- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2001

D.C. United midfielder Bobby Convey will undergo surgery later this week to remove an abdominal hernia and will be out six to eight weeks.

Convey, United's 18-year-old phenom, was injured playing with the U.S. Under-20 squad at the World Youth Championship last month in Argentina. Convey suffered the injury on June 23 in a 1-1 tie with Ukraine during a first-round Group C match.

Convey played the full 90 minutes against Ukraine, but played just the first half in his next match a 2-0 loss to Egypt that eliminated the U.S. in the round of 16.

Convey was examined yesterday by Dr. John Moynahan who recommended to United team physician William Hazel that Convey have surgery. Moynahan will perform the procedure.

Tonight's third-round U.S. Open Cup match against the A-League's Hershey Wildcats in Richmond will mark the fourth consecutive match Convey has missed since his injury.

Losing Convey is a devastating blow to United. Convey, United's starting left-flank midfielder, is tied for fourth on the team with seven points one goal and five assists.

"It's the nature of the beast, that's the risk you take when you have quality players," United coach Thomas Rongen said. "You know going into it, that could potentially happen. There is nothing you can do about it. Conversely, he could have hurt it here and couldn't have played for the national team. That's the way it goes."

In addition to his abdominal hernia, Convey also has a strained groin. Convey was originally diagnosed with a torn abdominal muscle and was projected to be out just three weeks.

Convey's injury is the same suffered by former United midfielder Tony "Big Cat" Sanneh in 1998. Sanneh, who currently plays in the prestigious German Bundesliga, appeared in just 17 matches for United in 1998 because of his abdominal surgery.

Convey is a rising star in American soccer. On May 9, Convey tied the club record with three assists in United's 5-0 dismantling of the New England Revolution. Convey became the youngest player (17 years, 10 months, 11 days) in Major League Soccer history to score a goal when he recorded his first professional goal in United's 3-2 season-opening win over the Kansas City Wizards on April 7 at RFK Stadium.

Convey started all four matches for the U.S. U-20 squad and registered two assists in a 4-1 victory over Chile on June 20.

Meanwhile, United will be without newly-acquired defender Scott Vermillion for tonight's match. Vermillion, who was acquired in a June 28 trade with the Tampa Bay Mutiny for defender Eric Denton, is ineligible because he played in a U.S. Open Cup match for the Colorado Rapids on June 27 against the A-League's Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The next day, Vermillion was traded to the Mutiny, and later in the day the Mutiny dealt Vermillion to United.

For tonight's game, Rongen will change his alignment back to a 4-4-2 and rest some of his regulars. Mark Watson, Ryan Nelsen, Brian Kamler and rookie Craig Ziadie will form United's four-man backline with star defender Eddie Pope sitting down. Carey Talley, who has played central defender most of the season, will replace rookie Bryan Namoff as United's defensive midfielder.

Stephen Armstrong will move up from left back to left midfield. Marco Etcheverry will be in his usual role as United's playmaker, with Chris Albright on the right. Santino Quaranta, United's 17-year-old prodigy, will pair with Jaime Moreno at forward. Abdul Thompson Conteh, United's leading goal scorer with nine, will also sit out.

Talley, whose natural position is defensive midfield, played there in an exhibition against Bayer Leverkusen on May 23, performing well against the skilled German club's attack.

"It's a different animal, that position compared to center back," Talley said. "I was in [the defensive midfield] for 10 minutes the other night and I was tired."

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