Former MVP Gomez Is Leaving D.C. for Colorado

Friday, February 8, 2008

D.C. United has traded the rights to 2006 MLS most valuable player Christian Gomez to the Colorado Rapids, sources close to the negotiations said yesterday.

United will receive a first-round draft pick and other considerations in exchange for the Argentine midfielder, whose contract expired in December. The Rapids will hold a news conference today in Denver to introduce Gomez.

After rejecting United's contract extension offers since early last year, Gomez was essentially replaced on the roster last week when the club acquired former Argentina World Cup midfielder Marcelo Gallardo. According to one source, United was willing to increase Gomez's base salary from $218,500 to $325,000 and guarantee the contract for two years; Colorado will pay him close to $400,000 with two guaranteed seasons, plus incentives and bonuses.

Gomez, 33, was entitled to sign with any club outside MLS -- he apparently entertained offers from teams in the Middle East and Latin America -- but because MLS does not have free agency, United maintained his league rights and could request compensation.

In search of an influential central midfielder to energize his lackluster club, Rapids Coach Fernando Clavijo expressed interest in Gomez in December. Other MLS teams also contacted United, but Colorado was the front-runner all along, a source said.

The trade was contingent upon Gomez agreeing to terms on the new contract with the Rapids.

After arriving in Washington late in the 2004 season, Gomez helped guide United to its fourth MLS Cup title and went on to become a Best XI all-league selection in each of his three subsequent years.

Gomez will not have to wait long to face his former club as United is scheduled to face the Rapids in Denver on May 5, the sixth weekend of the season.

According to the complete MLS schedule released yesterday, English superstar David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy are set to make their only Washington appearance on June 29, a Sunday afternoon game to be televised by ABC. Last year Beckham's visit on a Thursday night in August drew a sellout crowd to RFK Stadium.

United had previously announced the dates of its season opener (March 29 at Kansas City) and home opener (April 5 against Toronto).

In addition to 30 regular season matches, the club will compete in three international tournaments (the Champions' Cup starting next month, SuperLiga this summer and the Champions League in the fall) as well as the U.S. Open Cup beginning in July.

-- Steven Goff

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