D.C. United GM Dave Kasper expects to make two or three more player signings before the Secondary Transfer Window closes on Aug. 8.
Kasper told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday that D.C. are looking to add to their roster following the signing of Designated Player Wayne Rooney, who could make his club debut when United open Audi Field against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday (8 pm ET | TSN — Full TV & streaming info). According to Kasper, defense will be an area of focus, with a source confirming to MLSsoccer.com that D.C. are specifically targeting help at outside back.
Fans hoping for a third DP to join Rooney and Paul Arriola on the Black-and-Red will likely be disappointed, however. Kasper didn’t explicitly rule out signing a new DP this summer, but he told MLSsoccer.com that the club are “focused on either [Targeted Allocation Money] players or salary cap players, that would be the spend at this point.”
“The main area we’re looking to strengthen is the backline,” he said. “Having said that, we’re always looking to get better and upgrade. We’re open, we have flexibility with roster spots and salary cap space and Targeted Allocation Money, so we have some flexibility and we’ll be looking to upgrade.”
D.C. struggled through their lengthy road odyssey to open the season, going just 2-7-5 through their first 14 games, two of which were played at “home” at sites in the D.C. area. They’re last in the league table and ahead of only San Jose in points per game, but they’ll play 15 of their 20 remaining matches at home. That schedule, along with an attack that’s shown signs of life and should get a further boost from Rooney, gives D.C. a slight puncher’s chance down the stretch – if they can shore up their defense.
Any additions they make will likely have to be preceded by other moves to free up roster space. D.C., who traded forward Patrick Mullins to Columbus in exchange for $150,000 in TAM on Wednesday, don’t have any open international slots, though Kasper said the club could loan one or more of their current international players for the remainder of the season to free some up.
That could be crucial, especially with as the opening of Audi Field, with its attendant revenue streams, and the publicity generated by signing Rooney begin to give D.C. a boost in the transfer market.
“Last summer we went out and got Paul Arriola, Zoltan Stieber and Russell Canouse and started investing in talent at that point, so it actually started last summer, but the big splashy spend this summer with Wayne, we’re seeing that from day one with the stadium that those are going to be game-changers for us,” said Kasper. “From a recruiting standpoint, I’m getting a lot of agents and clubs reaching out to me and saying, ‘Hey, you know this player played with Wayne at Man United three, four years ago.’ So there’s a lot of incoming calls that I, quite frankly, haven’t had in the past, so that’s quite exciting.”