Remade Fusion adds midfielder Ian Bishop, releases Welton to make room.
After weeks of speculation by fans and media on both sides of the Atlantic, the 5-foot-9, 165-pound 35-year-old participated in this morning’s practice at the Westminster Academy Soccer Complex. "I'm 36 in May and I've played in the Premier League most of my career," Bishop said after his first training session. "I had the offers to go to Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley, which were better money, but I've just felt I've been there and I've done it and I needed a new challenge. I've always wanted to play abroad somewhere and it's a bonus that I can come to a country that's English speaking. And everybody wants to come to America. I think the only people who left Liverpool and came back were The Beatles.
"The hardest thing for me was walking out the house yesterday and leaving my three kids. It took me 25 minutes and I almost missed my flight."
The Fusion signed Bishop as one of its two discovery players for 2001, leaving a spot available for a league-designated "marquee allocation" which the team hopes to name in the next 10 days.
"It was just confirmation on everything we knew before. He's just a complete footballer," Fusion coach Ray Hudson said after the practice. "A blind man can see his quality, guile and talent and what a fulcrum for a team he can be -- great control, lovely touch, great vision, great execution. And he's a nuisance defensively. You couldn't ask for anything more. He seemed to fit in like a hand in glove with the other good players around. This team is stacked with lovely footballers and I think Ian is going to fit in very well."
At City he became a fan favorite, especially after scoring an important goal against crosstown rival Manchester United. After only four months with City, he was transferred to West Ham where he enjoyed a productive nine years (1989-98). In 1998, he returned to Manchester City and helped lead the squad on its climb back to the Premier League.
Early indications seem to point Bishop toward the Fusion’s defensive midfield. "I'm not a strategist and don't think I ever will be," Hudson said. "I'm not a chess player, even though I've got Bishop. It's the same with Preki. I want to get them on the field and get them playing. We've got the soldiers all around them. Bishop will be more of a central midfield player in front of the back four. That will be his domain."
The Fusion has gone through a major makeover in the offseason, including the acquisition of midfielder Preki, formerly of the Kansas City Wizards, and defender Carlos Llamosa from D.C. United.
In order to comply with Major League Soccer's foreign player limit, which allows only three senior international players per squad, the Fusion waived Brazilian striker Welton.
In two campaigns with the Fusion, Welton recorded 12 goals and 13 assists in 46 regular-season appearances. His most memorable Fusion moment came on May 10, 2000, against D.C. United, when he scored the first golden goal in team history to give Hudson a home overtime victory in his Miami coaching debut.
"Releasing Welton was a tough decision because he has been a solid player for us and we feel that with his speed and skill he can definitely contribute in this league," said Fusion vice president and general manager Doug Hamilton "We are determined to build a team capable of competing for a championship, and with the international player rules, Welton became a casualty. We truly wish him the best."
Earthquakes promote Chamides
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Earthquakes promoted Chris Chamides to senior director of Soccer. Formerly director of soccer operations, Chamides will take an increased role in the management of player movement and player acquisition, while maintaining his duties as supervisor of all team staff.
"We are excited to see Chris expand his role within the organization," Earthquakes general manager Tom Neale said. "His combination of soccer knowledge and strong administrative skills will be integral in the growth of our club and in creating a winning environment both on and off the field."
Mutiny downs University of South Florida 3-1
TAMPA, Fla. -- Guest player Paul Schneider finished an attempted header by Steve Trittschuh in the 55th minute propelling the Tampa Bay Mutiny past the University of South Florida 3-1 in a scrimmage tonight at USF Soccer Stadium.
Steve Ralston tied the match for the Mutiny at 1-1 in the 33rd minute after USF took a 1-0 lead in the early moments. The Mutiny’s top draft choice Ali Curtis put the game out of reach off a blast from Carlos Valderrama in the 68th minute.