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Much-traveled Diaz Arce sent back to D.C. United, site of previous glories.

Raul Diaz Arce
The well-traveled Raul Diaz Arce (21) was traded back to D.C. United where he played an integral part in the club's 1997 and '98 MLS Cup championships.
By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

HERNDON, Va. (Friday, May 26, 2000) -- Raul Diaz Arce may be the second most prolific scorer in the history of Major League Soccer, but that hasn’t prevented the striker from El Salvador from being traded five times in the league’s five-year history.

And today, Diaz Arce returns to D.C. United where he was part of the "Magic Triangle," which led United to the first two MLS championships.

To get Diaz Arce, United sent midfielder John Maessner, two 2001 first-round draft choices -- its own and one obtained from Colorado that originally belonged to New England -- and a second-round selection in 2002.

"We're thrilled to have Raul Diaz Arce back with D.C. United," said United president and general manager Kevin Payne. "This reunites the Magic Triangle of Raul, Jaime Moreno and Marco Etcheverry, which led us to our first two championships in 1996 and 1997. We're bringing Raul back because obviously we need help scoring goals. Raul remains one of the most deadly strikers in the league and we look to him to help us revitalize our attack."

Diaz Arce has career regular-season totals of 73 goals and 24 assists for 170, second in goals and points to Roy Lassiter, who has 76 goals and 180 points.

Diaz Arce was United's leading scorer in the 1996 and 1997 with 38 goals in 50 matches over the two seasons. After the 1997 season, in a controversial move, Diaz Arce was traded to the New England Revolution in a salary-cap-driven move that caused protests and resentment from the considerable Washington Salvadoran population.

Early in the 1998 season, Lassiter was obtained by United and proceeded to score 18 goals in 25 games in 1998 and 18 more in 30 matches a year ago helping D.C. win its third MLS Cup. He was sent in the offseason to the Miami Fusion.

No one on United stepped up to fill Lassiter’s role as complement to Jaime Moreno on the front line. In fact, Moreno’s eight goals were the only by a D.C. striker in 1999, so Payne first acquired former MLS forward Pete Marino and then Diaz Arce trying to shore up his attack.

"Raul has requested this move," Tampa Bay president and general manager Bill Manning said. "He had great success in D.C. early in his MLS career, and will certainly see more playing time plus be welcomed by the tremendous El Salvadoran population in the area."

And, of course, United and MLS hope will bring many Hispanic fans into the seats at RFK Stadium.

Both Diaz Arce and Marino will be in uniform tomorrow night when United tries to end a four-game losing streak in a home game against the Dallas Burn.

After the 1998 season, Diaz Arce was traded by New England to the MetroStars, and then immediately on to San Jose Clash (now the Earthquakes). In July 1999, he was dispatched from San Jose to Tampa Bay.

Diaz Arce, who had four goals and an assist in seven games this season, became expendable because of emergence of Senegalese striker Mamadou Diallo, who has netted two goals in each of the Mutiny’s last three games, and coach Tim Hankinson’s preference for a one-striker set. Diallo has nine goals, trailing only Chicago’s Ante Razov who has 10.

Diaz Arce was a starter until leaving to join El Salvador for World Cup qualifying. By the time he returned, Diallo was entrenched as the forward.

Diaz Arce’s salary is believed to be in the $130-150,000 ranges, twice that of Maessner, but the two players will remain under the caps of their former teams.

"The cap doesn't really matter after May 15 when the discovery period ends," MLS executive vice president Ivan Gazidis said. "Unless you have an allocation available and now only New England and San Jose do, there is no way to bring a new player into the league, to spend any money you have left under the cap. So traditionally, trades made after May 15, are made without regard to salary cap consequences."

In Maessner, Tampa Bay gets another well-traveled player, but one who can give it some help in the midfield. A University of Virginia graduate, he joined D.C. United midway through the inaugural 1996 season after playing in Germany.

After the 1997 season he was placed in the expansion draft and chosen by Miami. He was traded back to United midway through the 1999 season as part of the overall deal that brought Chris Albright to United and sent Lassiter and Brian Kamler to Miami.

United also announced that 19-year-old left-sided British midfielder Michael Blackwell would join the team Monday on trial. He played the just-ended English season will Aston Villa’s reserves.

Senior correspondent Robert Wagman can be e-mailed at bobwagman@soccertimes.com..

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