Fred, D.C. United’s Brazilian midfielder, is moving to Melbourne Heart in the Australian A-League, but until the international transfer window opens in mid-July, he will continue to play — and, if necessary, start — in MLS matches.
Although, on the surface, it’s an awkward arrangement, Coach Ben Olsen said he doesn’t expect Fred’s impending departure to disrupt the club.
“Fred has a huge loyalty to this club, he has a huge loyalty to me,” he said. “I expect no difference in the way of effort and concentation. Some guys it could be a problem, but with Fred, I’m not worried about it.”
The move, announced by the clubs on Monday evening, provides Fred, who turns 32 in August, with a meatier contract as he moves into the final stage of his career and frees salary cap space for D.C. entering the summer signing period.
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Before packing his bags, Fred will be available to play in four MLS matches, United General Manager Dave Kasper said. United will host the Houston Dynamo and Philadelphia Union before visiting the New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas. The Australian season begins in early August.
Although Fred is not in the club’s long-term plans, Olsen said he won’t hesistate to play him.
“If I feel the game needs him, then I’ll put him in. ... We have a pretty deep midfield and we’re always rotating, keeping guys on their toes and keeping them fresh. That won’t change, but I’m going to evaluate it week in and week out because we need three points.”
Fred declined interview requests after Tuesday’s training session but planned to discuss the move later in the week. When United signed him in February, the club agreed to let him go if a tempting offer came along. Fred was fond of his previous stint in Australia, with Melbourne Victory in 2006, and received a pay increase and two-year deal from Heart. His contract with United was up for renewal after this season.
“We don’t want to lose him, but he had a great opportunity but there’s a certain respect that we have as an organization toward Fred and his family and we’re not going to stand in his way,” Olsen said. “Does it hurt us? Yeah, it doesn’t help us, but there is a spot now open so maybe we can try to find something to fill that void.”
In other United news:
*Forward Joseph Ngwenya is out with a sprained knee ligament.
*Defender Dejan Jakovic, sidelined for several weeks with a hamstring injury, has been jogging. “That’s a big step for him,” Olsen said. “We’ll push along in a smart way.”
*Olsen, on upcoming matches: “It’s an important stretch for this group right now. We need to be real hungry for points. The East, on paper right now, isn’t getting the results and someone needs to start putting some wins together, and hopefully we can be that team.”