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Coach Returns, but Loses

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A change of leadership proved Club America’s undoing over the weekend as the Mexican league’s defending champion lost for the first time this season in Coach Manuel Lapuente’s first game back in charge.

Lapuente had taken a two-month medical leave, during which time interim Coach Mario Carrillo led the team to an 8-0-2 record. But on Sunday, Club America was upset, 2-1, by Toluca at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

Pavel Pardo gave the home team the lead in the ninth minute, but Club America squandered the chance to take a two-goal advantage when striker Cuauhtemoc Blanco slammed a penalty kick against the crossbar.

Toluca’s Jose Cruzalta tied the score in the 25th minute, and Toluca earned the victory three minutes from the end when Paraguayan forward Jose Cardoza scored his league-high 14th goal.

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Diallo Leaves MLS

Mamadou “Big Mama” Diallo, the Senagalese striker who scored 47 goals in 74 games for three Major League Soccer teams over the last three seasons and was a two-time all-star, was sold by the New York/New Jersey MetroStars to Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia.

Terms were not revealed, but Nick Sakiewicz, the MetroStars’ president, said the move would free a foreign roster spot for the team and also ease its salary cap problems.

Before joining the MetroStars this season, Diallo, 31, had played for the Tampa Bay Mutiny and the New England Revolution.

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Howard to Feyenoord

Tim Howard, the MetroStars and U.S. national team goalkeeper who led MLS in saves for the second consecutive season, has flown to the Netherlands, where he will train with UEFA Cup holder Feyenoord of Rotterdam for the next two weeks.

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Court Rejection

The United States Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by eight MLS players in their class-action lawsuit against the league, effectively ending a five-year legal battle.

The players had claimed that the league’s single-entity structure was designed to keep player salaries down and that a conspiracy existed between MLS and U.S. Soccer to eliminate competition from other leagues.

A federal judge dismissed the first claim in a summary judgment and a jury decided against the players on the conspiracy. The U.S. Court of Appeals had affirmed both decisions.

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Firing Line

Sunderland, U.S. team captain Claudio Reyna’s English Premier League club, dismissed former England national team player Peter Reid as coach. Reid, 46, had been the team’s coach since March 1995.

“Nearly a quarter of the season has gone and we are at the wrong end of the table and can’t wait any longer for performances to improve,” said Bob Murray, Sunderland’s president.

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Asian Games

The Asian Games move to the quarterfinals today when defending champion Iran plays Kuwait in Busan, South Korea.

The other quarterfinals feature China against Japan, South Korea against Bahrain and Thailand against North Korea.

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Iraq Pursues Stange

Bernd Stange, the 54-year-old former coach of East Germany, is close to reaching an agreement to become Iraq’s national coach, the German newspaper Bild reported.

“I’ve been out of work for over a year now, and you don’t receive many offers at my age,” Stange told Bild.

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“With Iraq, I would have a chance of taking part in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.”

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Maradona Loses Appeal

Diego Maradona’s appeal of a two-year prison sentence was rejected by Argentina’s highest appellate court.

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But the former World Cup star, now 42, will not have to spend time in jail for his 1994 air-rifle attack on journalists unless he is sentenced for another crime in the next 10 years.


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