United to Have Full Squad for Final Exhibitions
Haydon, John, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Two-time Major League Soccer champion D.C. United's tuneup for the 1998 season ends with two more preseason games before the team returns to United Park in Herndon on Friday.
United takes on Danish Super League club Ikas tomorrow in Pensacola, Fla., and faces the New Orleans Storm of the A-League on Thursday. Ikas was the Super League's basement team last season.
The game against the Storm will see United's complete squad reunited for the first time this year. Jaime Moreno, who took a two-week vacation after playing three months on loan with Middlesbrough in England, and United's U.S. team stars - John Harkes, Roy Wegerle, Jeff Agoos and Eddie Pope - are all expected to return for the game in New Orleans.
Some of United's new faces have looked very promising in spring training according to reports coming out of camp.
Forward Ben Olsen, from the University of Virginia, appears to have a good chance of being included among the 16 players who dress for games. And Canadian Geoff Aunger, who came to United in the trade that sent striker Raul Diaz Arce to the New England Revolution, looks to be the first choice for the right back position.
Of United's three goalies, Scott Garlick is likely to start ahead of Tom Presthus and veteran Mark Simpson, who is still struggling to regain top form after knee surgery last season.
United opens MLS's third season on the road against the expansion Miami Fusion on March 15, and coach Bruce Arena's starting lineup will likely be: Garlick in goal, defenders Aunger, Pope, Carlos Llamosa and Agoos, midfielders Richie Williams, Tony Sanneh and Harkes, and forwards Moreno and Wegerle. Others close to starting include midfielder Brian Kamler and forwards A.J. Wood and Olsen.
MLS announced this week that teams must cut rosters to 22 by tomorrow. United currently has 24 players, but Olsen and midfielder Judah Cooks are Project 40 players who do not count against a team's active roster. Teams must pare to 20 players by April 1.
Clubs such as United that will lose players to World Cup training in May will be allowed a taxi squad. If U.S. coach Steve Sampson names Harkes, Agoos, Pope and Wegerle to the World Cup roster, the players will leave camp after United's game against the Revolution on May 13, and the club will be allowed three relief players until June 30.
In other club developments:
* United defender Mario Gori is still nursing a knee injury but should be back in action in 3-6 weeks, according to a club spokesman.
* United's friendly with the national team of Colombia, scheduled for March 8 at RFK Stadium has been canceled. …