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Posted at 2:01 PM ET, 01/ 4/2011

D.C. United news & notes

By Steve Goff

Greetings from RFK Stadium, where D.C. United coaches and front office staff have returned from holiday break. I have tales of a power outage, cockroaches, raccoons, a charity art auction, venue explorations and investor searches. First, the club news:

*Coach Ben Olsen and team president Kevin Payne confirmed the club's interest in Uruguayan defender Rodrigo Brasesco, who is a center and right back. If a deal is worked out, he would probably arrive on loan from Racing (Montevideo) with an option to purchase. United has tracked Brasesco, who turns 25 this month, for quite some time. Assistant coach Chad Ashton saw him in person last year and Olsen has studied videos.

"We really like him," Payne said. "We are definitely leaning" toward acquiring him.

In addition, United continues to search for an experienced defender. "Center backs are hard to come by," Payne said. "The good ones overseas are expensive and the guys who have been successful in the league are not easy to pry away from teams. Our assumption is that we are going to have to look outside the league."

*United is also looking to fill a bigger void: striker. The club set the MLS record for fewest goals last year (21 in 30 matches) and needs a proven scorer. "We are looking for the right guy," Payne said. "There is a large number that we are looking at. There is a couple that we are really interested in and trying to find out more about them. They are all established pros. I wouldn't say there is anybody yet where we have said, 'This is the guy we have to turn over heaven and earth to get him.' We do believe that there are a number of guys [currently on the roster] who can score goals, but you always want to have one guy you know who you can consistently score."

For much more.....

Olsen was coy about the search for a scorer. "If something pops up, great, but I feel fine with what we have right now." He referenced Chris Pontius, who is almost fully recovering from hamstring surgery; veteran Santino Quaranta; 2010 MLS rookie of the year Andy Najar; and newcomers Josh Wolff and Joseph Ngwenya.

Does United have the resources to take the plunge for a high-priced acquisition under the designated player rule? "If the right person came along, the answer is yes, but that kind of decision ties into so many other decisions," Payne said. "What's our deal here at RFK? Where do we think the stadium process is leading us? It's not as simple as: Can we write a check? If we do write a check, can we properly monetize that investment? Does it make sense strategically? We're not in any rush to go out and sign a DP, but if the right opportunity came along and it made sense, I don't think we are constrained from signing a DP."

I made the argument that, in the aftermath of a horrible season, many supporters believe there probably should be a rush to sign a prominent player. Payne countered by saying: "We don't want to make a mistake. We have a long time. It's 2 ½ months until the regular season. The league rules have changed now [because of the new collective bargaining agreement]. It used to be that you could sign a guy to a semi-guaranteed contract and then let him go. It's a lot more difficult to manage the roster and salary cap. It happened last year. Danny Allsopp didn't score the way we hoped [five goals]. We thought he was going to be a pretty consistent scorer. We didn't think he was going to be Luciano Emilio, but we thought he would get 10 or 12 goals. We know what the priority is. There is a sense of urgency, but not of impatience and to rush into something."

*As for the college draft a week from Thursday in Baltimore, United is apparently leaning toward selecting an attacking player with the No. 3 overall pick. The top candidates are Akron's Darlington Nagbe, Indiana's Will Bruin and Penn State's Corey Hertzog. "We are focused on the attacking players that we've seen," Payne said. "There are some good defenders as well, but our focus is a little more on finding veteran defensive help" through the international market.

Said Olsen: "We're looking to get a piece that can help us right away, a piece that can add depth. Who knows at No. 3? We've seen No. 3s start right away."

*Najar will not go to Europe for informal training with a prominent club this month. England and Spain had been discussed. "I'm okay with him seeing other places and having different experiences," Olsen said. "It's healthy to do that. It's also healthy to chill out for a few weeks and recharge and get back at it with us. It was a bit of whirlwind year for him. The first year, it's pretty intense. A couple of weeks off are probably best for him in the end. He has got time to do that kind of stuff."

*Olsen said that the club has reached a contract agreement with gritty central midfielder Kurt Morsink, who featured regularly last season. Talks continue with reserve forward Adam Cristman. Midfielder Brandon Barklage and defender Barry Rice, whose options were not renewed, have been invited to training camp and will have the opportunity to earn a contract.

*With rosters expanded to 30 from 24, the club might sign young foreign attackers "with an eye on becoming a real impact player in a year or two," Payne said.

