- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 1, 2003

D.C. United is close to beating out the New York/New Jersey MetroStars for Spanish midfielder Mario Alberto Rosas, who has played with Spanish giant Barcelona and Alvares in Spain's top league, La Liga.
If United lands the talented Rosas, the club can thank United forward and assistant coach Hristo Stoitchkov, who knows the youngster from their days together with Barcelona in 1998, and who, according to a source, spoke with Rosas this week.
Before joining Alvares, Rosas, 22, was a prime youth prospect with Barcelona. Although he didn't earn a regular first-team spot, he did score 30 goals for the reserve team from 1998 to 2000.
The 5-foot-5, 145-pounder looked certain to join the MetroStars this week, but the deal was held up as the club waited for Barcelona to waive all rights, should he be traded in the future. Alvares, which paid Barcelona $600,000 for Rosas, already had waived the player's rights, but Barcelona was holding out.
It is well known that Stoitchkov, who won numerous titles with Barcelona, is respected by Spanish players and has the ear of Barcelona executives.
Rosas trained with the MetroStars all last month. He scored a goal in the club's 4-0 scrimmage with the United States under-17 team in Bradenton, Fla., last week and played in the team's 2-0 loss to Chicago. United coach Ray Hudson, who did not return to the Washington area from Florida with his players this week, presumably watched both games.
Earlier in this week, Hudson said there was a "tremendous bargain" a player willing join to United rather than another team but did not identify him.
MetroStars general manager Nick Sakiewicz told New Jersey's Herald News on Wednesday that the Rosas deal was in jeopardy. A day later, the club acquired former United midfielder Richie Williams, a player similar in style to Rosas.
Rosas who was loaned from Alaves to Salamanca, a second-division Spanish outfit, for the 2001-2002 season also had a brief tryout with English club Fulham last year. He is currently without a team because the European transfer window closed in January and is willing to play for less money than he could earn in Europe.
Shrinking roster Teams in the Women's United Soccer Association are allowed a mere 16 players on their rosters this season, down from 18 last year. According to Washington Freedom coach Jim Gabarra, if the U.S. team and Norway play on the same day this year, the Boston Breakers will be down to nine players because of international call-ups.
WUSA clubs will be allowed four backup players, including two reserves and two "developmental players."
The Freedom's 16-player active roster: goalies Gao Hong, Siri Mullinix; defenders Lindsay Stoecker, Emmy Barr, Jenn Grubb, Skylar Little, Carrie Moore, Casey Zimny; midfielders Lori Lindsey, Monica Gerardo, Kelly Golebiowski, Steffi Jones, Bai Jie; forwards Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, Jacqui Little.
Hamm and Mullinix were named to the U.S. roster for the Algarve Cup in Portugal from March14 to 20.
Freddy is ready U.S. under-17 men's coach John Ellinger added 13-year-old Freddy Adu of Potomac to his 18-man roster for the CONCACAF Group qualifying tournament beginning Wednesday in Guatemala. Adu, a native of Ghana, became a U.S. citizen last month.
Ellinger said Adu will be a starter in his 4-4-2 formation when the Americans play Jamaica, El Salvador and Guatemala in Group A.
"It's a lot of pressure for a young kid," Ellinger said. "He seems to be juiced up and ready to go."
The top team from the group qualifies, and the runner-up plays a two-game series with the second team in Group B, which includes Mexico, Canada, Cuba and Costa Rica. The finals will take place in Finland in August. The U.S. is the only country in the world to qualify for every under-17 FIFA World Championship.
Sampson is back Former U.S. team coach Steve Sampson seems to have passed the first test as the new coach of Costa Rica. The Spanish-speaking Sampson recently led Costa Rica to the Central American title in the Central Zone qualification tournament for the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Costa Rica won its group, went undefeated and won four of five games to earn 13 of a possible 15 points.
This is the first major coaching job for Sampson since his U.S. team's poor showing (0-3) at the 1998 World Cup in France.


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