Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Preki Radosavljevic MLS MVP for second time
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By KEN PETERS
AP Sports Writer
TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) -- Kansas City Wizards midfielder Preki Radosavljevic was selected as Major League Soccer's Most Valuable Player on Friday, becoming the first player to win the award twice.
At 40, Radosavljevic became the oldest MVP of a major American sport league. San Francisco outfielder Barry Bonds, who won his sixth National League MVP award this week, is 39.
"Ten months ago, there was no way I was thinking I would be here receiving this award. It's a young man's sport, although I always knew I could play the game," said Radosavljevic, who had been afraid his age might finally catch up with him.
"Everybody talks about my age, has it in their head, and it started to get into my head, too. It's always out there. But you're only as old as you feel."
Radosavljevic led the league in scoring with 12 goals and 17 assists -- identical totals to 1997, when he also won the MVP award with the Wizards. Carlos Ruiz of the Los Angeles Galaxy was six points back in the scoring race.
Radosavljevic credits having a young attitude, hard work -- and yoga -- for his success.
"I took up yoga in January, and it's the best thing that I've done," he said. "I got my flexibility back to where it was in when I was in my mid 20s. That's the key, to be able to move around there without pain or restriction."
In the locker room, he forgets he's 40.
"I'm probably the youngest guy in there," he said. "I'm always laughing and playing jokes. I enjoy being with young people."
Radosavljevic led the Wizards to a second-place finish in the Western Conference and into the postseason for the fourth straight season. He had at least one point in 18 of his team's 30 games.
He beat out forwards Ante Razov of the Chicago Fire and John Spencer of the Colorado Rapids for the MVP award. Of the eight MVP awards, five have gone to the scoring champion, including the last three.
Radosavljevic expects to be just as good at 41, and quite possibly beyond.
"I will keep playing as long as I feel I can help the team," he said. "I think if I keep it up with the yoga, I'll probably have an even better year next year."