Dave Sarachan, D.C. United's top assistant for the past two seasons, has left the Major League Soccer club to become a full-time assistant under Bruce Arena on the U.S. men's national team.

Sarachan, 45, joined Arena yesterday at U.S. training camp in Southern California, where the Americans are preparing for the Jan. 16 friendly match against Iran at the Rose Bowl.

Meanwhile, forward A.J. Wood, United's fourth-leading scorer last season who became a free agent last week, is close to finalizing a multiyear contract with MLS, which owns and primarily negotiates all player deals. Wood, a Rockville native who has tryout offers from clubs in Germany and Greece, is expected to compete for a starting forward spot following the recent trade of leading scorer Roy Lassiter to Miami.

Wood's new pact, for an estimated $50,000 annually, would push United very close to the $1.7 million salary cap. Although club officials were concerned they might have to trade another player, "I think we'll be okay," Coach Thomas Rongen said. "It's going to be tight."

Rongen has narrowed his list of possible replacements for Sarachan to three and probably will name someone in the next few days. He wouldn't say who he's considering, but a club source said American University Coach Bob Jenkins and former Canadian national team defender Frank Yallop, who played for Rongen in Tampa Bay in 1996 and was a Mutiny assistant last year, are in the running.

"I hate to see Dave leave," Rongen said yesterday, "but any time someone can better themselves professionally and possibly participate in a World Cup, we would never stand in their way."

United also is concerned about losing all-star defender Jeff Agoos for the first few months of the season, which begins in March. Agoos may be loaned to Swiss club Grasshoppers next month, which probably would result in him remaining there until that season is complete in May.

Agoos's agent, Richard Motzkin of Los Angeles, said he hopes the matter is resolved in the next two weeks.

MLS Notes: William & Mary all-American goalkeeper Adin Brown, the leading candidate to start for the U.S. Olympic team, signed with MLS and will be available in the draft. . . . Danish forward Miklos Molnar, 29, who most recently played for Sevilla in the Spanish League, signed with MLS and will play for Kansas City. . . . United will release its regular season schedule on Tuesday; D.C. opens March 25 against Los Angeles.