Despite the departure of two starters and a reserve since the end of the Major League Soccer season, D.C. United may need to relinquish another player to get under the salary cap.
United officials are crunching the numbers in hopes of avoiding another move, but it appears the club is slightly over the $1.7 million cap.
Since D.C. won the MLS title on Nov. 21, leading scorer Roy Lassiter was sent to Miami to complete a midseason trade, starting defender Diego Sonora's contract expired last month and he won't return and reserve defender Curt Onalfo retired. United apparently had no plans to make any significant moves between now and the league draft on Feb. 6, but that might change.
"We're looking at the situation, seeing what we have to do, if anything," Coach Thomas Rongen said. "We're a family here, and I don't want to lose anyone else."
Complicating matters is the status of forward A.J. Wood, whose contract expires this month. He has had preliminary discussions with MLS about a new deal, but also has received tryout offers from a Greek club and two German teams, his agent, Dan Segal, said yesterday. Wood, a Rockville native, was making about $45,000 a year, but after finishing as United's fourth-leading scorer, he's hoping for a significant boost.
United's payroll has increased each year primarily because of players' raises based on the team's successes--three championships in four seasons and two international titles. Meantime, the salary cap has increased only slightly each year, from $1.635 million this year to about the $1.7 million figure next season. However, the number of players per team being counted toward the cap has been reduced to 19 from 20 and provisions are being made for younger players.
Lassiter was making about $100,000 that counted toward the cap, but most of Sonora's $140,000 salary had been applied to San Jose's payroll, not D.C.'s, under the terms of a complicated trade last offseason.
Meantime, defender Jeff Agoos is awaiting a formal offer from the Swiss club Grasshoppers, who have expressed interest in acquiring him on loan. MLS and United will have to decide whether to allow Agoos to stay with Grasshoppers until the end of the Swiss season in May. The MLS season begins in March.
United President and General Manager Kevin Payne wasn't available to comment.