- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 18, 2003

In its bid to regain a potent offense, D.C. United has brought in a proven goal scorer who also will act as a role model for younger players and be a positive influence in the locker room.
American World Cup star Earnie Stewart, acquired by the club Wednesday, not only brings the experience of 14 years of professional soccer but also a personality that it is hoped will boost the team's confidence.
By all accounts, Stewart is a very likable, enthusiastic player who genuinely enjoys training sessions. United coach Ray Hudson said he had received numerous calls from United players excited about the trade. Stewart is expected to be a great influence on youngsters like Santino Quaranta, Bobby Convey and top draft pick Alecko Eskandarian.
"He's not the 6-foot-2 Ronaldo [high-scoring] factor," Hudson said. "He's the Earnie Stewart factor. He brings a vista of benefits. He's the right fit at the right place."
Stewart, who played for the U.S. in the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups, is an agile player who can be an attacking midfielder or a pure striker. Last year he helped the U.S. team reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup, playing in four games. He captained the team in its remarkable 3-2 win over Portugal.
Some have questioned why Hudson would bring in an aging striker who turns 34 in March, but Hudson believes Stewart can do for United what 37-year-old Preki did for the Miami Fusion in 2001. Hudson, who coached the now-defunct Fusion, brought in Preki, and the veteran midfielder led the team to a division title with a 16-5-5 record.
"The future is now," Hudson said, stealing a line from former Washington Redskins coach George Allen. "Stewart can play for another three or four years."
Hudson also confirmed that 1994 World Cup star Hristo Stoitchkov will join United. The fiery Bulgarian, who turns 37 next month, will be used sparingly on the field and take on an assistant coaching role, helping out Bulgarian defender Galin Ivanov, who is expected to sign with the club shortly.
"There will be a lot of character and ego in the locker room," Hudson said of what is shaping up as a soccer version of Allen's Over the Hill gang. "With [Marco] Etcheverry, Stoitchkov and [Mike] Petke, it will be bristling with energy."
The Dutch-born Stewart was picked by the club after talks with Argentine strikers Pedro Ojeda and Aldo Osorio and Honduran striker Milton Nunez broke down.
Draft picks As expected, D.C. United claimed University of Virginia star Alecko Eskandarian with the first pick of the MLS SuperDraft yesterday in Kansas City, Mo. Eskandarian's father, Andranik, was a three-time all-star defender with the New York Cosmos and played for Iran in the 1978 World Cup.
Eskandarian, 20, set a record by scoring 25 goals at Virginia last season, and his 113 career points rank sixth on the Cavaliers' all-time list. The fiery 5-8, 160-pounder returned to the U.S. this week from Portugal, where he was training with the U.S. under-23 team.
United also picked 6-3 North Carolina defender David Stokes from Dumfries, Va.
Canada up next The U.S. men's team begins the long road to the 2006 World Cup in Germany today when it takes on Canada in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Fairfax-based coach Bruce Arena will begin looking at new and younger players as he prepares for World Cup qualifying games in 2004. Arena has called in 26 players for the game, including many untested at the international level.
Four of the players on the roster Landon Donovan, Clint Mathis, Pablo Mastroeni and DaMarcus Beasley played in the 2002 World Cup. The team also includes D.C. United midfielders Ben Olsen and Bobby Convey, along with goalie Nick Rimando. Arena tested 93 players in the national program in the four-year run-up to last year's World Cup.
Canada will be without star striker Tomasz Radzinski, who plays alongside Brian McBride with England's Everton club, because of Radzinski's club commitments. Next up for the Americans is a meeting Feb.8 with two-time champion and currently fifth-ranked Argentina at Miami's Orange Bowl.
Corner kicks Washington Freedom forward Abby Wambach was named to the U.S. women's team's 20-player roster for a trip to China to compete in the Four Nations Tournament starting Thursday and featuring the top four women's teams in the world: the U.S., Norway, Germany and China.
Frenchman Thierry Henry, probably the best striker in the world, hammered home his 100th goal for Arsenal last week in its 4-0 drubbing of Birmingham in the English Premier League. Henry, 25, achieved the century mark in 180 games for the Gunners and is chasing scoring legend Ian Wright, who had 185 goals in 288 games with the London team. Oddly, Henry has never scored with a header in Premier League play.

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