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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 27, 2005

Soccer fans like show by the pros

By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer

After all the sideline-to-sideline passes, jukes, and shots on goal, 9-year-old Clayton Sai was most impressed with one thing.

Freddy Adu drew cheers from the crowd every time he touched the ball last night.

Andrew Shimabuku • The Honolulu Advertiser

"They get to head the ball," said Sai, who watched D.C. United defeat the Los Angeles Galaxy, 1-0, in the inaugural Aloha Soccer Cup, a preseason exhibition game, last night at Aloha Stadium.

Within the first 20 minutes, bodies were already on the ground, cards were handed out, and approximately 15,000 Hawai'i soccer fans were exposed to their first taste of professional soccer in almost 30 years.

Clayton's younger brother, Matthew, 7, was equally impressed with that the players were heading the ball.

"In my league, I don't get to head, and they do," Matthew said. "I think it's cool because they can pass over the other guys' heads."

Matthew's coach, Doug Crabbe, who coaches Vaiete's under-8 team, said, "It's good for them to see more quality soccer. The difference is how fast-paced the game is; a lot of one-touch, misdirection, balls played in the air. They play very fast, faster than I expected."

The last time a soccer game of this caliber was played in Hawai'i was in 1977, when Hawai'i had a professional team called Team Hawai'i. In 1976, soccer superstar Pele traveled here with the New York Cosmos, drawing about 22,000 fans.

"It's more impressive in person," Sherri Sai, of Hawai'i Kai, and mother of Clayton and Matthew said. "You see it on TV, but it's so much more when you see it in real life. I just wanted them to see it in real life."

A player being compared to Pele — 15-year-old phenom Freddy Adu — received loud cheers at almost every moment: walking on to the field, warming up, and when he started the second half, any time he touched the ball or the ball even went near him.

"Every time I touched the ball, they were screaming, it was almost like I was back in D.C. playing, it was awesome," Adu said. "It felt like a home crowd."

L.A. Galaxy's Peter Vagenas, right, closes in on D.C. United's Brian Carroll during their exhibition match.

Andrew Shimabuku • The Honolulu Advertiser

His first big play of the game was about five minutes into the half, when he juked a defender and slotted a ball to a teammate. With six minutes remaining, he gave the fans reason to cheer, taking on three defenders near the sideline, holding them off, and then juking them with a move to the endline. He was fouled as he began creating separation.

"I definitely want to come back; I don't even want to leave," Adu said. "Hopefully we can come back next year."

D.C. United midfielder Christian Gomez scored in the 36th minute on a penalty kick into the low left corner of the goal, after forward Jaime Moreno was taken down in the box.

United midfielder Ben Olsen and Galaxy midfielder Paulo Nagamura created a stir when they got into a shoving match 13 minutes into the game. Both received yellow cards, the first of six handed out last night.

"They were pretty physical with us on Thursday, when it was supposed to be an exhibition," said D.C. forward Alecko Eskandarian, of a closed-session game the teams played. "We really took that to heart. They kind of hurt our pride that they were kicking us up and down the field. Tonight, we didn't play dirty or anything, but we wanted to show them that we weren't going to back down."

D.C. goalkeeper Nick Rimando received a red card after being called for a dangerous challenge after tackling L.A. forward Carlos Ruiz outside the penalty box about 22 minutes into the game. United was forced to play a man down for the rest of the game, but managed to score even with the disadvantage.


The Hawai'i Tsunami, of the United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues, a professional league at a lower level than MLS, played in Hawai'i in the 90s.

L.A. Galaxy defender Albright and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and D.C. United midfielder Ben Olsen, are leaving this morning to join the U.S. Men's National team for a training camp in Carson, Calif. Also joining the team is Hale'iwa native Brian Ching, a forward with the San Jose Earthquakes.

Hawai'i Prep's Kai Mangarin, Leilehua's R.B. Bibilone, and Wai'anae's Sonny Dudoit scored second-half goals to lead the West to a 3-0 win over the East in the Hawai'i Youth Soccer Association Boys 19 and Under All-Star Game yesterday, prior to the Cup.

The Ka'oi SC Express and the Honolulu Soccer Club Bulls '94 Girls Ka'ula tied, 0-0, and were awarded as co-champions in the HYSA Presidents Day Cup Girls Under-11 Championship, also before the Cup.

Reach Leila Wai at lwai@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2457.