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MLS late wheelings and dealings
by Ridge Mahoney, September 5th, 2007 7AM
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The international transfer window has closed, yet MLS teams may still sign and trade players prior to the Sept. 15 deadline, and several teams are doing just that. Sometimes teams are just adding depth, and sometimes they're looking for that missing piece to make it all fit together. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney looks at reinforcements in Chicago, New York and New England.

FIRE SIGN. Fire coach Juan Carlos Osorio may give Colombia defender Wilman Conde, who was signed last week but has yet to receive all the necessary paperwork, his first league action this weekend in a crucial match at Columbus.

Conde, 25, played for Osorio with Millonarios, and the Fire has used a major allocation worth $250,000 to acquire him. He will be activated as soon as the league receives his international player certificate.

To free up a spot on the 18-man roster and a senior international slot, as well as salary-cap space (Conde's salary is about $150,000), the Fire waived midfielder Thiago, who played 67 games, scored nine goals and added 10 assists the past three seasons.

The acquisition of Cuauhtemoc Blanco rendered Thiago expendable, yet he'd already faded out of the regular lineup. He'd started just five of his 13 games this season, missed about a month with a groin strain, and registered only one assist.

Blanco's value to the Fire is heightened by an injury to Justin Mapp, whose sprained ankle could keep him out of action another month, if not longer.

The regular season concludes Oct. 21 and Chicago trails eighth-place Colorado and Columbus by just two points. It plays at Columbus Saturday and if the paperwork comes through for Conde, who's been training with the team for two weeks, he could go straight into the starting lineup.

Chicago played a 4-4-2 formation against New York last weekend, perhaps as prelude to using Conde in a four-man back line, though he has experience in both three-man and four-man systems.

RED BULLS RELOAD. In just two games as a substitute, Liberian forward Francis Doe has shown a few talents that may come in handy in the last six weeks of the season.

Doe, 21, played two seasons in Greece with Atromitos FC and scored eight goals in 34 games. He also played in the USL with Minnesota Thunder in 2004 and 2005.

In 46 minutes of action against New England and Chicago he's powered his way through tackles several times and opened up spaces for Clint Mathis, Juan Pablo Angel and Dane Richards. With him on the roster and Mike Magee finally healthy, NYRB has real depth at forward for the first time this season.

REVS REDUX. Instead of a veteran defender, or a Brazilian midfielder, the New England Revolution has signed two young Gambians who represented their country at the FIFA U-20 World Cup earlier this summer.

Midfielder Sainey Nyassi is a full-fledged member of the Revs, and the team is awaiting an international transfer certificate for attacker Abdoulie Ken Mansally, who has received a work visa. Both could be eligible to play in the next MLS match, a crucial road date at D.C. United Sunday.

Nyassi came on as a sub at the start of overtime in the Revs' Open Cup semifinal Tuesday night, a 2-1 victory over the USL Carolina Railhawks.

The trial of defender Dusan Petkovic ended 15 minutes into his second session with the team when he strained a calf muscle.

He has played for Wolfsburg in Germany and Spartak Moscow in Russia.

Petkovic, 33, attained his greatest notoriety last year when his father, Ilija Petkovic, also the national team's head coach, chose him as a late replacement on Serbia & Montenegro's World Cup team.

Before FCD Dallas successfully bid for Denilson, he'd been in the sights of New England as well, but Revs coach Steve Nicol said the price was too high.

Denilson will cost Dallas nearly $900,000 this season and a lot more next year. (That's about $100,000 less than the club bid for Dutch midfielder Edgar Davids in January, and not surprisingly, FCD traded a supplemental pick in next year's draft to the Revs in exchange for some salary cap relief.)

A source said Nicol and the Revs had also expressed interest in Brazilian midfielder Ze Roberto, who eventually returned to Bayern Munich after playing one season in Brazil with Santos.



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