WASHINGTON, October 30, 2013 — After its worst season ever, D.C. United was quick to start rebuilding for next season. On Wednesday, the club announced that it had declined options on three players, forwards Lionard Pajoy, Carlos Ruiz and midfielder Marcelo Saragosa. Ruiz and Saragosa are both eligible for the Re-Entry Draft.
Pajoy played 32 games, 23 starts, with United, tallying five goals and adding one assist. Ruiz made 13 appearances, five starts, and Saragosa made 24 total appearances, 16 starts for tallying one goal and adding one assist.
The moves are part of the team’s quest to make room on the salary cap to bring in a proven goal scorer and a player to create goals.
At his press conference after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the the visiting Houston Dynamo, United coach Ben Olsen listed his priorities for next season, “Goals would help. Guys that can provide the last pass would help and getting more athletic and getting better on set pieces, shore up our back line even more - you name it, we can get better at it.”
A trio of three players, Luis Silva, Dwayne De Rosario and Kyle Porter, could only manage three goals each this season, while the team recorded four own goals. Perry Kitchen led the team with four assists.
United ended the season with a 3-24-7 record, possibly recording the worst season for a team in the 18 years of Major League Soccer. The team became the first MLS club to win fewer than four games. United became the fifth club in league history not to record a league win on the road, and the team recorded the lowest attendance per home game (13,646) in all its years at RFK Stadium. The club scored just 22 goals, one more than the team scored in 2010, which is an MLS record.
The one bright spot for the team was winning the U.S. Cup and defeating four MLS teams in the process. United claimed the trophy, its MLS record 13th piece of silverware, by upsetting the heavily favored Real Salt Lake on the road, guaranteeing a spot in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League.
A big question for the club is the future of De Rosario, who won the league MVP in 2011 when he notched 16 goals.
The 35-year-old, who is the team’s highest salaried player at $600,000, managed just three goals and two assists in 24 games this year.
Meantime, the rebuilding continues for Olsen.
“We’ve been preparing for next year for three months,” Olsen said. “We’ve known we have been in this situation for a long time. We understand what we need, we understand how we want to go forward and the type of players I need. It’s real. We’re not good enough. But, you see it again. When we match up against these teams who are playing for their playoff lives, the difference between us and them, its’ not that far off. It’s not. You guys see it. Its some players, some key players. It’s a little savvy and class in the final thirds. We have faith in a majority of these guys and with the things the league gives us, the draft pick, were going to have a very competitive team and I am looking forward to it.”
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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