DC Notebook: Pajoy brings "a little something extra up top"
WASHINGTON – In the club’s second move in as many weeks, D.C. United have acquired forward Lionard Pajoy and an international roster spot from the Philadelphia Union in exchange for midfielder Danny Cruz.
“We felt we needed a little something extra up top,” United GM Dave Kasper told dcunited.com Thursday. “[Pajoy] is a tireless worker and a big body up front and we think we needed to add that sort of element into this team right now.”
Pajoy, a 31-year-old Colombian playing his first season in MLS, has scored five goals and assisted two more for Philadelphia in 20 matches. Cruz, meanwhile, played in 16 matches (12 starts) and recorded one goal and three assists. Cruz was acquired by United from Houston in January.
Pajoy adds more depth to D.C.’s already-deep but banged-up group of forwards, including Maicon Santos (toe), Dwayne De Rosario (shoulder), Hamdi Salihi and Long Tan. With Nick DeLeon, Chris Pontius and Andy Najar all performing at a high level at outside midfield positions, Cruz became more expendable.
Pajoy will be available for selection for D.C. on Sunday, a match that just so happens to be against against his former club when Philadelphia comes to towon (5 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
Thoughts on a historic win
Following an intense morning training session, a few of United’s players were still buzzing about the United States national team’s 1-0 victory Wednesday night against Mexico in an international friendly at Estadio Azteca, head coach Ben Olsen, included.
“In 25 tries, you think we would have done that before,” Olsen said of the national team winning in Mexico. “It’s always a tough place to play, even from a club standpoint. To break that is a big deal. To have that off our back as a country is a big deal in CONCACAF.”
Olsen, who earned 37 caps with the USMNT, was joined by United midfielder Perry Kitchen in his excitement regarding the victory.
“It’s great for this country, especially since Mexico has had great recent success at the youth tournaments,” Kitchen said. “As far as the overall play, I think we showed great, great heart and great determination. Saying that, I think Mexico had the better of the possession. … Overall, as an American player and American fan, it was great to see.”
Regarding the injury status of a number of ailing players on United’s roster, Olsen seemed unclear as to their availability Sunday against Philadelphia.
“We still have a couple question marks,” Olsen said. “DeRo looks fine. DeRo looks OK. We’ll evaluate over the next day or two where everybody’s at.”
In addition to De Rosario, Santos, Salihi (stomach virus), Daniel Woolard (concussion) and Robbie Russell (plantar fasciitis) all missed last Saturday’s 2-1 loss against Kansas City.