D.C. United Roster Woes

Having crashed out of the playoffs with a resounding thud for the second-straight season after securing the Supporters Shield, D.C. United could be facing serious problems in keeping several of their stars on the roster for 2008.
Media reports from Honduras indicated that recently crown MLS MVP and Newcomer of the Year Luciano Emilio was looking to leave the club in favor of a bigger paycheck elsewhere. But Steven Goff of the Washington Post says reports that these rumors have little substance to them. "The club exercised the option of his contract for 2008 and, unless a massive offer from overseas lands on Kevin Payne's desk, he's not going anywhere," writes Goff on his blog, Soccer Insider. It is understood that Emilio's agent, Alexander Solis, is trying to secure a massive raise for his client, who made $293,125 in guaranteed compensation in 2007. Any sort of increase would put him near the league maximum of $400,000 and closing in on Designated Player status.

Of course, United is saving their DP slot for the winter transfer window, when they can officially ink Juan Sebastian Veron to a deal. The 32-year-old Argentinean has been the target of D.C.'s interest for much of the year and would undoubtedly command DP money. Payne met with Veron in July to discuss a possible transfer, but the deal didn't happen then because Veron voiced his desire to stay with Estudiantes through Copa Sudamericana. Subsequently, Veron has been hampered by injury after returning from Copa America and played little part in the club's early exit from the competition at the hands of Lanus.Another player rumored to be contemplating an exit from the nation's capital is Christian Gomez. The 2006 MLS MVP is currently out of contract with the club and put off negotiations with United before this past season started, saying no new talks would be held until after the end of the season. Gomez's production slipped slightly in 2007, registering 10 goals and nine assists in 27 games (14 goals, 11 assists in 2006). He has expressed a desire to return home to Argentina to finish his career in the past, but is also being linked with a move to the Middle East, with the most likely option a free-spending team in Qatar.

The same goes for the league's all-time leading scorer, Jaime Moreno (112 goals). Despite a resurgence with Bolivia's national team, Moreno appeared to have lost a step in 2007. His seven goal total was down more than 50% from 2005, when he scored 16 times. Add to that the fact that more than half of his goals this year came from the penalty spot (four of seven). Qatar is also the most likely last stop for Moreno, who could be looking for one last payday in the twilight of his career.

With all the unrest in D.C., it's hard to see them securing a third-straight Supporters Shield in 2008, but if Emilio stays and Veron is brought in as expected, it may not matter if Gomez and/or Moreno are no longer with the team.

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