United Acquires Canadian Defender Dejan Jakovic

Canadian defender Dejan Jakovic joined D.C. United from Red Star Belgrade on Friday, a move which should fortify the team's defensive options.
Canadian defender Dejan Jakovic joined D.C. United from Red Star Belgrade on Friday, a move which should fortify the team's defensive options. (Jeff Gross - Getty)
By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 28, 2009; 12:09 AM

D.C. United fortified its thin defensive corps yesterday by acquiring Dejan Jakovic, a Canadian center back who spent seven months with famed Serbian club Red Star Belgrade.

United paid an unspecified transfer fee for the rights to Jakovic, 23, who was born in Yugoslavia and, amid civil unrest, moved with his family to the Toronto suburbs in 1991. After three years at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, he signed with Red Star last summer and appeared in three league matches and two UEFA Cup qualifiers.

Jakovic fell out of favor following a coaching change in September,and the club began looking to transfer him. Contract terms with United were not disclosed. Pending visa approval, he will join the club next week for a preseason tournament in Charleston, S.C.

"We knew about Dejan a few years ago and have tracked him ever since," United Coach Tom Soehn said. "He spent a year at Red Star, which was a great experience for him. They are a very technical league over there. He has good feet, he's a big kid, he's got pace. It's been a long, drawn-out process to get him, and finally it all came together."

Jakovic (6 feet 2) is slated to start, leaving Devon McTavish, in his fourth season, and Greg Janicki, who joined the club late last year from third-division Pittsburgh, to battle for the other central slot. Both McTavish and Janicki are leaving United without a significantly experienced player in the heart of the backline.

The club had planned to sign Brazilian veteran Roger, but after agreeing to a contract, he abruptly left training camp for personal reasons and returned home.

"We are going to have some young central defenders," United General Manager Dave Kasper said, "but we are happy with the group now."

Jakovic started for Canada's under-23 squad at the Olympic qualifying tournament last spring. Though he has made just one appearance for the senior national team, he was named to the game-day roster for 2010 World Cup qualifiers several times before Canada's elimination.

United Notes: The number of potential sites for a stadium in Prince George's County has been narrowed from seven to "probably three," team president Kevin Payne said. He declined to identify the locations, but said all are near Metro stations. ... Second-year defender Mike Zaher was released. ... Second-year defender Ryan Miller agreed to a developmental contract. ... Rookie goalkeeper Milos Kocic (Loyola College-Baltimore) was offered a developmental contract but is also weighing an offer from a Swedish club. ... Tomorrow's exhibition against the University of Maryland in College Park has been postponed until Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.

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