- The Washington Times - Friday, December 30, 2005

With a new year forthcoming, it’s time to look back at the best and the worst from the world of soccer in 2005.

Cheers to Guillermo Ramirez’s overtime goal for the Los Angeles Galaxy in their MLS Cup win over the New England Revolution. The nicely taken volley was the lone bright moment in an otherwise dull game, which involved 51 fouls and 10 yellow cards. Going into the game Ramirez had the worst offensive record of any goal scorer in MLS history — just one goal from 62 shots.

Jeers to D.C. United’s Christian Gomez, who spat in the face of Chicago Fire defender C.J. Brown in United’s 4-0 loss in the playoffs. Gomez was ejected and fined for the incident.

Cheers to Real Madrid and Barcelona for the best club game of the year when the teams met in April for the 150th time. The two giants of Spanish soccer produced a stunner. Zinedine Zidane , Ronaldo, Raul Gonzalez and Michael Owen scored for Madrid, while Samuel Eto’o and Ronaldinho fired back for Barcelona in Real’s 4-2 win. And we in the U.S. were able to watch it all live thanks to Gol TV.

Cheers to D.C. United. After going three games without a goal, United let loose by beating the Chicago Fire 4-3 at RFK Stadium on June 15. Gomez scored twice and Jaime Moreno and rookie defender Bobby Boswell each scored.

Cheers to U.S. team coach Bruce Arena. He not only led the U.S. team to its fifth consecutive World Cup but the U.S. won the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying group for the first time ahead of Mexico.

Jeers to England team captain David Beckham, who got three red cards in 2005 — once for England against Austria, and twice in club games for Real Madrid. Captains should lead by example.

Cheers to French World Cup champion star Youri Djorkaeff, who will return for another season with the MetroStars.

Jeers to Nigeria star striker Aiyegbeni Yakubu, who is refusing to play for his country in the African Nations Cup next month in Egypt because he doesn’t like the coach.

Cheers to Dutch coach Guus Hiddink. After leading PSV Eindhoven to win the Dutch title, he was forced to trade off a number of his key stars, but PSV still managed to reach the last 16 of the Champions League. Besides his club duties, Hiddink led Australia to the World Cup for the first time since 1974.

Cheers to Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho, who led Chelsea to win its first English league title since 1950.

Jeers to Mourinho for calling rival Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger a “voyeur.” “There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea,” Mourinho said.

Cheers to the English Premier League, which vowed to clean up the image of the game. The league promised that players who fire off obscenities will receive a red card.

Jeers to Diego Maradona for snubbing the World Cup draw in Germany on Dec. 9.

Cheers to Nigerian and Inter Milan striker Obafemi Martins, who celebrates his goals with three back-flips followed by two somersaults. Pity we won’t see him at the World Cup.

Cheers to D.C. United midfielder Brian Carroll for being a sportsman and a gentleman. If Carroll has an inflated ego, I’m not sure which pocket he keeps it in.

Jeers to FC Dallas and American team star Eddie Johnson, who referred to himself in the third person at least three times in an ESPN interview after signing a big contract. “I have to do what’s best for Eddie Johnson …” Eddie, you are Eddie Johnson.

Cheers to the Chicago Fire for building a $70 million, 20,000-seat stadium for their fans this season. It is the fourth soccer-specific venue in MLS.

Cheers to American star Brian McBride for scoring three goals in two games for Fulham in the English Premier League this week. McBride had 10 stitches for a gash on his forehead but still managed to head home two goals.

Biggest deal of the year — The $425 million FIFA received from ABC/ESPN and Univision for FIFA events from 2007 to 2014. It was the most paid by a single country to FIFA. There also is a clause in the deal for the networks to promote the game in the United States.

Biggest buy of the year — Chelsea spent a club-record $47 million for midfielder Michael Essien from French club Lyon.

Biggest surprise of the year — A slim-downed Diego Maradona began a TV chat show called “The night of the No. 10.” Fellow soccer legend Pele was his first guest, and he also has played head tennis with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Best name in the game — Lyon’s star striker is a Brazilian simply called Fred. The runner-up goes to Congo-born Lomana Tresor LuaLua who plays for Portsmouth.

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