D.C. United took advantage of a high spot in the 2020 MLS Re-Entry Draft, selecting attacker Adrien Perez. United now has one week to make a formal contract offer to the 25-year-old former LAFC forward/winger, whose option was declined by the CONCACAF Champions League finalist earlier in this offseason.
Perez’s path to MLS is an unusual one. Where most players end up going through an MLS academy or the NCAA, Perez went undrafted after playing for Loyola Marymount. The California native persevered, though, signing a contract with the Ontario Fury of the Major Arena Soccer League and scoring a heap of goals on the indoor circuit. That got the attention of two-time MLS MVP and current Seattle Sounders assistant coach Preki, another former indoor soccer star who made the move to MLS. According to Perez, Preki recommended him to Bob Bradley, and after a preseason trial, Perez won a contract.
During his time with LAFC, Perez was generally an oft-used substitute. In two seasons he made 21 league appearances, starting three times and scoring once. This season, an injury before the MLS is Back Tournament and a crowded front line featuring Carlos Vela, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Diego Rossi, and Brian Rodriguez seemed to push him down the depth chart, with Danny Musovski and Christian Torres getting a bigger share of the minutes down the stretch. Perez was still involved enough to be called upon in LAFC’s playoff defeat at Seattle, playing the final 35 minutes in a failed comeback attempt.
Perez played across the front line for LAFC, and his versatility could be a major part of the appeal for United. However, the Black-and-Red are also very well-stocked on the wings and at the striker position. DCU currently has nine players under contract whose best position is in one of those three spots, and were reportedly in talks with a tenth (striker Gelmin Rivas) after initially declining his option.
Assuming United and Perez come to an agreement over a contract — according to 2019 salary figures from the MLS Players Association, he was on a reserve minimum salary deal — the move may signal that D.C. intends to move on from Rivas, or that they plan on giving Erik Sorga a full season to develop at the USL Championship level with Loudoun United.