*While rehabbing from shoulder surgery, goalkeeper Bill Hamid has dropped 16 pounds -- something he needed to do -- and built up noticeable muscle mass. Pontius said he is at 90 percent in rehabbing from surgery.

*Players will begin reporting to RFK on Jan. 20, except newly acquired midfielder Dax McCarty, who is with the U.S. national team through the Chile friendly Jan. 22 at Home Depot Center. The club will spend about 10 days in Washington before heading to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and later, Oxnard, Calif., which has hosted MLS and foreign teams in the past. United will play at least two matches during each stop. In March, D.C. will return to Charleston, S.C., for a four-club tournament.

By Steve Goff  | January 4, 2011; 2:01 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  | Tags:  D.C. United  
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Next: RFK Stadium's cockroaches, raccoons and power outages, oh my!

Comments

I resolved to wait patiently for the venue and investor reporting, but my resolution didn't last very long. Sup with the stadium and the $$$ ?

Posted by: OWNTF | January 4, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

So does Payne say some of the things I want to hear because they are true, or has he taken a refresher course in Management-Speak over the holidays? ;-)

Posted by: dcufan | January 4, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see us snag Bruin with the #3 pick...I think he'd fit in well with where this team is going. He could learn a lot from Wolff in the first year and become a starter by season's end.

Posted by: soccerman | January 4, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"Center backs are hard to come by," Payne said. "The good ones overseas are expensive and the guys who have been successful in the league are not easy to pry away from teams. Our assumption is that we are going to have to look outside the league."

Says the man who traded Bobby Boswell for Zach Wells.

Posted by: EdTheRed | January 4, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

. . . and signed Gonzalo(s) . . .

Posted by: OWNTF | January 4, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

From Ben, re: DCU's forwards: "If something pops up, great, but I feel fine with what we have right now."

I hope he is just being "coy," as you said, Steve, because our situation up top is anything but "fine."

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | January 4, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Olsen happy with the scorers we have now? What is he smoking? Aside from Najar, who is till mostly potential, all we have is "Upper Deck" Quaranta, "I'm just like AJ Wood, Only Slower" Pontius, an aged and faded Wolff, and above-average Ngwenya. If Olsen is really happy with that he has no idea what he is doing.

Posted by: Ron16 | January 4, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

On the 13th day of January DCU picked Kofi Sarkodie.. He's the "attacking" defender I'd like to see

Posted by: TenoriosLaptop | January 4, 2011 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"The club will spend about 10 days in Washington before heading to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.,"....

Has anyone reserved the minivans? ;p

Posted by: boda-united | January 4, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I have no problem with Olsen saying good things about the current talent on the roster. He's not saying "we can stand pat and win MLS Cup." OTOH, he's also not throwing the guys who are likely to return under the bus. I suspect it's just coach-speak...don't blast the players that you have until they've done something immediately that deserves blasting.

Posted by: JoeW1 | January 4, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I thought that Hamid looked like he was laying off the Krispy Cremes when my daughter and I saw him at the World Cup announcement at the Newseum a month ago. Keep it up Bill!

Situation up top is already better than last year as it stands. That much is clear. Also more proof that Ron16 can't read between the lines. Keep em' guessin' Benny! Haters gonna hate even if it is the day after returning from vacation. (For shame United hadn't secretly lined up Roque Santa Cruz's DP contract over the holidays...)

;)

Posted by: DadRyan | January 4, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Does United have the resources to take the plunge for a high-priced acquisition under the designated player rule?

"If the right person came along...............What's our deal here at RFK? Where do we think the stadium process is leading us? It's not as simple as: Can we write a check? If we do write a check, can we properly monetize that investment?"

Translation-We will sign a high priced DP when we get a stadium deal done. Quit asking when you know the answer, OK?

Posted by: hateisnotafamilyvalue | January 4, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"monetize that investment" before it goes pear shaped.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | January 4, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Was party boy talking about Hamid or about himself?

I suspect the latter, but it would be funny if he was talking about the former....

Posted by: Section107 | January 4, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't be so down on Pontius. Now that he's had his apparently recurrent hammy issues fixed he could certainly be a source of goals. He's got size and smarts. Quaranta just has size.

Unless we find the next Luci (or RDA) goal poacher type we may indeed continue to struggle.

