D.C. United roster update & analysis

(D.C. United)
(D.C. United)

D.C. United has reached agreement with Canadian Nana Attakora, the fourth defender and sixth player overall to join the club this winter. He earned $61,665 last season with San Jose and presumably received a similar, low-scale deal from United. Attakora, 24, previously served with Toronto FC and Finnish club Haka. United claimed his rights last month in the second stage of MLS’s re-entry draft.

United remains locked in contract negotiations with its remaining re-entry pick, Argentine forward Fabian Espindola (28 goals, 12 assists the past three seasons).

As next week’s SuperDraft in Philadelphia approaches, a position-by-position breakdown of United’s roster …

Goalkeepers

Returning: Bill Hamid, Joe Willis, Andrew Dykstra.

Newcomers: None.

Departures: None.

Analysis: No changes expected in personnel or in the order of preference unless Hamid, currently in U.S. national team camp, draws suitors from overseas.

Defenders

Returning: Chris Korb (right, left), Ethan White (center), Conor Shanosky (center), Taylor Kemp (left).

Newcomers: Bobby Boswell (center), Sean Franklin (right), Nana Attakora (center), Jalen Robinson (right).

Departures: Dennis Iapichino (left), James Riley (right), Daniel Woolard (left, center), Dejan Jakovic* (center).

*United is in the process of selling Jakovic to a Japanese club for an undisclosed transfer fee.

Analysis: Boswell and Franklin immediately enter the starting lineup but questions remain about the second center back and left back. Attakora is a spot starter, while Korb is better on the right. Is White or Shanosky ready for full-time duty in the middle? Kemp needs seasoning. Robinson, 19, is a long-term prospect after signing a homegrown deal this week. United might select one of Cal’s center backs, Christian Dean or Steve Birnbaum, with the first overall pick in the SuperDraft next Thursday.

Midfielders

Returning: Chris Pontius (left), Nick DeLeon (right, left), Luis Silva (center), Perry Kitchen (defensive), Jared Jeffrey (defensive),  Lewis Neal (left, center), Kyle Porter (left, right), Collin Martin (center, left, right).

Newcomers: Davy Arnaud (right, center, left).

Departures: John Thorrington (center), Marcelo Saragosa (defensive), Syamsir Alam (right), Sainey Nyassi (right, left).

Analysis: On paper, it’s a good group. However, United will need Pontius and DeLeon to return to 2012 form, Silva to inject flair and creativity into the attacking role after fading late last season, and Kitchen to become a solid box-to-box element. Several players are capable of running at defenders but no one offers reliable crossing ability.

Forwards

Returning: Conor Doyle, Michael Seaton, Casey Townsend.

Newcomers: Eddie Johnson.

Departures: Dwayne De Rosario, Carlos Ruiz, Lionard Pajoy.

Analysis: Unless Espindola signs, Johnson is the only bonafide striker — and he will miss a large chunk of the season while on U.S. World Cup duty. Doyle is a useful front-runner and Seaton, 17, thrived at third-division affiliate Richmond last summer. If Townsend regains his sniping capability, he could become a nice late-game option. Pontius will move up to the frontline when the club is shorthanded. Will United bolster depth by claiming Maryland senior Patrick Mullins (19 goals in 26 matches) with the first overall draft pick?

********************

Aside from the No. 1 selection, United has two other choices in the four-round draft:

18th pick of the third round (56th overall), acquired in the Brandon McDonald trade with Real Salt Lake.

12th pick of the fourth round (69th overall), acquired in the Charlie Davies trade with New England.

United dealt its second-round pick (20th overall) to Chivas USA last winter for Townsend and its natural third-rounder (39th) to Portland for short-term defender Mike Chabala in August 2012.

MLS will conduct the first two rounds next Thursday at Philadelphia Convention Center (noon ET) as part of the annual NSCAA convention. The draft is open to the public. ESPNews will carry both rounds. The third and fourth rounds are Jan. 21 (no public event).

The complete draft order is available here.

United officials have been predictably coy about sharing information concerning possible international signings.

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 | January 6