The club announced the release of Rafael today. Can you give some insight into what factors went into the decision to let him go?
Dave Kasper: “We thought he would be further along at this point of the season in his adaptation and development. Additionally, Casey Townsend has come into the picture recently with solid play, and Rafa lost playing time as a result. We did not see this changing. In the end, with a looming decision on a big transfer payment for a player on loan, we felt it would be wiser to look to invest funds toward players elsewhere.”
We’re at about the halfway point of the season – the team got in a bit of a rut to start 2013, but is showing major signs of life in League play and Open Cup. To what do you attribute this shift in momentum?
DK: “The main difference is that we are the healthiest we have been since the early part of the season. During that tough stretch, practically our entire starting midfield was sidelined. To the credit of [Head Coach] Ben [Olsen], the players have kept their confidence and motivation, and we will be all the stronger for it. Also, Alain Rochat has helped us both on defense as well as in our attack. We are very happy with this pick-up.”
United posted a clean sheet on June 8 against a New England squad that routed the LA Galaxy 5-0 the week before and tallied three against Vancouver the next MLS match. What kind of positives did the coaching staff take from that game?
DK: “That game was the starting point for our turnaround. The Open Cup win vs. Philadelphia on June 12 and our League win this past weekend are all positive signs for us. However, we also understand that hard work has to continue to go in during training and games to achieve positive results.”
As we near the summer transfer window, what pieces are you targeting to come in and fit into the larger D.C. United puzzle?
DK: “We are looking to add two to three players this summer, and we have salary cap and allocation money to make some moves.”
What regions in other parts of the world have you been zeroing in on for international signings?
DK: “We have scouted all around the globe in the past six months and have some good options that we are tracking for now and in the future. The scouting process takes time to implement. For example, the actual signing dates of Luciano Emilio and Christian Gomez (two MLS MVPs while with United) happened several years after they were initially scouted. We are happy that ownership has committed resources to this end, and we look forward to future outcomes.”
The club’s most recent addition, Alain Rochat, came from another MLS team. How much of a priority are you also placing on looking from within the League?
DK: “We have engaged in several trade conversations in the recent weeks. I believe there will be some interesting opportunities from within the League this summer.”
Over the past few years, we’ve seen Academy products and SuperDraft picks alike contribute significantly to the squad. Can you describe D.C. United’s approach to developing young talent?
DK: “Both the draft and our Academy are vital to our long-term success, and we made a conscious effort several years ago to build the core of our team with both . We believe in nurturing Homegrown talent, and giving young players an opportunity. Bill Hamid is again having a solid season, and we are excited by the emergence of Ethan White and Conor Shanosky into the First Team. Michael Seaton has done very well with the Richmond Kickers, and we believe he has a bright future ahead of him. Our Academy is well-established now, and continues to expand with the recent additions of a U-12 Pre-Academy squad and a U-14 Academy team. As such, there will be many more players that will come into the First Team in the near future. Talented young players know that the Academy is a pathway to our First Team, as well as being a stepping stone to eventually play for their respective countries on the international level.”
There’s a big Open Cup quarterfinal tonight vs. New England. What would winning the 100th edition of this tournament mean to this team?
DK: “Competing for trophies is what we strive for. We will be giving maximum effort tonight to win the match and advance to the semi-finals.”
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