Unheralded Comas could be among best foreign acquisitions this season.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Friday, April 7, 2000) -- Lothar Matthaeus, Hristo Stoitchkov and Khodadad Azizi
were the big-name international players that Major League Soccer added for the 2000.
The world-renowned Matthaeus was supposed to be the key addition to a revived MetroStars side which also
added Colombian World Cup veteran Adolfo (El Tren) Valencia to ignite the club's offense. But it was another
Colombian, striker Alex Comas who has been an impact player in the season’s early going.
"I saw a videotape of him," MetroStars coach Octavio Zambrano said. "When I made up my mind that Adolfo
Valencia was going to be one guy I wanted, I was looking for a complement to him. It had to be the right kind
of high-caliber player."
Zambrano invited Comas, 28, to training camp and was soon convinced of the value of the veteran of high-profile
MetroStars fans in the Connecticut area may have seen him in one of his four appearances for the Colombian
national team. On March 29, 1998 he played in a World Cup tune-up match in New Haven against Paraguay and scored
Colombia's only goal in a 1-1 tie. Although he was in the running, he did not make the France '98 roster.
Comas now calls the American East Coast his home. "First, the change for me was fundamental," Comas said. "I
believe I had completed a cycle in Colombia"Also, the United States gives a person a peace of mind. My kids can
grow up in a place like this. All that made me come here."
"He's a family man," Zambrano said. "He's committed to his family and to his game. With Alex it is clear he's
a gentleman who is willing to work hard. And I am confident he's the kind of player who will make his mark in this league."
Comas is one of eight Colombians playing in Major League Soccer and he's familiar with a few of the others.
Among his compatriots, he shares a special bond with ex-MetroStars forward Henry Zambrano, who helped Comas come
to MLS. They played at the same youth academy and on other elite Colombian club teams throughout their careers.
The MetroStars were forced to move Zambrano in February, trading him to the Colorado Rapids.
Comas is also making new Colombian friends. Before this season, he was not too acquainted with his new strike
partner Valencia. Against D.C. United on last Saturday, however, they showed that communication doesn't seem to
be a problem. On the first and second goals, Comas displayed his passing skills in spotting Valencia for key
passes which led to the penalty kick and Brian Kelly's goal.
"Both of them are proven goal scorers," Zambrano said. "They are two players that complement each other very,
very well. Their characteristics are different even though they both like to go to goal. Alex is more of a
post-up, pivot player. He's good at doing good stuff in the midfield whereas Adolfo is more of a front man, a
power guy. When they gain more understanding they will show much more. There is a lot to hope for. He feels he
can do a lot of damage in this league. I think he's a great find. We are proud to have found Alex. He and
Valencia are going to be great together."
Capsule preview’s of Saturday’s game (all times Eastern)
Kansas City Wizards at Miami Fusion, 7:30 p.m.
All-time seriess: Series tied 2-2.
Leading scorers:: Kansas City - Ms Chris Klein, Miklos Molnar, (both 2-1-5); Miami - F Diego Serna (2-1-5)
Did you know? Both Kansas City victories in the series came via 2-0 wins at Arrowhead Stadium . . . The Wizard's have only scored one goal at Lockhart Stadium.
Key players out:: Kansas City: D Michael Green (stress fracture - leg), F Peter Byaruhanga (dislocated bone - hand); Miami: M Andy Williams (Olympic qualifying), M Jeff Bilyk (torn medial meniscus)
Key matchup: Kansas City M Preki vs. Miami M Pablo Mastroeni: All though most eyes will be on Wizards' striker Miklos Molnar, the ever-dangerous Preki could pose the most problems for Miami . . . Mastroeni's ability to stifle the crafty left-footer's offensive presence will allow the Fusion defensive foursome of Jay Heaps, Francis Okaroh, Leo Cullen and Tyrone Marshall to make sure the Wizards's "Danish Dynamite" doesn't explode.
