MLS CONFIDENTIAL: Dallas pursues Eddie Johnson-like striker

By Ridge Mahoney
Senior Editor, Soccer America Magazine

MINA NEARLY DONE: FC Dallas coach Colin Clarke is hopeful that the final details on the acquisition of Ecuadorian forward Roberto Mina can be finished in the next day or so, and the player will be able to join his new team in Spain. FC Dallas leaves Saturday for two weeks of training and games.

ôHeÆs got a few similarities to Eddie Johnson,ö said Clarke on Wednesday. ôHeÆs strong and heÆs got good pace. HeÆs the same age and heÆs just on the fringe of the [Ecuadorian] national team, like Eddie was last year before he started scoring all those goals.ö

Mina, 20, would be a regular discovery player and because of his age will not count against the per-team limit of four senior internationals. He has played for Huracan in the Argentine league and El Nacional in Ecuador. He has represented his country at the U-20 and U-23 levels and has also been capped by the national team.

General manager Greg Elliott said getting clearances from his previous clubs may be holding up the deal, which will be a one-year or two-year loan with an option to buy.

With Johnson, Mina and Cornell Glen, FC Dallas will be able to bring plenty of power and pace to the forward spots. ôWeÆre working on adding something else up there as well,ö said Clarke.

REAL WORLD CUP: U.S. Soccer is hashing out final details of playing the June 4 World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Grass would have to be installed, at a cost of about $200,000, but the surface can accommodate a field approximately 73 yards wide.

Managing director of adminstration Tom King has refused to confirm any venues ôuntil the contracts are signed,ö but word has been leaking out for the past several weeks and stories ran in the Salt Lake papers Thursday regarding the match.

The menÆs national team has never played in Utah. The U.S. women beat Ireland 5-0 at Rice-Eccles in June 2003 in front of 19,584 fans. Venues for the other three U.S. home qualifiers are under discussion. Perhaps the only Hexagonal team the U.S. would be willing to face at Home Depot Center is Trinidad & Tobago, but Aug. 17 date is not a regular FIFA date and getting European players to Los Angeles and back isnÆt an easy feat. Still, a mostly-MLS team might be good enough.

A Labor Day weekend match in Columbus between the U.S. and Mexico doesnÆt harken back to ôLa Guerra Friaö in February 2001. The crowd for the 1997 meeting in Foxboro was about 50-50, and the fancier Gillette Stadium is on U.S. SoccerÆs list of possible sites.

There are no NFL conflicts because the regular season starts Sept. 8. RFK Stadium might be usable for the Oct. 12 USA-Panama game, since the baseball season will be over, but what if the Nationals make the playoffs?

DJORKAEFF DOES THE ROUNDS: The MetroStars didnÆt waste any time parading around former French international midfielder Youri Djorkaeff.

After a press conference Monday, he worked on three different broadcasts (English, Spanish, Portuguese) of the Manchester United-AC Milan ChampionsÆ League match, appeared for an interview on ESPN News, and did an online chat. So far, he looks like a great signing.

His contract includes a base salary of $180,000 and is also heavily laden with appearance incentives to encourage him to keep those 37-year-old legs pumping during a long, hot summer on the Meadowlands rug.

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