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A dismal opening day for D.C. United in more ways than one.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Monday, March 27, 2000) -- A dismal 4-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy was not the only headache suffered by Major League Soccer champion D.C. United in its season opener Saturday.

A large walkup crowd before the afternoon contest caused long lines at RFK Stadium ticket windows and other problems that left some fans irate.

Approximately, 18,000 tickets were sold in advance of a crowd that grew to an announced 24,147. In addition to lines that were as long as 30 deep prior to kickoff, other fans complained they were only allowed to buy $36 tickets though there were signs for ticket prices of $14, $20 and $26.

This is not the first time in United;'s five-year history fans have complained that lower-priced tickets have not been available to fans on game days.

"This is a scam," Alex Bravo of Bethesda, Md., told the Washington Times. "They tell us there are no $14, $20, and $26 tickets left and then suddenly he says `Oh we've got $20 tickets.' ''

United president and general manager Kevin Payne blamed computer glitches for at least part of the problem. "If people want the $14 tickets, they need to buy them early," he told the Washington Times. "We've had problems with ticket sales people here for four years. If that was an issue today, we will fix it for the next game.''

The late walkup also caused major congestion around the stadium with fans still coming in from the parking lots 15 minutes after kickoff.

"They know United gets the biggest walk-up crowd in the league, and they still don't prepare,'' Ralph Moden of Burke, Va., told the Times. He said he waited more than 20 minutes to buy a ticket and when he finally got to the window at 2 p.m. -- kickoff time -- he discovered that the computers were down.

Stadium manager Tony Burnett told the Times: "If they come 15 minutes before the kickoff, there will be problems. Soccer fans tend to be always late.''

On the brighter side, United reported it had exceeded $1 million in annual corporate sponsorships for the 2000 season.

According to Skip Kruger, United's director of corporate sales, the team -- heading into its fifth competitive season -- is 35 percent ahead of last year's total sales figures and exceeded $1 million for the first time.

"We have re-signed virtually every sponsor from the 1999 season and added several new quality promotional partners," Kruger said. "A number of others remain pending as well,"


Jones named "Player of the Week."

NEW YORK -- Los Angeles Galaxy forward Cobi Jones was named "Player of the Week" for a record eighth time in his MLS career after scoring two goals in Saturday's 4-0 victory over D.C. United Saturday afternoon at RFK Stadium.

The Dallas Burn's Jason Kreis ranks second with six "Player" awards.


MLS stars get three red cards in two weekends

CHICAGO -- Two weeks into the season, MLS stars are seeing red.

In the opening weekend, Chicago Fire playmaker Peter Nowak was sent off in a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Burn, causing him to miss Saturday's 4-3 setback to the Kansas City Wizards. In that game, the Fire's newly-acquired striker Hristo Stoitchkov, the high-priced former Bulgaria World Cup luminary, was red-carded after an elbow to he Wizards' Mo Johnston.

In Washington, D.C., midfielder Marco Etcheverry, who did not enter Saturday's 4-0 home loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy until the 57th minute because of a leg injury, lasted seven minutes before being ejected after an overzealous tackle.


Matthaeus debuts with few in attendance

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The much awaited MetroStars debut of German defender Lothar Matthaeus, used to the enormous crowds that have witnessed his play for his national team and Bayern Munich, came before 10,492 fans here at Lockhart Stadium who watched the Miami Fusion win 3-1.

A huge sign in the stands read, "Welcome to Miami, Lothar. What are you doing here? The championship final is in Paris." The sign was referring to the European Champions League final on May 24, a title for which Bayern Munich is still in the running.

Miami's 1999 "Most Valuable Player" Henry Gutierrez has not started in the Fusion's first two outings, making only one late reserve appearance Saturday against the MetroStars. In 1999, Gutierrez had six goals and 14 assists, but he has lost his job to Andy Williams, acquired from Columbus in the offseason.


Earthquakes shutout streak ends just shy of record

SAN JOSE, Calif. In Saturday's 2-1 loss to Columbus, San Jose's club-record defensive shutout streak ended at 409 minutes, six minutes shy of the MLS record.

Star attacker Ronald Cerritos will miss next weekend' match against Miami to be with El Salvador for a World Cup qualifying match.

ive Earthquakes made their MLS debuts at Columbus: Khodadad Azizi, Abdul Thompson Conteh, Justin Evans, Wojtek Krakowiak and Ian Russell. Travis Mulraine could make his first MLS appearance this weekend after missing the Columbus game to be with Trinidad & Tobago for Olympic qualifying games. T&T failed to advance was eliminated from contention.


A revolving door in Colorado

DENVER -- The Colorado Rapids placed midfielder Ross Paule on injured reserve with continued patellar tendonitis in his left knee. Paule missed each of the first two games with the injury, and is not eligible to be activated again until April 11.

Two other midfielders -- Paul Bravo and Kevin Anderson -- left in the 33rd minute of the Rapids' 1-0 victory over the Dallas Burn on Saturday with injuries that might cause them to miss up to two weeks. The Rapids will hope to have both Anderson (strained left calf) and Bravo (sprained right MCL) for the April 8 home opener against the Tampa Bay Mutiny.

The Rapids did receive some good news on the injury front when X-rays revealed no fracture in the jaw of starting goalkeeper Adin Brown. The rookie was forced to leave the game Saturday when an elbow from Dallas' Ted Eck knocked him to the ground, leaving him with a facial laceration and what was feared to be a broken jaw. Brown has a strained jaw and the laceration required five stitches, but he is expected to be available for Saturday's game in Kansas City.

Midfielder Joey DiGiamarino is expected to resume training this week and be available for Saturday's match. "Digi" has not played this season because of a strained left groin, this coming after taking the preseason to recover from off-season ankle surgery.

Jason Bent and Keyeno Thomas return to the Rapids after missing the Dallas victory. Bent's Canada defeated Thomas' Trinidad & Tobago 2-0 in Olympic qualifying in Trinidad. Canada joined Guatemala in advancing final stage of qualification for the Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.

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