Chronicling the returnees
April 3, 2007
Clint Mathis' return to Metro lore has marked the ninth time a player came back to the club after a previous departure. And while no one expects Clint recapture all of his 2000/01 glory, even a glimpse of that flair will be incredibly welcome. Below is a run-down of all Metro returnees, with some special cases thrown in. We will not discuss cases such as Mohammad Khakpour's, where a player was cut, only to be re-signed a few days later.
Petter Villegas, who had a three-game cup of tea with Metro in 1996 as a minor-league call up, came back for good in 1999 through the Supplemental Draft. His second stint lasted three and a half years and 103 games, before a surprising trade to DC that delivered Mark Lisi and Craig Ziadie. Petter is currently in the top ten for all-time games, minutes, starts, assists, and points.
Rob Johnson, forever remembered for the season-ending foul in 1996, came back as a one-game call-up from the Staten Island Vipers in 1999. His first stint, covering the back half of the inaugural season and early 1997, spanned 23 games.
Roy Myers, traded to Los Angeles after only seven games in 1999 in what was supposed to be a cleansing to acquire Lothar Matthaus, came back from the Galaxy a year later in exchange for Brian Kelly, playing in 24 matches. He was cut after season, and then re-signed in mid-2001, marking his third stint with the team, the first player to do so. However, that lasted only three games, as a season-ending injury thwarted his Metro and MLS career.
John Wolyniec came back in 2003 for his second playing stint, and third overall. Originally drafted in the 1999 College Draft, he was cut early in the season after not appearing in any games. Late in the year, he appeared as an A-League call-up from the Rough Riders and played in four matches, scoring on his first appearance. A vagabond USL and MLS career followed, until he was rescued in 2003 and spent the next two and a half seasons with the Metros, scoring ten goals in 2004 alone and playing in 72 total games. Midway through 2005, he was sent to Columbus, and then came back a year later, but not before a stop in Los Angeles. His fourth stint with Metro is now at 13 games. With 23 career goals, he is sixth in Metro history.
Richie Williams had a one-year stint with the Metros in 2001, acquired for Mike Ammann and traded back to DC Scum for Brian Kamler. A year after the second trade, he was back, acquired in the massive deal that also yielded Eddie Pope and Jaime Moreno. "Little Dick" played 28 games in 2001, 32 in 2003, and then signed with his first pro club, Richmond Kickers. In 2006, he was back as Mo Johnston's assistant, and then became the first former Metro to coach the team, acting as an interim head for nine games before assuming a subordinate role to current boss Bruce Arena.
2005 saw the return of the original Metro #1, Tony Meola. The donut-loving keeper first left Metro before the 1999 season, in a trade that saw Mark Chung and Mike Ammann come to New Jersey. After years with the Wizards, he came back midway through 2005, and played the next season and a half with Metro. Gone now and bitter about it, his 140 games (third all-time) break into 111 in his first stint, 39 in the second. Meola is the Metro all-time leader in most goalkeeping categories.
Steve Jolley, loved for bleeding the colors, came back in 2006. His coming to Metro early in the 2000 season signaled a start of two years when he didn't miss a single minute. After playing in 129 games and then clearly regressing in 2003, Jolley was dealt to Dallas for Tenywa Bonseu before the 2004 season. He made a triumphant return two years later, and played in 18 games before his release and retirement. The 147 total matches are second all-time, and is his minute total.
Interestingly, Jolley's return in 2006 led to the release of Tim Regan, who at the time had spent three seasons with Metro, playing in 50 games. After a year with Chivas USA, Regan is back, through the magic of the Expansion Draft and a trade for Edson Buddle.
Finally, we have Clint Mathis. 81 games in his 2000-2003 stint, 39 goals (tied for second best, and only five off Giovanni Savarese's record), 102 points (second behind Amado Guevara), and oh so many memorable moments... Let's hope his second stint can add to those numbers and memories.
Players who sort-of returned:
Paul Grafer, who started for Metro late in 2000 after being called-up from the Rough Riders, but then was forced to enter the lottery and ended up for a second in San Jose, before Metro rescued him for Ramiro Corrales.
Louis Ken-Kwofie, who spent some time with MetroBlack in 2002.
Barry Swift, who failed to make MetroBlack in 2003, before the reserve team folded.
Giovanni Savarese, who almost was signed by the team in 2001 and failed to make it as a trialist in 2003, before a two-year stint as the club Youth Director that ended with his recent surprising firing.
Jim Rooney, another failed trialist in 2003.
Stan Lembryk, who has spent the last few seasons as one of Metro's youth coaches.
Jeff Moore, who played a reserve match for Metro in 2006.
Jeff Agoos, returning in late 2006 to become Technical Director.
Chris Leitch, who was almost signed a couple of weeks ago before an injury shelved that plan.