United May Decide To Shuffle Goalkeepers

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

D.C. United's decision-makers have spent considerable time this offseason pursuing Latin American players, most notably Juan Sebastian Veron. But while they attempt to finalize a deal with the Argentine superstar this week, their first order of business might be two major goalkeeping moves.

According to sources close to the club, United is on the brink of selling veteran starter Troy Perkins to an unidentified Norwegian team and has begun pursuing a replacement within MLS.

Early yesterday, United appeared to have a tentative agreement in place to acquire Joe Cannon, two-time MLS goalie of the year, from the Los Angeles Galaxy as part of a multi-team trade that would have sent defender Bobby Boswell and financial considerations to FC Dallas. Los Angeles was set to reacquire prolific scorer Carlos Ru¿z from Dallas, but by late afternoon the deal had collapsed.

Boswell, the 2006 MLS defender of the year whose playing time diminished last season, said last night that club officials told him his name has been included in trade talks. It is unclear whether United remains in the running for Cannon.

United took interest in Cannon after receiving the offer for Perkins, who started all but three regular season matches the past two seasons and was voted MLS's top goalie in 2006.

Although he signed a multiyear contract with United last offseason, Perkins has expressed a desire to play in Europe. It is not unusual for a team to grant a player's wish to go overseas, if the offer is acceptable to both the club and the league.

Perkins could not be reached, and his agent, Patrick McCabe, declined to comment.

Perkins, 26, split goalkeeping duties with Nick Rimando during United's 2004 championship season, but after losing the starting role the next year, won the job in 2006 and went on to register 16 shutouts and a 1.12 goals against average in 59 regular season appearances the past two seasons.

He did concede a few soft goals, most notably in international competition last spring when a shot slipped between his hands, but rescued United several times to preserve victories.

Cannon, who will turn 33 on Jan. 1, might be the best shot-stopper in MLS history. He has been a starter since 1999, the only interruption coming in 2003, when he spent eight months with French club Lens. Cannon was named MLS's top goalie in 2002 as well as in '04, when he was among three finalists for the most valuable player award.

After starting for four years in San Jose, he played three full seasons for Colorado before being traded to the Galaxy last December.

Another possible trade partner for United is the two-time defending champion Houston Dynamo, which has a seasoned goalie (Pat Onstad) and a promising backup (Zach Wells).

While United searches for goalkeeping help, the club should learn soon whether it will be able to acquire Ver¿n on a free transfer from Argentine club Estudiantes. Although media reports in Argentina said Ver¿n is weighing his options, a source close to the situation said negotiations are moving in a "positive direction" for United.

Ver¿n, 32, played in Argentina's midfield in two World Cups and has spent his professional career with Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires; Sampdoria, Parma, Lazio and Inter Milan in Italy; and Chelsea and Manchester United in England. D.C. officials have been pursuing him since last summer.

Ver¿n's potential arrival might coincide with the departure of countryman Christian Gomez, the 2006 MLS MVP. Gomez's contract expires this month, and United apparently has been unwilling to guarantee a deal for more than one season. Gomez has drawn interest from foreign clubs, but according to a source, at least one MLS team has approached United about a trade.

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