Markus Halsti is no longer a D.C. United player. We've speculated about this possibility going back to last winter, and the talk only got louder and more persistent as the defensive midfielder went through the first 12 games of this MLS season without playing a minute. And now it is official.
The club announced this afternoon that it has mutually agreed to terminate the Finnish international's contract, effective immediately. Halsti will get to show off his wares for potential new employers in short order as he joins Finland for a couple of friendlies against Euro 2016 participants Belgium and Italy.
Halsti won a lot of fans over before ever taking the field for the Black-and-Red, with his personality and his immediately jumping into life in the DMV. Unfortunately, his play on the field never lived up to the expectations that a UEFA Champions League pedigree tends to confer. Whether that was due to fitness (definitely), being played out of position (maybe? kind of?), or simply failing to adjust to the famously physical nature of the American league (yes), he goes down as another in D.C. United's line of unsuccessful international acquisitions.
The move frees up at least $275,000 (prorated for half a season) under the salary cap. As importantly -- if not moreso -- Halsti's departure also gives United some flexibility for an international signing. The team had used up all their international roster slots, and now they'll have one available when the transfer window reopens on July 4.