- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2008

BALTIMORE — While D.C. United appears close to signing talent from South America and continues contract talks with its veteran players, the first substantial chance to reshape its roster comes today at the MLS SuperDraft.

United traded its first-round pick to Toronto FC to reacquire forward Rod Dyachenko, but it is scheduled to make the 24th, 33rd and 52nd picks.

“If we can add a wide midfielder, that would be useful,” United general manager Dave Kasper said. “We always need more cover in the back, but we are really just looking for the best talent available.”

The first hour of the draft, which is being held in conjunction with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America at the Baltimore Convention Center, will be televised by ESPN2.

The Kansas City Wizards have the first selection and are expected to take either Virginia Tech forward Patrick Nyarko or Connecticut defender Julius James. The Wizards traded defender Nick Garcia to the expansion San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday for the choice.

Stephen King, who ranks second on Maryland’s all-time career assist list with 33, has been projected as a second-round pick by MLSnet.com.

United’s picks at last year’s draft had no impact on the 2007 season and played in no league games. Seventeen-year-old Bryan Arguez was United’s first pick at 11th overall, and he is rumored to be on his way to a German club. United’s other 2007 picks — Brad North, Jay Needham and Ricky Schramm — are no longer with the team.

Toronto FC selected Maryland midfielder Maurice Edu with the first selection last year. Edu became the first No. 1 pick to win the MLS Rookie of the Year award.

Aside from the draft, reports have linked United with Argentine forward Franco Neill, Colombian central defender Gonzalo Martinez and Peruvian goalie Jose Carvallo.

“Within the next two weeks we should have solidified deals with multiple international players,” Kasper said.

Meantime, United continues contract talks with its own key players Christian Gomez, Luciano Emilio and Jaime Moreno.

Kasper said discussions with Moreno “have gone well” and that he expects him to return, while Gomez “is taking his time with the transfer window open.” As for Emilio, the league’s MVP last season, Kasper was more vague.

“He has a contract with the team,” Kasper said.

However, there are reports surfacing that Mexican club Morelia is interested in acquiring Emilio, who scored 20 goals for United last year.

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