It was a perfect match. D.C. United desperately needed an out-and-out striker -- and they got a local favorite at that. Tampa Bay needed draft picks for the future -- and no longer needed the expendable Salvadoran.
Despite reports that he'd never play for D.C. United again, Raul Diaz Arce is back at D.C. United, sent there from Tampa Bay for midfielder John Maessner and United's two first-round picks in the 2001 MLS SuperDraft, as well as a second round selection in the 2002.
Diaz Arce is expected start in Saturday's game as United hosts the Dallas Burn at RFK Stadium. The 7:30 p.m. match is slated for ESPN2.
"We're thrilled to have Raul Diaz Arce back with D.C. United," said Payne. "This reunites the 'Magic Triangle' of Raul, Jaime Moreno and Marco Etcheverry, which led us to our first two championships in 1996 and 1997. We're bringing Raul back because obviously we need help scoring goals. Raul remains one of the most deadly strikers in the league and we look to him to help us revitalize our attack."
A member of the dangerous aforementioned 'Magic Triangle' along with Bolivians Etcheverry and Moreno during the first two seasons of MLS, Diaz Arce, 30, helped United conquer two MLS Cups. His 23 goals ranked second in MLS's inaugural season behind former United striker Roy Lassiter (27). In 1997, Diaz Arce was third in MLS in scoring with 15 goals, six assists in 22 games with MLS Cup champion D.C.
The move also reunites Diaz Arce, arguably United's most popular player, with Washington's large Salvadoran fan base.
Diaz Arce is now with his fifth club in five years: D.C. United (1996-97), New England (1998), San Jose (1999), Tampa Bay (1999-2000) and D.C. United (2000).
"We're delighted to have Raul back with us," said United head coach Thomas Rongen, for whom Diaz Arce played for while he was New England's head coach in 1998. "He's a great pro and he is a player that will give us a spark right now, which we need. He'll give us energy on and off the field."
Diaz Arce has tallied four goals for El Salvador in World Cup 2002 qualifying this year, scoring in each of El Salvador's first four qualifiers. He will be unavailable throughout parts of the summer and fall as he led El Salvador to the semifinals of TFC qualifying.
Diaz Arce is the second-most prolific scorer in MLS history, trailing only Lassiter in goals (69 to 73) and points (161 to 171).
He was made expendable by the fast start by Senegalese striker Mamadou Diallo at Tampa Bay.
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