D.C. United will head to warmer places than Washington for the majority of preseason training camp. After gathering in the nation’s capital for a week, starting Jan. 15, United will spend most of its time in Florida, Arizona and South Carolina, with returns to D.C. between each trip.
The Florida leg will be held at Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, near Bradenton and Sarasota on the western coast. United is in the process of scheduling scrimmages during the 10-day stay.
In Arizona, the club will train in Scottsdale for 10 days and play multiple games. In South Carolina, United will participate in the Carolina Challenge Cup for the seventh time on Daniel Island outside of Charleston. Bidding for its third straight tournament title, United will play the Chicago Fire, third-tier Charleston Battery and Columbus Crew between Feb. 25 and March 3.
The MLS season opener is March 10 at RFK Stadium against an opponent to be announced soon. [The full preseason schedule is here.]
In other league news.....
I’m hearing that the Colorado Rapids have chosen Oscar Pareja as its head coach, replacing Gary Smith. Pareja, 43, played eight seasons in MLS and has served for several years as FC Dallas academy director and reserve team coach. One source said Pareja has yet to sign a contract but has been in serious discussions with the club. Another source said the other finalists have been notified of the Rapids’ decision.
I’ve also been told that Ben Speas, who scored the winning goal for North Carolina in the NCAA final last month, is planning to accept a homegrown contract offer from the Columbus Crew. Speas, a junior midfielder who won a national title with Akron in 2010, has also considered European trial offers and returning to the Tar Heels for his fourth year of eligibility.
UNC teammate Enzo Martinez, a junior midfielder, is in the final stages of signing a Generation Adidas contract and would be available in the Jan. 12 draft.