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DCU Signs Defender

D.C. United has paid a transfer fee to Red Star Belgrade for Canadian central defender Dejan Jakovic. He is 6 feet 2, 23 years old, born in Yugoslavia, left for Canada with his family at a young age, played at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and was a regular with Canada's under-23 squad. Although he has just one cap for the national team, he has been included on the game-day roster several times. He is scheduled to arrive next week, pending visa approval.

Photo and background info here.

"He is athletic, very good feet, good passer, tactically very smart," GM Dave Kasper said. "He was high on our list. It took a lot of work" to finalize the deal.

Kasper said Jakovic is a likely starter, with Devon McTavish, 24, and Greg Janicki, 24, competing for the other central role.

"We're going to have some young central defenders, but we are happy with the group now," Kasper said.

Meantime, goalkeeper Milos Kocic, the second-round draft pick from Loyola (Md.), has an offer in Sweden and will decide next week whether to accept United's developmental contract or pursue the opportunity overseas.

So the goalkeeper situation is this: Louis Crayton is the No. 1, trialist Nic Platter will likely be acquired from USL1 Minnesota, and Kocic or James Thorpe will fill the developmental slot. No other trialists are expected.

"Nic had a good camp in Puerto Rico and we want to see more of him" next week, Kasper said. "Minnesota said they would not stand in his way if we wanted to sign him."

Kasper also confirmed defender Ryan Miller has agreed to a developmental contract, leaving one secondary slot available.


By Steve Goff  |  February 27, 2009; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Next: A Few Minutes With Ben Olsen

Comments

Any word on the MLS Cup venue?

Posted by: nico78 | February 27, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Sweet a European defender. They fit better into our style of game. I wish we still had Boswell, but that's old news.

Posted by: bighungry | February 27, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Bummer about Kocic. People criticizing DCU's drafts. I think the larger issue isn't that the team doesn't choose talented players. It's that some of those players go to Europe (especially when they aren't chosen in the first round) like....Lyle Adams, Kocic, Nelson (who first spurned us to look at Grasshoppers Zurich), Stephen Armstrong, Luis Robles, Jacobson and a few others I'm forgetting at the moment.

As for Jakovic....interesting. I find it hard to believe that a player so young would be an organizer-type but that's certainly possible. My understanding is that he wasn't in Red Star's plans for the future and they wanted to move him--don't know why. It certainly gives us the potential to keep a group of defenders around for a while because only Namoff is getting older and has a history of injury. All the others are younger, under multiple year contracts (or MLS/DCU olds an option) and have room to grow in terms of defender salaries.

Posted by: JoeW1 | February 27, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

It will be interesting to see if Jakovic gets the spot many saw going to Veris or Peters or if he will get Mediates spot... If Kocic takes the developmental deal then I don't think we need 3 GKs... Crayton and Kocic would be fine, so if Kocic signs at all then to me Platter becomes expendable and we can keep Mediate or Peters. Futty Danso and Miller will get the other 2 remaining developmental spots.

Posted by: BurchFan4 | February 27, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

So for those sitting directly behind the goal, with Jakovic playing center back, won't those spectators get a Dejan view?


(Sorry, long week...)

Posted by: 22206no1 | February 27, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

"He is athletic, very good feet, good passer, tactically very smart..."

A Canadian? Really?

@22206: that's better than anything I've written this week...

Posted by: joedoc1 | February 27, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Yes. A Canadian. Meaning that we'll need a backup when he has National team duties.
Oh, never mind eh.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 27, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Kasper seems to be very "transparent" these days...

Posted by: joedoc1 | February 27, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Delightful. Since Jerson Montiero got waived I haven't had Maryland and UAB alumni to cheer for at United. This works out very well.

Posted by: Colm1 | February 27, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

that's better than anything I've written this week...

Posted by: joedoc1 | February 27, 2009 2:49 PM

*******************

But not nearly as earth shattering as your exposing the United defenders, save one, as vampires! "...only Namoff is getting older"....!

