Last month, D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper said he wanted to "turn over more rocks" in reference to finding international talent that might fit the club's needs. The statement was in line with the global brand Erick Thohir spoke of at the introductory press conference as he and Jason Levien joined Will Chang in ownership of the Black-and-Red.
Three weeks later, and the digging is well underway.
In mid-August, United named Kurt Morsink as the club's first-ever full time scout. Morsink has already made multiple scouting trips. The club will take the next step in its globalization effort on Monday, when Indonesian youth international Andik Vermansyah joins United for a two-week training stint.
"Andik will have an opportunity to train with our first team and play in a reserve match," Kasper said Thursday. "This will provide us a good opportunity to evaluate him."
Despite a high profile in the Indonesian Premier League, where he plays for 2011-2012 runner-up Persabaya, Vermansyah will arrive in Washington with minimal experience against top-tier competition. The 20-year-old has found success at both the Under-21 and Under-23 levels, but has yet to be capped for Indonesia's senior team.
While Thohir's connection to Vermansyah – United's newest investor is also Indonesian – drove D.C.'s identification of the prospect, Kasper says multiple scouts also vouched for the attacking player.
"Asia is a market that is producing a lot of quality players," Kasper added. "It's an area we want to continue focus on ... there are many markets in Asia that are rapidly developing."
This won't be the club's first foray into the Asian market. Last year, D.C. sent scouts to the J-League (Japan) combine. Before that, Kasper himself made a trip to China to personally evaluate talent.
If Vermansyah manages to impress Head Coach Ben Olsen, it won't be the first time the diminutive midfielder has caught the attention of an international coach. Last November, Bruce Arena praised Vermansyah after his Los Angeles Galaxy played a team of Indonesian stars in Jakarta. Six months later, Inter Milan coach Andrea Stramaccioni singled Vermansyah out for his "impressive" performance against the Italian giants. As a result, ESPN SoccerNet tabbed Vermansyah to their list of Ten Asian Players to Watch in 2012.
All pretty impressive feats for a player measuring just 5-feet-4 inches in height.
"There are a lot of players in our league that aren't the biggest and are very good," said Kasper, dismissing the notion that Vermansyah's size might hurt his chances of success in MLS. "We've had players in this club – like Christian Gomez – who weren't the biggest guys but brought something special. You always have to have an open mind."
Vermansyah is scheduled to arrive in Washington on Monday and will train as guest player with D.C. through September 22.