Taxi Fountas will not travel with DC United amid investigation

Taxi Fountas, who is under investigation by MLS for allegedly using a racial slur during DC United’s latest game, will not travel with the club to Montreal for Saturday’s match, officials said Thursday. club.

Fountas has been granted time off after completing his duties with the Greek national team this week. Normally players return immediately from these assignments, but Fountas will remain in Greece all weekend, coach Wayne Rooney said.

“It’s a serious situation and he’s having a little mental trouble with it,” Rooney said. “The most important thing now is to give him time to be with his family, and we await the outcome of the investigation.”

Inter Miami accused Fountas, who is white, of using the n-word during a confrontation with Damion Lowe, who is black, during the second half of the Sept. 18 game at Audi Field. After Miami threatened to walk off the field if Fountas stayed in the game, Rooney replaced him.

Taxi Fountas denies using racial slurs in DC United loss

The league survey involved interviews with numerous participants, including Fountas, who is United’s top scorer and only all-star. Rooney said he was not contacted by MLS. A league spokesman said Thursday the investigation was ongoing but did not set a timeline for a decision.

Fountas, who joined United at the start of this season, denied the charges in an Instagram post.

“This despicable racial slur is one I denounce and did not use,” he wrote. “We had a lively discussion on the pitch. But I didn’t racially abuse anyone. I firmly reject racism in all its forms. It is despicable. »

Referee Ismail Elfath told a reporter at the pool that no match official heard any racist or abusive comments and none were detected via video review.

“Taxi is adamant that he didn’t say the words he was charged with,” Rooney said. “It’s been very difficult for him and his family to see things online and experience a lot of abuse.”

Fountas’ wife and son left the DC area and joined him in Greece last week, club officials said.

After the trip to Montreal, United (7-19-6) will conclude the season on October 9 at home against FC Cincinnati.

Whatever the status of the investigation, United have urged Fountas (12 goals, three assists in 21 appearances) to return to the United States soon.

This is not the first such incident in MLS. Last year a the investigation could not corroborate or refute the allegations that Franco Fragapane of Minnesota directed racially abusive and offensive language at Diego Chara of Portland.

League rules require players to undergo non-discrimination and anti-harassment training each preseason. Players who arrive after the start of the season, like Fountas, must complete training quickly, MLS said.

Defender Andy Najar will miss the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury suffered while serving with the Honduran national team. He played 62 minutes in a 3-0 loss to Argentina last Friday in Miami Gardens, Florida, and missed the 2-1 win over Guatemala on Tuesday in Houston.

Najar, whose career has been marred by injury, has made 23 appearances (20 starts) this season.

Icelandic midfielder Victor Palsson, DC’s third player on international duty, will return to United in Montreal on Friday after starting against Venezuela and Albania.

Bill Hamid’s status is unclear

It remains unclear whether longtime goalkeeper Bill Hamid will play in the season finale, which would likely serve as his farewell from the club he started his career with in 2009 aged 18.

Hamid, whose contract expires this winter, has trained once with United since Rooney became manager on July 31, Rooney said. Hamid underwent surgery on his hand at the end of June and has not been listed on the injury report for several weeks. This month, Hamid announced on social media that he was taking “a little break” to spend time with his son, who was born on September 21.

Rooney said two weeks ago that he would like to face Hamid in front of the home fans one last time. (The club do not plan to re-sign him.)

“Hopefully he comes next week,” Rooney said. “As a club we want to do the right thing and give him a few minutes, but he needs to train because it’s been several weeks already.”

Rooney sees opportunities for young players

With the playoffs long out of reach, Rooney plans to continue providing minutes for younger players. He said rookie midfielder Ted Ku-DiPietro, who impressed on loan at Loudoun United in the Second Division, will travel to Montreal.

Others making the trip include two local signings – midfielder Jackson Hopkins, 18, and defender Matai Akinmboni, 15. Hometown striker Kristian Fletcher, 17, is likely to be in uniform against Cincinnati and Gavin Turner, a 15-year-old United academy striker. , could receive a call-up to the final, Rooney said.

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