YOKOHAMA, Japan - First the American team upset Portugal. Then it won its first knockout-round game. Now, the United States has its first World Cup all-star.
Midfielder Claudio Reyna was among 16 players voted to the MasterCard All-Star Team of the 2002 World Cup by the FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG).
Josef Venglos, the head of the TSG, noted the improvement Reyna has made and praised his ability to organize the midfield and his physical fitness.
"This is a great honor and I'm flattered to be included amongst a list of such great players," Reyna said in a statement released by the U.S. Soccer Federation. "This type of award is all about the team, and obviously all of our guys deserve recognition for the kind of performances we put on the field. We are very proud of how we represented the United States at this World Cup."
Other midfielders selected with Reyna were Rivaldo and Ronaldinho of Brazil, Yoo Sang-chul of South Korea, and Michael Ballack of Germany, who scored the game-winning goal against the United States in the quarterfinals.
Only players from nations that reached the quarterfinals were eligible to make the team.
Following the second round, four Americans - Reyna, midfielder Landon Donovan, forward Brian McBride and goalkeeper Brad Friedel - were among a list of 53 players selected for consideration for the All-Star Team by the TSG.
Brazilian soccer legend Pele, who in the later stages of his career played for the New York Cosmos in the old North American Soccer League, was particularly impressed with the play of the U.S. team throughout the tournament.
"I am very proud of the way the Americans played in the World Cup, especially because of my connection with soccer in the U.S.," he said. "The way they lost to Germany to me didn't seem fair. They played very well, had three good chances near the end and could have won the game."
Donovan in particular seemed to catch the eye of Venglos, who coached Czechoslovakia against the United States in the 1990 World Cup.
"The United States has very good young players who are growing up to become, maybe, stars..like Donovan."
Pele, who earlier in the tournament tabbed England's Nicky Butt as the top player in the field, now has a new pick.
"Butt was a good player, but Ronaldinho is the one who surprises me," said the Brazilian soccer legend, who serves as a consultant to the TSG.
Two strikers from Sunday's final headline the selections up front. Ronaldo and Miroslav Klose will meet in Yokohama, when Brazil and Germany play in the 17th World Cup final.
"His qualities are contributing to the World Cup," Venglos said of Ronaldo, the tournament's leading scorer with six goals.
Senegal's El Hadji Diouf and Turkey's Hasan Sas rounded out the group of forwards.
Germany's Oliver Kahn, who has allowed one goal in his team's six matches, was chosen for the goalkeeper position, along with Turkey's Rustu Recber, whose heroics were in part responsible for the Turks' run to the semifinals.
Brazil's Roberto Carlos, England's Sol Campbell, South Korea's Hong Myung-bo, Turkey's Alpay Ozalan and Spain's Fernando Hierro were the selections in defense. Playing in his fourth World Cup, Hong, the anchor of the South Korean backline, led the co-hosts to the semifinals.