With the New Year in place, D.C. United officials are back at work preparing another run at an MLS Cup. In addition to finalizing contract issues with the last few players on the current roster without a deal for 2005, United's technical staff is focused on identifying and signing foreign talent and preparing for the 2005 adidas MLS Player Combine and the subsequent MLS SuperDraft.
For the second consecutive year, the combine will be held at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Kevin Payne, Stephen Zack, Dave Kasper, Peter Nowak, Tom Soehn and Mark Simpson will all be on the west coast from Jan. 8-11, to attend a variety of games and meetings. The SuperDraft will be held in Baltimore, Md., on Jan. 14, in conjunction with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention at the Baltimore Convention Center.
A field of 66 players (listed below) was determined by a select panel of Division I college coaches in conjunction with MLS coaches and the consultation of select Division II, Division III and NAIA coaches. A total of 47 colleges are represented, including teams from Division I, Division II, Division III and the NAIA. Six of the eight quarterfinalists in the NCAA College Cup are also represented.
The University of Maryland has the largest representation with four players while four other schools have three players selected (Southern Methodist University, St. John's University, University of Notre Dame and Wake Forest University). The list of participants also includes nine of the 15 semifinalists for the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy, the Player of the Year award for Division I competition.
2005 adidas MLS PLAYER COMBINE LIST BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (6): Dan Kennedy (UC-Santa Barbara); Jay Nolly (Indiana); John O'Hara (George Mason); Noah Palmer (Maryland); Christopher Sawyer (Notre Dame); T.J. Tomasso (Southern Methodist).
DEFENDERS (23): Stephen Arias (Connecticut); Drew Cavanagh (College of Charleston); Chris Corcoran (St. John's); Dan Gargan (Georgetown); Kevin Goldthwaite (Notre Dame); Ugochukweu Ihemelu (Southern Methodist); Ryan Kelly (St. John's); Craig Klaas (Washington); Cameron Knowles (Akron); Matt Kovar (Loyola Marymount); Jeff Larentower (Brown); Tony Lockhead (UC Santa Barbara); Aaron Lopez (UCLA); Guy Melamed (Boston College); Tim Merritt (North Carolina); Matt Oliver (Virginia); Aaron Pitchkolan (West Virginia); Nick Pollard (SW Missouri); James Riley (Wake Forest); Troy Roberts (UC-Berkeley); Gonzalo Segares (Virginia Commonwealth); Jack Stewart (Notre Dame); Danny Sullivan (Bowdoin College).
MIDFIELDERS (19): Hans Bevers (New Mexico); Mubarike Chisoni (Coastal Carolina); Michael Enfield (UCLA); Kevon Harris (Old Dominion); Chris Karcz (Rutgers); Thabiso Khumalo (Coastal Carolina); Jeffrey Krause (New Mexico); Luke Kreamaimeyer (Bradley); Doug Lascody (SW Missouri); Amir Lowery (Wake Forest); Domenic Mediate (Maryland); John Minagowa-Webster (Michigan State); Danny O'Rourke (Indiana); Steven Rhyne (Clemson); Ian Rodway (Maryland); Simone Salinno (St. Johns); Jamal Shteiwi (Kentucky); Marcus Storley (North Carolina); Nick Van Sicklen (Wisconsin - Madison).
FORWARDS (18): Knox Cameron (Michigan); Justin Cook (Ohio State); Jamie Holmes (Birmingham Southern); Antouman Jallow (Wisconsin - Milwaukee); Ryan Latham (Southern Methodist); Jerrod Laventure (Seton Hall); Chris Lee (Marquette); Alon Lubezky (Hartford); Julian Nash (Creighton); Orlando Ramirez (Fresno Pacific University); Chris Rolfe (Dayton); Edwin Ruiz (Hartwick); Scott Selay (Wake Forest); Eugene Sepuya (Alabama A & M); Chad Severs (Penn State); Abe Thompson (Maryland); Mychal Turpin (Michigan); Usiel Vasquez (Southern Connecticut).
Players anxious for return
D.C. United's players, too, are preparing to defend their most recent championship and, with their inclusion in the Champions Cup beginning in March, pre-season this year will be more important than ever.
Several members of the club have returned from the holidays and are working out individually and in small groups to keep their core fitness in tact. The team will gather en masse in late January and will travel to Florida and Hawaii for training stints in February. Details of United's spring training plans have yet to be finalized, though Champions Cup games against Harbor View FC (JAM) are set for March 9, at home and in Jamaica on March 16.
United opens the 2005 MLS season, the league's 10th, on April 2, in Los Angeles against Chivas USA.
'Ringing' in the new year
United officials are in the final stages of development plans for the club's 2004 MLS Cup Championship rings. The club entertained bids and designs from a host of jewelers a plan to make a decision by the end of next week. The rings will be given to players and staff at the beginning of the 2005 MLS season.