Kraft believes future is bright
Moods have soured with all the fouls
CHICAGO -- Owner Jonathan Kraft gave the Revolution and coach Steve Nicol his approval after their 1-0 overtime loss to the Chicago Fire in the Eastern Conference final last night.
"We are disappointed in the result but extremely proud of the team," Kraft said outside the Revolution locker room. "After the midseason drought, they rallied and came within overtime of the championship game. I believe this team will win the championship. [Nicol] built an entertaining team and they were able to win in spite of adversity.
"They have a lot to be proud of and I believe this translates into having a good team in the coming years."
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The Revolution's last playoff visit to Soldier Field resulted in a 6-0 defeat in 2000. That loss became a portent for the following season, in which the Revolution opened with six successive defeats.
"The team in 2000 had guys with a lot of character, who were fighters," defender Rusty Pierce said. "This team is the same, but that was an older team. We are young and that is the upside. We were so close to getting back to the final.
"This team is extremely hard to beat and should be for a lot of years to come. All year we played extremely well against extremely good teams."
The Fire's DaMarcus Beasley was the most fouled player in the MLS this season, absorbing a league-record 96 in 22 games. But Revolution midfielder Jose "Pepe" Cancela was ahead of Beasley's pace, suffering 64 fouls in 13 regular-season matches, an average of 4.92 per game. Cancela was fouled once every 17.8 minutes.
Both Beasley and Cancela were fouled six times last night and Beasley was cautioned for a foul on Cancela in the 65th minute.
Since Soldier Field reopened in September, soccer supporters have arrived in impressive numbers. The Fire were averaging more than 24,000 spectators for three games before last night. The Mexico-Uruguay exhibition attracted 41,587 Oct. 15, the same night as a crowd of 39,574 arrived for the National League Championship Series Game 7 between the Cubs and Marlins . . . SoccerAmerica magazine's Nov. 10 edition lists seven MLS players with a transfer value of $1 million or more, three (Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Damani Ralph) members of the Fire, all listed at $2 million. The others are San Jose's Landon Donovan ($2.5 million), D.C. United's Bobby Convey ($1.2 million), and Los Angeles's Carlos Ruiz and the MetroStars' Ricardo Clark (both $1 million). The Revolution's Adin Brown ($700,000) is the team's only player listed among the top 10 and is considered the most valuable goalkeeper in the league. "I would really like to try to play in England, but Holland is more realistic for me," Brown said. Brown has not performed for the US national team, limiting his chances of fulfilling the work permit requirements in England.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.