- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2003

Defenders rarely get headlines in soccer. An attacking player can become a hero by scoring one goal. But for a defender to earn any ink, he has to work constantly for 90 minutes or more.

Take, for instance, D.C. United’s right-side defender Brandon Prideaux in his club’s 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy last week at RFK Stadium. Prideaux silenced Cobi Jones, one of the toughest players to face in American soccer, and left fans and his coach raving.

At the final whistle, coach Ray Hudson ran onto the field and kissed Prideaux on the cheek.

“I would have rather not got the kiss,” said Prideaux, an unassuming player on a roster full of oversized characters. “The coach just said, ‘You can play like that in every game.’ He was just really happy.”

The Washington state native and the United backline will be tested again tonight when World Cup star Landon Donovan and the San Jose Earthquakes roll into town. The Earthquakes (12-4-7, 43 points) are the best team in Major League Soccer and the only club to have clinched a playoff spot with seven games still on the schedule.

Prideaux’s hard work is one of the reasons United’s defense is third best in the league behind San Jose and Los Angeles. The 27-year-old, who rarely cracks a smile in training or in games, will have San Jose’s Ian Russell, Dwayne DeRosario and Donovan bearing down on him tonight.

“I’m a more reserved type of guy,” he says. “I like to work hard and get the best out of myself. I put on a game face.”

Prideaux would like to get a shot at making the national team. Three years ago, while playing for the Kansas City Wizards, he got an invitation to join the U.S. team camp but attended his brother’s wedding instead.

“It was unfortunate timing,” Prideaux said, “but family comes first.”

So far this season, Prideaux’s timing has been perfect.

By the numbers — If United (8-8-6, 30 points) wins today it will have 33 points, its highest total since it last made the playoffs in 1999. The club earned 32 points last year, 26 points in 2001 and 30 points in 2000. After tonight’s game, United still has seven matches to play.

For San Jose, a win would give the club its greatest single-season point total. The club recorded 45 points in both the 2001 and 2002 seasons.

United notes — D.C. United is looking for volunteers to help with the Women’s World Cup matches Sept.21, 24 and 27 at RFK Stadium. Contact United at [email protected] … Before tonight’s game United will play host to Hispanic Heritage Night, featuring live music and traditional Latin cuisine. The fiesta begins at 3:30p.m. in Lot 8 at RFK.

Adu news — The People newspaper of Britain reports that Newcastle United is at the front of a “12-team queue” to sign 14-year-old hotshot Freddy Adu of Potomac.

Newcastle apparently found out about the American when he played against the Magpies’ under-17 team at the Dallas Cup last year. This week Match magazine named Adu the second-best young soccer player in the world behind England striker Wayne Rooney and ahead of Manchester United’s Portuguese forward, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Corner kicks — ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC Sports will present live coverage of 18 of the 32 matches in the Women’s World Cup. Fourteen will be on ESPN2 and one on ESPN. ABC will carry three matches, including the U.S. team’s opening match against Sweden at RFK on Sept.21. …

American captain Claudio Reyna is expected to make his debut for Manchester City in the English Premier League tomorrow, when the Blues play host to Aston Villa. …

France, Sweden, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic all booked safe passage through to the Euro 2004 finals this week. Several surprise teams are still in the hunt, with Bosnia, Latvia and Iceland all having a chance of making it to Portugal next summer.

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