D.C. United has abandoned its pursuit of Argentine midfielder Cesar La Paglia, Coach Ray Hudson said upon returning from a scouting trip in South America.

La Paglia, 23, had been near the top of United's offseason wish list. Despite the player's high profile, club officials thought they could afford him because of Argentina's economic crisis, which has forced some clubs to sell top talent. But after meeting with Argentine officials and watching La Paglia play twice for Talleres de Cordoba, Hudson said: "There's no fire sale going on down there. Quality players are still demanding quality money.

"To be honest, I saw better players, and his price was going to be high."

Hudson spent two weeks in Argentina and attended approximately 10 matches. "I came back with a nice list" of potential signees, he said, declining to identify any of those players. However, he did say he is interested in two midfielders and one or two forwards.

United also remains interested in some European players, including Polish World Cup forward Cezary Kucharski. Hudson said he might go to Italy in the coming weeks to scout other players.

Meantime, the status of United's Bolivian stars, Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno, remains unsettled as the club weighs trade offers and monitors contract negotiations between those players and Major League Soccer officials.

Sources said this week that United has had conversations with the Chicago Fire about a trade that would involve Moreno and possibly Chicago's Bulgarian star, Hristo Stoitchkov, and all-star forward-midfielder Dema Kovalenko. Another possible deal could send Moreno to the New York/New Jersey MetroStars for the rights to a player allocation from the league.

"It's all in the blender and we have a lot of ingredients mixing around in there," Hudson said about United's options. "A lot of things could happen."

United Notes: Justin Mapp, Bryan Namoff and Ali Curtis were named to an MLS squad that will play six games in Germany and the Netherlands starting next week. . . . Goalkeepers coach Mark Simpson said he has not been told whether his contract will be renewed. "It's frustrating not knowing," he said. United dismissed assistant coach Curt Onalfo and team trainer Rick Guter in recent weeks.