- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 8, 2007

For D.C. United midfielder Fred, celebratory moments have been few and far between.

Once an offensive force for Melbourne Victory FC of the Hyundai A-League — where he scored 20 goals in 80 games — and Guarani of Brazil — where he tied as the club’s second leading scorer — Fred has only tallied a goal and four assists in 12 games with United.

But that goal and two of his assists have come in his last two games, leading Fred to believe he’s making strides.

“It’s not that hard for me to adjust,” Fred said. “I pay close attention to what’s happening in the game. I know what my role is and what I need to do. It’s based on what’s happening during the games, but I always try to be very focused and understanding of what’s needed from me.”

Fred and United (7-4-2, 23 points) hope to keep their momentum going when they visit the Houston Dynamo tonight. United has won four its last five games and entered last night in first place in the Eastern Conference.

Despite fewer scoring opportunities, Fred wasn’t afraid to let loose after his first goal against the Colorado Rapids on June 28. The Brazilian native poured out his emotions after scoring off of a pass from forward Nicholas Addlery, pulling his jersey over his head and revealing a T-shirt reading “Jesus Loves You.” He drew a yellow card for his antics but was relieved his hard work paid off that time.

“I sort of felt like crying, to be honest with you,” Fred said through an interpreter. “It was my first goal in a D.C. United uniform. I was very happy.”

While Fred played as both a forward and a midfielder in Australia and Brazil, United has used him as a right-side attacking player and in the middle with a lineup that includes forwards Luciano Emilio and Jaime Moreno, and midfielder Christian Gomez — all of whom have scored a combined 15 goals this season.

“He’s playing in the middle and it’s a new role for him,” United midfielder Justin Moose said. “He’s taking it on pretty well. He likes to drift in the middle a lot and make things happen. Coaches want him to open up that middle for Christian.”

It’s also done to open the attack up front. Fred plays on the right as well so he can send balls toward the middle, and his role changes based on the opposition’s strategy. D.C. United coach Tom Soehn instructs Fred to attack when defenses aren’t aggressive, but the midfielder has to play defense when the opposing teams try to push the ball more.

Fred also has become more of a passing threat. When D.C. United visited the Kansas City Wizards last Wednesday, he initially thought of shooting the ball after Clyde Simms headed the ball toward him in the 44th minute.

But seeing that there was enough room to make a pass to Emilio. Fred opted to do so, resulting in Emilio’s score in United’s 1-0 victory over the Wizards.

“I think [Fred’s] made a lot of strides,” Soehn said. “He’s definitely energetic. He’s got great ideas and he’s getting in. We don’t always reward him with that. But as we stretch the flank and he understands how to play the flank position, he’s pretty valuable to us.”

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