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TV for D.C. United's Real Challenge
August 8th, 2006 8:17PM



As of Sunday night, only fans in the Washington, D.C. area were going to see a telecast of United's match against Real Madrid in Seattle on Wednesday on regular television.

And that would have been a shame. A friendly it may be, but this game should be seen. And it will be.

The match was added to the MLS Direct Kick package Tuesday, supplementing the coverage in the D.C. area on Comcast SportsNet and

Last month, D.C. thrashed Glasgow Celtic 4-0 in a friendly; last year United lost narrowly 2-1 to Chelsea; and last Saturday United players Troy Perkins, Facundo Erpen, Bobby Boswell and Josh Gros were among the MLS All-Stars who were most impressive in a 1-0 defeat of the Premier League champion.

Talks had been held with Fox Soccer Channel, among other broadcasters, which declined, and no deal was hammered out until Tuesday.

D.C. United had proposed to MLS it split the production costs of approximately $30,000 that it is paying to broadcast the match to make it available on Direct Kick. What terms were finally agreed upon isn't known, but the D.C. Web site Tuesday listed Direct Kick as among the telecast options.

And that's a good thing. For Columbus-Everton to be televised last month on ESPN2, for Real Madrid-D.C. United to have been blanked out would have been ludicrous. And even if the 11 p.m. (Eastern) kickoff does conflict with a telecast of the Barcelona-Club America game being promoted by SUM, fans should have the choice.

NAMES, NEW AND OLD. Former D.C. United and Fire midfielder Dema Kovalenko was in Chicago during All-Star Game weekend to see old friends and finish up a move to Red Bull New York. He trained with the club yesterday, its first session under the regime of Coach Bruce Arena.

His MLS rights are still held by D.C. United and so some compensation needs to be negotiated. He is available on a free transfer after spending the past two years playing in Ukraine, most recently with Metalurh Zaporizhya.

Costa Rican midielder Jafet Soto, who has a decade of experience in the Mexican League, is returning to Salt Lake City, the site of last year's 3-0 U.S. win against Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier.

A move to MLS for Soto, 30, could be finalized by the end of the week. The midfielder has been on and off the Costa Rican national team for many years but wasn't picked for the 2006 team by Coach Alexandre Guimaraes, who also left Soto off the 2002 team.

If Soto regains his best form, as evidenced by the shots saved superbly by Kasey Keller in that qualifier, he may be just what Real needs to make a serious push for the playoffs. If not, he'll add to an lineup cluttered with inconsistency and further complicate the life of Coach John Ellinger.

The Galaxy has completed the paperwork to register left back Ante Jazic, a Canadian international who has played for Hajduk Split (Croatia), Austria's SK Rapid Vienna (Austria), and FC Kuban Krasnodar (Russia). He also played against the United States last January in a 0-0 tie against Canada, which at the time was being coached by Galaxy coach Frank Yallop.

The prospect of signing Jazic, 30, prompted Yallop to trade left back Todd Dunivant to Red Bull New York in late June. Jazic had been waiting for the issuance of a visa that will permit him to work in the United States. He has been training with the team and might start Wednesday in a crucial game against Houston.

SAN JOSE REUNION. Eight D.C. United players were on the MLS All-Star roster for the 1-0 win over Chelsea Saturday, and another half-dozen former Earthquakes were glad to be in the same locker room once again.

"There are a lot of us," said a typically exuberant Richard Mulrooney, who was traded to Dallas last year. "This is great to be together and be able to celebrate this."

Included in "us" were six former San Jose Earthquakes: goalie Joe Cannon (Colorado), defender Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City), Mulrooney, and those who made the move to Houston earlier this year: midfielder Dwayne DeRosario, striker Brian Ching and defender Eddie Robinson.

Five of the six (excluding Ching) played for Yallop on the 2001 team that won MLS Cup and the 2002 squad as well. Ching arrived the following year, during which Cannon left for Europe and Conrad was traded to Kansas City.

The ex-Quakes were involved several decisive plays. DeRosario scored a super goal, described almost universally as "typical Dwayne, just incredible"; Conrad tangled with Didier Drogba on several occasions and pushed up to force an offside trap that nullified a goal; Cannon pulled off two big saves and needed some help to defuse another dicey situation.

Robinson cleared a ball off the goal line after Facundo Erpen had accidentally poked an attempted clearance through Cannon's legs. "I thought, 'Oh great, right away in the second half they get a goal on a megger,'" said Cannon. "I didn't think he could get there, but oh man, Eddie made a great play, didn't he?"

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