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United Keen on Vanney; MLS Sets Team's Schedule

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 15, 2005; Page D04

With about six weeks left until the start of the MLS season, D.C. United apparently has taken interest in U.S. national team defender Greg Vanney to replace departed all-star Ryan Nelsen.

Vanney, 30, has played three years for Bastia in the French league after six seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy. He has made 32 appearances for the national team and played in four of eight World Cup qualifying matches last year, but was not included on the roster for last week's qualifier at Trinidad and Tobago.

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"Our position is that Greg Vanney is under contract with a club in Europe," United President Kevin Payne said. "He's a very good player. If he were to come back into our league, I'm sure a number of teams would be interested in him."

However, an MLS source requesting anonymity said: "D.C. is interested in him and he wants to come home. D.C. is going to try to make it happen, but it might be difficult."

Vanney's agent, Ron Waxman, said he had no comment.

United is aggressively pursuing a top-flight defender to replace Nelsen, who signed with English club Blackburn last month. Payne said United has "four or five" players on its final list. The process has been "lengthy and not easy," he added. "We're still exploring a variety of options. We hoped it would've been done by now. The hardest thing is finding a player who's a comfortable fit."

Finances are also an issue. One source close to the league said Vanney would need to be paid at least $200,000 per year to return to MLS, which would make him among the league's highest-paid defenders. Besides being adept playing left back or central defense, Vanney is a free kick and penalty kick specialist who had 21 goals and 19 assists in 168 games with the Galaxy.

Meantime, United technical director Dave Kasper confirmed the club is in talks with the minor league Richmond Kickers about purchasing midfielder Clyde Simms. The 22-year-old Simms caught the attention of MLS teams when he was invited to U.S. national team training camp as a replacement player during the impasse between the players' union and the U.S. Soccer Federation last month. He was the only replacement player invited back to camp after a settlement was reached.

United Notes: After weeks of delays, the full MLS schedule was finally released yesterday. United will play 24 of its 32 games on Saturdays, starting with the opener against the expansion Los Angeles team, Chivas USA, on April 2 at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. United will also play four games on Wednesdays, two on Fridays and one each on Sunday and Thursday.

The main reasons for the late-arriving schedule were delays at Dallas's new stadium, whose opening has been pushed from June to August; and conflicts at Home Depot Center, which will be shared by Chivas and the Galaxy. . . .

United will wrap up its two-week training camp in Bradenton, Fla., with an exhibition against the New York/New Jersey MetroStars this morning. United (4-0 in preseason) will then return to Washington for four days before heading to Hawaii for a week of training and a pair of games with the Galaxy. . . . Midfielder-defender Kenny Arena, acquired in a trade with the MetroStars two weeks ago, is expected to participate in his first workouts with United next week after recovering from a broken toe.

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