- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2001

D.C. United gave up on young, left-footed defender Eric Denton yesterday, trading him to the Tampa Bay Mutiny for right-sided defender Scott Vermillion.

Vermillion, who played at Virginia under national team coach Bruce Arena, began yesterday as a member of the Colorado Rapids. The Rapids packaged Vermillion to the Mutiny as a part of a blockbuster deal in which they sent promising goalkeeper Adin Brown and a first-round draft pick to the Mutiny for goalkeeper Scott Garlick, 39-year-old midfielder Carlos Valderrama and defender Ritchie Kotschau.

Citing depth on the left side with Stephen Armstrong, Bobby Convey and Brian Kamler, coach Thomas Rongen felt United needed to shore up the right.

United picked Denton in the second round (19th overall) of last year's Major League Soccer SuperDraft. Denton started nine games for United this season at left back, with one goal and two assists.

"We felt on our right side, with a young player in Craig Ziadie, that we needed some more depth there, and we were looking to improve in that area," Rongen said. "I've always identified Scotty Vermillion as a good player in this league. We were able to do it with a straight-up trade for Eric. It was a win-win for both teams. They were looking for a left-footed player. Eric did well here but never got over the hump."

It appeared that the 23-year-old Denton was an integral part of United's young guns a talented group of younger players once projected to carry the club deep into this decade.

"I'm sure Eric will contribute in Tampa because he is a quality player that can and deserves to play in MLS," United president Kevin Payne said.

Denton becomes the third young, left-sided player United has traded in the past two seasons, joining Jason Moore and Antonio Otero.

"It's tough to find a left-sided player that has shown a lot of consistency in the league," United defender Carey Talley said. "Eric was thrown in as a starter this year in his second year. That's tough because he didn't have a lot of games [16] in his first year."

Vermillion, 24, is in his fourth MLS season. He appeared in nine matches, starting six, for Colorado and has gone scoreless in 597 minutes.

Vermillion, who broke into MLS in 1998 as a Project-40 allocation to the Kansas City Wizards, played several positions last season for the Rapids, including marking back, sweeper and midfielder. He finished with two goals and one assist.

In addition to his versatility, the 5-foot-11 Vermillion has earned a reputation as a hard-nosed defender who is strong in the air.

"The best words to describe him would be 'animal-like' a tenacious defender that is good on the ball,' " Talley said.

Vermillion is expected to participate in his first practice with United today, but Rongen all but ruled out starting him tomorrow against the Rapids at RFK Stadium.

"We ultimately have to do what's best for the team," Rongen said. "[Vermillion] has not trained with our squad. Sometimes we'll allow players to get used to each other for a period of time. We'll throw them at the wolves if we feel that's what the team needs right now. We'll make a decision after practice when we talk to Scott."

Note Defender Mark Watson will play the rest of this season with a stress fracture in his right foot. Watson was re-examined yesterday by team physician William Hazel and will wait until after the season to undergo surgery, which would have ended his season.

"Unless there is a miracle, it's not going to heal while I'm playing on it, so I'll probably get a screw put in at the end of the season," Watson said.

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