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Around MLS: Sakiewicz returns to old neighborhood to revive MetroStars.

By Robert Wagman

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Wednesday, January 12, 1999) -- As we first reported two weeks ago, a number of Major League Soccer owners have been working to find a way to ease Charlie Stillitano out as general manager of the MetroStars. One idea being worked on was to move him into the league office into a newly created position, possibly as an assistant to commissioner Don Garber.

Well Stillitano is gone, but not completely from New Jersey’s Meadowlands. He will move over to MetroMedia's offices where he will be in charge of developing a soccer-specific stadium for the Metros, and developing a second MLS franchise for MetroStars investors John Kluge and Stuart Subotnick under their investment deal with the league.

To complete the deal, MLS's “Executive of the Year,” Nick Sakiewicz, moves from the MLS-owned Tampa Bay Mutiny to the MetroStars, where he will become vice president and general manager. It's a homecoming for Sakiewicz who grew up in nearby Passaic.

Last week I reported on the increasing pressure in Germany being put on Lothar Matthaeus either to stay the full Bundesliga season at Bayern Munich, or not to come to the United States at all. I indicated that it seemed only MLS officials were confident that Matthaeus would show up in March.

I guess I was wrong. MLS has announced, most forcefully, that Matthaeus will be here on March 10, that he has already leased an apartment in New York, and he will be in the lineup for the MetroStars' opener. Cynic that I am, I might be tempted to say I will believe it when I see it. But it seems that it will happen.

The most recent statement by Matthaeus to the German media is that yes, he will report on March 10, but this season might well be his swan song. He is thinking about retiring. But then in the next breath, he said he might also stay a second season in America, or even make a triumphant return the Bundesliga.

Stay tuned.

Sakiewicz is leaving Tampa Bay apparently unable to accomplish his number-one goal over the past year, bringing the MLS Cup to Raymond James Stadium next October.

It looks now like it is impossible to resolve a stadium conflict. The University of South Florida has a football game scheduled in the stadium on October 14, and despite the assurances of the ground crew it could work through the night and have the field ready the next day, MLS is apparently not willing to have a repeat of this past year at Foxboro Stadium where the National Football League’s New England Patriots had chewed the field into an almost unplayable condition for MLS Cup ‘99

The league has told Tampa authorities that it needs control of the stadium six days before the October 15 event. USF has tried to reschedule the football game, but now says it's simply too late.

So it appears that MLS Cup 2000 will be heading back to Washington’s RFK stadium.

David Regis' may well be on his way to MLS. The French-born United States national team defender's expected move from Metz in France to Cagliari in Italy has hit a last-minute snag. According to French press reports, the Serie A team called off the deal at the last minute, apparently concerned about Regis' fitness.

Regis will now return to Metz where he remains under contract. Before accepting Cagliari's proposal, he was also talking to Malaga in Spain, and to an unnamed German team. But he has also been in contact with MLS and might well be willing to accept the right offer.

According to European press reports, one of the better midfielders in Germany may be heading MLS's way. Bulgarian Krassimir Balakov is said to be well into talks to come to the U.S. Balakov helped Vfb Stuttgart to the Cup Winners Cup final in 1998. He has wonderful ball skills and a good scoring touch. The only drawback is that at 34, he is nearing the end of his career. The reports do not link him to any specific MLS club. But he could be of significant help in New England or San Jose.

One non-MLS item of note. U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena has given striker Joe-Max Moore permission to miss the CONCACAF Gold Cup in February, so he can remain in England and solidify his position at Everton. It's similar to what Arena did for midfielder Claudio Reyna, when he let him stay in Glasgow to establish himself with Rangers rather than come to Mexico for the Confederations Cup.

Moore was quoted by the British media as saying, "The national manager thinks it might be better if I stay here and I am definitely happy with that decision. I have been here just a month and in the first two weeks I wasn't very good in training, but the last two weeks I have felt a lot better. Staying here will help me to establish myself. I want to be here helping the club, even though I am disappointed to miss the Gold Cup."

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

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