D.C. United officials met with representatives of a young Argentine defender during their trip to South America last week and are hopeful a deal will be reached over the next month.

"We were able to continue discussions regarding the player and also follow up on other relationships," Technical Director Dave Kasper said Saturday prior to United's match against the Columbus Crew.

Kasper declined to identify the player that United has targeted, but said he is under 25 years old and has been playing in the Argentine second division after spending some time in the prestigious first division. The D.C. contingent wasn't able to see the player in action during the trip because his club's season is over.

Kasper, Coach Peter Nowak and President Kevin Payne attended three games, including one involving San Lorenzo. United has an informal business relationship with San Lorenzo and it's believed the targeted player's contract is owned by that club.

If a deal isn't worked out, Kasper said the team would turn its attention to others in the Argentine league. "We have six weeks until the [international] transfer window opens" on Aug. 15, he said, "and we will continue to evaluate what our needs may be."

Simms Available

Midfielder Clyde Simms is recovering from a sore foot, but was included on the 16-man active roster Saturday. The other eligible reserves were goalkeeper Troy Perkins (who's from the Columbus area), defender David Stokes, rookie midfielder Shawn Kuykendall and forward Jamil Walker. . . .

United's reserve squad (4-2-0) can move into first place with a victory Sunday morning against Columbus. Stokes and forward-midfielder Jason Thompson won't play because of red-card suspensions.