United Files Protest Over Reserve Match

Thursday, May 19, 2005

D.C. United has submitted a formal protest to MLS concerning its loss to New England last weekend -- not the 1-0 defeat in the league match, but the 4-3 loss in the reserve game.

United was upset that Revolution midfielder Jose Cancela , who scored the winning goal in the final seconds of the reserve game, played a combined 92 minutes in the two matches. MLS rules forbid players from competing for more than 90 minutes in one weekend.

"We have a reserve league with standings, rules and a financial incentive to win," United technical director Dave Kasper said yesterday. "It's not a Sunday kick-about in the park."

An MLS spokesman said the protest is under review and an announcement is expected by the end of the week.

Modeled after European developmental systems, the MLS reserve league was started this spring to provide competitive games for young players and other substitutes on the teams' 28-man rosters. However, some teams have had trouble fielding a reserve squad because of injuries and other conflicts.

On Saturday, United led the reserve game, 3-1, but allowed three goals in the final 15 minutes. Just before the Revolution's tying goal, Kasper said, United rushed defender Bryan Namoff off the field in order to avoid him playing more than 90 minutes overall. Cancela played two minutes in the regular match and all 90 in the reserve game.

"We understand the spirit of the rules, but the real purpose of these games is to get players work," Revolution spokesman Brad Feldman said. "It's sour grapes. They should be more concerned about teaching their players how to manage a 3-1 lead."

Each team has a 12-game reserve league schedule, with the champion collecting a $20,000 bonus. United and the Revolution have 2-1 records.

-- Steven Goff

© 2005 The Washington Post Company