D.C. United announced their contract decisions today, exercising the options on star attacking midfielder Luciano Acosta and homegrown defender Jalen Robinson. The bigger news is the list of players who are either out of contract or whose options were not picked up, which includes Darren Mattocks, Yamil Asad, Nick DeLeon, and Kofi Opare. United’s press release says they’re in talks to renegotiate “several” contracts, including the permanent transfer option on Asad’s loan contract with Velez Sarsfield.
Mattocks will not be back, per a report from the Washington Post’s Steve Goff. As his contract has expired, he could pursue a move abroad, and would be eligible for MLS’s Re-Entry Draft. United’s pursuit of a new second-choice striker behind Wayne Rooney will likely be among their top priorities this offseason.
Goff’s piece also mentions that Asad is “likely” to come back for 2019, and that talks between DeLeon and United are ongoing. However, as of now, the duo joins Vytas, Kevin Ellis, Ian Harkes, Jared Jeffrey, Dane Kelly, and Bruno Miranda as players whose options were not picked up. Goff has reported that Harkes is not going to be back for next year, while Miranda had previously told Bolivian outlet Unitel that he was not going to continue with the Black-and-Red now that his loan from Universidad de Chile is over.
There is no indication as to what other players United is in talks with. The team was very excited to sign Vytas this summer, but with Joseph Mora locking up the starting job and a contract that guaranteed him $271,875 this year, it would not be outlandish to see United retain the Lithuanian at a lower price tag. Goff’s report also notes that Ellis and Jeffrey could be offered new deals, though the odds are that they’d be spending at least some of their time with Loudoun United in the USL Championship.
Joining Mattocks on the out-of-contract list are defender Oniel Fisher and goalkeeper Travis Worra. Fisher, who United reportedly would like to sign to a new deal, was on a near-minimum contract and will be due for a raise after coming into his own mid-season. Worra, with no viable path to a starting role, is probably going to be elsewhere next season.
All told, the moves leave United with 15 players under contract at the moment:
Goalkeepers: Bill Hamid, David Ousted
Defenders: Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Joseph Mora, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Jalen Robinson
Midfielders: Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola, Russell Canouse, Chris Durkin, Junior Moreno, Ulises Segura, Zoltan Stieber
Forwards: Wayne Rooney