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D.C. United, Boskovic mutually agree to part ways

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,D.C. United,Craig Stouffer

After struggling to coexist for two and a half years, it only makes sense that D.C. United and midfielder Branko Boskovic parted ways just days after the end of the 2012 season. They mutually agreed to cut ties even though the 32-year-old Montenegrin's was under contract until next summer.

"I have had some private family matters for several months now," Boskovic said in a statement. "It's a difficult decision for me after a very good season here."

But it wasn't an easy season, and Boskovic was always unlikely to return. Following a knee injury that cost him most of 2011, United only reluctantly integrated him and waited until the last moment to agree to a new contract in July, when Boskovic agreed to cut his designated player salary ($409,000 base, $545,000 in guaranteed compensation) by more than half ($195,000/$242,000).

United won't be able to do the same with forward Hamdi Salihi, who also was Boskovic's teammate at Rapid Vienna. Despite paying a transfer fee last winter for the Albanian, who is the team's second-highest paid player ($305,460/$487,460), United started him just 10 times in 34 games. It's hurt Salihi's value and will make him hard to trade, which may be the only way to get some of his salary off United's cap next season.

In a fitting send-off, Boskovic played back-to-back 90-minute games for the first time all year in the Eastern Conference finals series against Houston after the team had cited his fitness issues throughout the season. He also scored United's final goal of the year in the second leg's 1-1 draw.

- Craig Stouffer

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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