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D.C. United news and notes

Another Cruyff in Washington?

Some 30 years since Dutch legend Johan Cruyff played for the NASL’s Diplomats, his grandson Jesjua has begun a tryout with D.C. United.

Jesjua, 20, arrived from Wigan Athletic’s under-21 squad in England after spending his youth in FC Barcelona’s academy. He plays wide in midfield and on the backline.

Jesjua is the son of Johan’s daughter, Chantal. Johan’s son, Jordi, played for Barcelona and Manchester United, among others, during an 18-year career that ended in 2010. Johan, widely regarded as one of the sport’s top five all-time players, spent 1980-81 at RFK Stadium with the Dips.

The youngest Cruyff was among three new trialists Tuesday, joining American forward Mike Grella, 26, a former Duke star who was drafted by Toronto FC but signed with Leeds and has spent four years with multiple English clubs, most recently Scunthorpe on the third level; and Nottingham Forest outside back Peter Gregory, 20.

“I’ve told ya: We’re going to see a lot of guys come through this door,” United Coach Ben Olsen said. “It’s a tough task over a couple of days to really make decisions on guys like this, for the positive because you don’t get to see them in big games, but you never know.”

United evaluated — and ultimately — passed on two English third-tier players last week: American right back Frankie Simek and English forward Akpo Sodje.

United General Manager Dave Kasper and scouting coordinator Kurt Morsink are in eastern Europe, apparently eyeing a player at Red Star Belgrade.

Jesjua Cruyff isn’t the first player with famous lineage to train with United: About eight years ago, forward Paul Dalglish, son of legendary Liverpool player and coach Kenny, was given a brief tryout. He eventually signed with the Houston Dynamo.

*No timetable has been set for Rafael‘s return after the Brazilian forward suffered a concussion in training late last week. Olsen said he believes he was accidentally kicked in the head by a goalkeeper on a challenge in the box. It seems unlikely he would be available this weekend against the visiting Portland Timbers.

*Brazilian midfielder Raphael Augusto returned to training after missing Sunday’s match to address “family issues.”

*After missing three matches, midfielder Chris Pontius was short of breath by the end of a 45-minute stint that included an assist Sunday against Sporting Kansas City.

“When you come in as a sub, you almost get more tired than starting the game,” he said. “You are trying to play catch-up. Everyone else is up to the speed of the game. You are trying to do a little more. I got winded quick, but I didn’t get a full week of training in, so hopefully with this full week, I can get my lungs back and my sharpness back. I didn’t feel clean on the ball. My decision-making was slow. That is all natural stuff when you are coming back.”

*Does winger Nick DeLeon have a long-term future in central midfield after playing there Sunday?

“It was filling a gap, but I thought he filled it in very nicely,” Olsen said. “You now have options. Nick is one of those kids I am comfortable plugging in anywhere on the field, except center back [and goalkeeper]. He is just one of those guys that kind of gets it.”

*Academy players Collin Martin and Jalen Robinson, freshmen at Wake Forest University, trained with the first team.

*Olsen, on MLS’s announcement that Manchester City and the New York Yankees will operate a second club in the New York area, starting as early as 2015.

“Very cool. I guess. Rather there than in the Pacific Northwest. It’s an easy train ride for us.”

Can two teams work in New York after the double-club experiment went wrong in Los Angeles?

“It’s a different animal,” Olsen said — no pun intended. (Chivas USA, which shares Home Depot Center with the Galaxy, is known as the Goats.)

“What’s the name?”

New York City FC or NYCFC.

“What? Seriously? Come on. That is some acronym.”

Dwayne De Rosario, on a second team in New York: “I know they have the Red Bulls, but they are not technically in New York. It’s a very knowledgeable and passionate soccer community in New York, so to have a second team makes sense.”

Pontius, on the fact that Manchester City and the Yankees will oversee the new club: “So there will be no money in that team, right?”

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.



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Steven Goff · May 20, 2013