The name on the front of the uniform was the same, but the familiar face in the center circle was no longer wearing her familiar No. 6 uniform.
Tonight, at half time of the Boston Breakers and Washington Freedom game, former Boston Breaker and German National Team star Maren Meinert became the first inductee into the Boston Breakers' Pillars of Excellence.
Meinert, who played for the original Breakers from 2001 to 2003, was greeted warmly by the enthusiastic crowd as she was announced by team President and General Manager Joe Cummings.
US Women's Team Head Coach Pia Sundhage warmed the Boston crowd by singing a few bars of "If Not for You" before introducing her former star.
Meinert received a standing ovation from the crowd of 4,241, who cheered wildly following the touching video tribute of the former league MVP.
"I spent the best three years here in Boston for the Breakers," said Meinert. "It's a great honor to see my picture up there."
Cummings added, "For the next ten or fifty or one hundred years, it's our goal to make sure there are dozens of banners next to Maren's to represent the Breakers in the Pillar of Excellence."
Meinert, who played with current Breaker stars Kristine Lilly and Angela Hucles on the "Original" Breaker team, was named the 2003 Most Valuable Player while playing with the Breakers of the WUSA.
She was also named the MVP of the WUSA All-Star Game that year. She was the league leader in game winning assists with four and also was third in the league with three multi goal games that season.
Meinert scored the first goal in Breakers' history in 2001 and finished the maiden season with eight goals and seven assists. She was named to the WUSA’s First Team World 11.
In 2002, she finished fourth in the league and led the Breakers with 15 goals and 23 assists for 53 points.
She led her native Germany to its first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup title in October, 2003. Meinert is now the head coach of Germany’s Under-20 Women’s National Team.
Todd Civin is a freelance writer who covers the Boston Breakers of the WPS. He can be reached at email@example.com with story leads or comments.