- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 26, 2007

A key ingredient in D.C. United’s recent resurgence has been the play of Brazilian midfielder Fred.

A stylish player with typically Brazilian skills, Fred finally is adapting to his new role in United’s formation.

Normally a central attacking midfielder and playmaker, Fred has had to adjust to playing on United’s right flank as part of a diamond-shaped midfield that is spearheaded by attacking midfielder Christian Gomez and supported by defensive midfielders Ben Olsen and Brian Carroll.

When he first joined United, Fred appeared a little lost on the right wing. However, in last week’s win at Toronto FC, he had one of his best games. Tonight he will try to help United defeat visiting MLS champion Houston.

“I feel fine with my role,” Fred said through a translator this week. “There are times during the game when there are opportunities presented to me to move toward the middle and actually combine with Christian [Gomez]. So I’m OK with this position because I do have opportunities to mix it up.”

Born Helbert Frederico Carreiro da Silva, Fred came to United in March from Australian champion Melbourne Victory. He was named the MVP in the A-League and set up five of Melbourne’s six goals in the A-League Grand Final 6-0 win over Adelaide United in February.

“His work rate is fantastic,” United coach Tom Soehn said. “There’s still a little bit of a learning curve as to how to reward him for his runs going forward, but he’s a big part of the way we play.”

With Gomez entrenched as United’s playmaker, Fred is resigned to his role on the flank. But he has considerable latitude to move into the middle if needed.

“Fred is a very good soccer player,” Olsen said. “It’s just about how we respond to where he goes. If he goes in the middle, can we adjust by getting out wide a little more? He’s a special player, and we need to react to some of the stuff he does. He is figuring out MLS and has been through an adjustment period, but for the last few games he has been a big influence on us.”

Fred, 27, spent his early career playing for America-MG in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, before moving to Australia, where at one point he hinted he would like to become an Australian citizen so he could play for the national team. But a $222,000 guaranteed salary lured him to United.

“I feel I’m settling down and getting used to MLS,” said Fred, who lives in Arlington. “It’s a similar style to Australia where I played. As each game goes on I feel better.”

Team notes — United will be without forward Jaime Moreno, who is with the Bolivian national team, which plays Ireland today at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

United midfielder Bryan Arguez has been named to the U.S. under-20 national team’s 16-player roster for an upcoming training camp. The group, which will gather from May 30 to June 6 in Montreal to prepare for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup beginning in Canada on June 30 where the Americans face South Korea, Poland and Brazil.

Sheva at D.C.? — Chelsea star Andriy Shevchenko, 30, told Sports Illustrated he would like to one day play in MLS.

“I’d like to play there, actually,” the Ukrainian World Cup star said. “Soccer is growing in the U.S., and I’d like to be a part of that. I played there last summer against the MLS All-Stars, and I saw myself that it’s definitely improving.”

Could he one day play for D.C. United? There’s a D.C. connection. Shevchenko’s American wife is model Kristen Pazik, who attended Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School and later graduated from James Madison. They were married in a secret wedding in the District three years ago.

Eskandarian on the move — It has been a tough start to the season for Alecko Eskandarian. The former United forward was just settling in with his new club, Toronto FC, when he was told Tuesday he had been traded to Real Salt Lake for Jeff Cunningham. According to reports, the oft-injured Eskandarian, who hated leaving United — he still text messages Soehn about it — had just signed a lease on a house in Toronto and picked up his possessions from Canadian customs.

In Salt Lake City, Eskandarian, 24, will be reunited with former United teammate Freddy Adu, who scored his first goal of the season in Real’s 2-1 loss to Dallas FC on Sunday. Maybe the duo will give winless Salt Lake (0-3-4, four points) life support.

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