- The Washington Times - Friday, December 19, 2003

D.C. United captain Ryan Nelsen is hot property. A number of overseas clubs have shown interest in him, including the Scottish giant Glasgow Rangers, but Nelsen for the moment wants to help United rise back to the top next season.

“It’s not that I want to leave or anything because [Major League Soccer] is really on the move and I can see amazing things happening to this league in the next five to 10 years, but obviously it is my living,” Nelsen said via e-mail from his home in New Zealand this week. “If the right situation turns up, then I will have a look. At the moment, I think D.C. United is heading in the right direction.”

Nelsen, 26, who was one of United’s better players last season, will lead his club under a new coach next year after two-year boss Ray Hudson was fired recently.

“It is very sad to see Ray leave,” Nelsen said. “His enthusiasm for the game was infectious, and I learned so much from the man. It is a cut-throat business and it is a shame for Ray, but he has so much respect from people in the game that he will easily land on his feet.”

Nelsen, who has one more year on his contract with MLS, felt United didn’t live up to expectations this year.

“Personally, I was happy,” said Nelsen, “but still I have a bitter taste in my mouth in the way we departed the playoffs. We were a bunch of individuals and never really looked like [a team].”

Apart from the Rangers, other overseas clubs have been taking note of Nelsen, who is also the captain of New Zealand’s national team.

“There has been interest from clubs in Europe but nothing really serious,” Nelsen said. “I haven’t gone out looking or anything, it’s just interest.”

Nelsen caught the eye of several teams when he scored a goal against Scotland in New Zealand’s 1-1 tie at Edinburgh in May.

“It was a fun goal as there are a lot of [expatriate] Scots living in New Zealand, so there was a lot of interest in the game,” Nelsen said. “I also have never been abused so much by a crowd. I started to celebrate near the sideline, but soon a wave of abuse came over me as soon as I got close to the sideline. I got out of there quick!”

United notes — D.C. United will open its 2004 season at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 3, at RFK Stadium against the 2003 MLS Cup champion San Jose Earthquakes. With the addition of 14-year-old phenom Freddy Adu, United could pull in a big opening day crowd. …

Former United assistant coach Frank Yallop, who led San Jose to two MLS titles in three years, was named Canada’s national team coach this week. Yallop, 39, worked under Thomas Rongen with United in 2000. … Former United goalie Scott Garlick (1997, ‘98) was acquired by the Dallas Burn this week from the Colorado Rapids for a draft pick in 2005. …

Quote of the Week — “I have to be honest — my first love was not soccer. I was hooked on basketball because I never believed I would get the chance to play soccer.” — United forward Freddy Adu in England’s Mirror newspaper this week.

MLS notes — Welsh star Carl Robinson is being courted by the MetroStars. The 27-year-old midfielder, who is under contract to English Premier League club Portsmouth, wants to move to the United States but knows that his career with the Welsh national team could be jeopardized if he does so. …

The Blackburn Rovers are having trouble signing American star Brian McBride on loan from the Columbus Crew because Major League Soccer has jacked up the price. Blackburn want McBride to join fellow American goalie Brad Friedel in England for a few months, but MLS is asking more than the $170,000 the club is willing to pay. …

Corner kicks — FIFA’s Web site (FIFA.com) has the U.S. team listed to play Holland on Feb.18 at a site to be named. … Argentine giant Boca Juniors has snubbed a $17million bid from German club Bayern Munich for star striker Carlos Tevez, 19, who is being called the greatest talent to come out of Argentina since Diego Maradona.

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