By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 9, 2001
TAMPA -- Mutiny fans will get a good look at Mamadou Diallo in today's home finale against Columbus. He'll not only be in a Mutiny uniform, but the first 5,000 fans will receive a Diallo bobblehead doll.
The doll could become a collector's item sooner than expected. Diallo has hinted this may be his last season with the Mutiny.
Diallo has not been happy with Tampa Bay's performance this season, and emotions boiled over in the Sept. 1 5-1 loss at D.C. United. Mutiny coach Perry Van Der Beck replaced Diallo in the second half with Ali Curtis, which led to some locker room shouting.
Diallo, who still has two years on his recently renewed Major League Soccer contract, was tight-lipped about his intentions.
"After (today's) game the people will know what Mamadou is going to do," Diallo said. "I'm not going to say anything until then."
It's not even a sure thing that Diallo, 30, will start or play 90 minutes against the Crew. He practiced sporadically last week, mostly because of a bad back, but some say it also could be from a bruised ego.
"I'm not really sure right now," Van Der Beck said about playing Diallo. "I've got 18 guys to pick from. I haven't made any decisions about the direction I'm headed. He had a little bit of a back injury and sat out Tuesday. But then he ran pretty good Wednesday."
If Diallo was to leave the Mutiny, it would be through a trade, a transfer to a foreign club or a reallocation by the league. MLS negotiates all player contracts, and if Diallo wants to leave the Mutiny he would have to petition MLS if the Mutiny doesn't trade him.
Former Mutiny midfielder Carlos Valderrama was reallocated to the Mutiny in 1999 after Valderrama refused to play for Miami coach Ivo Wortmann.
Diallo is likely to miss at least three weeks next season to play for the Senegal national team in the World Cup.
This has not been a productive year for Diallo. He was the MLS scoring leader in 2000 with 26 goals in 28 games. But this season he has fallen off with nine goals and five assists in 21 games. He hasn't scored a goal in nine games, his longest drought.
Diallo has missed five games with red card and disciplinary suspensions. There have been outbursts at practice and on the field with players and coaches.
"I haven't been through anything like this in my life," Diallo said.
It's safe to say, none of his teammates has either. The losses have piled up at a record pace. The team has lost four games by four or more goals, including 6-1 in its last game against Columbus.
Van Der Beck has not had much success trying to straighten out a team that was 3-12-1 before Alfonso Mondelo resigned. Since being named the coach, Van Der Beck is 1-7-1. In a July 7 loss to Columbus, Van Der Beck was officially the interim coach.
Van Der Beck has an agreement with general manager Bill Manning to coach next season.
That's when he hopes to have his own team in place, with or without Diallo. For now, Van Der Beck only wants to think about this season.
"I'm just trying to keep these players focused on the last two games," Van Der Beck said. "There was the incident in D.C., but that's past. Now I want to go out at home on a winning note."
WHEN/WHERE: 5; Raymond James Stadium, Tampa.
TV/RADIO: ESPN2; WWBA-AM 1040, WAMA-AM 1550 (Spanish).
COACHES: Crew -- Greg Andrulis. Mutiny -- Perry Van Der Beck.
RECORDS: Crew 12-7-6, Mutiny 4-20-2.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Crew -- F Jeff Cunningham, M John Wilmar Perez, D Mike Clark, G Tom Presthus, M Brian Maisonneuve. Mutiny -- F Mamadou Diallo, G Adin Brown, M Danny Pena, M Steve Ralston, D Diego Sonora. NOTES: Mutiny D Chad McCarty is out for the final two games with an aggravated left ankle. M/F Eric Quill is questionable with a strained left hamstring. Crew M/D Todd Yeagley is out with a broken left foot. F Brian McBride is out with a blood clot in his right arm. -- Compiled by Rodney Page.