WASHINGTON – D.C. United have had plenty to do this offseason in terms of rebuilding and reloading for a new year.
But sitting at the top of the list is re-signing last year’s MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario to a contract extension, a goal that has been verbalized but remains uncompleted.
“That’s been our highest priority,” president and CEO Kevin Payne told reporters at a press conference on Monday. “We’ve been working hard on that. It’s been a very collegial process. Dwayne’s been very professional about it. For the most part, he lets his representation handle those conversations.”
De Rosario, who joined D.C. last year via a midseason trade with New York, scored 13 goals and added seven assists in 18 games in Washington. His contract is set to expire at the end of the 2012 season.
General manager Dave Kasper echoed Payne’s sentiments.
“In terms of re-signing MVPs, he’s been the most professional I’ve dealt with,” he said. “He’s a priority. We want to get it done, he wants to get it done and hopefully we’ll be moving in that direction shortly.”
On Friday, De Rosario indicated that the negotiations were moving in the right direction.
“D.C. is being very helpful, I must say, in terms of keeping me updated and really helping me out,” he said. “It’s moving forward, which is good.”
Despite their clarity regarding the status of negotiations, club officials wouldn’t respond to whether De Rosario could merit a Designated Player tag or when he might sign an extension.
“I can’t categorize what DeRo’s status will be,” Payne said. “I’m not going to speculate about where that’s going to end up. Our Designated Players right now are Branko Boskovic and Hamdi Salihi.”
White, Pontius continue recoveries
Two contributors from a year ago, Ethan White and Chris Pontius, continue to make positive steps in their recovery from injuries.
White is making steady progress from a PCL injury, while Pontius suffered a season-ending tibia fracture last September. Both are hoping to get back into full training when the team opens the second leg of their training camp in Arizona this week.
Of the pair, Pontius remains a bit closer than White to returning to the field for full training
“With the PCL, you have to get used to that feeling in your knee,” head coach Ben Olsen said. “I think [White] will be OK soon enough.”
Shanosky loan possible
One player who might see some time elsewhere in 2012 is Home Grown signing Conor Shanosky.
The 20-year-old midfielder has yet to make his debut for D.C.’s first team since joining back in 2010, and with a number of faces ahead of him in the depth chart, Shanosky could go out on loan this year.
“[He] continues to grow, doesn’t get as much playing time as we all would like, but he continues to put his head down and work very hard,” Olsen said. “He’s an exciting prospect for us. We will look for games for him on a loan spell at some point to make sure he’s getting his development.”
On Monday morning, D.C. announced the acquisition of defensive midfielder Marcelo Saragosa.
The 30-year-old Brazilian, who played previously in MLS for the LA Galaxy, Chivas USA and FC Dallas, will provide cover behind Perry Kitchen in midfield, who could miss time for Olympic duty this year.
“[He’s] a guy who’s very experienced, a guy who’s played in this league, knows this league and brings us bite,” Olsen said.