YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


MLS to Review Hard Tackle

May 06, 2003|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

Major League Soccer is about to become embroiled in its second broken-leg controversy of the year in the wake of D.C. United midfielder Dema Kovalenko's tackle Saturday that left Dallas Burn midfielder Ronnie O'Brien with a shattered right tibia.

O'Brien, 24, will undergo surgery in Dallas today and is expected to be sidelined for at least six months.

Burn Coach Mike Jeffries has asked MLS to review the tackle, which occurred at RFK Stadium when O'Brien stole the ball from Kovalenko and raced into the penalty area, only to be hit by Kovalenko with a lunging, two-footed tackle from the side in the 86th minute.

No foul was called by referee Jesse Johnson.

"I viewed it as a reckless play," Jeffries told the Dallas Morning News. "I didn't think [Kovalenko] had a real chance of getting the ball, and he went in in such a way where causing harm to an opposing player was a distinct possibility."

Burn midfielder Chad Deering was equally angered by the tackle.

"It was one of the more disgusting things I've seen," he told the Morning News. "His first leg missed and his second connected. This is not the first time he's done this."

Kovalenko, 25, broke the leg of another Burn player, Brandon Pollard, with a similar tackle during a playoff match in 1999 while he was playing for the Chicago Fire. Pollard subsequently had to retire.

The league earlier this season fined and suspended D.C. United and former Fire player Hristo Stoitchkov for breaking the leg of a college player during a preseason scrimmage. It said it would investigate.

Players Criticize Format

The FIFA executive committee's tentative endorsement Saturday of a 36-team World Cup in 2006 was criticized Monday by two of Germany's most illustrious former players.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the chairman of Bayern Munich, said Europe's leading clubs "won't take it" if they have to release players for a longer tournament with more games that would add to the toll on their players.

"I am warning against putting players under more and more pressure," Rummenigge said in Munich.

In Berlin, meanwhile, Franz Beckenbauer said increasing the tournament from 32 teams to 36, as South America wants, is feasible but unwieldy and could lead to some games being noncompetitive.

"With 36 teams, we have to play nine groups, which means only seven second-place teams go through," Germany's former World Cup-winning captain and coach told the Bild newspaper.

"It will not be possible to stage all the final group games at the same time. Some teams will have to wait for a week before knowing whether they are qualified. Others could play to get the result they need."

FIFA said it would decide on the South American proposal in Paris in June.

Porto Parties

Fans of FC Porto celebrated until almost dawn on Monday after their team had demolished Santa Clara, 5-0, at Porto on Sunday to win the Portuguese league championship for the 18th time.

Coach Jose Mourinho's side, seeking a trio of trophies, plays Celtic of Scotland in the UEFA Cup final on May 21 and Leira in the Portuguese Cup final on June 15.

Referee Returns

Byron Moreno, the referee from Ecuador whose controversial decisions during the Korea/Japan '02 World Cup caused an outcry in Italy, and later in Ecuador itself, has returned from a 20-match ban imposed last year by Ecuador's soccer federation.

According to local media, Moreno's handling of his first game back in the middle on Sunday was typically spicy. He awarded a penalty and handed out one red card and six yellow cards.

Moreno was lambasted by Italian fans and media for his decisions during Italy's 2-1 loss to South Korea at the World Cup, and later added 12 minutes to an Ecuador league game in September, an action that prompted his suspension.

Mexican Roundup

The UNAM Pumas self-destructed in quite extraordinary fashion Sunday as the Mexican league completed its 19th round of matches, turning a 4-0 halftime lead into a 4-4 tie with Necaxa and ruining their chances of reaching the playoffs.

UNAM Coach Hugo Sanchez is serving a one-month suspension, but his team got off to a fine start when it built a seemingly safe four-goal cushion on a hat trick by Francisco Fonseca and another goal by Martin Garcia.

But Necaxa got goals from Braulio Luna, Diego Martinez and Angel Sosa in the first six minutes of the second half and Luis Alves tied the game just after the hour mark.

In another match of note, Cruz Azul defeated Club America, 3-1, in front of more than 90,000 at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. Francisco Palencia scored twice and Juan Carlos Cacho once for Cruz Azul before Marcelo Lapatin scored a late goal for America.

Quick Passes

Akademisk Boldklub striker Sammy Youssouf, who was knocked unconscious and swallowed his tongue in a collision with FC Copenhagen defender Christian Traore in a Danish league game Sunday, was released from the hospital Monday and is expected to fully recover.... Serbia and Montenegro, still seeking its first victory since changing its name from Yugoslavia, will play England in an international friendly in Leicester, England, on June 3.... FC Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert denied reports that he would be moving to Manchester United. Instead, he hoped to remain with the Catalan club. The Dutchman's contract, which runs until 2005, allows Barcelona to cut in half his reported $6.67-million salary on May 15.

Los Angeles Times Articles