D.C. United news & notes

January 8, 2013

With training camp set to open in nine days…..

*D.C. United “continues to have discussions” with Albanian striker Hamdi Salihi about his future, General Manager Dave Kasper said Tuesday. Salihi has a guaranteed contract but apparently is drawing interest overseas and might have an opportunity to move this winter. If that were to happen, United would free up at least $300,000 for salary cap purposes and save the additional designated player payout. In 2012, Salihi (six goals, 22 regular season appearances, 10 starts) was paid $305,000 in base salary and received $487,000 overall. 

*Argentine defender Emiliano Dudar is weighing his options. A new contract offer from the club reflects his fall to No. 3 on the depth chart at center back — he would have to accept a pay cut from the $225,000 he earned in 2012. The new figure has not been disclosed. Dudar might not make a decision until the end of the month, Kasper said. Meantime, United is exploring other possibilities to deepen the heart of the backline.

*Veteran midfielder John Thorrington, selected in the MLS re-entry draft, has agreed to a contract.

*Brazilian midfielder Raphael Augusto is expected to return to United on loan from Fluminense after two playoff appearances last year, joining new loan acquisition Rafael, a 20-year-old forward from Bahia.

*United is actively seeking experienced cover in a few positions (like last year when it acquired Marcelo SaragosaMaicon Santos and Lewis Neal). However, it does not seem on the verge of a major signing. If the club lands an impact player, it probably wouldn’t happen until next month.

*Joe Willis, the No. 2 goalkeeper who started 10 regular season matches last year, is off to England for 10 days of training with Premier League side Sunderland. Third-choice Andrew Dykstra is also supposed to be overseas for a short spell. [UPDATE: Dykstra is with Hartlepool in England's League One.] Starter Bill Hamid reported to U.S. camp Monday and probably won’t return until early February.

*Dwayne De Rosario and Dejan Jakovic will be granted permission to play for Canada in friendlies late this month against Denmark in Tucson and the United States in Houston, Kasper said.

*The technical staff is headed to South Florida later this week for the MLS scouting combine, then to Indianapolis for the Jan. 17 draft. United has the 17th pick in the first round but no second-round selection. Five days later, in the supplemental draft, United does not have a first-round selection but holds picks in the second through fourth stages.

*Former DCU defender Ryan Nelsen (2001-04) was named head coach of Toronto FC today. Last year at this time, he was in discussions with United about resuming his MLS playing career after seven seasons in the English Premier League. Ultimately, he decided to stay overseas, moving from Blackburn Rovers to Tottenham Hotspur before signing with Queens Park Rangers this season.

Nelsen is the 10th former D.C. player or assistant to become a head coach in MLS, joining Bob Bradley, Dave Sarachan, Frank Yallop, Curt Onalfo, Tom Soehn, Ben Olsen, Jesse Marsch, Richie Williams (interim) and Mike Petke (interim).

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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