- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 20, 2006

When Domenic Mediate walked into the locker room last Saturday a few hours before D.C. United’s game against the Kansas City Wizards, he was surprised to see his name in the starting lineup. So were a few of his teammates. The former Maryland star had yet to play for United in its six previous games.

Mediate’s surprise start is a reflection of coach Peter Nowak’s philosophy, summed up by United defender Bryan Namoff: “Peter does a great job of rewarding players for their hard work in training.”

The soft-spoken Mediate, 23, who joined United from the Columbus Crew early this year, had an inkling he might see some playing time because he had played well in a reserve game and Nowak kept telling him to “be ready.”

“With the reserve league, everyone steps up and performs well,” midfielder Brian Carroll said. “Domenic did that and that’s why he was in the lineup.”

Mediate played all 90 minutes in the 2-1 win over the Wizards, running hard on the right flank and proving that he is a good crosser — something United often has lacked. Whether Mediate gets to play against his former club today at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, is anyone’s guess.

“I’ve practiced hard and hopefully I’ll be there against Columbus,” said Mediate, who played 11 games for the Crew in 2005, making four starts and scoring one goal, which happened to come against United last May in a 3-1 Crew loss at RFK Stadium.

Mediate, a native of Southlake, Texas, hoped to play for United at the beginning of the year, even if it meant starting at the bottom of the salary ladder as a developmental player, earning just $11,700 a season.

“I knew that was the only option D.C. had at the time,” said Mediate, whom D.C. United acquired from the Crew for a 2007 draft pick. “So I decided to take it and hope that I can work my way up.”

Mediate wanted to come to the D.C. area to be close to his girlfriend and his alma mater of Maryland, where he played four seasons. (He suffered a fractured cheek bone in his freshman year and a broken collarbone as a junior.)

To survive financially, Mediate commutes from Laurel to coach a boys team in Reston on Wednesdays and a girls team in Silver Spring on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Mediate warns United (4-1-2, 14 points), which is off to its best start in franchise history, not to take the Crew (3-3-1, 10 points) too lightly.

“The Crew is a team that is turning around its whole outlook from last season and in the last few games have done well,” Mediate said. “Teams last year saw them as a pushover, but it’s not that way anymore.”

Eyeing the EPL — Tomorrow’s championship playoff match between Leeds United and Watford in Cardiff, Wales, features two American players hoping to help their clubs earn a promotion to the English Premier League. American World Cup defender Eddie Lewis will play for Leeds while relatively unknown defender Jay DeMerit, plays for Watford.

The TV men — Former D.C. United and U.S. team captain John Harkes will be an analyst for ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC at the World Cup in Germany, assisting play-by-play man JP Dellacamera. Former U.S. World Cup defender Marcelo Balboa will be the analyst for the three U.S. team’s opening round games against the Czech Republic, Italy and Ghana, assisting play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien.

World Cup notes — The U.S. team will leave its training camp in Cary, N.C., to take on Morocco in the Coliseum in Nashville on Tuesday in the first of three warm-up games before leaving for Hamburg, Germany on June 1. … American forward Brian McBride was voted Fulham FC Player of the Season last week by fans. McBride scored 10 goals and had three assists in 39 games as Fulham came in 12th in the EPL standings.

Roundup — Fans can choose the MLS All-Star team to play English Premier League champion Chelsea FC at the All-Star Game on Aug. 5 in Bridgeview, Ill., by voting on MLSnet.com. … The Washington Freedom play its first home game today against the Ottawa Fury at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown at 6 p.m. … French star Thierry Henry will stay with Arsenal. Henry agreed to a new four-year contract with the Gunners, ending months of speculation about his future. Henry joined Arsenal in 1999 from Juventus and is the team’s all-time goal scorer with 164 goals in 237 EPL games.

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