Erick Thohir's arrival as D.C. United's majority owner always promised signings that weren't going to happen when Will Chang was the club's sole owner, but this is an angle you might not have been thinking of.
According to the Indonesian press, Thohir's influence will see Andik Vermansyah - a promising 20 year old who has already featured for the Indonesian under-23 squad - come to the District for a trial. The article indicates that Vermansyah will depart Indonesia on Friday. There is no confirmation from United at this time, but this is soccer. Confirmation of rumors is a secondary concern.
Vermansyah is nicknamed "the Indonesian Messi" and is apparently known for being very skillful on the dribble. His club Persebaya 1927 came in second place during the recently-ended Indonesian season, and Vermansyah is apparently considered a star player for them.
ESPN Soccernet's John Duerden named him as one of the 10 young Asian players to watch for 2012. A more familiar name to United fans - Bruce Arena - also singled out Vermansyah for praise last November after the LA Galaxy played a friendly against what was essentially the Indonesian league all-star team. Inter Milan head coach Andrea Stramaccioni also took specific note of Vermansyah after the Italian giants played a similar match this past May.
That's the good news. The potential bad news is that Vermansyah is only 5'4", and MLS has been a very difficult league over the years for small players. United fans will have rueful memories of Christian Castillo (a skillful, tricky winger whose lack of size was a big factor in his struggles).
I'm also reminded of Sporting Kansas City's experimental signing of Sunil Chhetri back in 2010. Chhetri came from a country with a big population but a long history of struggling in soccer. He was said to be India's best player, yet KC only used him in one competitive fixture - and even then, only a lowly US Open Cup qualifying game - and even then, he was yanked at halftime. Chhetri's season with KC ended early, as Peter Vermes allowed him to attend an extended training camp with the Indian national team for most of the fall before the club quietly released him as the 2011 preseason started.
Now, is Vermansyah the same because his circumstances loosely resemble Chhetri's? Of course not. Vermansyah's size won't be as much of a factor as a winger, while the 5'7" Chhetri was a forward/attacking midfielder. More importantly, Vermansyah is only 20, while Chhetri came to MLS at age 26. Vermansyah will be judged on his potential rather than his current ability, and that makes a huge impact on whether a player signs or leaves after a few days.
As with virtually all trialists, this is about looking for a diamond in the rough. Expectations should be low, but there's always the chance that Vermansyah is Indonesia's breakthrough player.