'New American' Slobo celebrates with big win


After 12 years, St. Louis goalkeeper Slobo Ilijevski fulfilled a dream this weekend when he became an American citizen.

"I feel so happy, so honored to finally make this dream a reality," Ilijevski said last night. "So many people have helped me achieve my citizenship. But part of what has surprised me here in St. Louis is that so many people showed up at the ceremony.

"There were stories in the papers here, and people I didn't even know came to support me. That was a happy moment."

Another happy moment came last night, when Ilijevski earned the win in St. Louis' 5-4 overtime decision against Cleveland.

Still, to Ilijevski, nothing could be better than calling himself "an American."

The 41-year-old native of Skopje, Yugoslavia, put it this way.

"People, a lot of people, set goals and have dreams," Ilijevski said. "I wish they could all achieve their goals. Right now, this is the biggest and best thing that has ever happened in my life. To be a citizen of this great country, and to be free to pursue every and any opportunity. I am so happy."

* SIX GOLDEN RINGS: Christmas is coming, but that has nothing to do with what went on in San Diego Friday. Major Soccer League commissioner Earl Foreman handed out the 1989-90 championship rings to the defending champion Sockers. It marked the sixth MSL title for San Diego.

* RECORD-SETTING NIGHT: When Preki scored two goals in St. Louis' 8-7 loss to Tacoma Friday, he set a Storm record for most goals in a season with 28 -- and there are still 38 games to go.

St. Louis teammate Mark Frederickson also notched his 800th blocked shot.

San Diego midfielder Waad Hirmez had four goals in the Sockers' 10-4 victory over the Cleveland Crunch Friday. It was the first four-goal night of his eight-year MSL career.

* THE STAT SHEET: Dallas forward Tatu recorded his league-leading fifth hat trick Saturday in a 6-3 victory over Kansas City.

With two more goals and an assist last night, Tatu is the MSL's leading point scorer with 54, while Preki continues to lead in goals with 28.

Blast midfielder Billy Ronson is in a three-way tie for third in assists, with Kansas City's Jan Goossens and Preki, each has 19. Tatu is tops with 26 assists.

On the point-scoring charts for the Blast, Ronson is seventh (29 points), Domenic Mobilio and San Diego's Brian Quinn are tied for 10th (21) and Mike Stankovic is 13th (20), two points behind Hirmez.

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