United adds Pajoy to bolster forward line
When D.C. United acquired forward Lionard Pajoy from thePhiladelphia Union in exchange for midfielder Danny Cruz on Thursday, theBlack-and-Red were doing business with the enemy.
And they were doing it just days before a critical showdownagainst their neighboring rival.
"I don't think it's ideal for either team," Ben Olsenadmitted on Thursday. "But look,that's how it goes. Timing is notalways perfect."
The move itself is a reflection of the depth Olsen andGeneral Manager Dave Kasper stockpiled this past offseason.
Cruz tallied a goal and three assists in 2012, but thefeisty winger had started just once since injuring his hamstring on May19. Behind Nick DeLeon, Andy Najar, Chris Pontius and Lewis Neal on the club's outside midfield depth chart, Cruz became avaluable asset in D.C.'s drive to strengthen its forward corps. Limited by a toe injury, Maicon Santoshasn't played ninety minutes since July 15. Hamdi Salihi, who is scheduled to return from aninternational friendly with Albania on Thursday afternoon, could misssignificant time for World Cup qualifiers come September and October.
Insert Pajoy, who arrives in Washington after leading theUnion in scoring this season with five goals.
"We felt we needed a little something extra up top," saidKasper, who added that Pajoy particularly impressed United's technical staffwhen Philadelphia and D.C. met earlier this summer in U.S. Open Cup play. "He is a tireless worker and a big bodyup front and we think we needed to add that sort of element into this teamright now."
While Kasper had been able to add pieces in recent weeks –forward Long Tan and defender Mike Chabala – without sacrificing players, Pajoycame at a much steeper cost.
"Danny was a guy I went after and I wanted at this club andstill want at this club," Olsen acknowledged. "But when you look at our roster we have a lot of depththere that's ahead of him. Ithought we could get some help up top with Pajoy and, to a certain extent, giveDanny a chance to play."
As D.C. prepares for its playoff push, Pajoy's big-gameexperience will come in handy. The31-year-old came to MLS in February following a five-year stretch in Colombia'sfirst division; a stint which included a run to the Copa Libertadoressemifinals with Cucuta in 2007.
"To get a guy with his experience is huge," Kasper,added. "And he's a guy we know canback it up because he has had some success early on here in this league whichis not easy to do."