- The Washington Times - Friday, May 14, 2004

It’s Ronald Cerritos’ turn to try to score goals for D.C. United.

Cerritos will make his first start of the season at forward tonight against the Kansas City Wizards at RFK Stadium — perhaps at the expense of 14-year-old Freddy Adu, who has started the last two games.

“I’m happy to be on the field, and we’ll see what happens,” Cerritos said yesterday after practice. “I’ve always said that I don’t have to demonstrate anything. I know it’s a good opportunity for me, but if I try to do everything, I’m not going to play good.”

Winless in its last five games, United (1-2-3) is running out of options for someone to play alongside Jaime Moreno up top. Cerritos has taken just one shot on goal, scoring in the second week of the season in a 1-1 tie at Los Angeles.

Though Cerritos is fifth on United’s salary list at $162,000, he has played only 74 minutes this season.

Moreno, who is tied with midfielder Dema Kovalenko as United’s top points producer with five (one goal, three assists), has yet to develop any chemistry with Adu or second-year forward Alecko Eskandarian.

“I haven’t played with Ronald really,” Moreno said. “I don’t have any preference, because it’s the coach’s decision.”

Pairing Cerritos with Moreno gives United its most experienced forward line. Cerritos, an eight-year Major League Soccer veteran at 29, has scored 64 goals over his career.

“The most important thing between Jaime and me is that we can talk on the field because we speak the same language [Spanish], so it’s good for us,” Cerritos said.

Cerritos, who turned down a Salvadoran national team call-up this week for a friendly against Haiti, said it has been frustrating sitting on United’s bench and watching the club’s other forwards play. But he added, “I’m not a rookie — I can survive these things.”

United acquired Cerritos last year in a midseason trade with the Dallas Burn for Ali Curtis. Cerritos started 10 games last season for United, getting one goal and one assist. Before a 11/2-year stint with the Burn, Cerritos played five seasons (1997-2001) with San Jose.

With midfielder Bobby Convey out four to six weeks with a strained left hamstring, United coach Peter Nowak must make other adjustments to his starting lineup. Nowak said he is uncertain whether he will keep his preferred 3-5-2 formation tonight against the defensive-minded Wizards.

Nowak said he might play someone in a withdrawn forward role behind Moreno and Cerritos and possibly go with just four midfielders. Adu would be a likely candidate for Nowak’s withdrawn forward role because the quick teenager is much better facing the goal and running at people than playing a classic center-forward position.

“We have a couple of options. We can move Dema on the left side and play 3-4-3, we can still play 3-5-2 or we can play 4-4-2,” Nowak said. “It really doesn’t matter the system. It depends on how the players are going to execute what you want.”

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