David Ousted started half of D.C. United’s matches last season, but after tumbling on the goalkeeping depth chart over the past six months, he finally seems on his way out of Washington.
Ousted, 33, reported to the first day of training camp Monday in Washington, but behind the scenes, United continues looking for ways to discard his guaranteed contract worth almost $400,000, an exorbitant sum for an MLS backup.
That salary has scared off potential trade partners and apparently forced United to consider buying him out at the expense of team investors. MLS allows teams to buy out one guaranteed contract per preseason. Such a move clears the corresponding salary cap space.
There is also a scenario in which United buys out a portion of his salary, knowing an MLS team has agreed to claim him off waivers and make up the financial difference.
The team most likely to sign him, multiple people close to the situation said, is the Chicago Fire, which employs two 24-year-old goalkeepers: Richard Sanchez and Stefan Cleveland. Another person familiar with the situation said the pending separation is “complicated,” and Ousted might land with another MLS club via waivers. He could also end up returning to Europe, where he played for 10 years before joining the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2013.
United officials did not want to comment Monday but said this month that they are seeking a solution to their goalkeeping backlog. Chicago officials also said they did not want to comment.
Bill Hamid, who supplanted Ousted as the starter last summer after rejoining United from the Danish league, is atop the depth chart. This offseason, D.C. acquired Chris Seitz in a trade with the Houston Dynamo and Earl Edwards Jr. from Orlando City.
Boca Juniors right back Leonardo Jara is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Wednesday. As the Soccer Insider reported last week, United is on the verge of acquiring Jara on loan for the 2019 season to fill a glaring void at that position.
The club’s efforts to retain Argentine midfielder Yamil Asad (nine goals, eight assists) remain at a standstill, and the longer it stays that way, the less likely he returns to Washington.
Asad was on loan last season from Argentina’s Velez Sarsfield. United had an option to buy his contract outright but has been seeking a new way to structure the permanent transfer. Velez Sarsfield has not budged. Although United would like to keep Asad, the organization believes it has a suitable replacement: Lucas Rodriguez, who is on loan from Argentine club Estudiantes. He reported to camp Monday.
Donovan Pines, a University of Maryland defender who agreed to a homegrown contract, joined the team Monday as well. Until paperwork with the league is finalized, United cannot announce the signing. On Monday, D.C. formally introduced William & Mary attacker Antonio Bustamante, a homegrown player from Springfield, Va.
The club has yet to announce the names of trialists invited to camp. Defender Kofi Opare, a potential trialist after United did not renew his contract, is expected to join the Colorado Rapids.
United will conduct testing and indoor workouts this week in the D.C. area before flying Sunday to Clearwater, Fla., its base of operations for most of the six weeks leading up to its March 3 opener against reigning champion Atlanta United at Audi Field.
Coach Ben Olsen and the players are expected to meet with reporters for the first time this preseason Wednesday.
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