- The Washington Times - Friday, December 24, 2004

It’s that time of year when I dig out the thick gloves and woolen hat and head off to visit the in-laws in the wilds of New England. Before I go, I’ll just hang up my annual list for Santa.

First, I would like to wish all the soccer fans in the area a Merry Christmas and then wish that …

• The U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. national team’s players union sort out their labor dispute before the team visits Trinidad and Tobago in a key World Cup qualifier Feb.9. Exhibition games against South Korea and Mexico already have been canceled because of the dispute, and a B-team could be sent for the Trinidad game. Come on, guys, think of the fans.

• Billionaire Phil Anschutz builds a soccer-specific stadium for D.C. United. If it isn’t in the District, why not in Columbia, Md., where we love soccer, concrete and strange street names.

• Baseball and soccer peacefully and respectfully co-exist at RFK Stadium for the next three years.

• United defender Mike Petke finally decides what color his hair should be.

• United defender Brian Namoff gets a giant pay raise in his Christmas stocking for all the good work he did this year.

• Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra write and explain why I wasn’t invited to the wedding.

• Hamm settles down in Chicago and is blessed with lots of little Mia Hamms.

• Former United star Bobby Convey finally breaks through at Reading United, where he has spent a lot of time on the bench lately.

• United coach Peter Nowak allows the media to interview players on RFK Stadium’s auxiliary field after practice.

• United forward Santino Quaranta stays injury-free this season. The Baltimore lad played all of 23 minutes in regular play in 2004.

• U.S. women’s star Kristine Lilly, the most capped player in the world, never retires.

• U.S. striker Clint Mathis, who hopefully is returning to play for expansion team Real Salt Lake after a rotten time at Hannover 96 in Germany, gets his act together and produces the kind of soccer we know he is capable of.

• A women’s pro league will be revived. This time the organizers should seek advice from the guys who have been running Major League Soccer for 10 years.

• David Beckham and Freddy Adu get rid of the earrings. It’s official: I hate the earrings.

• Adu keeps his New Year’s resolution and spends “most of the offseason in the weight room” trying to look like Wayne Rooney.

• Arsenal’s Freddie Ljungberg finds a cure for his migraines. The last thing you want to have is a headache when you head a ball.

• The MetroStars finally win something after nine barren years. Maybe the recent arrival of Jeff Agoos, who has five championship rings, will bring the club some luck.

• United’s temperamental Dema Kovalenko and Dallas FC’s Ronnie O’Brien can shake hands, become friends and sit down for a cup of tea. (I’ll make it.) Kovalenko broke O’Brien’s leg in 2003, and the two talented guys just don’t talk.

• Chelsea wins the English Premier League in 2005 after a 50-year drought, even if it did cost $700million in Russian rubles.

• Maryland gets it right next year and wins the NCAA men’s title after going down in the semifinals for the third consecutive year.

• American Malcolm Glazer, owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, succeeds in his bid to take over Manchester United. Hey, a Russian owns Chelsea, so why not a Yank owning United? It might mean more future tours by the Red Devils to the United States.

• And finally, our prayers are with Luis Fernando Montoya and his family. The Colombian coach was left paralyzed Wednesday after he was shot trying to protect his wife from muggers in Caldes, Colombia. Montoya, 47, won fame when he pulled off the biggest coup of the year, leading little-known club Once Caldas to victory in South America’s biggest soccer event, the Copa Libertadores.

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