Why are the Kansas City Wizards, a team that finished 8-24 a year ago, riding high atop Major League Soccer with a league-best 11-2-4 mark?
Bob Gansler, the former U.S. national team coach now in charge at Arrowhead Stadium, believes the reason the Wizards have pulled away from the Galaxy and everyone else is attitude.
"We added some talent and I think we added folks with the right attitude, and they're hungry for success," said Gansler, who Tuesday was named coach of the West team for the July 29 MLS All-Star game at Columbus, Ohio.
It's not coaching, he claimed.
"We just show up," he said. "As always, the players get credit when the team wins and the coach somehow is held responsible when it doesn't.
"It's been a fun kind of thing. From the start, it looked like we had the potential to put something together. It's not a star or two or three. It's maybe a team that is a little harder to sell to the public sometimes, but their talents have dovetailed very nicely."
Assistant coach Brian Bliss, who played for Gansler's U.S. team at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, will assist him at the All-Star game.
"Obviously the soccer gods knew better," Bliss joked. "I couldn't make it as a player, but I'm ecstatic to make it as a coach."
THE HUNT IS ON
One of the prime supporters of Phil Anschutz's plan to build a 30,000-seat soccer stadium in the Los Angeles area is Lamar Hunt, who operates both the Wizards and the Columbus Crew.
"I would hope very much that it will be [built]," Hunt said. "I think one of the principal needs that the league has is better-sized and better-suited stadiums.
"In some cases it just can't be helped, like here [Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City]. It's fairly decent; we've just got to fill it.
"L.A. is a little different animal because the Rose Bowl is so large and quite old, not to disparage it, but some of the others, like the Cotton Bowl, are not very conducive [to MLS play]. But that [Anschutz's proposed stadium in Carson] is very important and I hope that he'll be able to do that."
Two free kick goals by Galaxy midfielder Simon Elliott earned New Zealand a 2-0 victory over the Solomon Islands and a place in the final of the Oceania Nations Cup tournament in Tahiti. New Zealand, the defending champion, will play Australia in the final.
A MILE HIGH AND DRY
Stranded by the scheduled demolition of the old Mile High Stadium in Denver and awaiting completion of the new stadium, the Colorado Rapids are searching for a place to play early in 2001.
"We'll be playing in the new Mile High Stadium when it's complete," said Dan Counce, the Rapid general manager, "but we're unsure of the exact completion date. We believe it'll be sometime between May and the end of July. Our dilemma is if it's not May, where do we play?
"We'll probably be asking the league to give us more away games at the beginning of the season. We've visited the University of Colorado and are not sure that will work for us. We're looking at other facilities in the area."
Miami Fusion Coach Ray Hudson, rarely at a loss for words, is at a loss to explain the injury and attitude of forward Eric Wynalda, who has missed more games than he has played this season.
"The planet Wynalda is in a different galaxy," Hudson told the Miami Herald. "Earth to Eric, where are you? He's so far out of our mind-set, he's been a complete non-factor. Now he's seeing doctors in California. We might have to call Dr. Spock next."
Seventeen games into the season, Coach Lothar Osiander's San Jose Earthquakes (4-7-7) have not lost a game at home and have not won a game on the road.
Hristo Stoitchkov, sidelined from MLS play for at least two more months because of a groin tear, says he would not mind returning to Barcelona as part of the club's coaching staff.
"At the moment I'm enjoying playing soccer and I want to carry on with the Chicago Fire," the 34-year-old Bulgarian said during a visit to Spain, "but if I decide to retire I could be back. I'd like to work with the youth teams."
Stoitchkov was an integral part of the Johan Cruyff-coached Barcelona team that won the Spanish championship four years in a row in the early 1990s and captured the European Champions Cup in 1992.
ON SALE TODAY
Unless a last-minute hitch develops, the league today is expected to announce the sale of two of its teams: three-time champion D.C. United and the Tampa Bay Mutiny.
According to the Washington Post, the New York investment banking firm of E.M. Warburg, Pincus and Co. is expected to pay between $25 million and $30 million for D.C. United, purchasing the operating rights to the club from Washington Soccer L.P., which has operated the team since 1996.
The price being paid for the league-operated Mutiny is not known but is believed to be more than $20 million.