United 4, Aguila 0
As club officials continue to contemplate sweeping changes after another defective year, D.C. United conducted its final bit of official business at RFK Stadium with a testy, 4-0 exhibition victory over Aguila of El Salvador before a pro-Salvadoran crowd of 17,453.
Bobby Convey scored in the ninth minute last night, Jaime Moreno struck in the 61st and 62nd minutes and Roy Lassiter, likely making his final D.C. appearance, scored with about 10 minutes left. Eliseo Quintanilla, a former Aguila player, added three assists.
Players started their vacations following the game, and by the time the team regroups again in January, several significant changes probably will have been made, including the possible departure of Moreno or Marco Etcheverry.
D.C. officials say they have not reached decisions about their high-priced Bolivian veterans, whose contributions have fallen off significantly in recent years. But with United's desire to retool its roster and very little space under the salary cap to do it, there's a strong possibility one of them will not return after seven seasons together in Washington.
"We have three enormously priced players [Etcheverry, Moreno and defender Eddie Pope], and without utilizing some of that money, we would just be chasing our tails," Coach Ray Hudson said. "It would be another patch-up job [next year]. . . . These are the hardest decisions, but we need to be cold-blooded about them."
Etcheverry didn't play last night after having minor knee surgery on Tuesday.
Pope, out with a sore knee, seems least likely of the big-ticket players to leave, unless a major trade offer is made. Several other D.C. players, however, could be leaving soon. MLS clubs can begin waiving players on Nov. 4 and have until Dec. 1 to notify the league about which players they want to retain.
The draft, in which United will have the first overall pick and three of the top 14 selections, has been tentatively scheduled for Jan. 17 in Kansas City, Mo. Already possessing several young players, United might opt to trade the first pick.
United officials already have begun scouting foreign prospects, and it's believed they have taken an interest in forward Cezary Kucharski, 30, who plays for Legia Warsaw and the Polish national team. Hudson also has his eyes on an unidentified 24-year-old central midfielder from Argentina; the coach is hoping to attend Argentine league matches in two weeks.
MLS Notes: A new playoff format has yet to be finalized, but a two-game, home-and-home series appears to have the most support within the league. A 30-minute minigame would decide the series if things are even after the two 90-minute matches. The higher seed would host the second match and, if necessary, the ensuing mini-game.