Gary Etherington, the Cosmos North American Soccer League rookie of the year last season, said yesterday he has asked to be traded and that "my No. 1 preference is to play in Washington."

"I'd love to play for the Diplomats," said Etherington, a graduate of Mount Vernon High School. "My parents live there, my friends are there and I think I could do a job for them - help them promote the game. I would think people would come to see me play."

Etherington and his father, Donald, met in New York with Cosmo General Manager Krikor Yepremian Monday and told him he wants to be traded.

Etherington did not dress for either of the Cosmos' first two games, including Sunday's 3-2 victory over the Diplomats at RFK Stadium.

"I was extremely upset about not playing in Washington," Etherington said yesterday. "We had 17 players make the trip, and only 16 can play. If they knew I wasn't going to play, why not tell me on Friday.

"I had all my relatives, all my friends at the game. I was cheated and I was embarrassed. It just wasn't the right way to do it. So I went in there yesterday (Monday) and I told them my feelings and that I wanted to be traded.

"They asked me to name a few teams, and I did. I was told they would have to take my request to their board of directors. I was told that would be done as soon as possible, I would hope to know something by the end of this week."