WASHINGTON — Somewhat lost in the disappointment of Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Philadelphia was Fred’s final appearance at RFK Stadium in a D.C. United uniform.
Just less than half a season into his second stint in DC, Fred will be let out of his contract by United in mid-July to join the Melbourne Heart of the Australian A-League, as announced two weeks ago.
Saturday’s 22-minute shift off the bench wasn’t an easy one for the 31-year-old attacker.
“It was difficult for me because I like the fans so much in DC,” Fred told MLSsoccer.com. “They helped me over the years I’ve played here. I’m very sad, but I have a good deal to go and hopefully I’ll be back to retire here one day.”
Fred said the decision to leave was a very difficult one. There’s a lot he and his family leave behind.
“My daughter was born here, my wife loves staying here, and we just bought a house,” he said. “But I’m 31 years old now and I have to play more, because here I don’t play most of the time. This is a good deal for me.”
The move to Melbourne won’t be a first for the Brazilian attacker. Back in 2007, Fred won a championship with Melbourne Victory. This time around, he’ll be looking to taste success with the crosstown rivals.
“It’s exciting," he said. "I just played one year and we won the championship, so I’m excited to be back and try to win another one.”
For DC, Fred’s role this season has been as more of a peripheral figure — he had just five starts in 14 appearances — but the loss of his presence will be significant, and not just on the field.
“It’s big in terms of depth, it’s probably bigger in terms of morale,” assistant coach Chad Ashton said. “The guy is a great professional, shows up with a smile on his face, and no matter who’s having an exchange with him on the field or locker room, they have a smile on their face.”
Fred is available for two more games for DC, through the July 16 match against FC Dallas on the road. He’ll take the last couple of weeks in July to get his affairs in order before departing for his new club on Aug. 5.
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @travismclark.