Following a third unsuccessful campaign, the club used the time before the start of the 2003 season to make drastic changes to the squad. U.S. National Team star Earnie Stewart was allocated to the club, bringing the veteran home from Holland, where he enjoyed unparalleled success for an American expatriate. Richie Williams, Eddie Pope and Jaime Moreno all headed north to join the MetroStars, while defender Mike Petke made the reverse journey to join the Black-and-Red. Former Indiana University standout and MLS All-Star Dema Kovalenko was also brought in to shake things up in the midfield, while his Chicago Fire teammate and Bulgarian legend Hristo Stoitchkov was added as a player/coach. Though United struggled early in the season to pick up points, the off-season moves did pay off, as the club posted a regular season record of 10-11-9, sending the club back to the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since winning it all in 1999. However, a fourth MLS Cup was not in the cards and United fell to the Chicago Fire in the first round of the post-season.