- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 30, 2003

The decision by Britain’s Home Office not to issue D.C. United midfielder Bobby Convey a work permit has left the 20-year-old devastated and has scuttled United’s plans to bring in a major player for next season.

Major League Soccer sold Convey to the English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur two weeks ago in a $2million deal on the condition he obtain a work permit, but his request was rejected Thursday on the grounds that he was not talented enough to have an impact on the EPL.

United coach Ray Hudson said Convey was shattered by the news.

“I talked to Bobby in London last night, and he’s obviously in pieces,” Hudson said yesterday. “I told him that this is just a setback and that he has to pick himself up and keep reinforcing to Spurs and other clubs that are watching [that] he’s still the player he was.”

Hudson has given Convey a leave of absence for four days, and the player will take a short vacation in Colorado.

The decision by the Home Office, which recently gave MetroStars goalie Tim Howard a permit to play for Manchester United, stunned many. Convey had letters of recommendation from U.S. coach Bruce Arena, former England coach and Newcastle United boss Bobby Robson, Bulgarian star Hristo Stoitchkov and Hudson. Tottenham coach Glen Hoddle was so keen on Convey, he told the Home Office board that he would be starting the lad.

Convey was given a farewell by United at halftime in a game at RFK Stadium on Aug.13.

“This is an enormous challenge psychologically for Bobby,” Hudson said. “The first thing out of his mouth when I spoke to him was, ‘I’m looking forward to coming back. This is my club, and I’m looking to give it my all.’ That was great to hear.”

If the trade had gone through, United would have been given a player allocation from MLS. According to Hudson, a player would have joined the team at the end of the European season and be “marvelous for the league and the club.”

“This affects us in a multitude of ways that nobody knows about and we can’t say, because we had a lot of things lined up in big ways for next season,” Hudson said. “That’s all been jettisoned now.”

Also jettisoned is United’s plan to give a tryout to Australian midfielder Simon Colosimo as a possible “discovery player.” Hudson was eager to look at Colosimo because he is a talented holding central midfielder, a position he believes United needs to fill.

“We really don’t have anyone to play that position of any caliber,” Hudson said. “It’s a specific role needing a specific player. Other players that play that role, such as Ryan [Nelsen], Dema [Kovalenko], [Bryan] Namoff, are all makeshift. Simon is that kind of player.”

Meanwhile, United will take on a hungry, young and talented El Salvadoran team tonight in an exhibition game before an expected 20,000-plus at RFK.

El Salvador is rebuilding in preparation for World Cup qualifying games next spring. Coach Juan Ramon Paredes also will use the game to get a good look at United’s Ronald Cerritos and Eliseo Quintanilla, whom he will call into camp when World Cup games roll around. Thirteen players on El Salvador’s 18-man roster are 23 or under.

“We want to convert the more casual El Salvadoran fans, and with Cerritos involved in the game, it will only help,” Hudson said. “It’s a nice coincidence that we now have Cerritos for this game. We will be facing a young and energetic team.”

El Salvador’s key players are Rudis Corrales, 23, a fast, tricky forward and Diego Mejia, 21, the team’s big target man. But the Central Americans will be without their starting goalie Juan Jose Gomez, 22, who recently had knee surgery.

El Salvador’s domestic league, the Torneo Apertura, began this month and runs through December.

United is expected to start defender Mike Petke after his quick recovery from a broken ankle and midfielder Quintanilla, who is returning from a knee sprain.

Corner kicks — American defender, Brandi Chastain will report the inside story of her third FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament in a weekly column on FIFAworldcup.com. During the tournament, fans can visit the official site to watch daily behind-the-scenes, recorded videos and postgame analysis by the players. …

If you’re looking for a good college game, check out Maryland men’s team, which will play UCLA on Friday night in College Park. The Terps are ranked No.2 in the Soccertimes.com poll and the Bruins No.1.

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