- The Washington Times - Monday, June 28, 2004

D.C. United started its search for a goal scorer yesterday when it brought in Claudio Ciccia for a week-long trial.

Ciccia scored 41 goals in 44 games for Costa Rican club Cartagines two years ago. His goal total ranked second in the world that year to only Jose Saturnino Cardozo (58) of Mexican club Toluca.

The 6-foot-1 Ciccia certainly meets United’s criteria for a target forward. Last season, the Uruguayan national scored 17 goals for Cartagines in a quality Costa Rican league.

United president Kevin Payne liked what he saw yesterday from Ciccia.

“He’s out of contract, and we think we can probably add him relatively quickly,” Payne said. “We’re certainly very intrigued by him. He’s a very mature player. He’s not a project. He’s 32; he won’t be 33 until after our season. He’s a proven goal scorer in a proven league.”

If Ciccia is signed, 15-year-old Freddy Adu’s playing time could diminish. Adu already voiced disappointment and frustration in his playing time Saturday after United’s 1-1 tie at the Dallas Burn in which he played a season-low 14 minutes.

United also is interested in two Argentine strikers who it won’t name, but both players are under contract and won’t be available until Aug.15, when the free transfer window opens.

“What we do with the other guys depends on what we see with [Ciccia],” Payne said.

According to Payne, United probably won’t have to make any other roster moves to clear salary-cap space for Ciccia. United is an estimated $150,000 under its $1.7 million salary cap.

Last season the New England Revolution and Los Angeles Galaxy were interested in acquiring Ciccia.

“I was in negotiations [with Cartagines], but it’s on standby because they called me here from D.C. United,” Ciccia said through an interpreter. “There was a clause in my contract with Cartagines. That was one of the reasons that [joining Major League Soccer] never materialized. This year, I’m out of contract, and that’s why I have more liberty to pursue options here.”

Ciccia, who also has played for Costa Rican powerhouse Alajuelense, said he regularly watches MLS games and knows what to expect if he decides to sign with United.

“The best thing I can do is score goals,” Ciccia said. “But obviously my primary objective is to have a good image of myself here with the people who brought me here with the club, and hopefully I can contribute.”

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