Notes: In a matchup between two of MLS' biggest early season surprises, the offensive-minded Wizards travel to face Eastern Division frontrunner Miami at Lockhart Stadium . .. After scoring just 33 goals in 32 games last season, the Wizards are averaging a blistering 3.5 goals per game through the first two matches of 2000 . . . The Fusion is looking to extend its club record unbeaten streak to six games, dating back to last season . . . Miami is also in the midst of a six-game unbeaten streak at Lockhart Stadium dating back to September 11, 1999 . . . Wizards goalkeeper Tony Meola has won four of his five matches against Miami, posting a 1.40 goals against average . .. Fusion striker Eric Wynalda tallied six goals and four assists against K.C. in three seasons with San Jose . . . The last time K.C. started a season 2-0 (1997), the Wizards compiled a league-best 21-11 record . . . The potential absence of Andy Williams could disrupt the Miami attack, but Fusion Coach Ivo Wortman will hope for a strong game from midfielder Martin Machon, who returns from Guatemalan national-team duty.
Scheduled officials: Referee - Michael Kennedy. Assistants - Glen Prechac, John Paul Spicer
Chicago Fire at D.C. United. 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Chicago.
All-time series: First meeting. United leads 3-1 .
Leading scorers:: Chicago: Fs Ante Razov, Hristo Stoitchov (both 2-0-4), M Diego Gutierrez (1-2-4); D.C. United: F Jaime Moreno, D Jeff Agoos (both 1-0-2).
Did you know? United has outscored Chicago by a combined score of 7-2 in the two previous meetings at RFK Stadium.
Key players out:: Chicago: M Peter Nowak (ankle-questionable), G Zach Thornton (calf-questionable) M Diego Gutierrez (red-card suspension); D.C. United: D Clint Peay (knee), M Carey Talley (foot).
Key matchup: Chicago F Hristo Stoitchkov vs. United M Richie Williams: Stoitchkov took exception to Mo Johnston's physical play two weeks ago, but Williams has repeatedly shown the ability to rattle his opponents with hard tackles . .. The Fire's "Mad Bulgarian" will need to stay composed as he and the pesky Williams will likely have quite a few encounters.
Notes: A rematch of MLS Cup '98, finds defending league champion United at 0-2, and one-time Central Division favorite Chicago at 1-2, as neither team has been in top form early . .. Chicago claimed its first victory of the season at Columbus last Saturday, stifling the Crew attack for a 2-0 decision . . .The return of midfielders Chris Armas and Peter Nowak, along with newly acquired goalkeeper Chris Snitko seemed to calm the Fire's erratic play, which had seen the team give up eight goals in its first two matches . . . After being held scoreless for the first 152 minutes of its 2000 MLS campaign, United showed some offensive spark late in a 3-2 loss to the MetroStars last Saturday, but was unable to overcome a three-goal deficit . . . The Fire will play its third consecutive game without its first choice of players as Diego Gutierrez serves his one-game suspension for a vicious tackle on the Crew's Brian West . . .Chicago will welcome the return of Bulgarian Hristo Stoitchkov (red-card suspension), who notched two goals for Chicago in his MLS debut at Dallas (a 4-2 loss) two weeks ago . . . United hopes to have midfielder Marco Etcheverry back for Saturday's contest, but his status continues to be questionable.
Scheduled officials: Referee - Andrew Barnes. Assistants - George Vergara, Robert Fereday
Los Angeles Galaxy at Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m., KCAL.
All-time series: Columbus leads 7-3.
Leading scorers: Los Angeles - F Cobi Jones (4-0-8, first in goals and points in MLS); Columbus: F Dante Washington (1-1-3)
Did you know? Columbus (7-3) and D.C. United (7-5) are the only two teams in MLS to post winning records against the Galaxy during the regular season.
Key players out:: Los Angeles - M Jorge Salcedo (knee surgery); Columbus - M Brian Maisonneuve (ankle surgery)
Key matchup: Los Angeles M Mauricio Cienfuegos vs. Columbus M John DeBrito: Given room to operate, Cienfuegos finds L.A.'s dangerous targets with ease . . . In the most recent meeting between these teams in the 1999 U.S. Open Cup, DeBrito effectively disrupted L.A.'s flow and Columbus claimed a hard earned 3-1 triumph . . . If DeBrito can't slow Cienfuegos, the Crew defense may be in for a long night of chasing Cobi Jones, Sasha Victorine and Clint Mathis.
