D.C. United today announced that Clemson attacker Kimarni Smith has signed an MLS contract. Smith, 22, was selected fourth overall by United in January’s SuperDraft. Per the club, Smith’s deal runs through the end of the 2021 season, with club-held options for 2022, 2023, and 2024.
“Kimarni has proven himself as one of the top offensive players in college soccer and we believe his dynamic qualities will help add to our roster,” said United General Manager Dave Kasper in a club press release. “Kimarni possess a unique skillset that combines technical ability with a strong athletic profile, which will be important in our playing style this season.”
There had been some initial uncertainty as to whether Smith (who was eligible for the SuperDraft but had not yet signed with an agent) would play in the spring NCAA season before joining up with United, but eventually club and player reached a deal. A native of Nottingham, England, Smith will require an international roster spot. United entered today with one open spot, meaning that the club’s other rumored international acquisitions will require either an existing international acquiring a US green card or citizenship, or for United to acquire an international roster spot via trade.
Smith was a menace to defenses during his time with Clemson, scoring 13 goals as a junior in 2019 and posting a gaudy 8 goal/3 assist stat line in a Covid-19 shortened 2020 fall season that lasted just 11 games for the Tigers. Smith was also the ACC Tournament MVP last fall, scoring four times in three games.
While Smith was a collegiate forward, his role with United may take some time to sort out. A draft-day tweet from Steve Goff at the Washington Post indicates that United may be evaluating him for a potential role out wide:
On the Smith pick, GM Dave Kasper says: "He is a player we spent quite a bit of time watching the past 2 years. Steady improvement year to year. Can play up top in two-man frontline, winger, wide MF or wing back. Very good in and around the box. Great timing with runs."— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) January 21, 2021
Adding Smith brings United’s roster up to 25 players under contract. However, that number may quickly increase. Defender Brendan Hines-Ike is reportedly in the US already to finalize a transfer from Belgian club KV Kortrijk, while United has been strongly linked to moves for Levski Sofia striker Nigel Robertha and Venezuela under-20 national team forward Jovanny Bolivar. Veterans Andy Najar and Rodney Wallace are both believed to be in training camp, which began today, as trialists looking to earn a place on the roster as well.