With just over three weeks to go before the 2012 Major League Soccer season starts, D.C. United and Dwayne De Rosario have not yet reached agreement on a contract extension, but United general manager Dave Kasper continues to characterize the ongoing negotiations as “positive.” As recently as last week, proposals were still being exchanged, according to a source.
To review, United coach Ben Olsen committed himself to keeping De Rosario in Washington after his second hat trick of the season – one which occurred in a mere 18 minutes against Real Salt Lake in September.
“Oh, we'll keep him around,” Olsen said at the time. “I've talked to my owner, Will Chang. He's not going anywhere."
That stance was reiterated by the front office again at the end of the season, and it has remained a priority for the team to complete a deal for De Rosario, who had one year remaining on his current contract. At 33 years old, he’s looking for the security of what could be his final contract at the peak of his career. He’s expressed his desire to stay in Washington, and D.C. United has been unwavering in its desire to go forward with De Rosario.
But while there is no disputing his talent or his masterful MVP campaign last year, which he finished with 15 goals and 11 assists, it stands to reason that with it taking so long for a contract to be completed, it has reached the point where D.C. United might’ve been better served by taking a harder line and not starting negotiations until after the 2012 season had gotten underway.
It also remains to be seen whether negotiations have been affected by D.C. United’s signing of Hamdi Salihi as a second Designated Player. Adding a third – De Rosario – would cost D.C. a $250,000 luxury tax, but United could also use allocation money to pay down De Rosario’s salary cap charge and keep him under the maximum of $350,000. De Rosario made $500,000 last year, according to MLS Players Union figures, a bulk of which was paid by Toronto FC, but he was not classified as a Designated Player. This year’s salary will be covered solely by D.C. United, who did recently acquire allocation funds from Portland in exchange for a two-year rental of an international roster spot.
De Rosario, an 11-year Major League Soccer veteran, also encountered stiff negotiations with MLS the last time he was up for a contract.
Salihi, by the way, has received his P-1 visa and should arrive in Washington this weekend. He has been training with his former club, Rapid Vienna, while waiting for the process to be completed.