Let's avoid the day games!


:)

Posted by: JkR- | February 27, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

BurchFan - remind me again...who is Peters?

Posted by: combedge | February 27, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

This can't be a good sign for Veris and Futty....

On the other hand, I'm already feeling a little better about the team's chances this year. Nice to finally have some real competition for a spot in central defense.

As for Kocic -- obviously this a signal that the team doesn't think he's ready now -- but that they probably prize him more highly than Thorpe, as far as potential goes. My guess is Platter is in line to be the back-up, either way.

Keeping Jakovic long-term? I wonder if this isn't his way into MLS, seeking a spot with a Canadian side there? If he's happy to be here long-term, he could fill the hole Boswell left when he stopped getting any sleep. Young is OK, if they have a clue what they're doing, and some talent.

(Just a hunch, but I suspect Peters has a leg up on Danso and Veris, if for no other reason than he seems to be in great shape...though, I guess Jakovic's signing may allow DCU some time to develop Danso and have him get in shape.)

Posted by: fischy | February 27, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Is Kocic another Luis Robles who will have success at a lower level in Europe or is he one of the haldful of keepers who draw interest from overseas only to come back to the US in a year or so looking for work?

Posted by: beach3 | February 27, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah -- any word on an alternate 3rd jersey for the Freedom?

Signing off....

Posted by: fischy | February 27, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how much we paid for him. If they wanted to get rid of him I doubt too much.

Posted by: bighungry | February 27, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Houston seems set to sign another Canadian defender, Andrew Hainault.
http://www.soccer365.com/english_premiership/story_27209145618.php

Anyone else wondering if there is a league wide directive to find Canadians. :)

Posted by: undrafted | February 27, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see us bringing in another center back with higher-level experience than college play. He's not the veteran leader we need, but he can still be a leader without being a veteran (it's just less likely). I'm not going to pretend I know anything about him, but 6'2" and comfortable with the ball are both good things, right? I don't mind the youth as long as they keep things more simple and cut out the individual mistakes.

I'm going to withhold reaction to Kocic possibly departing until we see what Platter can do. He's only 27, which is young for a keeper, and clearly if Kocic was better right now they would have given him the senior offer and thanked Platter for his time. Let's not lose sleep over another lost draft pick if the reason he left is that he wasn't better than who we have. I would also like to take this opportunity to mention that Platter's nickname is El Disco. I will be mentioning this until it takes off, as was promised to some Thunder fan I've never met.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the last senior spot is up for grabs between Mediate, Peters, and Veris, while the last developmental spot is between Danso and Barklage. With Jakovic coming in at CB, I would guess Mediate has the edge on the last senior spot. That also impacts Barklage, who is supposed to be a hard-working flank player (something Mediate brings to the table).

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | February 27, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

"Correct me if I'm wrong..."

Highly unlikely, Chest.

Posted by: joedoc1 | February 27, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Mo Johnston whines about his inability to bring Canadian players to his team yet DCU and likely Houston will sign young national team Canuck centerbacks (a position in which Toronto is currently despite the Serioux acquisition) within a few days of each other.

Interesting to note that Jakovic was a forward/midfielder at UAB (similar to Peters and Danso who both played forward in college yet have become defenders).

Posted by: PhillyMLS | February 27, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I feel sorry for MLS play-by-play folks who will now be heard calling, "Janicki to Jakovic".

Posted by: mbyrd28 | February 27, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Do Canadians count as internation spots?

Posted by: rickinashburn | February 27, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Kocic was a bit of a reach at #21 but the draft pretty much ended at pick 19 with everyone else facing tough odds to make it at the MLS level. That's typical of most drafts in MLS as the 2nd round is usually a 50-50 chance of finding sommeone useful. This is what made Daniel Cruz slipping to #41 such a surprise. Even so, not having both picks 21 or 26 signed would be a disappointing result though DC will have 2 years to monitor the players. I'm not saying Kocic won't take the developmental offer (or one day make it in MLS) but getting beaten out for #2 is DC admitting he's not quite the prospect they thought.

