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D.C. United agrees to a three-year deal with Greek forward Taxiarchis Fountas

Paul Arriola could be traded as soon as Tuesday

Taxiarchis Fountas has played for clubs in Austria, Germany and Greece. (Chris Bauer/SEPA.Media/Getty Images)

Eerily quiet throughout the winter, D.C. United on Monday made its first significant roster move by agreeing to a deal with Greek forward Taxiarchis Fountas, people familiar with the talks said.

Fountas, 26, is not expected to arrive from Austrian club Rapid Vienna until this summer, when his contract expires. He signed what in soccer parlance is called a precontract, which allows players to pursue new teams within six months of their current deal expiring.

Unless the timetable changes, Fountas would miss the first half of United’s 34-game regular season, which begins late next month. Per club policy, United officials said they wouldn’t comment on potential signings.

Fountas agreed to a three-year pact worth about $7 million, making him United’s highest-paid player, one person said. He will become an MLS Designated Player (DP), one of the classifications for those who earn more than the league limit of approximately $650,000.

Each team is allowed three DPs. Fountas becomes United’s third, joining Peruvian attacker Edison Flores and American winger Paul Arriola. United is planning to trade Arriola to FC Dallas on Tuesday for a league-record transaction ($2 million-plus in general allocation money).

The club had planned to hold on to Arriola until it was close to acquiring another DP, ideally one who would fill Arriola’s on-field role. But after acquiring Fountas, it decided it didn’t want to wait any longer, one person familiar with the situation said. United is apparently narrowing its wish list and could make another DP move soon.

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Fountas is in his third season with Rapid Vienna, having scored 35 goals in 68 league appearances and one in 11 UEFA Europa League games. He appeared in four Champions League qualifiers. Previously, he played for clubs in Greece, Austria and Germany.

Fountas is in the Greek national team player pool and appeared in one 2022 World Cup qualifier (Sept. 5 vs. Kosovo). United’s rival, the New York Red Bulls, had also shown interest in signing him.

United employs MLS’s co-leading scorer last season, striker Ola Kamara, but is entertaining offers in MLS and abroad because Kamara is entering the final year of his contract. The club also has been seeking additional pieces to bolster the attack after cutting ties with Yordy Reyna, Yamil Asad and Ramón Ábila after last season.

United is a week into training camp, and aside from finalizing the permanent transfer of defender Brendan Hines-Ike, promoting two players from second-division Loudoun United and adding a second-flight defender Monday, it had been conspicuously inactive as many teams signed impact players and executed trades.

On Monday, the club announced the acquisition of Hayden Sargis, a 19-year-old center back from USL Championship squad Sacramento Republic. He will provide depth on the back line. Sacramento will receive $25,000 in 2023 — and more if Sargis meets performance thresholds. He reported to camp last week and signed a three-year deal with club options for 2025 and 2026.

“Hayden is a young center back who has all the qualities to be an outstanding piece of our backline in Hernán [Losada’s] system,” General Manager Lucy Rushton said in a statement. “We believe he is ready to make the jump up to MLS and compete for minutes on the first team.”

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