Posted by: fedssocr | January 4, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

*As for the college draft a week from Thursday in Baltimore, United is apparently leaning toward selecting an attacking player with the No. 3 overall pick. The top candidates are Akron's Darlington Nagbe, Indiana's Will Bruin and Penn State's Corey Hertzog. "We are focused on the attacking players that we've seen," Payne said. "There are some good defenders as well, but our focus is a little more on finding veteran defensive help" through the international market.
----------------------------------

Hey KP, you know who else was drafted at number 3? Omar Gonzalez. Just sayin'

Posted by: stancollins | January 4, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"... confirmed the club's interest in Uruguayan defender Rodrigo Brasesco."

The guy's gotta be pretty good. Johnny Depp played him in a movie.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | January 4, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

How long have you been around these parts, pardner? Remember Poplar Point? How about the PG County stadium? And those were ANNOUNCED
Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | January 4, 2011 1:02 AM

http://www.mdstad.com/content/view/98/133/
Gary A. McGuigan will communicate about the project and give formal 'public' intel but behind the scenes the dialogue is accelerating.
The MSA is very organized around this topic and has been for 2+ yrs. now - not sure why DCU fans keep questioning the validity. This is NOT PG County or the chaotic DC local govt., we are talking about - the MSA gets things done & they have public+private support($$).
Real development is taking plave in the Westport section of Baltimore along w/2/3 other immediate locations who want this project. Read the study listed on the MSA web site.

Darlington Nagbe of Akron to win The Herman Trophy a great striker option for DCU - Kofi Sarkodi was the Soccer America Player of the Year 2010 - DCU could use him as an attacking back if they pass on the international market for "veteran" defensive help. Frankie went to Hollywood - Relax...


Posted by: Zipfutbol | January 4, 2011 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Defense wins championship, so go get ZAREK VALENTIN

Posted by: ihillvt | January 4, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Get Wayne Rooney's younger brother with that #3 pick! If it doesn't work out, you can always surely sell him to some interested Euro outfit...

Posted by: alan19 | January 4, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised by everybody's reaction to such talents as Nagbe and Bruin. Are they great college players? Absolutely. But Salgado pissed off the entire Chivas staff by leaving. You know, the Chivas that an MLS team can't beat?

I'm looking for an honest answer, the only guess I have is that he's considered to young to immediately enter the lineup.

Posted by: UnitedDemon1 | January 4, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

United ought to look up Brad Rusin of the Railhawks. Excellent central defender and defensive mid. He's in his early twenties, tall, good skills for a big man, and a target on offensive corners. He does have slightly scary tendency to make runs up the field. I hear he was looking in Europe this off season. He may not be cheap but I cant believe he wouldn't be a bargain compared to what I've seen lately with United.

Posted by: phurt60 | January 4, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

"Corey Hertzog"

Wasn't Philadelphia trying to game the system and claim Hertzog was part of their hitherto non-existent youth academy?

He would be a good choice. I would expect Portland to draft a defender, so that #3 pick should get the first or second best attacking player in the draft.

Ron16 undervalues the forward corps drastically. He's right to be dismissive of Quaranta, who at best should be a late game sub when you have a lead and want to press high, and Wolff is a shadow of his former self, but Najar is a smart, technical player who can deliver now, Ngwenya has great skills and instinct and only needs to work on effort and consistency, and Pontius's ability to hold the ball, strike from distance, and make a great final pass would make a fine pairing playing behind Ngwenya.

What's badly needed is a midfield that can win the ball, maintain possession, and make the right pass. Quaranta is sub-par, but sadly he was often the best attacking player in midfield last year. Najar would be perfect as a winger playing higher up the field, but there would need to be a wing player on the other side. And if Simms is going to be on the field, he needs to have a true playmaker to feed the ball to. If such a player can't be found, then a couple strong two-way midfielders would need to be signed.

Forwards aren't the problem. That midfield needs to be rebuilt.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | January 4, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse

MJ: I don't think most people down here would disagree with your assessment of the midfield's weakness -- they just think that the forward corps is bad *also*.

When he is healthy (which, this past year, wasn't much), Pontius is the least efficient striker in recent club history. His percentage of shots that are on goal, and percentage of shots on goal that are goals, are both abysmal. He had some very nice moments his first year that seemed to show tremendous promise; but if he wants to realize it, he has a *tremendous* amount of work to do; and he still hasn't recuperated enough to start doing it. Ngwenya, well, he didn't show much last year; but really I think we're all going to have to wait and see.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | January 4, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

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