Posted by: undrafted | February 27, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

He is 6 feet 2, 23 years old, born in Yugoslavia, left for Canada..."

Yugoslavia? Where's that? I don't see it on my map anywhere!

;)

Posted by: TCompton | February 27, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else wondering if there is a league wide directive to find Canadians. :)

Posted by: undrafted | February 27, 2009 3:24 PM

-----------------------------------

I think the American teams are realizing it makes it easier to cut a deal with Trader Mo.

Posted by: Kenobi | February 27, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Welcome, Deki!

Posted by: beergorila | February 27, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure Futty Danso is going to get that last dev. spot over Barklage if he earns it. And I'd imagine Peters has a leg up on Veris, because if Veris had impressed that much he'd have been signed by now.

Combedge- This is Anthony Peters
http://www.behindthebadge.com/2009/02/anthony-peters-on-trial.php#comments

Posted by: BurchFan4 | February 27, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

We need 3 GKs. I like Clayton but he was uneven (or perhaps I should say "channeling Jorge Campos at times") and his contract is up at mid-season. We need someone who we don't mind starting the second half of the season. So it's not enough to say Kocic has more potential or more upside. We need a GK we don't mind starting THIS YEAR.

Posted by: JoeW1 | February 27, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

How much of a transfer fee did we pay?

Posted by: StewartDC8 | February 27, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

joedoc:

If only. I recall feeling very optimistic about United's chances this time last year.

PhillyMLS:

That's because, as much as people go on about Trader Mo and claim that Toronto has had some amazing offseason (2 years running that I've read that), the fact is that Johnston is somewhere in the middle of MLS general managers/technical directors. He's by far the most active, but if he had done a better job in the past he wouldn't have to make 15 moves every winter.

Like you point out, TFC's most glaring weakness is in central defense. Someone like Jakovic should be money in the bank for Toronto. Instead, I think they'll look a lot like us last year: equally capable of blowing someone out or being blown out.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | February 27, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

@Chest - or anyone with the answer -- Peters. He's 25 now. MLS rules allow developmental slots for those 25 or younger. If you're a day past your 25th birthday, are you ineligible for a developmental deal, or do you remain eligible so long as you're not already 26?

Posted by: fischy | February 27, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I know I'm going to make the mistake of calling this guy Dejan Stankovic (Inter Milan player). He sounds promising but most new signings do. At least he's not a hairy chested Bulgarian.

Sunday's scrimmage against Maryland should be interesting. I wonder if any of the borderline players make the team or get cut based on their performance in College Park.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | February 27, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I'm really happy to hear this.

I haven't seen him play yet, but it sounds like we have a young international defender with excellent height, apparent speed, and if the "footwork" portion is even half true, he sounds better than Peralta.

As for the call for an experienced leader, Chad Marshall and Parkhurst carried their clubs defensively, while the "experienced" often are dipping, and as transfers are often let go because they too... damn... slow. And if he's got talent, we can have a FUTURE in the back, something DC has forgot about. Clear-ly.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | February 27, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

A few things, if United doesn't plan on extending Clayton's contract, they'll bring someone else in during the Summer. I don't see Platter or Kocic being ready to start significant matches for United this year.

I love the determination and drive of Mediate, but he simply doesn't have the skill to truly compete. He seems like someone who would do well in USL though.

I'd definitely sign Danso to a dev deal. A big player who's a threat from corner's and set-pieces is a rare commodity in MLS.

Also re: Canadians taking up an international roster spot. Under current labor laws, you can't treat anyone without a Green Card as a "domestic employee", but if that North American Union ever comes to fruition (which it likely won't) then presumably anyone from Canada, Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean would be considered "domestic".

