By contrast, Inter Miami tapped into Juventus’s glossy roster to sign French World Cup midfielder Blaise Matuidi and chase famed striker Gonzalo Higuaín. Minnesota United FC acquired playmaker Emanuel Reynoso from Boca Juniors.
FC Cincinnati also turned to Argentina in signing winger Álvaro Barreal. Nashville SC seems close to landing Jhonder Cádiz, a Portuguese-based Venezuelan forward. Atlanta United FC is fattening its coffer for upcoming moves by selling Pity Martínez to a Saudi club for an estimated $18 million.
Something big now might be brewing for United, which is “working on a substantial signing,” probably from South America and probably an attacking midfielder, according to a person familiar with the organization.
It’s unclear how far along the talks have progressed or, during a time when teams are facing revenue shortfalls caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, whether such a move is financially feasible.
One person, who requested anonymity to speak freely on the matter, cautioned a major move would be difficult to pull off. Another, also requesting anonymity, said United has assembled a list of several players in Europe and South America and hopes to get a deal done for a third and final designated player.
Paul Arriola and Edison Flores, both sidelined at the moment, are the current DPs, a category for high-end players who are compensated beyond the league’s salary guidelines. Arriola (U.S. national team) continues to rehab a preseason knee injury, and Flores (Peruvian national team) is out four to six weeks with a facial fracture.
Since early in the year, United has eyed defender Derrick Williams from the Irish national team and Blackburn Rovers in England’s second division.
Per club policy, team officials said they will not comment on potential moves. The MLS transfer and trade window will remain open until Oct. 29, 11 days before the regular season ends.
United was in position to make a run at Higuaín, Lionel Messi’s teammate with the Argentine national team. D.C. claimed his MLS discovery rights in the spring, the same time The Washington Post reported on the team’s interest in him. Higuaín’s older brother, Federico, a longtime MLS attacker, joined United this year as a player and assistant coach.
However, Gonzalo Higuaín’s salary was apparently too high for United’s tastes; he made about $8.8 million this season with Juventus and figured to draw another big contract anywhere he went.
With United stepping aside, Miami, an expansion team aiming to make a splash, stepped up. For relinquishing Higuaín’s rights, United is expected to receive $50,000 in roster funds, known as allocation money, from Miami.
Until any moves, large or small, occur, United Coach Ben Olsen said his squad, when healthy, is well equipped to turn around the season. D.C. (2-4-3) ended a six-game winless streak Wednesday with a 1-0 victory at the New York Red Bulls and will host New York City FC on Sunday night at Audi Field.
“I believe in this group,” Olsen said. “I believe when we do get fully healthy we are going to have a deep, competitive team and we’ll be able to continually improve and hopefully be playing our best stuff down the stretch.”
In its past two matches, United has played without six starters. Aside from Arriola and Flores, midfielder Felipe Martins tore an ACL in training this week, defender Steven Birnbaum is recovering from an undisclosed injury, and midfielder/defender Russell Canouse is nursing a hamstring strain.
Goalkeeper Bill Hamid is expected to return to active duty Sunday after taking time off for personal reasons. Rivas received his work visa and is available this weekend, the team said.
The absences have allowed Olsen to play several young players. Kevin Paredes, 17, made his fourth consecutive start Wednesday; Moses Nyeman, 16, and Griffin Yow, 17, have appeared in the past two games; and Estonian forward Erik Sorga, 21, scored his first MLS goal deep into stoppage time against the Red Bulls.
After a 4-1 defeat at Philadelphia last weekend, “We challenged the young guys and some of the guys who were seeing the field for the first time in a while that we have this [roster] void,” Olsen said. “The ask was to step up a little bit. . . . A lot of guys did. . . . It should be the norm; that is the foundation we have to build on here and need every [game] to be successful.”
New York City FC at D.C. United
When: Sunday, 7 p.m.
Where: Audi Field.
TV: WJLA 24/7 News.
Records: United 2-4-3, 9 points; NYCFC 4-5-0, 12 points.
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