Notes: Columbus midfielder Ansil Elcock returns to the lineup this week after missing each of the Crew's two losses due to World Cup qualifying . . . The Crew's 2-0 shutout loss to Chicago this past weekend was only the team's second shutout defeat in 18 MLS regular season matches at Crew Stadium . . . The last meeting between these two teams actually occurred in the 1999 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, when Columbus downed L.A. 3-1 behind two goals from Brian McBride . . . Despite posting a 1.14 GAA in five career matches against Columbus., Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman has only managed to go 2-3 . . . Cobi Jones continues to sizzle for L.A., bringing his league-high four goals into the Galaxy's fourth game of the season. For his career, Jones has three goals in eight appearances against the Crew . . . Los Angeles has only won one match in its previous four meetings in Central Ohio.
Scheduled officials:: Referee - Marcel Yonan; Assistants - Nathan Clement, Robert Mann
New England Revolution at Dallas Burn, Fox Sports New England
All-time series: New England leads 7-4.
Leading scorers:: New England: Four players with 2 points; Dallas: F Jason Kreis (2-2-6).
Did you know? The Revolution is 4-1 all-time at the Cotton Bowl, the only road venue where New England is above .500 (4-4 at Giants Stadium) . . . The Revs, at 20-45-2 away from Foxboro, have enjoyed 20 percent of their road victories at Dallas
Key players out:: New England: G Juergen Sommer (ACL rehab); Dallas: M Mark Dodd (hand surgery - injured list), M Brian Haynes (knee surgery - injured list).
Key matchup: New England M Leonel Alvarez vs. Burn M Oscar Pareja: Alvarez who will be primed to play for his return to Dallas, where he was a crowd favorite as the Burn's captain . . . He'll be matched against Pareja, who runs the Dallas midfield, creating chances for danger men Jason Kreis and Ariel Graziani.
Notes A tough early-season schedule and a frustrating 2-2 draw with Los Angeles last Saturday accompany New England to the Cotton Bowl, where the Revs are 4-1 all-time against the Burn. Former Dallas captain Leonel Alvarez makes his first return to Big D, since his August 1999 departure in the trade that brought Ariel Graziani to Dallas . . .With his goal in Dallas' 1-0 win over Tampa last weekend, Jason Kreis became only the fourth player in league history to register 50 career goals . .. Kreis' game-winning header also made him the league's all-time leader in game-winning goals with 17 . . . Revolution coach Fernando Clavijo will continue to tinker with the New England lineup, which could see the possible reinsertion of Eduardo Hurtado, who missed last week's game at L.A. because of visa complications during his return from duty with Ecuador's national team . . . New England remains winless in three games, but nearly pulled the shocker of the season by jumping to a 2-0 lead on the Galaxy at the Rose Bowl last Saturday night . . . Young Costa Rican William Sunsing continues to impress for New England, and his return to the lineup with Hurtado could make the Revs dangerous.
Scheduled officials: Referee - Alex Prus; Assistants - Tom Bobadilla, Zekai Akbay
Tampa Bay Mutiny at Colorado Rapids, WTTA.
All-time series: Tampa Bay leads 6-5.
Leading scorers: Tampa Bay - F Raul Diaz Arce (3-1-7); Colorado - D Marcelo Balboa, M Paul Bravo (1-0-2)
Did you know? After losing its first road game last season, Tampa Bay rebounded to win five consecutive matches, including three games away from Raymond James Stadium.
Key players out:: Tampa Bay: M Manny Lagos (ankle sprain), D Chris Houser (calf strain), F Alan Prampin (pelvic pain - injured list), D Caleb Porter (knee surgery - injured list); Colorado: M Ross Paule (knee strain - injured list), M Wes Hart (knee tendinitis - injured list), Scott Vermillion (knee laceration), F Jorge Dely Valdes (World Cup qualifying).
