By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 15, 2001
It might be a little optimistic to think newly acquired defender Diego Sonora will join the Mutiny in Los Angeles for Saturday night's match. Sonora, obtained from Chicago for a third-round pick in the 2002 draft, is in Argentina awaiting approval for a work visa.
"I don't know if he'll join us in Los Angeles," general manager Bill Manning said. "You know how these things work."
Generally, it takes about two weeks for a foreign player to obtain a work visa and get to the United States. In the past, the Mutiny had to wait longer than expected for players such as Mamadou Diallo, Joe Addo and Mauricio Ramos.
Sonora is in Argentina training with the Boca Juniors, ranked second in the world by FIFA, soccer's governing body. Sonora tried to secure a roster spot but was unable.
Sonora, 32, is a four-year veteran of Major League Soccer and a three-time All-Star. He played for Dallas in 1996-97, for New York/New Jersey in 1998 and for D.C. United in 1999. MLS signed Sonora to three one-year options, meaning the league has the option to renew his contract after each season. Expect the Mutiny to use Sonora as soon as he arrives. He'll likely join Steve Trittschuh and Addo in the back.
"I have no doubt the team will show improvement, and I will do everything to produce positive results," Sonora said. "The team is rounding into form and that will definitely show for the remainder of this season and into the next."
BACKHANDED COMPLIMENTS: Coach Perry Van Der Beck doesn't want to hear about how his team tries hard but doesn't get results. He doesn't want to hear about the bad luck, or how the Mutiny is better than its record. Van Der Beck was a feisty player, and he can't accept losing as a coach either.
"The teams I've played for, the teams I've coached with, they've always been successful," Van Der Beck said. "Now we're just trying to earn some recognition. I just hate that. You hear people say, "Oh Tampa, their result against San Jose was surprising.' Why? Why are we in this position? That's what frustrates me. That's what gets me as a coach. Don't pat us on the back for something we should be doing anyway."
HANGING BY A THREAD: The Mutiny (4-17-1) has 13 points with six games left, which means it can reach 31 points with six straight wins. Dallas has the eighth playoff spot with 28 points.
There are six teams the Mutiny can't catch: Miami (44 points), Chicago (40), San Jose (39), Los Angeles (35), New York/New Jersey (33) and Columbus (33). If Kansas City, with 30, win its next match, and if Dallas wins one and at least ties another in its last six games, the Mutiny would be eliminated. It would mark the second time in six seasons the Mutiny has failed to make the playoffs. INJURY UPDATE: Midfielder Jair is probable with a right knee contusion. Trittschuh is probable with a right groin strain. Midfielder Danny Pena is probable with a left MCL strain. Defender Scott Cannon is probable with a right hip flexor strain.