Colombian Player Is Close To Joining United

Saturday, January 12, 2008

D.C. United has moved closer to bolstering its thin defensive corps by entering the final stages of negotiations with veteran Colombian central back Gonzalo Mart¿nez, sources familiar with the talks said yesterday.

Mart¿nez, 32, has played for Colombia's national team in the prestigious Copa America tournament and World Cup qualifying. His club career has taken him to three clubs in Italy and two in Paraguay. He spent this past year with Millonarios in Bogota.

One source said the deal is nearing completion and Mart¿nez, who has been telling Colombian reporters that he plans to join MLS this season, is tentatively set to arrive in Washington on Jan. 20 or 21 to prepare for the start of United training camp.

His arrival would offset the loss of Bobby Boswell, who was traded to the Houston Dynamo last month, and place him in the starting lineup alongside Devon McTavish or Greg Vanney, the club's only two central defenders. Marc Burch and Bryan Namoff are almost certain to return to starting roles at left and right back, respectively.

United also appears close to signing forward Franco Niell from Argentinos Juniors, a first-division club in Buenos Aires.

United General Manager Dave Kasper and Mart¿nez's agent, Alex Solis, declined to comment yesterday.

-- Steven Goff

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