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United's coaching staff has plenty to worry about in 2012, but can't afford to ignore the future. With an eye on the 2013 preseason, Brazilian defensive midfielder Pecka is on trial after a successful season with the NASL's Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
Yesterday's 1-0 reserve league win over the Philadelphia Union brought some good news along with it for D.C. United fans: Emiliano Dudar and goalscorer Stephen King both went 90 minutes as they come back from injury, while Maicon Santos played his second straight full 90 in a week, indicating that the toe injury he's been fighting through for months may be fully behind him. Rookie Lance Rozeboom, who suffered a torn ACL near the end of the preseason, got his first minutes of the entire season as he continues to recover.
It also meant that the cycle of trialists - at this point, basically just guys pushing for an invite to preseason - continued. Harrisburg City Islanders forward Yann Ekra has apparently done well enough to keep his trial going for over a month, and the 21 year old Ivorian winger/forward set up the game's only goal.
Ekra isn't the only lower division player on trial, though. The spectacularly named Wellington de Jorge Estanislau Paeckart, a defensive midfielder whose current club is the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL. Pecka - he's Brazilian, so obviously a nickname had to be chosen - joined the Strikers in the latter stages of the 2011 season. After making 8 appearances last year, he grew into a regular role for 2012: 24 appearances- including 18 starts - and 1,576 minutes, good enough for seventh-best on the Strikers roster (who was #1? None other than United's own Conor Shanosky). During that time, he scored one goal and picked up just two yellow cards.
Pecka has a pretty strong resume. The 23 year old is, like Raphael Augusto, a product of a Brazilian giant's youth academy (in Pecka's case, Flamengo). He also played on the Brazilian under-18 national team back in 2006. At 5'7" and 152 lbs, however, he may be on the small side to play his preferred defensive midfield role. Still, plenty of small - or at least average-sized - players have done well in such roles: Former France/Real Madrid/Chelsea star Claude Makelele comes to mind immediately, as does Clyde Simms. If Pecka is smart, quick on his feet, and skillful with the ball, he can still be a successful MLS defensive midfielder.
This isn't the first connection between the Strikers and United. Back in January, Traffic Sports - the multinational player agency organization that owns the Strikers - had a client of theirs, Stefan Jerome, on trial here. Obviously Shanosky's successful loan is a link between the two clubs, and who can forget J.P. Rodrigues (who played for United after the Black-and-Red had so many injuries and suspensions in 2010 that MLS sanctioned a one-game loan; Rodrigues brought our squad up to 14 players for a 2-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes)? My point: Don't be surprised if more players from Ft. Lauderdale end up getting trials in the coming weeks or in the 2013 preseason.