D.C. United today begins their trek to Bradenton, Florida and the IMG Academy, where they will hold the first part of training camp from today until February 12. In anticipation of this trip, the team released their initial roster for their preseason camp, which includes all of the players the team has signed, drafted, and carried over from last year, with only one addition: midfielder Khari Stephenson, late of Real Salt Lake.
We here at Black and Red United have long admired Stephenson, and encouraged the team to take him in last year's Re-Entry Draft; instead, the team took John Thorrington. He passed through both rounds of that Re-Entry Draft and signed with Real Salt Lake, where he started nine games, appeared in 19, and tallied almost 800 minutes. Stephenson would be competing for a roster spot in an already crowded central midfield, where United already have veterans like Perry Kitchen, Davy Arnaud, and Lewis Neal, and young players like Jared Jeffrey, Luis Silva, and Collin Martin. In a recent Steve Goff article, Nick DeLeon was also mentioned as a candidate for central midfield. In addition, United has draftees like Victor Munoz and Zach Barnes, both of whom play central midfield.
Stephenson, if he were to earn a roster spot, would come relatively cheap. After making $190,000 in base salary in 2012 for the San Jose Earthquakes, his base salary was less than half of that ($77,500) this past season for Real Salt Lake. He also has a cannon for a leg, and the team is looking for a little more depth across the midfield; Stephenson would allow someone like Arnaud or Neal to play wide if needed.
Personally, I think this deal would be a year too late, but what do you think?
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