D.C. United has acquired former Maryland attacker Christiano Francois, a 20-year-old Haitian who sat out the 2013 college season for academic reasons and signed with MLS this week.
United utilized the top position in a special waiver draft Friday to claim Francois, who was among the NCAA’s top freshmen two years ago. Had he signed with the league before last week’s SuperDraft, Francois would have been a first-round pick.
Instead, he fell under this waiver rule:
“A player who has remaining college eligibility (and was not made available in the SuperDraft or Supplemental Draft), but the League, at its discretion and after taking into account exceptional circumstances, determines the player may be offered an MLS contract.”
While Francois is blessed with wonderful technical ability, United supporters should probably temper immediate expectations: He has not played competitively in more than a year, and as a Terrapin in 2012, was slow to grasp structured soccer. He would probably benefit from regular minutes with the Richmond Kickers, United’s third-division affiliates.
“Christiano is a dynamic attacking player who has a big upside,” United General Manager Dave Kasper said. “We look forward to getting him started as a professional.”
Francois will join five other rookies in United camp: Cal center back Steve Birnbaum, UCLA midfielder Victor Muñoz, Creighton defensive midfielder Zach Barnes, Campbell left back-center back Travis Golden and Wake Forest right back Jalen Robinson.
Birnbaum (No. 2 overall pick last week), Robinson (homegrown deal) and Francois are under contract. Muñoz, Barnes and Golden will have to earn roster spots.
Players will report to camp Saturday in Washington for physicals and fitness tests. Training begins in earnest next Wednesday in Bradenton, Fla.
Francois is the third Maryland attacker to jump to MLS this month: Patrick Mullins (New England) and Schillo Tshuma (Portland) were selected in the first round of the SuperDraft. (In addition, forward Jordan Hamilton, a member of Sasho Cirovski‘s 2014 recruiting class, reneged on his college commitment and signed a homegrown contract with Toronto FC instead.)
The Chicago Fire selected the other player available in the waiver draft, Charlotte forward Giuseppe Gentile.
DCU and Chicago will drop to the bottom of the waiver order.