Santino Quaranta had a hunch D.C. United wouldn’t exercise the option on his contract, but he did think the club for which he had played 10 of his 11 MLS seasons would try to retain him with a reduced salary.

Instead, he said, he didn’t hear anything from United officials until midday Tuesday when Coach Ben Olsen called him from a scouting trip in Europe. Quaranta wouldn’t return to the club, Olsen told him.

“I figured all along we’d get it done, regardless of whether they picked up the option,” said Quaranta, 27, who earned about $120,000 this season. “It’s disappointing. Done deal, see you later. It’s puzzling. It hurts. You put so much into your organization. ‘D.C. United’ were the first words my [2 1/2-year-old] son learned.”


Quaranta joined United in 2001 at age 16 and, after a promising rookie season, struggled with injuries for years. Substance abuse derailed his career, and following brief stays with New York and Los Angeles, he was given a second chance by DCU. Quaranta regained his form in 2008, earning a place on the U.S. national team, and started 68 league matches over three seasons. This year, however, he made just 10 starts (21 appearances) and contributed one goal and four assists.

Quaranta will gauge interest from other MLS clubs ahead of the two-stage re-entry drafts, but with deep family roots in the Washington-Baltimore area, he said he’d have to think long and hard about resuming his MLS career elsewhere.

“This place means a lot to me. I’m going to miss all of the supporters, all of the people. It’s hard, but that’s business. I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”