On the eve of the MLS draft, D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper flew to Kansas City from Fort Lauderdale on a Southwest Airlines flight packed with league personnel Wednesday.
“I think some trades were made in the aisles,” he joked.
United’s shorthanded roster is no joking matter, however. After shedding numerous players in the offseason, DCU has been eerily quiet. While most other clubs have announced signings, United has made just one acquisition: veteran right back Robbie Russell from Real Salt Lake — and that occurred six weeks ago.
Kasper, busy preparing for United’s sixth overall pick in the draft (noon ET, ESPN2, ESPN3.com), had no international moves to report but said he hopes to add players in the next two weeks. He declined to comment on reports that United is in talks with Emiliano Dudar, an Argentine central defender playing for Young Boys in Switzerland. However, a source said Dudar remains on United’s radar.
I asked Kasper why, amid a flurry of activity around the league, United hasn’t announced anything. “I don’t think it means anything. We’re all running up against the international window [Jan. 31], and there’s a lot of movement in the market. Some things take longer than others.”
He added: “We’re exploring trade opportunities, the international market, the free agent market, the drafts, so we have options.”
Commenting on contract negotiations with 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario, Kasper said: “We have entered into discussions and they have been on-going since before the holidays. Thus far we’ve had good conversations.”
De Rosario is under contract in 2012 but is seeking a long-term deal to remain in Washington. The sides could strike a deal at any point this year, but DeRo could also choose to play out the final year of the deal and look for opportunities elsewhere in 2013.
As for Chris Pontius’s recovery from a broken leg, suffered in September, United believes he won’t be 100 percent until March 1 — nine days before the season opener against Sporting Kansas City. Pontius underwent a second procedure to inject bone marrow in order to stimulate healing.
Meantime, left-side midfielder Austin da Luz, who was acquired last season from New York, has declined an invitation to earn a contract in training camp and seems likely to end up elsewhere in MLS via a trade. Defender Jed Zayner, recovering from a knee injury, remains on course to join the club in camp in an attempt to win a contract.
United plans to invite several trialists to camp. Kasper declined to identify the candidates but said they’d come from the free agent market, U.S. lower leagues and undrafted college players.
Might United make a trade in Kansas City on draft day?
“There will be a lot of discussions,” he said. “Will we get a trade done? I’m not sure. We’ll see.”
As for the draft and United’s lone pick, Kasper turned to a standard, safe line: “Best available candidate. At number seven, we’re confident we’ll get someone we’re happy with.”
My draft outline is available here.
The USSF’s new U.S. Open Cup format is available here.