Real opportunity excites Washington

Just in time to get him on the field against his former club, Real Salt Lake on Friday acquired forward Dante Washington from the Columbus Crew.

Washington was released at the end of April by the Crew, after a very short stint with the club which saw him make just one league appearance and a start in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals after he was signed late last year.

To make room for Washington RSL waived midfielder Evan Whitfield, who had appeared in five of the clubs game this season. But Washington gives Real something Whitfield couldn't, a much-needed target forward to help their attack.

"Dante Washington has been one of the most imposing forwards in the history of Major League Soccer," Real general manager Steve Pastorino said. "He is a quality player and person. We are excited to add him to our roster as scoring threat up front."

Washington played part of eight seasons for Dallas before two stints with the Crew. The two-time MLS all-star came back to the Crew for a second go-round after a stint with the Virginia Beach Mariners of the A-League. During his time as with the Mariners he proved that he could still score, putting away 35 goals in two seasons.

The 34-year-old forward became expendable in the eyes of Crew coach Greg Andrulis when Dallas shipped Cornell Glen to Columbus for future considerations April 28. Washington felt slighted by the move and is excited to get back on the field against his former club.

"I didn't leave under the best of circumstances," Washington said. "I would love nothing more than to take the field against the Crew."

Still, he is excited about the opportunity to play for RSL.

"I feel like I have a few years left in this league," Washington said.

And RSL coach John Ellinger feels the same way.

"A motivated Dante can cause a lot of problems for teams in this league," Ellinger said. "He's a good post-up forward, great in the air, holds the ball really well."

The role of target forward is where RSL has come up short this season. While they are not short of firepower with Clint Mathis, Andy Williams and Jason Kreis, lack of size has hurt RSL on 50/50 balls and set pieces.

"I'm different from any other player that's here," Washington said. "Play it into me, I'll hold it up and play off to other guys."

David Hale is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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