D.C. United Trade Targets - Possible attacking pick-ups within MLS

Ed Zurga

Last month, we looked at some possible defensive players United could find within MLS. Today, we look at a list of attackers who might be available should the Black-and-Red come knocking.

We've already touched on some potential defensive trade targets D.C. United might be looking at this offseason. In today's installment of our You Be the GM series, we look at the other end of the field, the attackers in MLS the Black-and-Red could bring in to fortify what was the league's worst offense in 2013.

The first name on the list was going to be Eddie Johnson, but we've already gone in depth on the reasons why United should bring Johnson in and the reasons they should instead just stay away from the U.S. international. So instead, we'll start our list elsewhere.

Darren Mattocks

The 23-year-old has gone on-record this winter as wanting away from the Vancouver Whitecaps, who drafted him out of Akron all the way back in 2012. He's since walked those words back, but he was undeniably in the now-departed Martin Rennie's doghouse this past season. Mattocks is a freak athlete and came out on fire in his rookie campaign, finding the net six times in his first nine appearances. His production has dropped off considerably since then, as he's scored only once in his last 30 appearances for Vancouver. Whether the new manager in BC Place wants to keep him around or will be able to get the best out of him remains an open question. Because of that, the Whitecaps might find themselves surprisingly willing to move the Jamaican international.

Bright Dike

The former-Portland Timbers striker tore his ACL less than a year ago and is now scoring goals for the Nigerian national team just months away from the Super Eagles' playing in the World Cup. Not a bad story. But more importantly for our purposes - though admittedly scoring goals at a high level is pretty darn important - is Dike's style. He's a bull, willing to mix it up with center backs and get into the physical scrapes that can free up space for teammates. The Timbers traded Dike, still not fully recovered from that torn ACL, this fall to bring in DP Maximiliano Urruti. That means that Dike is now a member of Toronto FC, a team always willing to listen to trade proposals, never mind how long or short a player's tenure with them has been.

CJ Sapong or Teal Bunbury

Either of these two Sporting Kansas City strikers could be available this winter if the Sporks fail to claim MLS Cup early next month. If Sporting falls short they'll lose some salary cap flexibility that comes from Champions League qualification, and (especially if they fall to the Houston Dynamo for the third straight year) they might start looking to make some changes to Peter Vermes' system to get them over that last hump. Sapong, a D.C. area native who has had a large contingent of family and friends in attendance every time he's played at RFK might be particularly interested in joining the Black-and-Red, but he's younger than Bunbury and has been in the better form this year and so might be the less likely of the two to move. (EDIT: Sapong is actually 14 months older than Bunbury.)

Blas Perez or Kenny Cooper

Fact #1: FC Dallas has two highly-paid strikers on the roster. Fact #2: FC Dallas will have a new head coach coming in for next year. Implication: There could very well be less than enough room for both of these forwards come the spring. Blas Perez is a Panamanian international, but is seemingly purpose built for MLS with a strong combination of strength, speed, aerial presence and guile. At 32, United might consider looking for a younger option, but Perez has found the net 20 times in his 45 appearances for FCD, certainly not a bad strike rate. Kenny Cooper, meanwhile, just seems to score goals whenever he feels like it - which apparently wasn't that often this year. His six goals (while better than anybody wearing Black-and-Red) in 33 appearances this year has to be a disappointment to him coming off a year playing for the New York Red Bulls where he tripled that output.

Robbie Rogers

This is kind of the odd duck on this list, as Rogers is very much a wide midfielder and not a forward. But after his return from his time away from the game, the 26-year-old looked exactly like somebody who had spent time away from the game. The skill was generally there, but he was rusty and slow to make decisions. There's a relatively easy case to be made that Bruce Arena's trust in Rogers during the MLS Cup playoffs burned the coach and was a big part of why the LA Galaxy failed to advance past Real Salt Lake. What I'm getting at is that Rogers trade value is probably about as low as it's likely to get. If the Bruce feels a bit impatient with the former Columbus Crew man, United could get themselves a talented contributor at a steep discount this offseason.

Alvaro Saborio

Remember last year, when RSL had to trade away guys like Will Johnson, Jamison Olave and Fabian Espindola because of salary cap issues that resulted from their failure to qualify for the Champions League? Saborio and Javier Morales were the big attacking pieces to survive that purge, but Saborio could be available this winter anyway. The conventional wisdom is hardening on the idea that even though Sabo is RSL's best individual striker, the team is better with Devon Sandoval and Robbie Findley up top. That would make the 31-year-old Costa Rican international superfluous in Jason Kreis' system and therefore available if the price is right. Sabo has scored 52 goals in 97 appearances for RSL since arriving in 2010 (originally on-loan). He is a prototypical Pure #9 and the type of forward Ben Olsen seems to covet. He'd also be an unbelievable upgrade on every striker on the D.C. roster.

So, what do you think about our list? Who did we miss? Sound off in the comments to let us know.

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