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Defender Petke Reaches Agreement With D.C. United

Thursday, January 20, 2005; Page D02

D.C. United has reached agreement on a new contract with veteran defender MikePetke, officials said last night. The deal has yet to be signed and must be approved by MLS, which oversees all player contracts.

"D.C. has made a commitment to Mike and we're very happy with it," Petke's agent, RonWaxman, said from New York.

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Petke's previous deal expired Dec. 31, but Waxman said negotiations were "never acrimonious. There was some give and take, and it took a while to get it done."

Petke, one of the league's highest-paid defenders at $165,000 last year, had to accept a pay cut to reach a deal, but in exchange, United guaranteed his contract the first year and built in incentives to guarantee future seasons, Waxman said. (Many MLS players do not have guaranteed contracts.)

United President Kevin Payne confirmed that a deal had been agreed upon.

"He's a player we value, he helped us win a championship and we're happy to have him back," Payne said.

Petke, who will turn 29 on Jan. 30, played in 26 of 30 regular season games last year and started 23. After an early-season slump, he returned to the lineup and helped solidify United's backline as the club surged to its first MLS title in five years. Petke played every minute in four postseason matches, including the MLS Cup victory over the Kansas City Wizards.

His importance to United is expected to increase this season -- his third in Washington after five with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars -- following the departure of all-star defender Ryan Nelsen to the English Premier League.

Since the end of the season, United has re-signed three defenders: Petke, Bryan Namoff and Brandon Prideaux. The club is also in the market for a foreign central defender, but officials say they don't expect a resolution for a few weeks.

-- Steven Goff

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