Key matchup: Colorado D Marcelo Balboa vs. Tampa Bay F Mamadou Diallo: Balboa should be familiar with Raul Diaz Arce from his days with Western Division foe San Jose, but in only his second MLS game, Diallo's explosiveness could catch Balboa and Colorado off guard.
Notes Colorado continues to be beset by injury, losing yet another player last week when defender Scott Vermillion was forced to leave the Rapids' 3-0 loss at Kansas City with a deep gash on his left knee that will sideline him for at least 10 days . . .Colorado is 3-1 in home-openers at Mile High Stadium, but will again take the field without the team's 1999 leading scorer Jorge Dely Valdes who will miss another game because of Panama's involvement in the early qualifying stages of the 2002 World Cup . .. Dely Valdes missed Saturday's loss in Kansas City, participating in Panama’s 1-0 defeat of Honduras in Panama City . . . Tampa Bay coach Tim Hankinson has a different sort of personnel problem. He will be forced to choose between running a 4-5-1 formation, which has served the Mutiny well through its first three, or a 4-4-2, which would combine Raul Diaz Arce with the dangerous Mamadou Diallo of Senegal, who nearly earned the Mutiny a draw in his MLS debut after spending more than 20 hours on a planeprior to joining the club . .. It will be the first time all season that Hankinson will have his full roster to choose from this season, as work permit delays and World Cup qualifying have kept him from setting a normal rotation . .. Hankinson will again need to juggle next week, as starting defender Chad McCarty and reserve goalkeeper Andy Kirk join the United States under-23 men’s training camp in Florida as the Americans prepare for CONCACAF's Olympic qualifying tournament in Hershey, Pa., later this month.
Scheduled officials: Referee - Gerry Corrie; Assistants - Richard Huber, George Gansner
MetroStars at San Jose Earthquakes, 10 p.m., MSG, FoxSports Bay Area.
All-time series: San Jose leads 7-4.
Leading scorers:: MetroStars: F Alex Comas (2-1-5); San Jose: F Ronald Cerritos (1-0-2).
Did you know? The MetroStars home opener, a 3-2 win over D.C. United, attracted media from more than 20 countries, including Finland, France, Japan, Portugal, and Norway.
Key players out:: MetroStars: M Tab Ramos (calf strain), D Mark Semioli (calf strain), D Thomas Dooley (hamstring strain).; San Jose: M Wade Barrett (athletic hernia - injured list), D Gabe Eastman (knee sprain - injured list), M Mauricio Solis (foot fracture - injured list).
Key matchup: MetroStars D Lothar Matthaeus vs. San Jose F\M Khodadad Azizi vs. MetroStars D\M Lothar Matthaeus. Matthaeus has tey to live up to his billing as the Metros’ savior. Azizi has yet to register a point for San Jose, but with the return of Cerritos, he may find a few more seams in the defense . . . Matthaeus, who was in the defensive midfield role last weekend against D.C. United, faces a formidable challenge with the two experienced international strikers.
Notes The MetroStars enter their third game of the season after an impressive 3-2 win over D.C. United in their home opener . .. The Metros' Colombian striker connection of Alex Comas and Adolfo (El Tren) Valencia (1-1-3) accumulated eight points in the club's first two games . . . The Metros' three goals vs. D.C. United were the team's most in a single-game since last May 29 when the club lost a 4-3 shootout at home to New England . . . San Jose will counter the MetroStars attack with goalkeeper Joe Cannon, who was named MLS "Player of the Week" after posting a career-high nine saves in a 0-0 draw with Miami on Saturday . . . A sterling performance by Cannon and the San Jose defense kept the Quakes competitive . .. San Jose should be helped by the return of Ronald Cerritos from El Salvador's national team and will team with Iranian striker Khodadad Azizi . . . San Jose coach Lothar Osiander hopes Cerritos and Azizi, along with Abdul Thompsen Conteh, will have more luck on the finishing end, to take some pressure of the Quakes' defense, which has performed better than expected.
Scheduled officials: Referee: - Ali Saheli; Assistants - Greg Barkey, Terry Vaughn