- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2003

D.C. United coach Ray Hudson will play his rookies tonight against the A-League’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds in a third-round U.S. Open Cup match at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds.

Alecko Eskandarian, the top pick overall in January’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft, will start alongside Santino Quaranta at forward.

David Stokes, the fifth pick overall, will start at right back in Hudson’s 3-5-2 alignment, with Mike Petke in the middle and Brandon Prideaux on the left. Brian Carroll, who grew up in Springfield and was the 11th pick overall, will start at left-flank midfield. Doug Warren, the 14th pick overall, will spell Nick Rimando in goal.

For Stokes, Carroll and Warren, the game will be their United debuts.

“These are the guys that come knocking on my door every other week asking, ‘Why aren’t I playing?’” Hudson said. “This is the situation: They can throw it at me and show me, ‘This is why I want to play.’”

The game also is an opportunity for United’s youngsters to prove they are a level above A-League talent. In addition to the rookies, 20-year-old Devin Barclay will start at right-flank midfield and 20-year-old Eliseo Quintanilla in an attacking midfield role. In all, United will start seven players under 22, and everybody except the Salvadoran Quintanilla is eligible and considered to be a part of the U.S. under-23 Olympic team pool.

“I don’t think we’re trying to prove to the [Pittsburgh] players that we’re better than them. I think we’re trying to prove to the coaches that we can play at this level, that we deserve to be on the field every once in awhile,” Warren said.

If United wins, it will play the winner of tonight’s Virginia Beach Mariners-Carolina Dynamo game Aug.6 at the Maryland SoccerPlex or Macpherson Stadium in Greensboro, N.C.

The Riverhounds (7-7-4) are third in the A-League’s Northeast Division. Thiago Martins is second in the A-League with 12 goals, and Brazilian playmaker Ricardo Villar is tied for fourth with five assists.

Several former MLS players — forward Aleksey Korol (Dallas and Chicago), midfielder Justin Evans (San Jose, Chicago, and Dallas), defender Matt Chulis (Columbus and Chicago), defender Michael Green (Kansas City) and former United goalkeeper T.J. Hannig — make the Riverhounds formidable competition.

“Hopefully, I can prove to everybody that I do belong here and I do belong in a higher level than the A-League, but the A-League has been good for me because I’ve been able to go down and get some games with Richmond,” Carroll said. “I’m just looking forward to tomorrow to show everybody what I can do and put on a good performance. It means something to us.”

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