- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2006

D.C. United continues to shake up its roster as it prepares for the 2007 season and seemingly a new era. Less than two weeks after trading two stars from its 2004 championship season — Freddy Adu and goalie Nick Rimando to Real Salt Lake — the club yesterday sent forward Alecko Eskandarian to the expansion Toronto FC.

In exchange for Eskandarian, United has acquired a partial allocation as it accumulates money in order to sign high-profile players in the next few weeks.

“When you are out in the international market looking for players there are other fees involved outside the salaries,” United technical director Dave Kasper said. “We are looking to add two to three players to make this team better and we need the acquisition money.”

United is in the process of acquiring a forward and a wide midfielder from South American clubs, possibly in Argentina or Brazil.

Eskandarian was named the MVP of the 2004 MLS Cup where he scored two goals in United’s 3-2 win over the Kansas City Wizards. D.C. United selected the Virginia alumnus with the first overall pick of the 2003 MLS SuperDraft. According to Kasper, Eskandarian is “disappointed” he is leaving United.

Known for having one of the best left feet in MLS, the 24-year-old was United’s leading goal scorer in 2004 with 10 goals, quickly becoming a fan favorite.

“It’s difficult to trade players who are fan favorites,” Kasper said. “We feel we have to make moves now in order to get acquisition money. We hope the fans will look at the finished product on the field next season.”

In June 2005, Eskandarian suffered a serious concussion when he collided with New England Revolution goalie Matt Reis. He missed the rest of the season and there were worries his career was over. However, he was back in United’s starting lineup this season — wearing a protective headband — and seemed to have found his old form.

Eskandarian found himself in a spot of controversy in April when, after scoring a goal against the New York Red Bulls at Giants Stadium, he ran to the sideline and took a swig from a can of Red Bull, then spit out the contents. He was later fined by the league for the incident.

The rest of the season did not go as planned for Eskandarian. He struggled with a knee injury and ended the year with just seven goals. In his four years with United, he made 81 appearances (47 starts), notching 20 goals and seven assists.

The trade of Eskandarian comes two days after Tom Soehn was named the club’s new coach, replacing three-year coach Peter Nowak.

“[Eskandarian] was a huge asset in bringing us a championship,” Soehn said. “We’re in the process of making some big acquisitions and to do that we have to make some moves.”

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