D.C. United news & notes

February 22, 2013
Carlos Ruiz, in black and red for the first time. (Steven Goff -- The Washington Post)
Carlos Ruiz, in black and red for the first time. (Steven Goff — The Washington Post)

I will have a formal story about Carlos Ruiz‘s arrival and first training session with D.C. United tonight. But first, some roster news from the club’s final workout in Lake Mary, Fla…..

United has reached a settlement with Albanian striker Hamdi Salihi, freeing the club of his considerable salary and opening a roster slot a week ahead of the season opener at Houston, General Manager Dave Kasper said Friday.

The deal had been in the works for several weeks and was not unexpected.

Salihi (six goals in 22 regular season appearances in 2012) had a guaranteed deal worth almost $500,000 this year. Kasper declined to reveal terms of the settlement, but it’s not uncommon for sides to agree to a lower figure. That is probably what occurred in this situation.

After falling out of favor last season, Salihi was not in United’s plans for 2013 and began seeking opportunities abroad. He never practiced with DCU this winter.

Ideally for United, Salihi would have received an offer comparable to his MLS deal, allowing the sides to cut ties without a financial settlement. That did not happen, however, prompting United to buy him out in order to clear salary cap and roster space.

MLS clubs are permitted to clear one guaranteed contract per year. The preseason deadline is March 1.

Salihi is expected to sign with a Chinese club soon, Kasper said.

“Hamdi could have sat out this entire year and collected his full paycheck,” Kasper said, “but in the end, he wanted to continue playing. I commend him for this.”

*English midfielder Lewis Neal was approved for permanent residency, meaning he will no longer count against the international player limit. United now has two slots available. One will go to Canadian midfielder Kyle Porter, who has shown well on trial for several weeks. The other might go to Panamanian midfielder Marcos Sanchez, who has been in camp for two weeks.

United will also decide soon whether to sign Honduran forward-midfielder Walter Martinez, who, like Neal, has a green card and is not considered a foreign player.

United has seven international roster slots overall. (One slot was traded last year). The current foreign corps is Dejan Jakovic (Canada), Rafael (Brazil), Raphael Augusto (Brazil), Lionard Pajoy (Colombia) and Syamsir Alam (Indonesia). All of the other D.C. foreigners under contract have green cards.

*United cut forward Ryan Richter, who, for the second consecutive year, just missed out on a roster spot. He is expected to rejoin the third-tier Charleston Battery.

*With a week until the opener, Ben Olsen is seeking to replicate an official match Saturday when United faces the Philadelphia Union on the last day of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. on mlssoccer.com.

Most of his regulars will play most, if not all, of the match — United’s seventh, and last game, in preseason.

The probable lineup: Bill Hamid in goal; James Riley or Chris Korb at right back, Brandon McDonald and Dejan Jakovic in the middle, Daniel Woolard on the left; Perry Kitchen and Marcelo Saragosa in central midfield, Chris Pontius on the left wing and Nick DeLeon on the right; Dwayne De Rosario as a withdrawn forward and Pajoy at striker.

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 · February 21, 2013

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