D.C. United suffered its first loss of the year to the New York/New Jersey MetroStars yesterday -- on a computer.
In a lottery to determine where 2000 Olympian Joe DiGiamarino would play, United lost to its chief rival, which was the only other team interested in the 25-year-old midfielder.
United had the odds in its favor, based on its poorer record last year, but the MetroStars were picked by a computer program at Major League Soccer headquarters in New York. (Most other MLS teams have already settled on their rosters and decided to skip the lottery.)
"Obviously, we were very interested in him, but we still feel we have a lot of talent on our roster," D.C. technical director Dave Kasper said. "We have options."
DiGiamarino had spent a week in United training camp in February and club officials saw him as much-needed depth on the left flank behind projected starter Bobby Convey. With Convey a candidate to move into central midfield if United's playmaking falters again this year, DiGiamarino could have ended up starting at some point.
DiGiamarino, from Cal State Fullerton, played three seasons with the Colorado Rapids, making 67 appearances (43 starts) before signing with German club Bayer Leverkusen in early 2001. However, following two injury-shortened seasons, he re-signed with MLS last week.
As a member of the U.S. Olympic squad, he appeared in one game at the Sydney Games, against Kuwait, as the Americans earned a surprising fourth-place finish.
Stoitchkov Investigation Ongoing
MLS's disciplinary committee continues to investigate last week's incident involving United's Hristo Stoitchkov during a scrimmage at American University and could announce its findings today. Stoitchkov was given a red card for a tackle that broke two bones in AU freshman Freddy Llerena's right leg.
In comments during a media teleconference yesterday, Commissioner Don Garber said: "We're in discussions with the university, with the coach and even with the player, and in due time we'll release what our findings are. We hold [the MLS players] to a higher standard and we know that our players are role models on and off the field and hope that they behave, and expect them to behave, appropriately."
Stoitchkov faces a fine and suspension. . . .
United will play an exhibition against English club Tottenham Hotspur on May 14 at RFK Stadium. The teams met last fall in London, with United winning, 1-0. Tottenham's roster includes U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller, Irish forward Robbie Keane, English forward Teddy Sheringham and German midfielder Christian Ziege.