D.C. United is looking forward

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

Just over three weeks remain before D.C. United opens the 2013 season, and the first team has yet to play together. In January, goalkeeper Bill Hamid was in the U.S. national team training camp, while Dwayne De Rosario and Dejan Jakovic were with Canada. Chris Pontius has come back slowly from a groin strain.

And while Andy Najar's spot at right back is now up for grabs after he was sold to RSC Anderlecht, United's biggest positional concern is forward, where there is an incumbent starter. Lionard Pajoy earned the nod in the latter half of last season with his hard work but is a notoriously poor finisher.

United gave up on last year's designated player signing, Hamdi Salihi, replacing him with 20-year-old Brazilian Rafael and insisting it will be patient with his development. It also signed 16-year-old Michael Seaton as an even longer-term project. Former Maryland striker Casey Townsend, a 2012 first-round draft pick, fell into United's lap as part of a fire sale at Chivas USA, but United coach Ben Olsen hedged on his immediate contribution, cautioning that "it might not be this year."

"He knows we're going to be on him and break some of the habits that I think he's developed," Olsen said. "He still has a ways to go to make it in this league."

One of the brightest performances in United's most recent preseason match came from Canadian trialist Kyle Porter, who had an assist in a 1-1 draw with Swedish club Malmo FF. Of course, Porter's MLS rights are owned by the Vancouver Whitecaps.

- Craig Stouffer

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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