United acquires defender Kofi Opari from Los Angeles

D.C. United acquired central defender Kofi Opari today in a trade with the Los Angeles Galaxy. United is in need of central defense depth in light of the news that Jeff Parke may be out for a significant amount of time due to migraine headache issues.

United obtained the 23-year old defender in exchange for a swapping of Allocation Order picks with the Galaxy. The Galaxy move up to the 3rd spot in the allocation order whilst United drops to 11th. Additionally, United also received a 2015 2nd Round SuperDraft pick to complete the exchange.

“We are pleased to have acquired a smart, young defender in Kofi who has a very big upside, as well as securing a 2015 second round Superdraft pick,” said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper through the teams website. “This is an important move for us to make at this time to add depth to our squad as we enter the second half of the MLS season and the CONCACAF Champion’s League group stage. We welcome Kofi to the D.C. United family.”

With the addition of Opare, United becomes that much deeper in central defense with the assumed loss of Parke for the near future. With a glut of matches in the upcoming month, including CONCACAF Champions League matches, Opari wll most likely jump to third in the depth chart behind entrenched starters Bobby Boswell and rookie Steve Birnbaum and ahead of Nana Attakora and Conor Shanosky, both of whom have not played a minute for United in league play this season.

Opare  has made a number of appearances for the Galaxy the last two seasons including starting both playoff matches last season. Opare played four years in college at the University of Michigan before being selected by the Galaxy last year.

Opare played for the U.S. U-20 National Team recently but is still eligible to represent Canada and Ghana if he so chooses.

United receives favorable draw in CCL; Johnson red card rescinded

D.C. United were drawn into a favorable group this evening at the CONCACAF Champions League draw in Miami, Florida

United will face Panamanian champions Tauro FC and Waterhouse FC from Jamaica.  The group stage consists of 24 teams in 8 groups and is a round-robin competition with only the group winner advancing to the knockout stages that will begin early in 2015. United is the #2 seed in Group 4. Tauro FC has been a mainstay in recent CCL competitions while the Black-and-Red have been out of the CCL since 2009. Waterhouse FC in Jamaica will be playing for the first time in the competition.

United, along with five other MLS teams will begin competition later this summer as the dates have yet to announced. The draw was quite favorable for United as they avoided tough CONCACAF squads such as Saprissa of Costa Rica and Municipal of Guatemala. No U.S. based MLS teams or Mexican teams can be drawn in the group stages. However, the Canadian champion (first leg final is tonight between Montreal Impact and Toronto FC) is drawn into New York Red Bulls Group 3.

Sporting Kansas City is the top seed in Group 2 but were unfortunate to draw Saprissa into their group. The Portland Timbers are the #2 seed in Group 5 and will face off against Olimpia of Honduras and very lightly regarded Alpha United FC.

All in all, United has a more than favorable chance to advance to the knockout stages in 2015

In other United news, MLS has rescinded the red card given to Eddie Johnson over the weekend against the New England Revolution and will be available to play this weekend at RFK Stadium against Sporting Kansas City. That match will begin at 7pm EST and will be televised locally on CSNWashington.

United Nearing Sponsorship Deal with Leidos, Inc

According to a report in the Washington Post, D.C. United is set to announce government contracting giant Leidos, Inc as the teams new sponsor shortly.

Leidos, Inc. formerly SAIC (Science Applications International Corp) will adorn United’s new uniforms, just unveiled this past weekend at a season-ticket holders function in Georgetown.

United had just said goodbye to a five-year partnership with Volkswagen at the end of 2013 and will now take on another Northern Virginia-based titan in Leidos, Inc. (based in Reston, VA) on a reported five-year deal that will closely mirror United’s $2.8 million a year deal previously with Volkswagen.

No comment was forthcoming from team officials or from officials from Leidos, Inc..

