- The Washington Times - Friday, April 21, 2006

When D.C. United visits the New York Red Bulls today, it will play a team going through a number of changes.

Alexi Lalas resigned Monday as president and general manger of the Red Bulls to take the same position with the Los Angeles Galaxy, which had been vacant since Doug Hamilton died last month.

Lalas joined the then-named MetroStars last June, but knew when the Red Bull energy drink company bought the team last month for $100 million, his days were numbered. There is word that a number of former New York Cosmos players will have the key jobs in the Red Bulls front office. A new director of soccer soon will be appointed and it’s unsure how long coach Mo Johnston will keep his job.

Adding to the instability, a key Red Bulls player was accused of making a racial slur this week.

Andy Williams, a black player with the Real Salt Lake, complained that Red Bulls midfielder Amado Guevara, who is Honduran, called him a monkey during the Red Bulls’ 1-1 tie with Real on Saturday. Guevara denies the accusation and MLS officials have begun an investigation.

This is not the first time this year a member of Salt Lake has accused someone of racism. In the preseason, Real coach John Ellinger accused United coach Peter Nowak of making a racist comment during an exhibition match. Nowak was fined for making other comments but not a racial one.

“Everyone is reading about the situation in New York right now but this stuff is not important for us,” Nowak said. “My message to the players is very simple and very strong. This is not our distraction. This situation is dangerous because people’s livelihoods are at stake. So the game is important to them and they will give everything. I don’t want to have a bad feeling after this game that we came in too comfortable.”

Both the Bulls (0-0-3) and United (2-0-1) are unbeaten after three games, but New York is under pressure to win its first game.

Romario back in the U.S. — It’s hard to imagine, but Brazilian 1994 World Cup star Romario will make his debut for the expansion Miami FC tomorrow against the Montreal Impact in the United Soccer Leagues. The 40-year-old striker, who is the world’s second all-time goal scorer, recently moved to South Florida. Miami FC is owned by Brazil-based Traffic Sports and plays in a division below MLS.

Rankings — Despite losing to Germany and tying lowly Jamaica in recent weeks, the U.S. team is now No. 4 in the FIFA World Rankings, an all-time high. The U.S. will face the Czech Republic, Italy and Ghana in the World Cup. The Czech Republic remains No. 2, Italy comes in at No. 14 and Ghana is No. 50.

English notes — After beating Everton 3-1 on Monday, Chelsea will be crowned champions for the second straight year if they avoid a home loss against runners-up Manchester United on April 29. Meanwhile, the Chelsea players will be thinking about the F.A. Cup when they play Liverpool in the semifinals today.

Jonathan Spector’s World Cup hopes are over. The American defender dislocated his shoulder in a collision on Monday in Charlton’s 2-1 win over Portsmouth in the EPL and faces surgery in Manchester on Tuesday. The emerging star, who played 24 games for Charlton this season, is on loan from Manchester United.

In Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at Birmingham, American goalie Brad Friedel played in his 81st consecutive game for Blackburn Rovers. Friedel has been in top form this season but will not be going to the World Cup as he has retired from international soccer.

Hot water — U.S. team midfielder DaMarcus Beasley, 23, was fined $1,851 and put on six months probation yesterday for drunken driving in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. Beasley, who is certain to be named to the American World Cup team, plays for Dutch 2006 champion PSV Eindhoven, where he has scored 10 goals in 56 league games, and four goals in 12 matches in the Champions League.

Farewell — Famed Brazilian coach Tele Santana, who guided Brazil to World Cups in 1982 and 1986, died yesterday at age 76. Santana promoted an attacking style of soccer with players like Zico and Socrates, but both the teams he coached never lifted the World Cup trophy.

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