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With Jamaica calling, Ziadie must decide if he should wait for Arena.


By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Thursday, April 12, 2001) -- D.C. United rookie defender Craig Ziadie played in first professional match last weekend in a 3-2 Major League Soccer victory over the Kansas City Wizards. In the next week or so, the young defender must make a decision that could greatly affect his professional future: whether to accept an invitation to join Jamaicaís national team or decline, hoping for a later call by coach Bruce Arena to join the United States men.

Craig Ziadie
D.C. United defender Craig Ziadie must decide in the next week whether to accept an invitation to Jamaica's national team or wait, hoping U.S. coach Bruce Arena will call.
Ziadie (pronounced ZAY-dee), 22, who holds dual U.S.-Jamaican citizenship, did not play for either countryís youth national teams, thus he is eligible to play for either country. Under the rules of world governing body FIFA, once he represents one nation, he is tied to it for the remainder of his career.

"I donít know what I am going to do," Ziadie said. "I hoped eventually this would be a choice I would have to make, but it came up awfully suddenly. Iím going to talk with my family, I hope to talk with Bruce Arena, Iíll ask (D.C. United coach) Thomas (Rongen) for his thoughts. Itís a big choice. Itís a hard choice. I just donít know."

Ziadie did not think he would be faced with this decision until 2003, when qualifying for the 2006 World Cup begins. Now he has been invited to the Jamaican national training camp as the Reggae Boyz prepare for the April 25 World Cup qualifier against Honduras.

Born in Pembroke Pines, Fla., to Jamaican parents, Ziadie grew up in the Kingston area of Jamaica, but returned to the U.S. to attend prep school, then the University of Richmond where he was the Colonial Athletic Association "Player of the Year" as a senior.

So the choice the young defender must make is whether to accept Jamaicaís call up now, and forever be tied to the Reggae Boyz, or wait and hope to get called into the U.S. national side at some point in the future.

Ziadie now calls Richmond, Va., his home, but his ties to Jamaica are great. His family name is interspersed throughout the history of Jamaicaís national side. His father Dennis was the Jamaican under-20 national menís head coach, and a full national-team assistant, when he was killed in a traffic accident in Mexico during the 1986 World Cup. A standout player who represented Jamaica in his teens, Dennis Ziadie played in the late 1960s for the North American Soccer Leagueís Boston Beacons.

Two of Craig's older brothers, Chris and Nick, have represented Jamaica on youth and full national teams.

"I grew up there. My brother played for the national side. My dad coached there. We have a lot of history there," Craig said.

Ziadie has been a pleasant surprise for United after being taken by in the third round of this yearís draft. He is starting at right back in Unitedís revamped defense, at least until injured Eddie Pope returns. His recent improvement apparently caught the attention of the Jamaican national coaching staff when he played in Jamaica for United last week against Arnett Gardens in the CONCACAF Giants Cup.

Ziadie must consider whether he is likely ever to play for the U.S. as opposed to whether he would actually ever make Jamaicaís lineup. With the U.S., he knows he will be competing with Steve Cherundolo, who at almost the same age as Ziadie has staked a claim to be right back for years to come. With the Boyz, Ziadie would be competing with the Miami Fusionís Tyron Marshall, who could slide over to the left side should Ziadie come in and make the starting side.

Senior correspondent Robert Wagman's "It Seems To Me . . . " appears regularly on SoccerTimes. He can be e-mailed at bobwagman@soccertimes.com..

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