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Flown The Nest: D.C. United First Team Alumni News & Notes

Dejan Jakovic makes his first appearance in Japan, James Riley arrives at the sixth MLS club of his career, Andy Najar could return to RFK Stadium in May, and much more!


Our regular update on former D.C. United players is back and raring to go after what has been a busy period for first team alumni. Here’s what has happened in February and early March:

Dejan Jakovic makes Shimizu S-Pulse debut

One of last year’s central defenders Dejan Jakovic made his debut for Japanese club Shimizu S-Pulse on Saturday, March 3 as the J-League season got underway. Jakovic came on in the closing stages of the second half of Shimizu’s 3-2 away win over Nagoya Grampus to help shore up his new club’s defense as they looked to protect their slender lead. Jakovic joined United in 2009 from Serbian club Red Star Belgrade, made 98 appearances and scored one goal. He is still a regular for the Canada Men’s National Team, although he was not at their January training camp in Florida. The Black-and-Red announced his transfer on January 14.

James Riley earns contract with Galaxy

Another of last year’s regulars to have since departed D.C. United, defender James Riley signed a contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy on February 25 after impressing on trial. It will be Riley’s 10th MLS season, having previously played for the New England Revolution, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Chivas USA and the Black-and-Red. Last year, he played in 21 games and filled in at both right-back and left-back.

Thankful 4 all the kind words/encouragement as I begin my 10th pro season @MLS with @LAGalaxy. I am excited and ready for the challenge.

— James Riley (JamesRiley7) February 26 2014

Andy Najar to return to RFK Stadium with Honduras?

Seven "Road to Brazil" fixtures were announced by Soccer United Marketing on February 28, and the first match at RFK Stadium on May 29 could see former Homegrown star Andy Najar return with the Honduras national team as they take on Turkey. In 2010, Najar became the second Academy player to sign with the Black-and-Red after Bill Hamid, and after three successful years he transferred to R.S.C. Anderlecht of Belgium’s Pro League. He is a regular for the Honduras national team, having made his debut in 2011. "Road to Brazil" also includes a doubleheader of games on June 7 at FedEx Field, starting with the fixture between Spain and El Salvador and concluding with an MLS clash between United and the Columbus Crew.

Freddy Adu still a free agent

The Freddy Adu free agency saga shows no signs of abating, with the former D.C. United starlet unable to secure a contract at English club Blackpool after a trial. There had been reports of talks with the Atlanta Silverbacks of the North American Soccer League, with the club’s technical director Eric Wynalda telling Sports Illustrated on February 26 he was interested in signing the midfielder. However, Adu was quick to deny that he was in talks with the Silverbacks, so he still remains unattached.

I am currently Not speaking to any NASL teams. I don't know how that rumour got started but these rumors are not true. Thank you.

— Freddy Adu (@FreddyAdu) February 28 2014

Long Tan returns to China

Former D.C. United striker Long Tan has returned to China, where he will play for Chinese Super League newcomers Harbin Yiteng, who were promoted to the country’s top division from China League One. He was the first Chinese player to spend time in MLS, but has now returned to his native country after failing to earn another contract in the United States. The Harbin Yiteng squad is mostly made up of Chinese players, with their only foreigners being Australian Adam Hughes, Brazilian Rodrigo and Ricardo Steer of Colombia.

Still no news on several players who were released at the end of last season, including defenders Daniel Woolard and Dennis Iapichino.