UPDATE: United announced the deal this afternoon. Terms were not disclosed. Full story in Friday print edition and online tonight.]
D.C. United and U.S. national team forward Eddie Johnson are close to finalizing a new contract that would make him the highest-paid player on the club, multiple sources told the Insider on Thursday.
The sides have been engaged in talks for several weeks and expressed optimism they could finalize a pact around the start of the MLS season, which begins this weekend.
Johnson, acquired from Seattle in December, is under contract in 2014, but as part of the arrangement in coming to Washington, United promised to discuss a new deal that would make him a designated player (more than $387,000). His base salary last year was $150,000 — more than 30 times less than Seattle teammate Clint Dempsey and about one-tenth of Sounders forward Obafemi Martins.
United’s salary leader in 2013 was Dwayne De Rosario ($600,000), whose contract option was declined. He is now playing for Toronto FC at a lower rate. The top returning earner is Chris Pontius, who made $330,000 last year.
It’s unclear how much Johnson will receive. The players’ union typically releases the salary list in early May. Estimates on Johnson’s new deal range from $500,000 to $750,000 with multiple guaranteed years.
*Homegrown forward Michael Seaton, 17, scored in the first half of the Jamaican national team’s 5-0 friendly victory at St. Lucia — his first senior international goal. He is scheduled to rejoin United soon.
*After shuttling between indoor facilities and artificial turf fields for a snow-free surface, United was able to practice on grass today: RFK Stadium officials granted permission to use the main venue. [In a print edition story that appeared today, I addressed United's preseason weather challenges.]