Big Gamble by United Paying Off

Article excerpt

In mid-April, the struggling D.C. United soccer team took a gamble, and it is now paying huge dividends.

After three games, no goals and an 0-3 record, assistant coach Bob Bradley put in a call to Steve Rammel, who was in Amherst, Mass., working on his master's in business administration and serving as an assistant in the UMass soccer program. United was desperate for a goal scorer, and Bradley talked the 28-year-old Rammel into coming down for a tryout.

"They were struggling, and Coach Bradley called me," Rammel said. "It was a very laid-back attitude. He said come try out, and if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. He had his reservations [though], and I definitely had mine."

Known as a goal scorer, Rammel showed up in mid-April on a Monday, and started the home opener at RFK Stadium the following Saturday. Since then, United is 5-2, and Rammel is second in Major League Soccer's Eastern Division with eight goals in nine games having scored the league's only hat trick. He has been a spark to a team that is now in the thick of the playoff race.

"His goals are coming at a great time," said United goalie Jeff Causey. "We've vaulted into a safe second" in the Eastern Division. Causey added that Rammel's presence creates a friendly competition with Raul Diaz Arce, United's other scoring threat.

Despite the instant success, Rammel is just grateful for the chance to play Major League Soccer in D.C.

"I can't complain about one thing," Rammel said Tuesday as he stretched out at the United facility at old Redskin Park in Chantilly. "The guys are nice, [and] the organization is positive. …