D.C. United announced on Thursday they have signed a second Designated Player for the 2012 season, as Albanian international forward Hamdi Salihi joins the club as a new option to lead the team’s offensive charge.
Salihi, who most recently played with Rapid Vienna of Austria’s top division, has scored 163 goals in 289 professional matches (all competitions), including 53 goals in 90 appearances over three years with Rapid Vienna.
While with Rapid Vienna, Salihi was a teammate of D.C.’s other Designated Player, Montenegrin international Branko Boskovic. Salihi will be officially added to the roster following receipt of his International Transfer Certificate, P-1 Visa and full medical clearance.
“We are thrilled to have completed a deal to bring Hamdi to MLS and D.C. United,” D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper said in a statement. “He has one of the most impressive strike rates you’ll find and has shown he’s capable of scoring goals at every level at which he's played. We believe strongly he will become another important piece for our team and we look forward to seeing him on the field at RFK Stadium in March.”
The Albanian forward’s career began with his hometown side KS Vllaznia Shkodër in 2002. Over three campaigns with the team, Salihi tallied 30 goals in 53 matches (all competitions).
In 2005, Salihi moved to Panionios in Athens Greece. He played in just six matches before returning to Albania to join KF Tirana prior to the 2005-06 season. He captured the Golden Boot as the league’s top scorer, helping his team to the National Cup – the Albanian Superliga championship. Two campaigns with Tirana saw Salihi tally an impressive 38 goals in 52 matches (all competitions).
Midway through the 2006-07 campaign, Salihi moved to SV Ried of Austria’s Bundesliga, tallying six goals in 16 games with his new side. During the next two full campaigns, he notched 30 goals in 65 matches (all competitions). Salihi began the 2009-10 campaign with SV Ried and scored two goals in seven matches before a mid-season move to Rapid Vienna. Over 31 total matches (all competitions) with his new side, he scored 17 goals. The 2010-11 season saw Salihi tally 25 goals in 44 matches (all competitions).
Salihi has also been an important part of the Albanian national team, scoring nine goals in 37 senior team matches. In 2011, he had his best year to date with Albania, tallying three goals in 10 international games.