D.C. United captain Marco Etcheverry and team officials ended contract talks last night without a resolution, further delaying the club's efforts to finalize the biggest trade in its seven-year history.
Etcheverry met on at least two occasions with United technical director Dave Kasper at club headquarters in Chantilly, including a one-hour session early in the evening. The sides will likely meet again today.
In a prepared statement, Kasper said: "Some unforeseen circumstances have arisen that have given us need to pause. We are working diligently to resolve this negotiation."
Coach Ray Hudson, who returned from a scouting trip in Europe yesterday, didn't return phone messages.
Etcheverry is not one of the trade subjects, but his contractual limbo had been impacting the long-delayed deal with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. Sources say United is waiting for Etcheverry to sign before sending all-time leading scorer Jaime Moreno, two-time World Cup defender Eddie Pope and veteran midfielder Richie Williams to the MetroStars for defender Mike Petke, a first-round draft choice (fifth overall) and rights to a major player allocation.
If Etcheverry doesn't re-sign and decides to pursue other opportunities -- he said he has an offer from a club in the United Arab Emirates -- sources say United officials would reassess the MetroStars trade and possibly retain Pope. A proposed trade between D.C. and Chicago also could be affected.
Etcheverry has declined to discuss specifics of the offers from MLS and the UAE club, other than to say he has been asked by MLS to take a pay cut for the second consecutive year.
It's unclear whether MLS -- which oversees player contracts and negotiations from its New York headquarters -- has made a stronger offer, but clearly some changes have been made in the past 24 hours.
Etcheverry, 32, earns an estimated $500,000 annually, but his lack of production in recent seasons has diminished his value.
Hudson had said last week that he was under the impression, after speaking with Etcheverry's agent, Ruben Morales, that Etcheverry had agreed to terms and only a few minor details needed to be worked out.
However, Etcheverry has expressed concerns about MLS's offer this week, delaying the announcement of the MetroStars trade. He also was considering the offer from the UAE, where, according to a source with knowledge of Middle Eastern soccer negotiations, he probably could earn between $100,000 and $200,000 on a four- or five-month contract.
MLS Notes: Anschutz Entertainment Group expanded its empire yesterday by taking full control of the San Jose Earthquakes. AEG, which had been sharing San Jose operations with Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment (owner of the NHL's San Jose Sharks), now operates six of MLS's 10 teams, including United and the MetroStars.