BOSTON (AP) -- When she played on the U.S. national team, Tiffeny Milbrett was frequently overshadowed by Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain and Briana Scurry.
In the WUSA's first season, though, Milbrett was second to none.
The New York Power forward was selected the league's MVP and Offensive Player of the Year on Thursday after scoring a league-high 16 goals and 35 points.
"It leaves you speechless," Milbrett said between practices for the teams that will play in Saturday's championship game.
The Women's United Soccer Association wraps up its first season on Saturday when the Bay Area CyberRays play the Atlanta Beat for the Founders Cup at Foxboro Stadium. Milbrett's Power lost in the semifinals to the CyberRays 3-2, but she was in town for the championship game and to receive her awards, which will be formally presented at a banquet on Friday night.
In other individual awards announced Thursday, Ian Sawyers of the Bay Area CyberRays was voted coach of the year; Doris Fitschen of the Philadelphia Charge was chosen Defensive Player of the Year; and LaKeysia Beene of the CyberRays was voted Goalkeeper of the Year. Kate Sobrero of the Boston Breakers was given the humanitarian award and Sandra Hunt was chosen referee of the year.
The Washington Freedom were given the team community service award and the Power earned the team fair play award.
Milbrett, one of the leading scorers for the U.S. team for several years, played a major role in the Americans' 1999 World Cup title and was the top female player of the year in 2000. But it was only when she got away from the national team that she asserted herself as a leader.
"What I tried to do is lead by example -- being a threat for my team. I wasn't too vocal, but I think when the team needed a push, I was there," she said. "I think the players need to learn for themselves what it's about, what it means to be a professional, to be in this league.
"Some of the players here have never ever been close to something like that. I want them to be successful," she said, "whether they're on my team or not."
Sawyers helped the CyberRays go 11-6-4, no small thanks to Beene, who had a 0.97 goals against average and a 624-minute shutout streak during the year. She finished the season with eight shutouts, one more than Scurry, who is a friend, mentor, and Saturday's opponent.
"There's so many great goalkeepers in the league, like Gao [Hong, of New York,] and Bri," Beene said. "It's definitely exciting to be mentioned in the same breath with her, or for her to be my peer, or for me to be her peer."
The All-WUSA team featured four stars from the U.S. national team. In addition to Milbrett, they were Shannon MacMillan of San Diego, Chastain of Bay Area and Kristine Lilly of Boston.
The second team had U.S. national team regulars Hamm of Washington, Cindy Parlow of Atlanta, Julie Foudy of San Diego, Carla Overbeck of Carolina, and Scurry of Atlanta.
Also selected to the first team were Fitschen, Charmaine Hooper of Atlanta, Maren Meinert of Boston, Sissi of Bay Area, Hege Riise of Carolina, and Gro Espeseth of New York.
Fitschen, who broke her left arm near the end of the regular season, also showed up for the championship game even though the Charge lost to Atlanta 3-2 in the semifinals.
"I wanted to watch the game," she said. "Actually, I wanted to play."
WUSA INAUGURAL SEASON AWARD WINNERS:
Most Valuable Player - Tiffeny Milbrett, New York Power
WUSA GLOBAL 11 TEAMS:
WUSA Global 11 First Team WUSA Global 11 Second Team Forward Tiffeny Milbrett, NY Forward Dagny Mellgren, Bos Forward Shannon MacMillan, SD Forward Mia Hamm, Was Forward Charmaine Hooper, Atl Forward Kelly Smith, Phi Midfielder Maren Meinert, Bos Midfielder Liu Ailing, Phi Midfielder Sissi, BA Midfielder Cindy Parlow, Atl Midfielder Kristine Lilly, Bos Midfielder Sun Wen, Atl Midfielder Hege Riise, Car Midfielder Julie Foudy, SD Defender Doris Fitschen, Phi Defender Carla Overbeck, Car Defender Brandi Chastain, BA Defender Fan Yunjie, SD Defender Gro Espeseth, NY Defender Kelly Lindsey, BA Goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene, BA Goalkeeper Briana Scurry, Atl