United signs Spanish left-back Christian Fernandez Salas

D.C. United announced the signing of Spanish left-back Christian Fernandez Salas this afternoon. The signing most likely brings a close to a whirlwind offseason for the Black-and-Red. Technical Director Dave Kasper had mentioned on several occasions in the past few weeks that the club was looking for a left-back and they found one in the 28-year old Spaniard.

“We are pleased to be adding a left back with solid La Liga experience who is in the prime of his career,” D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper said in a news release. “Christian is very good at getting forward to join the attack and providing quality service. This move helps solidify our back line moving into the new season.”

Christian (as he is being called) is already with the team in Bradenton, Florida and very well may feature for United in their preseason match against the Chicago Fire tomorrow night at 7pm (live stream at www.dcunited.com). The Spaniard comes to United from La Liga side Almeria whom he helped gain promotion into Spain’s top-flight last season. He played in 36 matches during the 2012-2013 season and scored six goals from his attacking defensive position.

Christian began his career with Racing Santander in the youth academy and eventually made 80 appearances for the senior side in over 5 seasons before making the move to Almeria ahead of the 12-13′ season. Christian became available after falling out of favor with Almeria this winter and was supposedly acquired on a free transfer. With this move, United has completely rebuilt their starting defense with the additional acquisitions of Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell (both in Stage 1 of Re-Entry Drafts), Jeff Parke (trade) and #2 overall pick in this past MLS SuperDraft, Steve Birnbaum.

United will wrap up training in Florida over the weekend and will return to Washington, D.C. for a week of training before heading to Charleston, South Carolina for their participation in the Charleston Challenge Cup starting on Saturday, February 22nd. After three matches in seven days in the Low C0untry, United will return to D.C. for their final week of training ahead of their season-opening match at home against the Columbus Crew on Saturday, March 8th at 7pm.

 

United wraps up MLS SuperDraft selections with Zach Barnes and Travis Golden

D.C. United wrapped up their participation in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft with the third and fourth round selections of midfielder Zach Barnes and defender Travis Golden respectively.

Barnes, a box-to-box midfielder from Creighton, was selected 18th overall by United in the third round courtesy of their trade with RSL last season for Brandon McDonald. Barnes was also a former member of the Portland Timbers U-23 team before completing his senior season at Creighton.

Golden was the 12th pick of the fourth round as compensation for the New England Revolution acquiring the rights to Charlie Davies last season. Golden, an athletic left-footed center back from Campbell University in North Carolina, will possibly be groomed as a left back at the professional level.

United will begin training camp on January 25th.

After trade, United select Birnbaum with #2 pick in MLS SuperDraft [Updated]

D.C. United this afternoon selected University of California defender Steve Birnbaum with the #2 overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. United swapped their #1 pick with the Philadelphia Union literally seconds before the Draft began. United received allocation money for the swap with the Union knowing full well that United would not be selecting what turned out to be the top pick in UConn goalkeeper Andre Blake.

In light of the unpopular trade of Ethan White and the top allocation spot to the Union just 48 hours earlier, this seemed a no-brainer deal to make for United as they got their top man plus valuable (unknown what amount it is at the moment) allocation funds. Word has it that both Vancouver (#3 pick overall) and Philadelphia were in heated negotiations with United to move up to select Blake.

In Birnbaum United gets an MLS-ready central defender who will add both depth and competition for Bobby Boswell and newly-acquired Jeff Parke. Many pundits had United also mulling over Birnbaum’s college teammate Christian Dean (selected #3 by Vancouver) and University of Maryland forward Patrick Mullins  (selected #11  overall by New England ) .  United opted for the safe pick in Birnbaum and will now have to wait until Tuesday’s third and fourth rounds for their next picks. There have been rumors floating around the Philadelphia Convention Center today that United are in talks with perhaps making a deal for a second-round pick (United currently does not have one) but that seems highly unlikely.

[Updated] United however did manage to pull off a deal that garnered them the #29 pick overall (9th in second round) from Montreal in exchange for an International roster spot in 2014. With that pick United selected UCLA midfielder Victor Munoz. “Munoz is a very technical left-footed player who can play either wide or centrally with a great soccer IQ,”said coach Ben Olsen through the teams website.

