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MetroStars’ hopes for Matthaeus to arrive early are quite naïve.

By Robert Wagman

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sunday, January 2, 2000) -- Some footnotes on previous items.

It would appear that MetroStars general manager Charlie Stillitano is about the only person in the Western world who still believes Lothar Matthaeus will actually show up in New York ready to play in time for the opening of the Major League Soccer season in March. In fact, the pressure continues to build on Matthaeus not to come to the United States at all.

The latest to be heard from is German national team coach Erich Ribbeck. In an interview this weekend with German daily newspaper Die Welt, Ribbeck held out the probability that Matthaeus would succeed him as national team coach if only he would forget this nonsense about going to the United States. Referring to his key defender, Ribbeck said "He understands the science of football and has enormous experience. I think he would be the most suitable national coach in a year or two."

He then added that German Football Federation president Egidius Braun agrees.

In the interview, Ribbeck stated as a fact that Matthaeus would remain with Bayern Munich through the end of the complete Bundesliga season in June, and would then immediately join the rest of the national team as it prepares for the 2000 European Championships in late June. If true, that would mean the earliest Matthaeus would be in New York would be about the Fourth of July, not in late March as Stillitano continues to insist.

Inherent in Ribbeck's comments, as interpreted by the German media, is that if Matthaeus wants to be Germany's next national team coach, perhaps as early as World Cup 2002, he had better stick close to home and prepare.

In a previous column, I reported that Jovan Kirovski might be preparing to leave his Bundesliga team Borussia Dortmund and return to America to play in MLS. If he does, the likelihood is he will be assigned to the Columbus Crew to replace the departed Stern John. I wondered, if that happens, how Crew coach Tom Fitzgerald would play Kirovski and Andy Williams at the same time, since they essentially play the same position. I speculated that Williams might be dealt off, perhaps to Miami, perhaps for striker Welton.

Although it has not been officially announced by the MLS, a Crew-Fusion deal has been made. Williams has been traded to the Fusion, but reportedly not for Welton, but for Miami's first pick in the upcoming combined draft, the third pick overall. Fitzgerald apparently believes there will be several young foreign strikers available in the draft coming out of the MLS scouting combine's try-out camp in February.

In a previous column, I also reported based on statements from British Second Division (third tier) team Cardiff City that former Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Ian Feuer would be joining the team on a month to month contract following what the team called "a very successful" two-day tryout before Christmas.

Cardiff had said it wanted Feuer, who carries a British passport and thus has no work permit problems, to contest with current keeper John Hallworth for the starting job.

It now appears the announcement may have been premature. Cardiff City assistant manager Billy Ayre confirms that Feuer did not return a signed contract before leaving to spend the holidays with relatives in Luton. But Ayre expressed confidence that Feuer would be joining Cardiff soon.

However, it has also been reported in the local media that Feuer has been talking with Luton Town manager Lennie Lawrence. Before coming to MLS, Feuer had played for Luton Town. The Second Division team, which started the season with promotion hopes, now is sinking in the standings and Lawrence has promised a major shakeup. It would not be too surprising to see Feuer back at Luton although Cardiff is more in need of goalkeeping help.

A cable television dispute in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Fairfax, Va., should be of interest to soccer fans all across the nation.

Cox Communications has taken over a major cable television system in suburban Virginia. Fox TV is refusing to allow the system to continue carrying its local affiliate, WTTG, unless Cox agrees to carry two Fox specialty channels on all its cable systems nationwide. So the local Fox station, which carries the National Football League’s Washington Redskins, has gone dark on the Cox Virginia system, as the two media giants try to stare down one another.

What makes all this of prime interest to soccer fans in any market where there is a Cox cable system is that one of the channels that Fox is trying to force on Cox is Fox Sports World, with its heavy emphasis on European and South American soccer. So if Cox caves in and agrees to Fox's terms, a byproduct of the dispute will be more soccer for many Americans.

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

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