- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2000

D.C. United, the most successful team in American soccer history, is about to lose its moorings.

Coach Thomas Rongen yesterday informed his team during a closed-door meeting at its plush Herndon, Va., headquarters that the training facility had been sold to an unnamed church group.

United, which had arguably the best training facility in the league, will now be forced to practice on local college or high school fields.

Club president Kevin Payne was in Chicago yesterday to finalize United's involvement in the CONCACAF Champions Cup and was unavailable for comment.

United will be given an automatic bid to the Champions Cup, courtesy of its 1999 Major League Soccer championship. The Cup is tentatively scheduled for the second week of January in Southern California most likely the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Meanwhile, United's Herndon lease expires at the end of October. As of yesterday, the club had no contingency plans for finding another training facility.

After winning three of the first four MLS titles, United's spent much of this season with a "for sale" sign in front of its building. Now the club has no weight room. no satellite television, no locker rooms, no artificial field.

"You have to deal with it," Rongen said. "It's a given. We know what the situation is. I spoke to the team prior to practice and told them that I would do everything in my possible power to provide them with the best possible training environment. What is it right now? I really don't know."

Rongen said "he wouldn't leave any stone unturned," starting with every private high school, every county and some area colleges, to find a suitable training pitch.

United's problems start with its investors (Washington Soccer LP), who are tired of losing money. And after five years of red ink, it may get worse. United has an unsatisfactory lease at RFK Stadium, paying $60,000 rental per game and receiving no parking or concession revenues.

For now, the possibility of training on a high school field hasn't really hit the players.

"When you get used to accommodations like this and then you don't know what's going to happen, it's disappointing," star forward Jaime Moreno said. "We just have to deal with it and think wherever we go is going to be comfortable like this."

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