D.C. United Coach Tom Soehn Returns; He Had Bronchitis and Not Swine Flu

United Coach Tom Soehn was not happy with a costly officiating call in Saturday's game vs. the Galaxy.
United Coach Tom Soehn was not happy with a costly officiating call in Saturday's game vs. the Galaxy. (By Richard A. Lipski -- The Washington Post)
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By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tom Soehn was cleared by doctors to resume D.C. United coaching duties Monday, and though he was relieved the diagnosis was bronchitis and not swine flu, his spirits were dampened by a controversial officiating decision Saturday night that might have cost his slumping MLS club a badly needed victory.

Soehn, who fell ill Friday and watched the 0-0 match against the Los Angeles Galaxy from his home in Ashburn, said, "It was awful not being there, especially watching that offside call."

That reference was to a first-half decision by an assistant referee that nullified Luciano Emilio's apparent goal. According to TV replays, Emilio was onside when teammate Fred passed to him.

"It was awkward watching on TV . . . but it also gave me clear replays," Soehn said. "Sitting at home, there's not too much you can do when something like that happens."

Soehn might have contracted the illness from assistant coach Mark Simpson, who was sick during the team's visit to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, last week for a CONCACAF Champions League game.

Soehn reported to work at RFK Stadium on Friday morning "but probably shouldn't have," he said. "I went right to the doctor and he strongly advised me to stay away from the team, which was hard to do. I was in bed for two days and it really kicked my butt."

Soehn underwent blood tests and, as a precaution for those in the organization who work closely with him, medication was distributed to prevent possible spread of swine flu, the H1N1 virus that the White House said Monday "poses a serious health threat" to the nation this fall.

No players or other officials showed signs of similar illness, a team spokesman said.

Simpson and fellow assistant Chad Ashton ran the team Saturday at RFK and were in contact with Soehn during the game via cellphone. Late Sunday, Soehn was told he had bronchitis and could return to work.

United (6-5-11 and 29 points in MLS) will host Mexican club Toluca on Wednesday in the second of its six Champions League group matches before playing a league game Saturday at Chicago (10-5-8, 38 points).

United Notes: Tiyi Shipalane, a midfielder-forward from South Africa, will join the club this week on loan from the third-division Harrisburg City Islanders, club officials said. His arrival will necessitate a roster move.

United also continues to monitor Adam Smarte, a Liberian attacker with defensive experience who has been on an extended tryout.

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