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Jerry's World

Tuesday trades benefit 3 of 4 MLS clubs involved.

By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

(Wednesday, June 2, 1999) -- Three of the four teams involved in yesterday’s Major League Soccer series of trades came out as winners.

No grade is given the fourth, because all the New York/New Jersey MetroStars have done so far is get rid of players. We'll have to wait and see what this embarrassingly poor-performing franchise comes up with.

* The Los Angeles Galaxy gets a B-plus for acquiring attacking midfielder Roy Myers and getting rid of the disappointing Welton. He should help this offensively challenged team, the biggest disappointment in MLS. Myers was mis-used during his brief stay with the MetroStars, frequently playing at forward rather than midfield, his natural spot.

The question is how will he mesh with Mauricio Cienfuegos, the diminutive Galaxy playmaker. Los Angeles now has a mixture of power and finesse on attack. With the arrival of striker Carlos Hermosillo this weekend, they will have the weapons for "muscle" goals, and not just have to rely on Cobi Jones' speed and Cienfuegos' finesse.

* Miami Fusion gets a provisional B for getting MetroStars central defender Arley Palacios -- a hard-nosed, above-average performer -- in part to replace out-for-the-season injured Wade Webber, as well as obtaining Welton and San Jose Clash forward Eric Wynalda. The latter two are question marks.

Welton, 24, had 17 goals and 11 assists last year, third in MLS scoring, but no goals and one assist this season, where he has been slowed some by injuries, and has drawn the ire of both coaches -- the fired Octavio Zambrano and successor Sigi Schmid.

He is not a skilled player, relying mainly on speed. The hope in Miami is that he will take some of the pressure off Diego Serna, who is among the elite forwards in MLS.

This could be the acid test for coach Ivo Wortmann, who benched and in effect got rid of temperamental veteran midfielder Carlos Valderrama. Can he get the still-young but erratic Welton to perform for the Fusion? The season may rest on it since Miami has been severely lacking in firepower.

Wynalda, 30, is reported out until September following left knee surgery. If he even comes back to his MLS form, this will have been a gigantic trade for Miami. But the all-time national team scoring leader has been plagued by injuries in recent years. Some think he was unfairly criticized for not being a dominating player in San Jose. He managed practically a point a game -- 21 goals, 29 assists in 51 starts.

* San Jose's grade is incomplete. The Clash freed up a maximum-salary ($250,000) and reportedly are eyeing Costa Rican midfielder Mauricio Solis, which would fill a four-year void at playmaker. It also would give the Clash -- yet to post a regulation-time victory -- an outstanding international contingent, also including defender Mauricio Wright (Costa Rica) and El Salvadoran strikers Ronald Cerritos and Raul Diaz Arce.

* The MetroStars' grade is failing and incomplete. Speculation continues about sweeper Lothar Matthaeus, despite earlier denials, coming to New Jersey from Bayern Munich (Germany). He is 38, but still good enough to start for the German national team, and his presence would be a big boost for MLS. He hopefully would bring his fire and passion to a bland MetroStars team that has puzzled many by getting rid of striker Giovanni Savarese (he came back with New England to score two goals in Giants Stadium last weekend) and Myers.

The explanation on Myers' departure in part was to free up salary cap room -- but wasn't that also the reason cited for pre-season trades of expensive defenders Alexi Lalas and Diego Sonora and goalkeeper Tony Meola? Former World Cup starter Claudio Caniggia (Argentina) has been mentioned as a possible acquisition. So has former World Cup starter Florin Raducioiu (Romania). When they would be available is uncertain, with 10 games of a 32-match season already history.

Apparently there is no need for panic, yet, with three other teams - Tampa Bay, Miami and New England - locked in a four-way battle with the MetroStars for the Nos. 3 and 4 playoff berths in the Eastern Conference.

Jerry Langdon is sports editor of Gannett News Service and can be e-mailed at jlangdon@gns.gannett.com.

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