Oct. 11, 2000
Former UCLA Bruin and current Chicago Fire defender Carlos Bocanegra has been selected by Major League Soccer as the 2000 Kellogg's Rookie of the Year. The 21-year-old defender started and played 27 games and brought great stability to an injury-depleted Chicago back line.
When several key players went down with injuries during the 2000 regular season, Bocanegra proved to be worth more than the fourth overall pick in the 2000 MLS SuperDraft. Head Coach Bob Bradley found a mainstay in his lineup with the former Bruin All-American.
"It's definitely nice to be recognized as the league's top rookie," said Bocanegra. "It is a personal goal of mine. I didn't like to talk about it too much during the season, I'd rather have our team do well and win a championship."
Bocanegra and the Fire will play in the MLS Championship game Oct. 15.
Bocanegra is the second member of MLS' Project 40 program to garner Kellogg's Rookie of the Year honors (Ben Olsen won in 1998). He edged Kansas City Wizards defender Nick Garcia and Los Angeles Galaxy and U.S. Olympic standout Danny Califf for the honor.
"This is a tremendous honor for Carlos," said Fire GM Peter Wilt. "He played like a veteran from the beginning and is well-deserved for the award. He has shown courage, strength and tenacity from an early stage, and his future is very bright."
The Kellogg's Rookie of the Year award goes to the player judged by MLS coaching staffs and general managers to be the best young performer who has no prior professional soccer playing experience before his MLS debut and/or has completed his college/high school eligibility within the last year.