- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 15, 2003

There has been only bad news for D.C. United so far this preseason.
The club's entire back line has suffered injuries, and United's best result in three games against Major League Soccer teams was a scoreless tie.
There are reports that key midfielder Marco Etcheverry is struggling. And on Thursday, coach Ray Hudson broke the news that highly rated Bulgarian defender Galin Ivanov will be out for a month while a hernia is repaired.
"We've been such a disjointed and fragmented team," Hudson said. "We haven't had all our players together at one time, and the injuries have really hurt us."
Ivanov's problems come at a time when at least five other key players are sidelined. Goalie Nick Rimando has an ankle problem; defenders Mike Petke (hamstring), Brandon Prideaux (hamstring) and Ryan Nelsen (ankle) are sidelined; forward Hristo Stoitchkov, who is recovering from a concussion, escorted Ivanov to Dr. Richard Cattey, a hernia specialist in Milwaukee, at midweek. Cattey recently performed successful surgery on American star Clint Mathis.
According to Hudson, United might not have its full squad training together until a week before the MLS season opens April12.
"I haven't really got a good read on where we are yet," Hudson said. "There's the frustration of not having a cohesive unit. And yet the players have really kept their spirits up."
On a positive note, Hudson is pleased with two rookies, defender David Stokes and midfielder Brian Carroll, who have been "taught some harsh lessons" playing on United's depleted roster.
In three games against MLS teams, United played the Chicago Fire to the scoreless tie, lost to the Columbus Crew 4-2 and was crushed by the Kansas City Wizards 5-0.
"We were overwhelmed by very systematic teams," Hudson said. "Technically and physically, they were better, but I'm not too worried."
Meanwhile, Russian forward Yuri Petrov, 28, who recently trained with the club, is now working out with New England Revolution and will not join United.
United will conduct an open practice beginning at 10:30 a.m. today at RFK Stadium. After the training session, Hudson will address the crowd, and players will be available for autographs. Fans can park free in Lots 5 and 8.

Claudio's new boss Claudio Reyna, who is out for the season with a knee injury, has watched a new coach take over his Sunderland club. The English Premier League team fired Howard Wilkinson this week and replaced him with former Ireland coach Mick McCarthy.
"Wilkinson was very old school," Reyna said. "There were too many meetings the players were bored a lot. … He was too nice, and I think you have to be a little nasty as a manager."
McCarthy knows something about American players. Goalie Kasey Keller played under him with the Millwall club.
"We needed a big figure, a popular person to come in and lift the spirits of the whole club," Reyna said. "I think Mick's the one who's going to do it."
The Black Cats are seven points adrift of survival in the Premier League, and Reyna looks like he could be playing First Division soccer next season.

Manchester United coming Tickets for the ChampionsWorld Series that features Manchester United (England), Celtic (Scotland), Club America (Mexico), Juventus (Italy) and Barcelona (Spain) go on sale today. The summer tournament pits the English megaclub against three of Europe's top teams, along with Club America.
United plays Celtic at Seahawks Stadium in Seattle on July 22, Club America at Los Angeles Coliseum on July 27, Juventus at Giants Stadium in New Jersey on July31 and Barcelona at Philadelphia on Aug.3.
Some Americans wondered why Manchester United was not scheduled to play the U.S. team or even an MLS club. ChampionsWorld CEO Charlie Stillitano said discussions were held concerning such games, but the U.S. team already was scheduled to play in the Gold Cup, and Manchester wanted to play clubs of the "highest caliber that they might face in the Champions League next season."
Another reason, of course, is money. It's common knowledge that David Beckham's United club competing against an American team just wouldn't bring in the same TV revenue on the international market as a game against, say, Juventus, Barcelona or Celtic. Maybe one day but not yet.
Stillitano did say his organization will be bringing big-name teams to RFK Stadium "certainly in the future and even perhaps this summer."
We shall see.

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