- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 3, 2009

When Lawson Vaughn was waived by Chivas USA in late August, his agent immediately began contacting teams to ask whether they were interested in the 25-year-old defender.

A few weeks later, Vaughn was training with D.C. United, and the club signed him in mid-September to bolster an inconsistent and injury-rattled back line.

It turned out to be the ideal spot for the three-year MLS veteran.

“This is kind of a second home,” said Vaughn, a native of Marietta, Ga. “My sister lives [in the D.C. area], and my grandfather is a few hours away [in Staunton, Va.], and I haven’t seen him in a while and some other aunts and uncles. So it was really good to get picked up by D.C. I think this was probably my first choice, so it all worked out.”

Vaughn offered the club an experienced option on the back line. The 5-foot-10, 165-pounder has emerged as the team’s starter at right back after stalwart Bryan Namoff suffered a concussion several weeks ago. Vaughn will be expected to hold that role as the team pushes for an MLS playoff spot.

United sits one point outside of a wild-card berth with three games remaining. The club faces Chivas - Vaughn’s former team - on Saturday at RFK Stadium.

“They’re a team that’s very strong defensively,” Vaughn said. “I think they lead the league in fouls committed, so they’re a hard team to play against. … But for us, I think that we can expose some space in between their back line and their defensive midfielders. That’s always some space that when I was there we had some trouble with.”

Vaughn was a regular starter for Chivas in 2007, playing mostly at right back but also venturing into the midfield. Early in the 2008 season, he broke several bones in his face when he was struck on an attempted bicycle kick by Houston’s Dwayne De Rosario; he underwent two surgeries to repair the damage. He was limited to just seven starts that year and also dealt other nagging injuries.

He failed to earn a spot with Chivas this season and was cut Aug. 20. Vaughn said he thought the transition to United would be difficult but that his new teammates have made it pretty easy.

“The guys were really cool just from day one,” he said. “I introduced myself, and it was almost like I was just one of the guys.”

Vaughn played 90 minutes in Sunday’s loss to San Jose and was impressive in a CONCACAF Champions League victory over CD Marathon on Sept. 24, earning praise from Namoff. It appears he will get a third start Saturday.

“He’s just an all-around good player,” United’s Marc Burch said. “He’s got very good speed. He’s good defensively, and he’s good on the ball. … He’s not going to be a standout player, but he’s not going to be someone who you’re not going to look at and say, ‘Hey, that’s who we’re going to go [take the ball] at.’ ”

Notes - United’s Rodney Wallace will miss Saturday’s match because of yellow-card accumulation. Chivas will be without Marcelo Saragosa, who is serving an extended red-card suspension. …

Chris Sharpe, a 28-year-old Australian goalie, joined United from the MLS player pool. He will back up Milos Kocic on Saturday. Josh Wicks remains out with a dislocated shoulder and sprained knee; 18-year-old Bill Hamid is ineligible for MLS games. …

United defender Julius James was called up by the Trinidad and Tobago national team for its next two World Cup qualifiers. He will not miss any matches for United. “It’s a really good feeling, a proud moment for me and my family,” said James, who has three previous senior international caps. “I’m really happy.”

• Drew Hansen can be reached at dhansen@washingtontimes.com.

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