Posted by: alecw81 | February 27, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

What freaky rule did MLS use to sign this kid? He's undrafted, yet played in American college. Why did he not get the Alex Yi treatment and go in a lottery or something? Did DCU have to use an allocation or give up their spot in the waiver line? He was not out of contract and MLS doesn't pay transfer fees. Or are we just making this up as we go along as usual?

Posted by: IamAM | February 27, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

fischy:

Columbus wanted to sign Peters to a developmental deal, but couldn't (which is the only reason we got a shot at him). I would assume that means the moment you turn 25, you're senior or bust.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | February 27, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps all of these Canadians is a sign that Vancouver and Ottawa are the two expansion picks and the league needs to load up on Canadians for their expansion draft and so they can meet "Canadian content" rules.

Posted by: scott47a | February 27, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he'll be our Vidic

Posted by: OWNTF | February 27, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

That's because, as much as people go on about Trader Mo and claim that Toronto has had some amazing offseason (2 years running that I've read that), the fact is that Johnston is somewhere in the middle of MLS general managers/technical directors. He's by far the most active, but if he had done a better job in the past he wouldn't have to make 15 moves every winter.


Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | February 27, 2009 4:12 PM

That and that this league has a proven track record of rewarding teams with continuity fro mseason to season. Take, for example, Columbus Crew....crap in 2007, no major personel changes in the off-season, MLS Cup Champs in 2008. Also take, for example, DC United...Same core of players and tremendous success from 2004-2007 followed by an off-season filled with large influx of what looks on paper like great acquisitions only to crap out in 2008. I'm sure there are many other examples. TFC will not make the playoffs if they keep changing half their starting lineup every year.

Posted by: afadgsafhgd | February 27, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

IamAM, MLS saves the freaky rules for US players. Maybe a 2nd Canadian team will mean MLS will institute a whole set of freaky rules for Canadians too.

Posted by: undrafted | February 27, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Whatever happened to Jerson Monteiro?

I will save my Stefan Frei mumbling for later in the season.

Posted by: B_A_ | February 27, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Umm... he's called Trader Mo simply because he makes a lot of moves, not because any of them have been anywhere near what one would consider "successful". Sort of like Dan Snyder.

Posted by: alecw81 | February 27, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

alecw81:

Virtually every time I read an article using the phrase "Trader Mo", it goes on about how good all these moves are and how TFC is a real contender. I know what the term means, but I also believe that Johnston is given a much higher reputation as a GM than he's earned. In fact, if we go on what he's actually accomplished as a GM, he's one of the worst in the league.

When it comes to Johnston, a lot of people have forgotten that quantity and quality are not the same thing.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | February 27, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

The idea that DC needs a veteran center back to anchor the defense and lead by example just does not stand up to history. DC has won a few MLS Cups playing with, or even being led by, young central defenders. I know these are obscure names, but anyone recall Pope, Nelsen, and/or Boswell? The idea that 5 of the top 6 defenders for DC could be under 25 is great. Now only if there were a few young attackers...

Posted by: Dancy1 | February 27, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

In some parts of the world Deki is a girl's name. Oops. I am glade it does mean nothing here.
What's up with DC signing all these 6 ft heavy weight defenders? Are we a baskateball team now? Simply tall and physically strong doesn't translate to skill soccer player. Sometimes it can be a disaster.

Posted by: DCUnitedFootball | February 27, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Milos Kocic - anybody know where in Sweden?

Posted by: big_spaniel | February 27, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Monterio played for the Silverbacks last year, and at midseason in an accident play at the end line was tackled into the ad boards at an awkward ankle and blew his knee out. Very Unfortunate.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | February 27, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

It would be a shame if Veris's blacked eye screwed up his chances of showing well. Crap Luck.
I like the idea of menacing dudes in the back as long as they're motivated, and not as slow as Peralta was. I like they're chances of not driving me to the inebriated blather I posted a lot of in post match threads last season...Wells had a lot to do with that, as well as an inability to score in the first 3rd of the season.

Posted by: DadRyan | March 1, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

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