Obscure Metro Files: Raul Diaz Arce and Eric Wynalda
May 15, 2013
Wait a minute! What is up with this article? We know our Metro history, and we're pretty darn sure that neither Raul Diaz Arce nor Eric Wynalda ever played for the club!
Calm down, please. You're right; neither of them did. But both spent a few hours as members of Metro before being jettisoned elsewhere. We'll explain how.
The name of Raul Diaz Arce might not be known to the new generation of MLS fans, but he was a menace in the early years. And boy, did we hate the skinny, slithery Salvadorean, since those goals he knocked in were scored for DC United. So when the rumor that he was Metro-bound started circling in the winter of 1998, few wanted him on the club, goalscoring prowess or not. No player who ever suited up for DC ever played for Metro. The despised Diaz Arce was no place to start.
So Metro fans celebrated when it was revealed that Diaz Arce was not here to stay. Acquired for a 2nd round pick and future considerations, he was immediately flipped to New England for... Alexi Lalas. "Alexi's leadership will be a tremendous asset to our team," GM Charlie Stillitano said at the time. "There were a couple places I wanted to go and New York was No. 1 on the list," Lalas said. "This is an incredible challenge and adventure for me and I'm happy to be going to a place I wanted." Not as big a challenge as destroying the same franchise a few years down the road? Alright, fine, we're not here to talk about the red-haired clown.
We're here to talk about Diaz Arce, for a year later, he became a Metro for a fleeting moment once again. This time, new head coach Bora Milutinovic wanted nothing to do with Giovanni Savarese, only the team's all-time leading goalscorer from opening day. The moronic manager decided to ship him to rival New England, together with a 2nd round pick... for Diaz Arce. "It's difficult to deal a player as popular as Giovanni, especially when that player is such a big part of the historic fiber of the team," Stillitano said. "We needed to make some room to comply with the league salary cap and foreign-player limitations. Freeing up a foreign-player spot and creating room under the cap allows us to bring in an allocation that will better fit Milutinovic's style."
What's this about freeing a foreign slot? Didn't Diaz Arce take up one as well? Well, it was opened up immediately, as he was packaged with Marcelo Vega and sent to San Jose.
Vega, of course, is one of the most disappointing signings in team history. The overweight Chilean midfielder was putrid in his lone season with the club. When he made his way to San Jose, he hid in the bushes when the team was doing wind sprints... and was cut soon after. But we're not here to talk about the fat failure.
In return for Diaz Arce and Vega, Metro got an allocation (this just might be the first recorded instance of an MLS allocation changing hands) and future considerations. And the future considerations were realized later that season, when they became (aha!) Eric Wynalda.
Today, Wynalda is known as a loudmouth who can't keep a job on TV. Back then, he was known as a disappointing striker whose tenure in MLS didn't live up to the promise of his national career. He started the 1999 season injured, and Metro decided to turn their future considerations into him in June.
But just like with Diaz Arce, Wynalda's Metro stay didn't last long. On the same day, Metro sent recently-signed Costa Rican midfielder Roy Myers to Los Angeles for Brazilian striker Welton (Myers would return to Metro in a year). Then, they packaged Wynalda, Welton, and Colombian defender Arley Palacios and sent them all to Miami, in exchange for... an allocation. Are you keeping track? "These moves are designed to put us in a position where we can build the best possible team while adhering to the league's salary and international player guidelines," Stillitano said. "This is only the first step in a very ambitious plan to shape the MetroStars into the marquee club our fans deserve."
That allocation was supposed to be used on Lothar Matthaus. However, the German superstar dragged his feet, and decided not to join the club until the next season. Stillitano was left picking up the pieces, and used the open foreign slots on the underwhelming trio of Mohammad Khakpour, Sasa Curcic, and Henry Zambrano. At least we got some humor from the talking-watch-wearing, wave-runner-wanting Curcic... but it was too little too late, and ultimately cost Stillitano his job.
Anyway, Diaz Arce would go on to play for San Jose, Tampa Bay, DC again, and Colorado, before switching to the minor leagues and coaching. Wynalda went from Miami to New England to Chicago to a TV mouthpiece to coaching. As for Metro.. are we now a "marquee club"? Or the "SuperClub" that Lalas kept promising?...