United Technical Director Dave Kasper, under heavy fire and criticism from fans in light of the Ethan White swap (and various other perceived shortcomings), also mentioned today that the signing of Fabian Espindola is very close and the team is still looking very hard for a first-team left back.

United begins preseason training on January 25th..

United acquire Parke and #6 allocation spot for White and #1 allocation spot

According to the Washington Post, D.C. United has traded Ethan White and the #1 allocation spot to the Philadelphia Union for veteran defender Jeff Parke and the #6 allocation spot.

It’s heavily rumored that the Union are making a play for former Maryland Terrapin Maurice Edu and needed to make a deal to obtain the top allocation pick. However, it seems that the Union will most likely be paying Edu Designated Player money, it seems the trading of the top allocation pick a bit of a mystery.

As for United, this gives them more veteran experience on the defensive line but did they give up too much to obtain him? Parke’s salary is above $200,000 per season and should work well in tandem with the recently acquired Bobby Boswell. What does this move mean for United in Thursday’s upcoming MLS SuperDraft? This line of thinking could go two ways. One – it means that United will be drafting a central defender. Either Steve Birnbaum or Christian Dean. Or Two – it could mean that since they have their starters locked up in central defense, they will go after Maryland forward Patrick Mullins.

Regardless, the move to obtain Parke considering what they gave up is not being received well by media or United’s rabid fan base. The front office better have something up their sleeve otherwise this seems a very lopsided and short-term deal not in favor of United.

United signs Homegrown talent Jalen Robinson

After weeks of speculation, D.C. United signed 19-year old Academy defender Jalen Robinson today to a Homegrown Player contract. The Catonsville, Maryland native has become the seventh member to join United since Major League Soccer implemented a program to allow Academy players to sign straight into the senior teams.

The added benefit of signing Academy players is not exposing that player to the MLS SuperDraft and losing the player to another club even though he came up through your clubs Academy. Robinson was coming off of his sophomore year at Wake Forest and had garnered 2nd-team All-ACC honors this past season as well as a spot on the All-ACC Freshman team in 2012.

“Jalen is one of the most athletic players in all of college soccer who can play center back or right back,” said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper on the teams website. “He is very composed on the ball as he looks to play out of the back, and he also excels at one on one defending.”

“Jalen is a modern defender,” added D.C. United Director of Youth Development Sonny Silooy. “He is physical, fast and a smart soccer player that can play in different positions on the back line. We are excited to see another Academy player sign with our first team.”

With the signing of Robinson and the imminent sale of Dejan Jakovic to Japanese club Shimizu S-Pulse, United has added strength to their defensive line in light of a very poor 2013. United acquired Bobby Boswell and Nana Attakora in the Re-Entry Draft late last month and with the addition of Robinson, United still may not be done acquiring more defenders.

With United holding the #1 pick in the upcoming SuperDraft on January 16th, they could go a number of ways to help continue to build their roster ahead of the 2014 MLS season. According to reports, United apparently has cooled on the notion of possibly selecting University of California defender Christian Dean (Dean signed a Generation Adidas deal today) with the top pick and is considering his central defensive teammate Steve Birnbaum instead. Birnbaum is widely considered a ready-to-play pick as opposed to the long-term upside of the more athletic Dean.

Additionally, University of Maryland striker Patrick Mullins is still a consideration for the Black-and-Red, especially in light of recent news that Olney, Maryland native and former National Team defender Oguchi Onyewu is out at Queens Park Rangers and is seriously considering a move t0 MLS.

Onyewu would either come back to MLS via the Designated Player route (highly unlikely) or he would come via the Allocation draft, of which United has the top pick. I seriously doubt United would consider selecting Onyewu either by DP contract or the allocation process due mostly to the fact that he’s spent the better part of the past four years dealing with serious knee injuries and a severe lack of playing time. However, the pull of a local boy who once was the toast of the National Team could be appealing to a front office that has seen a decline in attendance in back-to-back seasons.

