D.C. United have agreed to a new contract with Branko Boskovic that will keep the midfielder in the nation’s capital beyond July but remove his designated player status, the club announced Friday.
Boskovic, 32, was United’s second-highest-paid player behind MLS Most Valuable Player Dwayne De Rosario. The Montenegro international, whose pact was set to expire July 15, said the new contract will keep him with D.C. through the 2013 season.
After being limited to four appearances in 2011 by a torn ACL, Boskovic has appeared in 12 matches this season (five starts), recording three assists in United’s past four games.
“Branko was very professional throughout this whole process,” United general manager Dave Kasper said. “It never affected his play. This is a win-win for everybody. He is an important part of our team and we are thrilled that this is now finished and we can move forward.”
A technically proficient central midfielder, Boskovic provides United with lethal left-footed service on set pieces and also gives coach Ben Olsen the option of shifting De Rosario to a withdrawn forward role.
For a closer look at Boskovic, check out my feature from last week’s print edition that explored his up-in-the-air contract situation.
Here are some of the reactions from RFK on Boskovic’s new deal:
Midfielder Branko Boskovic
On the relief of signing a new contract:
“I’m really happy I’m going to stay with the team. Now I must think only to play and practice and everything and all of these things about contract and everything is done and I just must concentrate on games and practice.”
On the idea of having a fresh start with United:
“After this difficult two years for me, it’s one good beginning and also the team’s playing good and I have a chance to play better and play more and to prove myself.”
On the possibility of leaving United:
“I must I say I did speak with some people from Europe but nothing concrete. Like I said before, I want really before the end of my contract to give something to D.C. United. I was focused on that and I’m also happy that they offered me something after these two years. I must be honest, I didn’t show what I can do. I must say thank you to these people from the club that they gave me one more chance and I’m happy for that.”
On accepting a lower salary:
“Normally it’s hard, but I must also be honest to myself that D.C. United also gave me for the last two years a good contract and everything. I was injured one year and the first year I didn’t play like what they expected from me. Also for me, after this injury I want to come back. Normally, everybody plays for money. But in this case, it was a little bit different and really I want to come back to play and finish the season with this team.”
Coach Ben Olsen
On Boskovic’s recovery from knee surgery:
“I think he’s getting there. The quality he brings is pretty evident when he comes on the field. We’re still working on him getting him to where he needs to be to be 90 minutes fit. But he seems to be getting there and he’s looked stronger.”
On Boskovic’s contributions:
“He makes us a better soccer team. But it’s not always about soccer in this league. There’s times we need more than that, and that’s always the decision that I have because we’ve got a bunch of guys I think can contribute in a bunch of different areas, Dwayne’s versatility, so there’s all these different reasons why I think he’s in the spot that he is. But he’s been great. I’m happy about the contract and I’m sure he’ll continually see more time as this year goes.”
On Boskovic’s relationship with the club:
“I think we’re at the best point in our relationship, from him to club and myself to him and him and the team, than we’ve ever been with this club. Again, there’s been circumstances why he hasn’t been, what some people would say, up to that DP status. An ACL doesn’t help you. We all know about the fitness issue initially when he came, which happens a lot when you bring a new guy in and they have an offseason and they come in and they take a little vacation and it happens. It took him a while to get there. And again last year he has the knee injury. That’s all the past. I’m not too concerned with the past.”
Midfielder Perry Kitchen
On Boskovic signing a new contract:
“It’s personally very exciting. I’m definitely happy to have him staying with us and I think you saw what he brings to the table in the last game. He comes in against New York and the game almost changes, we’re now on the upper hand kind of controlling things. He’s a great guy in the locker room, a great guy to have on our team and on our side.”