After Tampa Bay trades Carlos Valderrama and picks up three players, it tries to start anew.
By FRANK PASTOR
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 30, 2001
TAMPA -- Before Thursday, the Mutiny was Carlos Valderrama's team.
The fiery midfielder was the squad's playmaker, captain and chief marketing tool.
His creativity on the ball made his teammates better. His outbursts embittered them.
But with Thursday's trade, which sent Valderrama, goalkeeper Scott Garlick and defender Ritchie Kotschau to Colorado, the Mutiny no longer belongs to any one player.
"With Carlos, you have a special player and you've got to build a team around him," said defender Steve Trittschuh, who assumes the captain's duties. "The idea is to get him the ball and let him do his thing. With the team we have now, we've got to work together and it's more of a team effort."
That team has a new look.
Goalkeeper Adin Brown, acquired in the Valderrama trade, defender Eric Denton, who came from D.C., and midfielder Wojtek Krakowiak, claimed off waivers Friday, will take the field for the first time when the Mutiny (3-10-1) plays Kansas City (5-8-1) at 8:30 tonight at Arrowhead Stadium.
Their timing couldn't be better.
Kansas City, the defending MLS Cup champion, has lost four consecutive league games and will be without goalkeeper and 2000 MVP Tony Meola, who strained an abdominal muscle. Midfielder Chris Klein and forwards Onandi Lowe and Gary Glasgow are training with their respective national teams. Defender Nick Garcia also will miss the game while he serves a suspension for a red card he received June 23 against San Jose.
"Kansas City is a good opportunity for us, because they're missing a few of their starters and they're on a little bit of a down," Trittschuh said. "They've lost four in a row, so we've got to take advantage. These things are laid out for us. These are things we have to take advantage of."
Mutiny coach Alfonso Mondelo thinks his team can put itself into position to win if it works hard and takes care of its defensive responsibilities.
He saw little of either from Valderrama, which is why the league's career assist leader did not start Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup game against Connecticut and why Mondelo considered naming Trittschuh captain even before Valderrama was traded.
"I think (Trittschuh) not only is the most veteran player on the team, but he's a player all the other players respect, especially for what he's accomplished," Mondelo said. "He's a leader by example on the field and he's one of the hardest working (players). He's a tremendous pro and a good player for the other players to look up to."
Trittschuh, 36, is no stranger to the role. He has worn the captain's armband nearly everywhere he has played, including Tampa Bay.
He acted as captain while Valderrama served a suspension in a 3-2 win against D.C. on June 23 and Tuesday against Connecticut.
"It doesn't matter to me," Trittschuh said. "It's not going to change the way I play. It's just really a title. The guys know how I play. I go out there and give 100 percent effort. I lead by example more than having a band on my arm."
Jair will handle Valderrama's distribution duties against the Wizards. Midfielders Eric Quill and Steve Ralston also could share the role.
Newcomers Brown and left back Denton will start and Joe Addo likely will replace injured Josh Keller (back spasms) at defensive midfield.
Forwards Mamadou Diallo and Devin Barclay and defenders Trittschuh, Craig Demmin and Kevin Anderson also should start.
WHEN/WHERE: 8:30; Arrowhead Stadium.
TV/RADIO: Sunshine; WWBA-AM 1040, WAMA-AM 1550 (Spanish).
RECORDS: Mutiny 3-10-1; Wizards 5-8-1.
COACHES: Mutiny -- Alfonso Mondelo. Wizards -- Bob Gansler.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Mutiny -- F Mamadou Diallo, F Devin Barclay, M Eric Quill, M Steve Ralston, D Steve Trittschuh. Wizards -- M Matt McKeon, M/F Chris Brown, M Francisco Gomez, D Peter Vermes, G Bo Oshoniyi.
NOTES: Tampa Bay broke a 10-game (0-9-1) winless streak with a 3-2 win against D.C. June 23. Defending MLS Cup champ Kansas City has lost four straight. The Mutiny is winless in its past eight (0-7-1) against the Wizards. M/D Joe Addo (right hamstring strain) is probable. D Scott Cannon (right knee irritation) is questionable. M Josh Keller (back spasms) and D Chad McCarty (broken left ankle) are out. Kansas City will be without M Chris Klein and F's Onandi Lowe and Gary Glasgow, who are training with their respective national teams for World Cup qualifying. D Nick Garcia will serve a one-game suspension for a red card he received June 23 against San Jose. G Tony Meola (strained abdominal muscle) is doubtful.