D.C. United has completed its midseason trade with Miami by sending leading scorer Roy Lassiter to the Fusion, sources close to the situation said last night.
Several United players were informed of the deal yesterday--two days after the club won its third Major League Soccer championship in four years.
Lassiter, who was linked to the trade when it was initially made in July, could not be reached to comment but had said in recent weeks he wouldn't be surprised if he were headed to the Fusion. It's believed that Miami, which has several quality attacking players, might attempt to trade Lassiter.
"I have that reality in my head that I might be the one, but I hope it's not me," he said following United's 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy Sunday in Foxboro, Mass.
A Miami spokesman said over the weekend that Fusion officials planned to identify the player today but were considering delaying the announcement until after Thanksgiving.
The trade brought midfielder John Maessner and rookie forward Chris Albright to United for midfielder-defender Brian Kamler and future considerations.
Lassiter, 30, scored 18 goals during each of the last two regular seasons after being acquired from Tampa Bay in April 1998 for forward Roy Wegerle. He also scored four goals during the 1998 playoffs and three during the recent postseason, including two in United's 4-0 triumph over Columbus in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals at RFK Stadium.
Lassiter, MLS's all-time leading scorer with 73 goals and 25 assists in 114 regular season games, hit the worst scoring slump of his career this year when he registered only five goals in about 4 1/2 months. Lassiter said the rumors of him being traded affected his play for some time.
United officials decided to trade Lassiter for two reasons: They are confident Albright, a former University of Virginia star and U.S. national team prospect, and veteran forward A.J. Wood are capable of stepping into starting positions alongside Jaime Moreno; and they were concerned about the league's salary cap, which has forced them to trim star players the last three years.
In addition to Lassiter, United will lose Argentine defender Diego Sonora, whose contract expired after the championship game. Sonora said he probably won't re-sign with MLS--which owns and primarily negotiates all player contracts--but even if he does, United must trade him to stay under next year's estimated $1.7 million salary cap.
Miami is among several teams that have expressed an interest in Sonora, D.C. President and General Manager Kevin Payne said last week. United likely would receive picks in the Feb. 6 draft.
United Notes: Negotiations between the club and Washington Capitals minority owner Jon Ledecky intensified over the weekend and the sale of the club's operating rights may be completed this week, a source said. . . .
In a significant deal for MLS, San Jose Earthquakes forward Ronald Cerritos has agreed to a four-year contract that will increase his salary to the league-maximum $255,000. Cerritos had 15 goals and nine assists this season. . . .
The Northern Virginia Royals, a United minor league affiliate, will hold an open tryout Dec. 5 at United Park. For more information, contact Coach Silvino Gonzalo at 703-512-8082.