AU Player Settles With Club, MLS, Stoitchkov

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A former American University soccer player whose leg was broken by onetime international superstar Hristo Stoitchkov during a scrimmage against D.C. United in March 2003 has reached a financial settlement with the MLS club, the league and the ex-Bulgarian striker. Terms were not disclosed.

Freddy Llerena, of Germantown, had sought $5 million in compensatory damages from all parties and $5 million in punitive damages from Stoitchkov. Llerena had alleged that Stoitchkov's tackle, which occurred during the first half of a preseason game at AU's Reeves Field, was the result of negligence and gross misconduct.

The lawsuit, filed in February 2006, also named United and MLS for negligence in employing and supervising Stoitchkov, who had been disciplined several times during his decorated European career.

Llerena, a freshman at the time of the incident, suffered a compound fracture of his right leg and had a four-inch metal plate inserted. He returned to the team in late 2003 and played in eight games, but after competing in 20 matches a year later, quit the team after one appearance his senior year citing physical limitations.

Roger D. Johnson, Llerena's attorney, as well as spokesmen for United and MLS declined to comment.

Stoitchkov -- a former European player of the year who led Bulgaria to the semifinals of the 1994 World Cup -- was a player and assistant coach with United for one season before retiring. MLS suspended him for two regular season games and fined him $2,000 for the Llerena incident.

Moreno Rejoins Bolivia

Despite a sore ankle, United captain Jaime Moreno has rejoined Bolivia's national team for the start of 2010 World Cup qualifying and will miss Saturday's match against the Chicago Fire at RFK Stadium.

Bolivia will play at Uruguay on Saturday and host Colombia next Wednesday. United officials said Moreno (seven goals and six assists in 20 appearances) is scheduled to return to Washington on Oct. 18 and would probably be available for the regular season finale two days later against the Columbus Crew.

D.C. Coach Tom Soehn expressed concern about Moreno's ankle and the demands of international play, saying, "We would have to manage his minutes right now and I hope [the Bolivian coaches] respect that because he's hurting a little bit."

Moreno, the youngest member of Bolivia's 1994 World Cup squad, played at the Copa America tournament in Venezuela this past summer.

United defender Bobby Boswell (yellow card suspension) will also miss Saturday's match, while midfielder Josh Gros is doubtful after visiting a migraine specialist in Massachusetts yesterday.

Meantime, Brazilian midfielder Fred, who has missed two games because of a groin injury, said he plans to return to a regular practice routine today and, barring a setback, will be available to play Saturday.

Ticket Prices Will Rise

United has raised ticket prices in three of four categories for individual games during the 2008 season. Mezzanine-level tickets will increase $5 (to $50), while "premium" and "spectator" seats will rise $2 (to $28 and $20 respectively). VIP seats will remain $35.

Full-season, half-season and flex package prices have also gone up, but the full-season and flex plans will include two additional nonleague matches and the half-season deal will include one more game. Current plan holders will be able to renew at 2007 per-game prices before Nov. 17.

National Team Invites 21

Former United player Freddy Adu, as well as ex-Maryland Terrapins Chris Seitz, Maurice Edu and Danny Califf, -- were among 21 players invited to U.S. national team training camp before next Wednesday's friendly at Switzerland. The game-day roster will be announced early next week. The squad also includes veterans DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Eddie Lewis, Clint Dempsey, Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu and Marcus Hahnemann.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company