- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Two weeks ago Roy Lassiter was in court, charged with writing a bad check. That didn't stop D.C. United from resigning him yesterday.

United reacquired Lassiter off waivers, ending what seemed like an eternal search process for another forward. United coach Ray Hudson said Lassiter, 33, probably will be available for tonight's match against the Colorado Rapids (6-5-1) at RFK Stadium but will not start. United is 4-6-1 on the season.

Hudson said Lassiter, who is Major League Soccer's all-time leading goal scorer with 88, may not be the ultimate answer for D.C. United's goal-scoring woes but was affordable. Lassiter reportedly inked an incentives-laden contract in the neighborhood of $50,000.

"There was a lot of things built in for the taking of Roy Lassiter," Hudson said. "I can understand people that say that's a step down. I don't believe it is. It's a good move with good potential, and it's costing us what we've got, which is next to nothing. Roy was king of the show for a long time, and those days are pretty much behind him. He's got to reclaim himself."

The last-place Kansas City Wizards released Lassiter on May 21 along with Gary Glasgow to clear roster spots for Dario Fabbro and Igor Simutenkov. Lassiter was arrested in May and appeared in Johnson (Kan.) County District Court on June 4, facing a charge of writing a bad check for $9,000 to a car dealership in a Kansas City suburb. He did not enter a plea.

It wasn't Lassiter's first run-in with the law. He served 30 days in jail in Raleigh, N.C., in 1995 for breaking and entering, larceny and forgery while a student at N.C. State three years earlier.

After that incident, Lassiter married a woman he met in Costa Rica, had a child and said at the time he became a born-again Christian.

In 1990, Lassiter pleaded guilty to misdemeanors for breaking and entering, larceny, and credit card fraud in Avery County, N.C. He was fined and paid restitution.

"Is he my completely ideal player? Probably not. Is he what the locker room needs? Absolutely," Hudson said.

Lassiter's goal-scoring ability helped land him in jail in 1995. In August of that year, Lassiter was called up for a national team exhibition at Giants Stadium. His second-half goal gave the United States a 2-1 victory over Portuguese club Benfica.

A Raleigh detective read about Lassiter's exploits and remembered there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Lassiter avoided police for three years because he moved to Costa Rica, where he became a goal-scoring demon for Costa Rican club Alajuela.

Despite his off-field troubles, two of Lassiter's most productive seasons (1998-99) came with United. In 55 games for the black and red, Lassiter scored 43 goals including seven in the playoffs. The flashy Lassiter benefited from United's brilliant playmaker, Marco Etcheverry, and running alongside superb forward Jaime Moreno.

Lassiter's goal scoring has dropped dramatically since United traded him to Miami to complete the John Maessner deal. Lassiter has scored 15 goals the past two seasons with the Fusion and Wizards. He has a similar style to former United striker Abdul Thompson Conteh, a poacher whom United released May 8.

"I think Roy is a better player with the ball," midfielder Richie Williams said. "I think he has more technical ability than Abdul does. You can't even compare the two when they were at D.C. United. Just put the stats down Roy had two great seasons and the playoffs, and Abdul maybe scored some goals here and there but never had the success that Roy did. I don't think you can compare the two."

Note According to Hudson, Eddie Pope's solid play as central defender for the U.S. national team at the World Cup has drawn interest of several European clubs. Hudson refused to identify the clubs but said United technical director Dave Kasper has been contacted by more than one.

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