D.C. United continued to revamp its roster yesterday, acquiring two-time all-star midfielder Dema Kovalenko from the Chicago Fire for 18-year-old midfielder Justin Mapp.
Kovalenko, 25, played in 23 games (all starts) last season and had one goal and eight assists. A Ukraine native who played at Indiana University, he was named an all-star in 2001 and was voted a starter for the 2002 All-Star Game at RFK Stadium. He has 22 goals and 20 assists in four Major League Soccer seasons.
"I've always been a big fan of him," Coach Ray Hudson said. "He's got that effervescence that rubs off on everyone and he has a tremendous hunger to win."
Kovalenko -- who has a green card and does not count against the limit of three foreigners per team -- primarily played on the right side with Chicago, but Hudson said he is thinking of using him in central midfield with Bobby Convey, behind playmaker Marco Etcheverry. Ben Olsen and Milton Reyes are tentatively set to play on the flanks, Hudson said.
Mapp, United's first pick (fourth overall) in the 2002 draft, played in only three games last season for a total of 28 minutes. However, he is a starter on the U.S. under-20 national team, which qualified for the world championships early next year, and because he is listed as a developmental player, his contract does not count against the salary cap. Chicago needs to make several moves before the Jan. 3 deadline to get under the $1.7 million cap.
United also is interested in Chicago forward Hristo Stoitchkov, 36, who led Bulgaria to the semifinals of the 1994 World Cup. Stoitchkov could become a player-assistant coach for D.C., but several issues need to be addressed before a trade can be made, sources said earlier this week.
D.C. also is interested in adding a Bulgarian defender, whom Hudson declined to identify, and one of several foreign-based forwards, including Aldo Osorio of Argentina, U.S. national team veteran Joe-Max Moore and Milton "Tyson" Nunez of Honduras.
Yesterday's trade came three days after United sent Eddie Pope, Jaime Moreno and Richie Williams to the New York/New Jersey MetroStars for Mike Petke, a first-round draft choice and the rights to a player allocation. Also Monday, Etcheverry agreed to a one-year contract extension.
"I think we're done for a while," United technical director Dave Kasper said. "We'll continue looking and evaluating and getting ready for the draft" on Jan. 17 in Kansas City, Mo. United has four of the top 14 selections, including the number one pick.