United could also entertain the possibility to trading the #1 pick to drop lower in the draft and possibly gain more picks (United only has the top pick and the #56 pick). Either way United is in the cat bird seat and will be listening to all offers. It will definitely be an interesting couple of weeks heading into the Draft.

Jakovic transfer to Shimizu S-Pulse; Robinson to sign homegrown contract imminent for busy United

According to multiple sources, it appears that D.C. United center back Dejan Jakovic is close to a transfer to Japanese league side Shimizu S-Pulse.  Additionally, it seems likely that United is expected to offer Wake Forest sophomore Jalen Robinson a homegrown player contract as well.

If the transfer for Jakovic goes through as expected, it will reportedly bring United a low six-figure transfer fee for the Canadian defender who was set to make between $250,000-300,000 in 2014 and also save the team that same amount on the salary cap. Jakovic, a 28-year old central defender, has been the teams longest standing player alongside Chris Pontius as both came aboard ahead of the 2009 season. With the move to Japan nearly done, this very well may open the door for United to select California central defender Christian Dean with the #1 pick next month in the MLS SuperDraft.  Dean’s stock has skyrocketed over the past few months with his combination of size (6’3″  198lbs) speed and organizing ability. The left-footed Bay area native is also projected as a top-flight left back, a position of dire need for United.

University of Maryland striker Patrick Mullins was seemingly the top-choice for United in the upcoming draft, but with the move to send Jakovic to Japan it seems less and less likely that he will be chosen by United.

As for Robinson, he’s spent two very productive years at Wake Forest playing right back for the Demon Deacons and was a standout player for United’s Academy teams before heading south to North Carolina. Robinson played mostly central defense with the Academy teams during his time with United. It’s unclear where he will be groomed to play if United decide to take a central defender with the #1 overall pick. With the acquisition of Sean Franklin last week, the right back spot seems pretty much cemented at the moment. Chris Korb spent most of 2013 as United’s right back but while his endeavor and hustle were never in question, his effectiveness on both sides of the ball certainly came into question on more than one occasion. Korb most likely will fight for the  starting left-back spot  (along with Dean I would imagine if he is drafted) or he will become a depth player for Ben Olsen’s side, a position that most probably suits him better at this point in his career..

 

 

United add Espindola, Attakora in Stage 2 of Re-Entry Draft

D.C. United continued their frenetic off season roster building by adding forward Fabian Espindola and defender Nana Attakora in today’s Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft. Both players are currently out of contract and will begin negotiations with the club immediately. United is under no obligation to pay either player their 2013 salary. United will have to offer some incentive however to keep both players as they both will most likely be depth players for United ahead of a busy 2014.

Espindola, the 28-year old Argentine native,  spent 2013 with New York Red Bull (9 goals and 2 assists in 28 games) after a six-year career with Real Salt Lake (35 goals and 17 assists in 105 games) and will add more depth and attacking verve to United’s striker corp that snared U.S. International Eddie Johnson via a trade with Seattle Sounders just yesterday.

Attakora, a 24-year old Canadian, began his career with hometown Toronto FC in 2007 as a Reserve Team player before finally cracking the first team lineup in 2008. Attakora spent four years with the club before being traded to San Jose ahead of the 2011 MLS Season. Playing time was tough to find out West as Attakora only made 14 appearances with the Quakes in his two years.

United has re-made the club in what seemingly has been the blink of an eye. Head coach Ben Olsen told everyone willing to listen after the season ended in November that the team had many avenues to explore to improve the depth and talent of his club. Inside of a week United had taken great strides to improve their bottom-of-the-barrel standing from last season. United still has the #1 pick in the MLS SuperDraft next month as well as the opening of the International Transfer window on January 1st. While United hasn’t fared so well on the International market in recent years, their ability to obtain solid domestic and league players continues to bear fruit.