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United Cuts Ties With Crayton
For the past month, with his hefty contract running out and his stock dropping in the three-man battle for the starting goalkeeping job, Louis Crayton saw his future fading with D.C. United. Yesterday, the MLS club officially cut ties with the Liberia native by announcing that it wouldn't exercise the option on an agreement that expires next week.
Crayton, 31, provided United with a significant upgrade in goal when he was acquired from the Swiss league last summer. He was widely expected to secure the starting role this year, but after suffering a preseason hip injury, he lost his sharpness. In six league appearances, his performances were erratic, and by late last month, he was no longer being chosen for the 18-man game roster.
Josh Wicks, acquired late in the preseason from Los Angeles, has started six consecutive games and made several spectacular saves, including one on a penalty kick. Milos Kocic, a rookie from Loyola College in Baltimore who has shown promise in two MLS games and one nonleague appearance, has served as the backup.
With a guaranteed salary of $178,000, Crayton was too expensive to retain on a United roster with limited salary cap space. Wicks earns $42,000 and Kocic, a developmental player, collects $20,100.
"It's something that we felt like we needed to do to make us better," United Coach Tom Soehn said in a veiled reference to clearing room under the salary cap. "It was time for us to go in different directions."
United officials said they had no immediate plans to add a third goalie, an indication they might pursue a defender to bolster a backline largely responsible for conceding three goals in each of the past two matches.
Central back Dejan Jakovic has been a revelation in his first year with United and right back Bryan Namoff is enjoying his best all-around season, but the club is in need of depth. Marc Burch struggled last Wednesday at Seattle, and Greg Janicki and Avery John faltered badly Saturday at Colorado.
Jakovic will miss as many as three league games and two U.S. Open Cup matches while on Canadian national team duty at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which begins next week.
United midfielder-forward Santino Quaranta is also going to the Gold Cup, his first call-up to the U.S. national team since recovering from drug addiction. His last U.S. appearance was in February 2006 against Guatemala.
"I never thought it was going to happen again," said Quaranta, who is tied for second in assists in MLS with six. "It's not to just go in and be content; I want to make the  World Cup team. Where I am now in my life, with the game and where my confidence is, I would say, 'Why not?' "
The 23-man U.S. roster, which was unveiled yesterday, also includes former United players Freddy Adu (Monaco, French league) and Troy Perkins (Valerenga, Norway); 2007 United draft pick Luis Robles (Kaiserslautern, Germany); ex-Maryland Terrapins Clarence Goodson (Start, Norway) and Robbie Rogers (Columbus); and Crofton's Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake).
With most of the U.S. regulars needing to return to their clubs or take a break, only four players from the Confederations Cup roster in South Africa have been retained for the Gold Cup, a 12-team regional championship to be played at various U.S. venues, including RFK Stadium for a U.S.-Honduras first-round game July 8.
-- Steven Goff