D.C. United will not make any moves before MLS’s international transfer window closes tonight, General Manager Dave Kasper said. However, the club continues the search for players through other acquisition platforms before the Sept. 15 roster freeze.
The international signing period applies to players who are or were under contract when the window opened last month. U.S. midfielders Sacha Kljestan and Brek Shea would fall under that category — and be subject to MLS’s allocation order, currently led by Columbus, Dallas and Los Angeles. If deals are not reached today, those players cannot move to MLS this season. The Galaxy has been pursuing Kljestan, who has fallen out of favor with Anderlecht in Belgium. Stoke City would allow Shea to leave.
Free agents, such as Jermaine Jones and Oguchi Onyewu, could sign with MLS at any point before Sept. 15. Chicago is interested in Jones, the U.S. World Cup midfielder who last played at Besiktas in Turkey and would probably be exempt from the allocation order. Onyewu has trained informally with United in order to stay in shape but is seeking a fresh opportunity in Europe by the end of this month.
MLS teams also have five weeks left to acquire domestic-based players, via trade or loan from the second-tier NASL or third-division USL-Pro.
“With injuries and [CONCACAF] Champions League, we are looking for some cover pieces,” Kasper said, noting interest in growing depth at the outside back positions and across midfield.
United has roster and salary cap space, and could open additional roster slots by placing second-choice goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra (Achilles’ tendon) and reserve forward Conor Doyle (knee) on the season-ending list.
Despite Doyle’s injury, Kasper said the club probably will stand pat at forward. He cited established depth with Eddie Johnson, Luis Silva, Fabian Espindola, Chris Rolfe and Michael Seaton.
Espindola, United’s leading scorer who has missed two months with a knee injury, is planning to rejoin the game-day roster Saturday night against his first MLS club, Real Salt Lake, at Rio Tinto Stadium (10 p.m. ET, Comcast SportsNet).
“There is a very, very 100 percent chance he is going to Salt Lake,” Coach Ben Olsen said.
As for Doyle’s injury, United officials expected him to miss two weeks, but when doctors performed the operation, they found greater damage. He will be sidelined several months. Doyle did not score this season but provided late-game relief in almost every match.
Defender Chris Korb and midfielders Nick DeLeon, Alex Caskey and Kyle Porter will return soon from minor injuries.
Veteran attacker Chris Pontius, out all season with hamstring issues, “is starting to turn the corner,” Kasper said. Pontius has begun doing technical work in training and could return this fall.
Midfielder Perry Kitchen (yellow card accumulation) will miss this weekend’s trip.
Looking back on the defensive breakdown that resulted in United’s 1-0 loss at Houston on Sunday, Olsen did not want to go into details and limited his comments to: “It was an extremely preventable goal. These guys are going to learn lessons from their mistakes. Overall, it was a gutsy performance. It’s a shame to end that way.”
Goalkeeper Bill Hamid and defenders Bobby Boswell and Sean Franklin are in Portland for tonight’s All-Star Game against Bayern Munich. Coverage on ESPN2 begins at 9:30 p.m. ET, with kickoff at 9:55. All three are expected to enter the match in the second half. They will rejoin United in Salt Lake City on Friday.
RSL will be without three suspended defenders — Chris Wingert, Tony Beltran and Aaron Maund — and is waiting to see if captain and central midfielder Kyle Beckerman (foot soreness) will suit up.
From Portland, Boswell’s dry humor:
I sat next to 2 guys from DC & 2 guys from TX at dinner 2nite who were in town 4 the All-Star game. They asked if I was gonna go. #probably
— Bobby Boswell (@bobbyboswell) August 6, 2014