United Offers New Deal To Gomez

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 7, 2006

D.C. United has offered Argentine midfielder Christian Gomez a new contract that would keep MLS's reigning most valuable player in Washington through at least 2008.

Gomez, who turned 32 last month, has one year left on a deal that paid $182,500 this past season -- significantly less than many of the league's star players. The new offer is for $325,000 for 2007 and '08, plus several incentives and two additional option years, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

Gomez, who joined the club late in the 2004 season, has said he would like to remain with United, but if a new offer were not to his liking, he would consider pursuing opportunities in Asia or the Middle East following next season.

"We'll know more in the next couple weeks, but I'm hopeful we can reach a deal with him," United technical director Dave Kasper said.

Gomez could not be reached to comment, and his representatives in Buenos Aires did not return phone messages.

Inspired by Gomez's playmaking ability and scoring touch, United had the best regular season record in MLS this year before losing to New England in the Eastern Conference final. He finished tied for second in the league in both goals (14) and assists (11) and added a pair of goals in three playoff appearances.

Besides Gomez, United has been busy on several other fronts.

The club has decided to pick up the option on Jaime Moreno's contract, securing the Bolivian-born forward for an 11th season in Washington and 12th in the league. Moreno, who had 11 goals and 10 assists this year, will earn an estimated $250,000.

However, United will not pick up Matias Donnet's option and might attempt to reach a new deal with the Argentine flank player, who joined the club late in the regular season and had one goal. The specifics of his potential 2007 contract were never disclosed, but sources around the league said it was in excess of $200,000. Donnet could end up back in Argentina or overseas.

United officials are also waiting to speak with veteran midfielder Brian Carroll, who will become a free agent next month. Carroll, a Springfield native who has become one of United's most reliable players, has been training with European clubs during the MLS offseason, most recently French club Olympique Marseille.

If Marseille makes Carroll an offer, it seems unlikely United would be able to match it.

The team has not yet decided whether to offer a new contract to reserve defender David Stokes, who will also become a free agent. Stokes has been working out with lower-level European teams.

Meantime, Kasper and United Coach Peter Nowak have returned from a two-week scouting trip to Brazil and Argentina. Kasper said he attended four matches in Brazil.

One source indicated United is very close to acquiring both an Argentine and Brazilian player, but Kasper said the club is interested in "several players, and now we're just sorting through the process of availability and what it would take to sign someone."

United officials have a strong relationship with clubs and player agencies in Argentina, as well as with Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro.

Although Nowak's contract expires this month, he has been active in molding next year's roster.

The players will regroup in about seven weeks to begin preparing for the CONCACAF Champions Cup against Olimpia of Honduras, a two-game quarterfinal series set for late February.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company