Major League Soccer
Lassiter irate with deal that sends him to Miami from D.C. United.WASHINGTON, D.C. (Friday, November 26, 1999) -- The long-rumored trade of Major League Soccer 1999 season and career leading goal-scorer Roy Lassiter to the Miami Fusion by D.C. United was completed Tuesday, the league confirmed today.
Lassiter was less than happy and accused United of being disingenuous with the deal that completed a July trade in which D.C. acquired promising rookie Chris Albright. The deal, which also brought midfielder John Maessner to United for defender Brian Kamler and a college draft pick, called for the Fusion to receive a player to be named, and Lassiter long had been rumored to be that player.
"When the deal first went down and I heard my name came up, I went to them and they said not to worry, that I wasn't going anywhere," Lassiter told Brooke Tunstall of the Washington Times. "But I kept hearing the rumors, and I asked them again about two or three weeks ago and they wouldn't tell me anything. They lied to me. They knew all along they were going to trade me and they lied. "
A Washington Post report quoted "sources" that said United players were informed of the trade Tuesday.
"They said they were trading me because of the salary cap, but I don't make enough for that to be an issue," Lassiter told the Times. "They always use the salary cap whenever they want to get rid of a player and then blame the league. They did that when they got rid of Raul Diaz Arce and John Harkes, too. But really, for whatever reasons, they just wanted to get rid of them and they did and blamed the league, and they're doing it again with me. I want the fans to know this is United's fault, not the league's."
MLS has a $1.7 million salary cap. Lassiter has one year left on a deal that will pay him $100,000; the league lists it maximum salary as $250,000.
Lassiter, 30, has scored 73 goals and recorded 25 assists in his four-year MLS career to hold the league record in goals and points (171). In 1999, Lassiter finished the regular season tied for the league lead with 18 goals to spark D.C. to a league-best 23-9 record and its third MLS title in four years.
He continued his standout play into the playoffs with three goals and an assist to lift United to its third MLS championship. Lassiter registered the game-winning assist in Sunday's 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy in MLS Cup '99.
A three-time MLS All-Star, Lassiter spent his first two seasons with the Tampa Bay Mutiny where he led the league in scoring with 26 goals in 30 games in 1996 and was selected to the MLS "Best 11." After six games with the Mutiny in 1998, Lassiter was traded to D.C. for forward Roy Wegerle. He ignited the United attack, scoring 18 goals in 25 games and leading D.C. to its third straight MLS Cup final.
Lassiter has 29 caps for the U.S. national team and scored three goals in just 283 minutes during qualifying for World Cup '98, though he was left off the team by coach Steve Sampson for the ill-fated run in the Cup in France.
Lassiter told Tunstall he will not report to Miami until he gets a new contract. Even then, he said he may never play for the Fusion. "I'm not going anywhere until I get a new deal that pays me what I'm worth," said Lassiter. "I deserve to make at least the maximum. I've been the leading scorer everywhere I've been, and the teams I've been on have won. Guys who haven't produced like I have are getting new deals. I'm not going anywhere until I get one."
Lassiter also said he hopes the Fusion trades him back to Tampa Bay. The Mutiny reportedly offered midfielder Mauricio Ramos for Lassiter, but the Fusion wanted Ramos and All-Star Steve Ralston, and the Mutiny balked, according to the Times story.
With Lassiter gone, A.J. Wood, who had career highs in goals (eight) and assists (six) last season, is the heir apparent to start at his forward spot until Albright, who missed the latter part of the 1999 season with a serious knee injury, rehabilitates and matures.
Wood, who reportedly made about $40,000 last year, is a free agent and seeking a considerable raise.