D.C. United news & notes
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."
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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.
| January 4, 2011; 2:01 PM ET
Categories: D.C. United | Tags: D.C. United
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