The Washington Post’s Steve Goff is reporting that D.C. United has signed Venezuela national team member Junior Moreno. The 24 year old would be joining the Black-and-Red from Zulia FC in the Venezuelan league, with Goff’s report noting that United has paid an undisclosed transfer fee to secure his rights. Moreno is an emerging player for Venezuela, making his debut this past June and appearing five times (including three World Cup qualifiers) since then.
Moreno is a 5’9”, 154 lb. defensive midfielder whose former club described as having a good soccer IQ and the technical proficiency to make the game easier for his teammates. In the Venezuelan league, he has been a full-time starter since 2014, first breaking out with Deportivo Lara before joining Zulia. American fans with a long memory may recognize him, as his international debut came against the United States and saw him produce an assist in a 1-1 draw.
Given Moreno’s profile, it is not entirely clear whether Ben Olsen will see him as strictly competition for Russell Canouse and Chris Durkin as United’s #6, or if he’ll spend more time as a #8, which would mean battling with Ian Harkes, Ulises Segura, and Jared Jeffrey for minutes. The fact that Segura can also play further upfield, and that Olsen has deployed Harkes in the #10 role before, may make room for Moreno to partner Canouse. As an emerging force with his national team, though, Moreno is probably not coming here just to fill out the roster.
Signing Moreno does put United under some pressure in terms of their roster construction. Adding Segura a couple of weeks ago meant that D.C. had used all five of their international roster spots, joining Luciano Acosta, the recently acquired Frederic Brillant, Bruno Miranda, and Zoltan Stieber. Moreno will also require such a spot, and United is, per Goff, still in discussions with Re-Entry Draft selection Gonzalo Veron as well. It is unknown how close any current internationals are to receiving green cards, or if more moves are in the works to acquire international roster spots via trade. United traded international spots to NYCFC to acquire Brillant, and to Portland in the move that brought Darren Mattocks to the District.
As with any new signing we aren’t all that familiar with, here’s the obligatory sizzle reel: