- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 27, 2008

With a new year approaching, it’s time to look at the best and worst from the world of soccer in 2008 and dole out the cheers and jeers.

Cheers to Kristine Lilly for returning to soccer following the birth of her first child. The 37-year-old has the most experience in international competition in the world (342 games).

Jeers to Cristiano Ronaldo, who can’t make up his mind on where he wants to play - Manchester United or Real Madrid?

Cheers to Italian veteran striker Alessandro Del Piero, 34, now in his 16th season with Juventus, where he has notched 180 goals in 403 games.

Cheers to U.S. women’s goalie Hope Solo. She bashed her coach and a teammate after being benched at the 2007 World Cup for the semifinal game against Brazil. She rebounded with a stunning performance to help the U.S. team win gold at the Beijing Olympics.

Jeers to D.C. United’s crowded schedule in 2008. The club played a record 47 games in five competitions. Despite winning the U.S. Open Cup, United fared poorly in all other events and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

Cheers to the Columbus Crew for earning a franchise-record 57 points in the regular season and winning the MLS Cup.

Jeers to Sheffield United defender Chris Morgan, whose elbow to Iain Hume’s head left the Barnsley striker with a fractured skull and internal bleeding. Hume may have to retire and may sue Morgan, who got a yellow card for the foul.

Jeers to David Beckham. The Los Angeles Galaxy star, who was nowhere to be seen at the MLS Cup final last month.

Cheers to Beckham’s 70-yard goal against the Kansas City Wizards.

Cheers to referee Enrico Wijngaarde of Suriname, who didn’t let the Guatemala City crowd intimidate him in a heated game - which featured 40 fouls and two red cards - as the United States beat Guatemala 1-0.

Jeers for Red Bulls defender Jeff Parke and goalie Tim Conway, who both received 10-game suspensions for violating the MLS substance abuse policy.

Cheers to Danny Cepero, the Red Bulls goalie who replaced Conway. In his debut, he became the first goalie in MLS to score a goal.

Cheers to Trinidad and Tobago’s 40-year-old striker, Russell Latapy, who scored a goal in the 2-1 win against the U.S. team in World Cup qualifying.

Jeers to United’s 2-8-2 record against international clubs in 2008.

Cheers to the U.S. women’s U-20 team that downed defending champion North Korea 2-1 to win the U-20 World Cup in Chile this month.

Jeers to Ben Olsen’s injured ankles, which kept United’s inspirational talisman on the sidelines for all but 15 minutes of play in 2008.

Cheers to coach Sasho Cirovski and Maryland for claiming the 2008 NCAA men’s title with a 1-0 victory against North Carolina.

Jeers to Arsene Wenger. The Arsenal coach continues to snub English players. The club has the most foreign talent (91.7 percent of its roster) of any team in Europe.

Cheers to Germany village club 1899 Hoffenheim, the newly promoted team that has claimed the top spot in the Bundesliga going into the winter break.

Cheers to Tahiti - population 250,000 - which beat out New Zealand and qualified for the 2009 Under-20 FIFA World Cup in Egypt.

Cheers to Landon Donovan for breaking Eric Wynalda’s U.S. team’s all-time goal scoring record (34) this year. The 26-year-old has 37 goals in 105 games.

Jeers to coach Ruud Gullit. The Dutch coach had the Los Angeles Galaxy scoring goals before his abrupt departure in August, but he forgot about defending. The Galaxy scored a league-high 55 goals but gave up a league-high 62.

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