By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
After trading four veteran players and replacing its head coach, D.C. United appears close to making its first major player acquisition of the offseason -- Ruy, a right-side midfielder for renowned Brazilian club Botafogo.
According to several sources close to the situation, United might be able to finalize a long-term deal this week for the player, whose full name is Ruy Bueno Neto but, in his country's sporting tradition, goes by one name.
Brazilian media reports have indicated the arrangement has already been set, with Ruy's agent, Marcio Bittencourt, telling Radio Brasil that United "has high expectations for him there."
Two American sources cautioned that details were still being worked out. "It's very sensitive," one source said.
United technical director Dave Kasper, who is overseeing the club's pursuit of several South American players, said he had no comment on the Brazilian reports.
"We're still working on our player acquisitions and hope to finalize some deals in the next couple weeks," he said.
Ruy, 28, has played the last two seasons with Botafogo in Rio de Janeiro and apparently is available on loan from a third party that holds his contractual rights. He also has played for America-MG, Cruzeiro and Guarani in Brazil.
Through a series of trades, including deals involving Freddy Adu and Alecko Eskandarian, United has been stockpiling acquisition funds and plans to sign two or three foreign players. Kasper made a scouting trip to South America after the season.Failure to Communicate
Brian Carroll, a three-year starter in United's midfield, remains without a contract and might return to Europe for tryouts after two earlier stints.
"Brian would be happy to sign with United, but we just can't get their attention," agent Craig Sharon said. "They've said they want him back, but there's nothing on the table."
Kasper countered by saying an offer was, in fact, presented before Christmas and "we're awaiting a response."
Sharon has arranged workouts this month in Norway, France and Germany for Carroll, who already has trained with Olympique de Marseille and Aachen (Germany). Carroll's arrival at U.S. national team training camp this week has been delayed by a minor ankle injury.
United also is planning to restructure contracts for MLS most valuable player Christian Gomez and all-stars Troy Perkins and Bobby Boswell.Odds and Ends
Virginia freshman defender Bakary Soumare said he has signed with MLS, while Maryland sophomore Chris Seitz, the nation's top goalkeeper, has decided to join MLS after weighing European offers, a source close to the player said.
MLS is expected to announce several signings this week, including Virginia's Nico Colaluca, Maryland's Maurice Edu and 15-year-old forward Abdus Ibrahim, a native of Ethiopia who lives in Minnesota. The draft is Jan. 12. . . .
English club Fulham reached an agreement to acquire Clint Dempsey from the New England Revolution if the U.S. midfielder obtains a work permit. MLS would receive between $3 million and $4 million in transfer fees. . . .
Chad Ashton, longtime coach at the University of Denver, has emerged as a candidate to join United Coach Tom Soehn's staff, MLS and NCAA sources said. . . .
John Maessner, who played on three United championship teams, was named the club's director of youth development. He replaces John Harkes, who became a New York assistant coach. United will field six youth teams this year.
Staff writer Michael Shepard contributed to this report.