D.C. United makes several roster decisions

December 3, 2012

D.C. United declined to exercise contract options on forward Maicon Santos, defenders Emiliano Dudar and Mike Chabala and midfielder Stephen King. However, the club is in talks with Santos and Dudar about returning at lower salaries and has approached King about attempting to earn a roster slot at training camp, General Manager Dave Kasper said Monday.

Santos ($106,000 base salary in 2012) was tied for second on the club in goals with seven but was not a factor the second half of the season. Dudar ($225,000) was signed last offseason to start in central defense but ended up playing in just 11 league matches.

King ($65,000) is a former Maryland Terrapin in his third season with United and fifth overall. This year he played in seven regular season matches and started once. Chabala ($75,000) made three appearances after being acquired from Portland in early August.

With at least three years of MLS experience, Santos, King and Chabala are eligible for the league’s re-entry drafts, Dec. 7 and 14.

United has reached terms on a new deal with right back Robbie Russell, who earned $107,000 this year, and exercised the options on several players, including Colombian forward Lionard Pajoy ($180,000), a starter most of the final two months.

Russell, 33, who was acquired last winter from Real Salt Lake, said 2013 is probably going to be his final season. His wife is an attorney in Washington and the couple welcomed their first child in October.

Brazilian midfielder Raphael Augusto‘s loan from Fluminense expires this month but United officials said they are trying to extend it.

Meantime, Albanian striker Hamdi Salihi, the club’s second-highest paid player, is not in United’s plans next year, the Insider has learned. Salihi, however, has a guaranteed contract, making it difficult to sever ties.

Kasper said the club is still in the evaluation process and hasn’t determined whether Salihi will return.

United has four options:

1. Trade his rights in MLS. This would be very difficult because he is set to earn more than $310,000 in base salary and $490,000 in guaranteed compensation. A compromise is possible — for instance, United could continue to pay a portion of the deal or Salihi agrees to a pay cut in order to remain in the league. But after seeing him make just 10 regular season starts, are other MLS teams convinced he would become an impact player?

Salihi, 29 next month, had six goals in 945 minutes, which works out to one every 157 minutes. All six came in the run of play (no free kicks or penalties). He fell out of favor with Ben Olsen, however, because he wasn’t efficient with his opportunities early in the year and, in the coach’s eye, wasn’t capable of doing the dirty work in United’s system (high pressure and defending).

2. Buy out his contract. MLS clubs are permitted to do so with once each offseason with a guaranteed contract.

The upside: It would open a roster slot and the entire salary cap space that Salihi would’ve filled in 2013.

The downside: United would have to use its own money to reach a settlement.

3. Terminate the contract by mutual agreement. This would happen only if Salihi finds a suitor in Europe. He is not going to forego a guaranteed deal without a new destination in the works.

4. Give him another chance in 2013. It does seem, however, United is set on signing a new striker, perhaps from Latin America, where Olsen has been scouting.

Roster movement from last week:

Midfielder Branko Boskovic ($195,000 base salary) and the club agreed to terminate his contract. He wanted to be closer to family in Montenegro.

Forward Josh Wolff ($80,000) retired to become a full-time assistant coach with United.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff · December 2, 2012