January 8, 2018 at 11:26 PM
D.C. United expects homegrown prospect Eryk Williamson to sign overseas instead of accepting its contract offer, sources close to the team said Monday.
United made a revised offer about two weeks ago to the University of Maryland and U.S. under-20 national team attacker but has not received a reply. One source said there’s been no recent counteroffers or dialogue.
Last month, Williamson withdrew from Maryland with a year of eligibility left in order to pursue a pro career. Because he is affiliated with United’s youth academy, he is not eligible for the MLS draft next week. He does, however, have the freedom to pursue a contract abroad. If he were to sign elsewhere, United would retain his MLS rights in perpetuity.
Williamson told the Insider: “I still am weighing the DCU offer. Just trying to find the best fit.”
His agent did not respond to a message seeking comment. United officials have not commented on the status of their talks with Williamson, other than to acknowledge last month that they planned to tender an offer.
Last summer, Williamson trained with a Swedish club before rejoining the Maryland program. Besides possible opportunities in Scandinavia, Bundesliga side Schalke has taken interest in him as well, according to a report in Metro.
Asked if Schalke was pursuing him, Williamson did not comment.
Schalke employs Weston McKennie, a 19-year-old midfielder from Texas who turned pro instead of attending the University of Virginia. He now features regularly in Schalke’s lineup and, in November, scored in his U.S. senior national team debut at Portugal. The club has two other young Americans in its system: midfielder Nick Taitague, 18, from Midlothian, Va., plays for the under-19 squad and forward Haji Wright, 19, from Los Angeles, is on loan at second-division Sandhausen.
Williamson is from Alexandria, Va., and T.C. Williams High School. He enjoyed a superb freshman season at Maryland but, to many observers, did not raise his game in subsequent years. Last fall, he scored a team-high six goals (three against Wisconsin) and added five assists in garnering third-team all-American honors for a Maryland team that went undefeated through 13 games before hitting a scoring rut and fading down the stretch.
Maryland teammate Gordon Wild also left school a year early and signed with MLS. The German forward will be available in the Jan. 19 draft in Philadelphia.
On the international level, Williamson was a regular with the U.S. U-20s and scored a world-class goal against El Salvador last year in the U-20 World Cup qualifying tournament. He then started four of five matches during a quarterfinal run at the World Cup in South Korea.
United currently has three homegrown players on its first-team roster: midfielder Ian Harkes, defender Jalen Robinson and defender-midfielder Chris Durkin. Past D.C. homegrowns have included Bill Hamid (now at Danish club Midtjylland) and defender-midfielder Andy Najar (Belgian club Anderlecht).
This offseason, United has acquired five players: defender Frederic Brillant (New York City FC), forward Darren Mattocks (Portland Timbers), midfielders Ulises Segura (Costa Rica) and Junior Moreno (Venezuela), and goalkeeper David Ousted (Vancouver Whitecaps). It also claimed the rights to attacker Gonzalo Veron (New York Red Bulls) in last month’s re-entry draft, but as of last week, wasn’t optimistic about signing him; he has offers overseas.