D.C. United claimed the rights to New York Red Bulls attacker Gonzalo Veron in the second stage of MLS’s re-entry draft Thursday.
Veron, a native of Argentina who turns 28 on Sunday, spent three years with the Red Bulls but did not have his contract option exercised this offseason. United will now enter into negotiations in hopes of persuading him to remain in the league instead of pursuing opportunities abroad.
“We know he’s received some interest internationally,” General Manager Dave Kasper said, “so we look forward to working with him to try to reach an agreement.”
Veron made $500,000 this year, probably well beyond what United is willing to pay him. He was a dangerous second-half sub for the Red Bulls, recording six goals and three assists this past season despite starting only five of his 24 regular season appearances. Four goals came in his last seven matches. Over his MLS career, Veron has played in 60 league games (13 starts) and posted 10 goals and four assists.
He typically played in a wide midfield position and likes to cuts inside. United is thin on the flanks, with few options besides probable starters Paul Arriola and Zoltan Stieber. Veron is also comfortable as a striker.
Whether or not he signs with United, he’ll go into RFK Stadium lore as the final MLS goal-scorer in venue history (unless D.C. needs the stadium for an early-season game in 2018 before Audi Field opens). Veron notched the go-ahead goal in the 75th minute of the stadium’s farewell match Oct. 22.
Before arriving in MLS, he played for Sportivo Italiano and San Lorenzo in his native Buenos Aires.
With more than a dozen roster slots to fill, United acquired central defender Frederic Brillant and forward Darren Mattocks in Dec. 10 trades and Thursday finalized a transfer deal with Costa Rican club Saprissa for central midfielder Ulises Segura.
United is weighing options in the free agent pool and international market, and will have the No. 3 overall pick in the college draft Jan. 19 in Philadelphia.
The only other players selected Thursday were Orlando City midfielder Servando Carrasco by the Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders midfielder Calum Mallace by Los Angeles FC.