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Coming home?
Donovan considering deal to play in MLS
03-28-01
www.cnnsi.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Landon Donovan, the talented teen-ager who has been playing in Germany, is hoping to return home to play in Major League Soccer.

Donovan, dropped from the U.S. roster for Wednesday's World Cup qualifier at Honduras due to broken ribs, was at the league's offices in New York on Tuesday trying to work out a deal, commissioner Don Garber said.

"He has been the one pressuring Bayer Leverkusen to have him come home," Garber said. "We're very encouraged by it. We should be able to get a deal done shortly. It will be great news for the league."

Donovan, an 18-year-old from Redlands, California, signed with Bayer Leverkusen of the German Bundesliga but hasn't gotten into a game.

He played for last year's U.S. Under-23 team in the Olympics and broke two ribs in last week's FIFA Under-20 Championship qualifying.

If a deal can be reached, Donovan probably would be allocated to San Jose, said Garber, adding that other teams are also interested in trading for that allocation.

"We would love to see him end up in a market that can capitalize on the value of what he can bring to the league and the local market," Garber said.

In other matters, Garber also said six-year-old league is not finished fighting a class-action antitrust lawsuit brought in federal court by its players.

A jury decided in December that the league was not a monopoly with the power to depress salaries.

The NFLPA, which is representing the soccer players, has filed an appeal of the single-entity summary judgment, and a hearing is scheduled for May 6 at the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston, according to Garber.

Garber said the league was still considering expansion in 2003, although the key seems to be getting a stadium built for a second team in the New York area.

Construction on that stadium, which would cost between $40 million and $60 million, would have to begin by the end of the year for New York to field a second team, Garber said.

"Our goal is to have expansion take place with New York and another market," Garber said, noting that expansion might be limited to one city or two cities outside of New York.

"At this point there is no driving factors to force us to expand other than our own belief that we need to have more markets," Garber said.

Houston, Seattle, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Winston-Salem, N.C. and Rochester, N.Y. are other cities being considered for expansion franchises, Garber said.

The league has lost $250 million in its first five years of operation. Garber said the league will probably continue to lose money, but he would not say how much.

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