- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 15, 2002

It has been more than a month since D.C. United released ineffective forward Abdul Thompson Conteh, and the club has done nothing since to add striker depth. The indecision is hitting the club square in the face.

Forwards Santino Quaranta and Jaime Moreno may be staying home for tonight's match at Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Wizards. Injuries to Quaranta (hip and groin) and Moreno (groin) has the team scrambling to find a competent goal-scoring tandem.

"[Quaranta] won't be traveling, and Jaime might not be able to go either," United coach Ray Hudson said. "Jaime is very, very sore deep in his groin. [Moreno] might be OK on Saturday, we'll have to see. We've got a game Wednesday as well. I don't want to risk Jaime if he is not 100 percent."

Reserve Ali Curtis (two goals and one assist) will definitely start, but the other forward remains a question mark if Moreno can't play. Hudson said the club may call up rookie Dennis Ludwig from the Carolina Dynamo, United's Division III affiliate, or use midfielder Bobby Convey, who has one goal in three seasons, up front.

"It's really going to be a patch-up job because we don't have the player to come in and slot in," Hudson said. "We knew this would be the case; this is what we've been up against. We're looking for a player that is going to be able to come in and relieve Santino when he gets tired or take Jaime's place when he's out. There's value out there, but we don't have the money."

Conteh was released on May 8 for poor play and salary cap reasons. United (4-5-1) brought in Scottish forward Paul Dalglish for a week-long trial in April before Conteh was let go. Dalglish, who last played for Wigan Athletic of England's Second Division, impressed Hudson and his staff, but United could not fit Dalglish's proposed salary under the team's stringent $1.7million cap.

With only three forwards on the roster and a roster spot open, Hudson said United might pull the trigger on a trade as early as next week.

"We're still hopeful that there is a player in the league that we might just want to take a good calculated gamble on," Hudson said.

Of the nine other teams in Major League Soccer, the Columbus Crew seem to be in the best position to unload a forward. The Crew have five forwards on their roster: Brian McBride, Jeff Cunningham, Brian West, Edson Buddle, and Dante Washington. McBride is a U.S. national teamer and considered untouchable. The Crew are high on Buddle, and Cunningham and West are more midfielder types. That leaves Washington, who grew up in Columbia, Md., as the most likely trade candidate.

Whatever United decides to do in the next week won't have any effect on tonight's game against the struggling Wizards (2-4-4).

"It's a little different when you're playing with a player that you're not really familiar with playing up top, but we're all pros," Curtis said. "Our job as strikers is to score goals and create things. Whoever we're playing with, we have to be a good professional and go out there and do our job."

United is 0-4 on the road this season. The team has proved it can win at home (4-1-1) but has come up empty away from RFK Stadium. Without their top two goal scorers for this game, United will be hard-pressed to break its road jinx.

"We still have that reputation as being a bit of a soft team on the road," Hudson said. "That's why people are sharpening the knives against us when they've got us at home."


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