BY RIDGE MAHONEY The two worst teams in MLS have swung a deal in a drastic effort to improve their fortunes. Tampa Bay (3-10-1) and Colorado (2-8-4) have finally worked out a deal to reunite several players with former Mutiny head coach and current Rapids coach Tim Hankinson. Carlos Valderrama, Scott Garlick and Ritchie Kotschau are headed to the Rapids in exchange for Adin Brown, Scott Vermillion and a first-round draft pick next season. Vermillion is being sent on to D.C. United for Eric Denton. Denton will fill the left side of the Mutiny defense that Kotschau had occupied and Vermillion is a player that United GM Kevin Payne had tried to acquire several times in the past. "I feel this team had run its cycle and that we needed to make a change in personnel," said Mutiny coach Alfonso Mondelo, whose team lost to Connecticut in the U.S. Open Cup, 3-2, Tuesday night and had lost seven MLS games in a row before beating D.C. United last weekend. "This is nothing personal about the players. They are professionals and I hope this trade is the best thing for everybody involved." The key to the trade is Valderrama. As recently as last week, Hankinson said he doubted Valderrama would accept a trade to Colorado but the former Colombian international does not have a no-trade clause in his contract. The only way he could scuttle the deal is by retiring. "I have not talked to Carlos," said Mondelo of the 39-year-old midfielder who has been suspended twice this season. Valderrama set a league record with 26 assists last season under Hankinson, and so far this season has one goal and six assists in 12 games for Mondelo. He is the league's all-time assist leader with 95. He was "reassigned" by former MLS commissioner Doug Logan to Miami in 1999 after a falling-out with former Fusion coach Ivo Wortmann. He had played with the Mutiny in 1996 and 1997 before joining the Fusion in 1998. Scott Garlick set a league record with 184 saves last season and so frustrated has he been with the Mutiny's woes in 2001 that he tore off his gloves and walked off the practice field after Valderrama had punched Eric Quill during a training session. Garlick won a championship with D.C. United in 1997 and played another season there before joining the Mutiny in 1999. Kotschau was traded to the Mutiny in 1999 by Chicago, where he started his MLS career in 1998. Brown played 13 games for the Rapids as a rookie last year and had appeared in nine games this season. Vermillion joined the league with Kansas City in 1998 and was traded the Rapids last season. According to MLS director of communications Dan Courtemanche, league officials have signed off on the deal and it will be officially announced later today.
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