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Slump has everybody searching for answers

By RODNEY PAGE

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 23, 2001


The Mutiny office in the bowels of Raymond James Stadium is like a think tank these days. General manager Bill Manning has consulted with just about everybody in the office about getting the team out of its funk.

Tampa Bay hasn't won since a 3-1 victory over New York/New Jersey on April 21. Since then it has had two red card suspensions, another rash of injuries and bad luck that led to a four-game winless streak and a 2-5-1 overall record.

The latest incident came Saturday against Miami. Midfielder Steve Ralston, a past winner of the league's Fair Play award, received a red card for a deliberate hand ball in the penalty box. It was the first red card in his 160-game career. He is out for Saturday's rematch in Tampa.

There also has been a three-game suspension to forward Mamadou Diallo, hamstring injuries to defenders Kevin Anderson and Joe Addo, and a last-second goal by Los Angeles that resulted in a 4-4 tie.

"Every game you think this has to be the end of it," Manning said. "Then Ralston gets a red card. He never gets a red card. It's amazing.

"The way we have to look at it is as a tale of two seasons. We have three straight home games coming up, and we need to get seven points from those games. If we can do that, then it's not panic time."

And if the Mutiny can't

Manning said he won't panic. He said he won't hold a fire sale if the Mutiny digs itself a big hole, but he might step up trade talks. He also will look in the A-League for possible call-ups.

"Anything we do will just be a short-term, Band-Aid type situation," Manning said. "Sure, we could trade somebody like Steve Ralston, but what is that going to do? When we get our injured guys back, then we'll have a glut of players at a certain position, and we'll have to make more moves. This is a good team. We've just had some bad luck."

DIALLO IN SENEGAL: Diallo, who has two games to serve in his suspension for arguing with a referee and berating a fan in Colorado, is training with the Senegal national team and likely will play a friendly June2. Diallo is expected to return in time for the Mutiny's June6 home game against Dallas, the first game he will be eligible to play.

Diallo has 46 appearances with Senegal and has 21 goals. He hasn't played for Senegal since joining MLS last season.

NEW TRAINING FACILITY: Manning said the Mutiny will move to its new training facility in Odessa after Memorial Day. The site, the team's first permanent facility since it started in 1996, is called the Ed Radice Sports Complex and is off South Mobley Road in Citrus Park. The building, complete with a locker room and training room, won't be finished until September. Trailers will be set up temporarily.

INJURY REPORT: Midfielder Eric Quill left the Fusion match with a bruised right ankle but should be ready Saturday. Anderson has resumed training and could be ready to go as well. Defender Steve Trittschuh is slowly working his way back after a broken right fibula in the preseason. He could be ready by late June.

Defender Chad McCarty might take a little longer to recover from his broken left ankle. He has not resumed workouts.

ON THE WEB: Midfielder Josh Keller will chat live from 7-8 tonight on the Mutiny's Web site, www.tampabaymutiny.com.

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