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MLS should be judicious in its signing of aging foreign players.

By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

(Thursday, September 16, 1999) -- Inter Milan star defender Giuseppe Bergomi, 35, says he's interested in coming to Major League Soccer next year. He was dropped this summer by his Italian club.

We have no problems with this providing he can still play and contribute. New England has expressed an interest, and no team has more needs in the back line than the Revolution.

MLS has to be concerned about getting too many aging players from overseas -- but a few aren't going to hurt, providing they have a good attitude and are able to adapt to the style of play here.

Some good examples:

  • Edwin Gorter, 36, has been a revelation for Miami in the central defense.
  • Carlos Valderrama, 37, remains a brilliant midfield playmaker for Tampa Bay.
  • Lothar Matthaeus, 38, headed for New York/New Jersey, is still a star central defender.
  • Mo Johnston, 36, an active midfielder, may be the most consistent player with Kansas City.
  • Lubos Kubik, 35, defender, and Peter Nowak, 35, midfielder, both Chicago Fire mainstays.
  • Robert Warzycha, 35, midfielder, steadying influence for Columbus Crew.

MLS has done a good job with this year's international cast -- young and old. We think overall it's the best in four years. Among the top newcomers, and they all appear to have many productive years ahead of them:

  • Forward Ariel Graziani, Dallas Burn.
  • Midfielder Anders Limpar, Colorado Rapids.
  • Forward Jorge Dely Valdes, Colorado Rapids.
  • Midfielder Roy Myers, Los Angeles Galaxy.
  • Midfielder Simon Elliot, Los Angeles Galaxy.
  • Defender Mauricio Wright, San Jose Clash.
  • Midfielder Mauricio Solis, San Jose Clash.
  • Forward Alex Bunbury, Kansas City Wizards.
  • Defender Joseph Addo, Tampa Bay Mutiny.

Speaking of age, it's a shame Thomas Dooley is on the bench for the Crew, but coach Tom Fitzgerald said the team has played better with the 38-year-old, two-time World Cup starter not in the lineup.

"I know he doesn't like it," he said of the decision to replace Dooley with Todd Yeagley as central defender after a three-game losing streak. "(But) we're playing better with the lineup we have on the field."

Fitzgerald said of the veteran who has been slowed by persistent hamstring and groin injuries. The question is whether his experience and competitiveness can make up for losing a step or two.

"It's a tough situation right now," Dooley told the Columbus Dispatch. "I need the support and trust from our organization that I'm still good enough to play."

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

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