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Mathis to miss rest of qualifying, MLS season after tearing right ACL.

Clint Mathis
Clint Mathis has had a major impact, both on the MetroStars and the United States men, but will miss six months after tearing his right ACL in a U.S. practice yesterday.
By Robert Wagman

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Wednesday, June 6, 2001) -- A magnetic resonance imaging test this morning only confirmed the worst for United States midfielder\striker Clint Mathis. His injury, suffered in a U.S. practice session yesterday, is a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Mathis, who plays for the MetroStars of Major League Soccer, will be out at least six months. Surgery, to be performed by U.S. team doctor Bert Mendelbaum, will probably have to wait two weeks until the swelling of the knee goes down.

Mathis, the leading goal-getter and scorer in MLS this season with seven goals and five assists for 19 points, will begin rehabilitation immediately following surgery. He will remain in Columbus with the U.S. men for tomorrow nightís friendly against Ecuador at Columbus Crew Stadium before returning to the New York area.

"This injury is kind of tough to deal with, (but) it's something that we deal with in soccer," said Mathis, who tore the ACL in his left knee as a sophomore at the University of South Carolina in 1995. "It's part of the game. It was kind of a freak thing, but it's a situation where I'll go out and get the surgery and work hard to get back. Hopefully, I'll become a better player out of this. Everything happens for a reason. You've just got to move on and deal with it."

Mathis has been a revelation for U.S. coach Bruce Arena and the 24-year-old from Conyers, Ga., has played a direct role in each of the three victories as the Americans have jumped to a 3-0 record and first place in CONCACAF final round of World Cup qualifying.

Mathis will miss the seven remaining qualifiers. The U.S. has three coming up in the next four weeks: June 16 in Jamaica, June 20 against Trinidad & Tobago at Foxboro Stadium in the Boston area and July 1 in Mexico.

"We have a lot of depth on this team," midfielder Claudio Reyna said. "Things happen week-to-week, injuries and suspensions. That's when guys have to come in and play well."

Mathisí absence for the rest of the MLS season is also a blow for the MetroStars. The arrival of Mathis from the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2000 also coincided with the MetroStarsí rise from the bottom of the standings to contenders for the MLS Cup championship. He had 16 goals and 14 assists for 46 points last season.

"I feel very badly for Clint," said MetroStars General Manager Nick Sakiewicz. "I know how hard he's worked to get to where he is, and this is just very unfortunate for him. . . There are 11 other MLS teams out there that don't feel sorry for us, and we can't feel sorry for ourselves either. We've just got to go out and win."

Senior correspondent Robert Wagman can be contacted by e-mail at wagman@soccertimes.com.

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