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MLS Cup Notebook

Veteran United Midfielder Stewart Won't Be Back Next Season

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 15, 2004; Page D05

CARSON, Calif., Nov. 14 -- D.C. United midfielder Earnie Stewart confirmed after Sunday's MLS Cup victory that he won't return to the team next season.

Stewart, who will turn 36 in March, played two years in MLS following a long career in the Netherlands. His contract with MLS, which paid him approximately $270,000 per year, will expire next month. He is expected to finish his career with a Dutch club before becoming a coach or administrator.

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Stewart wouldn't elaborate on his decision to leave, but did say he and his family were happy in Washington and he enjoyed playing for United.

"I've been playing a long time and you don't come across a group that is so cohesive and has an amazing understanding on and off the field," he said. "We're always together."

Said United President Kevin Payne: "He wants to finish his career in Holland, and we understand that. He gets to go home as a champion."

Sharing RFK Worries Garber

MLS Commissioner Don Garber expressed concern about United having to share RFK Stadium with an MLB team next year.

"We've been able to capitalize on a great environment there," he said. "That antiquated stadium has been able to deliver for us, and we're concerned about what will happen in the transition between where we are today, the inclusion of a baseball team and our eventual new stadium" that has been proposed for construction on the banks of the Anacostia River in time for the 2007 season.

"We look at this as a temporary issue . . . but you certainly would've hoped we could've gotten our stadium done earlier so we don't have to share with a baseball team," he added. "Sometimes you've got to take a deep breath and know it's not about next year -- it's about two or three years later and I'm sure two or three years from now there will be a brand new [soccer] stadium . . . that will make everybody really happy and proud."

The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission has yet to unveil specific seating and field plans for how United and the Expos will be able to share RFK. Asked if United could play elsewhere for a few years, Garber said, "there really aren't any other options."

Celebration Time

District officials will host a celebration for United on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at RFK. Admission is free; gates will open at 5:30. The team will arrive at Dulles Airport on Monday around 8:45 p.m. . . . League officials said each team would be allowed four veteran foreign players next year, an increase from three this season. . . . United defender Ryan Nelsen and forward Jaime Moreno were named to the Best XI, MLS's version of an all-pro team. They were joined by Colorado goalie Joe Cannon; defenders Eddie Pope of the MetroStars, Jimmy Conrad of the Wizards and Robin Fraser of Columbus; midfielders Amado Guevara and Eddie Gaven of the MetroStars, Kerry Zavagnin of the Wizards and Ronnie O'Brien of Dallas; and forward Brian Ching of San Jose.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company