DC United still looking at striker, but feel comfortable with current squad

WASHINGTON – Although D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper hopes to add a starting caliber attacker and defender before the season begins, he believes his team’s most pressing needs have already been addressed this winter.

Between trades for goalkeeper David Ousted, defender Frederic Brillant and forward Darren Mattocks, and incoming international midfielders Junior Moreno and Ulises Segura, Kasper says United have replenished what was lacking most during a miserable 2017 campaign: depth down the middle.

“Maybe it was toward the end of the season, I said our focus was at the spine,” Kasper said. “And I think you’ve seen our moves. Starting at the back with with Ousted, Brillant, Moreno, Segura, and Darren Mattocks. Boom. We’ve accomplished that.” 

But a team that tied for a league worst with 31 goals last season still hasn’t added a proven double-digit scorer. Neither Mattocks nor Patrick Mullins have hit that benchmark in their combined 10 MLS seasons. The only other player listed as an out-and-out forward on D.C.’s current roster is 19-year-old Bolivian Bruno Miranda, who has played all of 53 MLS minutes.

“We want to add another attacking player if we can, who can be impactful and who can compete for a starting job,” Kasper said.

Yet Kasper also said his current striking corps can be better, particularly playing in front of one of the league’s deeper midfields.

“I do think we have the potential for a 15-goal scorer,” Kasper said. “But I also think this roster has, by committee, a lot of players who can score goals as well.”

One player who doesn’t appear headed to D.C. is former New York Red Bulls attacker Gonzalo Veron, whose rights D.C. acquired in Stage 2 of the MLS Re-Entry Draft in December. Reports out of Argentina on Thursday indicated that Veron is close to signing with Independiente, though Kasper confirmed that United did offer the ex-Red Bulls Designated Player a contract.

After finishing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, Kasper made clear there would be no assumed depth chart entering this season, allowing the possibility for prospects like Miranda and recent US U-17 international standout Chris Durkin to win time.

“Right now there’s a clean slate for those guys to earn spots,” Kasper said. “They’re both very good players. So the door is open for them.”

He also explained the economics behind trading academy product Eryk Williamson to Portland in exchange for at least $200,000 in allocation money, as well as a 2018 international roster spot and a 2020 draft pick.

“[Portland GM Gavin Wilkinson] had a bigger Homegrown budget to work with as a starting point than I did,” Kasper said. “So that’s the starting point in the whole thing, and with the conversations with Eryk and his agent into what we could do now what’s feasible and what’s not feasible. Gavin was in a position that he could do more.”