Patchwork Mutiny braces for a rematch against division-leading Chicago.
By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 5, 2001
Mutiny coach Alfonso Mondelo calls them "Band-Aids," players summoned from the A-League to temporarily cover some of the wounds Tampa Bay acquired during the first four games of the season.
Defenders Scott Cannon and Don Gramenz and forward Paul Schneider might have a brief stay on the Mutiny roster. But they have been issued a Mutiny jersey for a reason, and they're likely to have an impact on tonight's match in Chicago.
"We have to prepare to play with the guys we have," Mondelo said. "This gives some of these young players an opportunity to show what they can do."
As if going to Chicago wasn't hard enough on the Mutiny -- it never has won in four attempts at Soldier Field -- it now has to try winning with a makeshift squad.
The defense has been hit hardest. Kevin Anderson and Joe Addo are out with strained hamstrings. John Maessner is home serving a red card suspension, and last week defender Kalin Bankov was waived.
Starters Chad McCarty and Steve Trittschuh are lost for two months with a broken ankle and leg, respectively. Oh, and defender Chris Houser was forced to retire because of another bout of colitis.
That leaves Craig Demmin and defensive midfielder Josh Keller as the only healthy defenders with any experience, and Keller is coming back from a hamstring injury.
Things don't look bright up front either. Mamadou Diallo is serving the second game of a two-game suspension, and midfielder Carlos Valderrama has been in Colombia tending to his sick father and hasn't practiced all week.
"I have never seen anything like this in all my years of soccer," Mondelo said.
And so this skeleton crew will take on the mighty Fire, MLS Cup runner-up last season. It is a chance for the "Band-Aids" to see if they can stick.
Of the call-ups, Cannon, 32, has the most experience. He played for Colorado in 1996 and with Columbus in 1998. He was the 2000 A-League defender of the year with the Richmond Kickers and is currently playing for the Charleston Battery.
"Cannon has looked the best," Mondelo said. "I'm looking for him to step in and play well for us."
Gramenz, 29, has spent his 11-year career with the A-League's Minnesota Thunder. He will suit up but his playing time is likely to be limited.
Schneider, 24, will add depth up front. He has played for Minnesota the past two seasons and was with the Mutiny in the preseason.
Defender John Coughlin also was called to practice this week but did not make the trip to Chicago.
It is a good bet the three call-ups will be little more than footnotes to the 2001 season. As soon as Addo and Anderson are ready to go, they will be back in the lineup. And Maessner will be eligible for Wednesday's game against Los Angeles.
Trittschuh has been practicing lightly and may return by June. McCarty's target date is likely July.
"We're a rag-tag group," Keller said. "We just have to ride it out during this time. I think everybody here realizes what's going on. It's hard to get into a rhythm when the lineup changes all the time. But none of us are throwing in the towel."
WHEN/WHERE: 8; Soldier Field.
TV/RADIO: Ch. 38; WWBA-AM 1040, WAMA-AM 1550 (Spanish).
RECORDS: Mutiny 2-2, Fire 2-1-1.
COACHES: Mutiny -- Alfonso Mondelo. Fire -- Bob Bradley.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Mutiny -- M Carlos Valderrama, F Ali Curtis, M/D Joe Addo, G Scott Garlick, M Steve Ralston. Fire -- G Zach Thornton, M DaMarcus Beasley, F Hristo Stoichkov, M Peter Nowak, D Carlos Bocanegra.
NOTES: The Fire traded for forward Eric Wynalda on Thursday, sending John Wolyniec and a 2002 draft pick to New England. Wynalda will dress but is unlikely to start. ... Stoichkov (left ankle sprain) is back, but Fire F Josh Wolff is out after straining the arch in his left foot during a hard tackle by Mutiny D Craig Demmin on Saturday. ... Valderrama, who leads MLS in assists this season and in his career, never has had an assist against Chicago. ... The Mutiny (0-3-1) never has won in Chicago. It lost 1-0 Saturday, its first shutout this season.