Actually, I spent many minutes with D.C. United President Kevin Payne on Monday. Much of the material gathered is for a future project on United’s status at RFK Stadium and its prospects of a new home, but I can share portions of our discussion now.
Where do things stand on a stadium project?
“We continue to work on this in both D.C. and Baltimore. We’re looking at several sites in D.C. We’ve had several conversations with the District. There’s no specific proposals being discussed at this time, but I believe there is a general consensus in the Wilson Building [city government headquarters] that they certainly want D.C. United to remain in D.C. On the other hand, Baltimore will probably come forward with a pretty solid proposal. There’s certainly a great location in Baltimore and a willing developer. We’ll be deciding, I hope, sometime this year what our future is.
“As far as which of the two cities, our name is D.C. United and we don’t take that lightly, but the Baltimore opportunity is a real one and we have to take it seriously and do our due diligence in both locations.”
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What are your impressions of your team through nine matches?
“In some ways, we’re exactly where I expected us to be right now. ... We have a very young team: most of the roster is under 26 years old, we had four starters 20 and under the past couple games. We’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to have some ups and downs. We’ll have some bad games and good games. We’ll get better and better as the season wears on.
We’ve demonstrated that we can compete for a playoff spot, and that was the objective this year. Next year, the year after that, we want to be competing for the Supporters’ Shield and for the Cup. The objective is to put a hardcore group of players together that can stay together for four, five years.”
Do you anticipate roster moves this summer?
“We are going to try to bolster our team in the summer. It always was the plan [even before Branko Boskovic was injured]. The summer is the main transfer window for the rest of the world, so there are a lot more players available. We’ve kept some salary cap room. We have some allocation money. We have some flexibility. We wanted to see what our needs were. We wanted to watch this group play and then try to assess our needs. We didn’t know what was going to happen with Charlie [Davies]. We thought he was going to be effective. Would I say he would have six goals after eight games? Probably not. Now we’re looking at a lot of different opportunities. We’re very happy with how the chemistry of this team has developed. They are developing their own forms of leadership.”
What are your needs?
“To get someone in the attacking space, and that’s where Branko being out maybe changes that thinking a little bit. Whether it’s another forward or an attacking midfielder, I don’t know. We do think we need to get a little more creative in the final third. Potentially, we could get some additional help at holding midfielder and at the back. We’re not entirely comfortable if one or two guys are out. We’re a little thin at center back. Ethan White is stepping up. That has been a pleasant surprise because we weren’t sure he’d help us a whole lot this season. Rodrigo Brasesco has struggled; it remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to adapt to our league. Daniel Woolard has done a good job at left back.”
What are your thoughts on Boskovic’s absence?
“It’s really a shame because he was just starting to figure our league out. He had gotten himself really fit. Two of the best players in our league, David Ferreira and Javier Morales, needed time too and it wasn’t clear they were going to become the players they became, but they figured it out. Boskovic was at the same place. He was really starting to understand the speed of the game and where the pressure was going to come from.”
Have you begun to discuss internally whether to exercise the option to purchase Charlie Davies’ contract from Sochaux?
“We haven’t talked about it at this point. I’m sure we’ll decide sometime in the fall.”
Do you think Charlie is in the running for a Gold Cup roster spot?
“Forwards who score goals are always in demand. He still has a ways to go to get back to where he was. International is very different from club. I have no idea if Bob Bradley is even thinking about that. It would be good for Charlie, not good for us [in terms of his absence from league play]. That would really bring Charlie’s story full circle.”
What is the status of former Dutch international Sonny Silooy, whom you’ve hired to oversee the youth program?
“We’re awaiting his visa approval.”
Maybe it will coincide with the visit by Ajax, his club from 1989 to ’96, for the May 22 friendly at RFK Stadium.
“It's possible. [On a side note,] we have invited Johann Cryuff to the game but haven’t heard back yet.” The Dutch legend called RFK Stadium home while a member of the NASL’s Washington Diplomats for two seasons.
Ajax’s league finale is this Sunday at home against Twente, which holds a one-point lead over the Amsterdam club. Ajax is scheduled to fly to Washington with most of its first-team players May 19, conduct a youth clinic on the 20th, and have training sessions on the 20th and 21st. The Dutch ambassador plans to attend the clinic and First Lady Michelle Obama has been invited, Payne said. ...
Homegrown defender-midfielder Conor Shanosky was named to the U.S. under-20 roster for two friendlies at France next week.