The Nashville Metros had some good news and some bad news for their fans just before this weekend's two-game road trip to the Carolinas.
The good news on Thursday was that fan favorite and defensive standout Danny DeVall would rejoin the franchise after all. The bad news came Wednesday when team captain Steve Kraemer reinjured his hip flexor in practice.
DeVall, 28, will be available for this weekend's A-League games after signing a contract this week with team officials. Terms of that contract were undisclosed. He had practiced with the team for the past few weeks, but the team had announced last week he and fellow franchise veteran Pasi Kinturi would not be returning to the Metros this season after the two were unable to reach contractual agreements with team management.
The change in DeVall's status strengthens an already impressive defense. The midfielder/defender, who was called up to Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids for two games last season, also had seven points (three goals and one assist) in 1,782 minutes of play for Nashville last year. In 1999 he produced nine points (four goals and one assist) in 1,767 minutes.
Coach Brett Mosen will be glad to have DeVall back in the fold with the temporary loss of Kraemer, 24, who can also play midfielder or defender spots for Nashville. Kraemer will not play in the next two games. The team goes on the road to play A-League foe the Charlotte Eagles at 7 CDT tonight on the pitch of Charlotte N.C., Memorial Stadium and then takes on the D-3 League's Greenville Lions Sunday at Sirrine Stadium in Greenville, S.C., in a 5 p.m. CDT contest. Team officials did not say if Kraemer would be ready for next Friday's 7 p.m. home match against the Atlanta Silverbacks.
Mosen said his team will face two opponents this weekend that definitely enjoy having home-field advantage.
"I know from talking to people in the league that Charlotte is a strong side at home," the coach said. "And from what the Atlanta folks tell me after playing them, Greenville enjoys playing at home too.
"It's good that we get a day off between matches because we'll need the rest to be able to play these two in the same weekend."
The Eagles (1-2, 5 points) moved up to the A-League in 2001 after winning the D-3 Pro League championship last year and retained most of that squad on this year's roster. Coach Mark Steffens' offense relies heavily on Dustin Swinehart, who scored two goals against Charleston during the three games so far. His first was the game winner and earned him A-League Player of the Week honors. The 26-year-old forward led the team in scoring last year with 13 goals and eight assists (34 points). He scored three goals in the 2000 D-3 championship game.
Mosen will probably hope his side can successfully attack an Eagles defense that has given up seven goals in the last two games. Charlotte won its A-League opener against the Charleston Battery 3-2 in overtime at home April 21 before the Battery more than returned the favor by defeating the Eagles 3-0 and 4-1 in Charleston.
Nashville (1-2, 4 points) will play a now largely meaningless U.S. Open Cup qualifying match Sunday as they take on the Lions. It's largely meaningless because the third member of that group is Atlanta, which has beaten Greenville twice (2-1 and 5-1) and the Metros once (2-1 on May 5). It should be noted that Greenville played Atlanta to a regulation draw in the first game, however, before losing in overtime.
Third-year Metros defender Ben Fisher has passed former goalkeeper Randy Dedini as the all-time leader in minutes played for the team (5,019). He set the new record during May 4's 3-2 home loss to the Richmond Kickers. The next night at Atlanta he broke Dedini's record for all-time games played with 56. In 1999, when he played every minute of every game during the season (2,609).
FOR A GOOD CAUSE
Metros sponsor Provost-Umphrey, a Nashville law firm, has donated $1,000 in Metros tickets to HispaNash, a local charitable group. HispaNash plans to sell the tickets to soccer fans in the Hispanic community to raise funds for its work, which includes funding scholarships for Hispanic students and assisting needy families with sending the remains of deceased relatives back to homelands in Mexico or Central America for burial.
For Metros tickets or more information, call 832-5678 or visit the team's web site at http://www.nashvillemetros.com.