- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 3, 2007

Don’t expect D.C. United to fork out a ton of money on a big-name player any time soon under the new designated player rule. It appears United may have found its key man in Brazilian striker Luciano Emilio, who in his first two games has scored three goals.

The new rule allows MLS clubs to spend at will on one player. While David Beckham is set to join the Los Angeles Galaxy in the summer, United president Kevin Payne is quite happy with his team’s current crop of players, even though he says United has plenty of money to spend.

Payne believes United stars Christian Gomez, Jaime Moreno and now Emilio fit the category of players teams likely will sign under the new player rule in the future.

If first impressions mean anything, Emilio looks like the real deal making United’s three-year effort to sign the player worth the wait. Emilio has proved in just two games that he has a delicate first touch, he can hold the ball with his back to the goal and that he can finish. While other teams may cough up millions of dollars for more recognizable names, United’s scouting skills may have saved the club a bundle.

“We have the money to do it, but we are in a different space than L.A.,” Payne said. “If you look at our points over the last three years we have more points in the league by a pretty significant margin. We are more about answering specific needs and we think we answered our most pressing need in signing Emilio.”

In recent weeks, rumors have been swirling that the New York Red Bulls were after French star Zinedine Zidane. This week there is a rumor that the New England Revolution are seeking to sign Liverpool star Robbie Fowler. Earlier in the year FC Dallas was in talks with Dutch star Edgar Davids, but he opted to join Ajax in Holland. So far only two teams have used the new rule.

“We see two approaches with the designated player rule, Payne said. “L.A. has gone with the big splash with David Beckham and New York has gone the route of just trying to get better with Claudio Reyna.”

Payne thinks more teams will take advantage of the rule in June when players in Europe end their season and MLS teams have a better idea of what they’ll need.

But Payne has not discounted pursuing a big star in the future.

“Our ownership is willing to consider it,” Payne said. “I can’t imagine us looking at something of the magnitude of Beckham. That’s not the way we approach business. Once we get into our stadium, then we will have a better opportunity.”

As for Zidane, the French soccer legend won’t be following Beckham to play in the MLS any time soon.

“I’ve found a new world after retirement,” Zidane told the press before a charity game in Thailand this week. “I’m very excited to experience new things such as playing in this match.”

Draw to be announced — The draw for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007 (June 30-22) takes place today in Toronto. The draw will divide the 24 teams into six groups out of these teams: Host: Canada; Asia: Japan, Jordan, North Korea and South Korea; Africa: Congo, Gambia, Nigeria and Zambia; CONCACAF: Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and the United States; South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay; Oceania: New Zealand and Europe: Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Scotland.

Busted — Famed international coach Guus Hiddink has been handed a six-month suspended sentence and fined $60,000 after being found guilty of tax evasion.

The Dutchman, who became the coach of Russia last year, is accused of evading more than $1. 8 million in Dutch taxes by falsely claiming to be a resident of Belgium in 2002 and 2003. Hiddink was facing a possible 10-month prison sentence. He rose to fame after leading South Korea to the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup. Four years later, he guided Australia to the second round of the 2006 World Cup.

Bad luck — Defender Jonathan Bornstein, who joined U.S. national team this year, will be out of action for six weeks with a partial MCL tear in his left knee suffered last week in training with his MLS club Chivas USA.

In two games with the United States team this year, the 2006 MLS Rookie of the Year has tallied one goal.

Roundup — More American money is pouring into English soccer. Chestnut Hill Ventures of Massachusetts, led by John G. Berylson, has invested $9.8 million in League One club Millwall. … Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Peru and Switzerland all have formally expressed an interest in organizing the Women’s World Cup in 2011.

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