- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 21, 2000

New York/New Jersey defender Lothar Mattheaus won't be playing against D.C. United tonight at Giants Stadium. And it doesn't matter.

Mattheaus, a 39-year-old German, may be leading the voting among Eastern Conference defenders for Major League Soccer's All-Star Game on July 29 at Columbus Crew Stadium, but he hasn't had the impact expected with the MetroStars. Mattheaus has just two assists in nine games as New York/ New Jersey hovers at the .500 mark.

And he's not even concentrating on his duties with Major League Soccer. Last week, Mattheaus played 90 minutes in Germany's 2-1 loss to England in the European Championships.

United's star power, meanwhile, has been questioned all season. Midfielder Marco Etcheverry, forward Jaime Moreno and defenders Carlos Llamosa, Jeff Agoos and Eddie Pope are all performers for their respective national teams but have not led by example with United.

"It's up to the big players," United president Kevin Payne said. "Guys like Marco, Eddie and those guys have to pick their game up and pick up everybody around them."

Said United coach Thomas Rongen: "If we bring our 'A' game that has been the question for the first 16 games, what team is going to show up."

United plays the MetroStars tonight for the third time this season. United should have won both previous games a 3-2 loss at the MetroStars on April 1 and a 3-2 overtime loss April 22 at RFK Stadium.

The MetroStars (7-7-0, 21 points) have been mediocre throughout and rely on the Colombian strike force of Adolfo Valencia and Alex Comas.

Meanwhile, United has changed its mind on releasing Etcheverry for national team duty. Payne will release Etcheverry to play for Bolivia after tonight's game against the MetroStars. United originally planned to keep Etcheverry until after Saturday's game at RFK against the Dallas Burn.

Last night, Payne decided to release Etcheverry after tonight's game because he had not received a request for another Bolivian, Moreno.

Moreno, whose national team request came yesterday, will stay with United until after Saturday's game against the Burn.

Bolivia has a World Cup qualifier against Venezuela on June 28 in San Cristobal, Venezuela.

"Jaime for sure will be [available for the Burn]. I think Marco wants to wait until after today's game against the MetroStars and then decide," Payne said."

Etcheverry, however, said, "Yes, I leave Thursday."

Both Etcheverry and Moreno will miss next Wednesday's clash at RFK against the Los Angeles Galaxy. A big crowd is expected, with two Salavadorans Galaxy playmaker Mauricio Cienfuegos and United striker Raul Diaz Arce going against each other.

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