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Szetela returning to MLS, D.C. United the front-runner for his services

Danny Szetela ( 

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Former U.S. Olympic team midfielder Danny Szetela is on his way back to Major League Soccer, but he won't be coming back to Columbus or heading home to New Jersey.

According to multiple sources, Szetela has agreed to a new contract with MLS after having his deal with Spanish club Racing Santander finish. Szetela spent the past season and a half on loan to Italian club Brescia, but is now a free agent set to return to MLS two years after leaving the Columbus Crew for Europe.

As a former youth international with three appearances for the U.S. senior national team, Szetela would have to go through the MLS allocation process. FC Dallas is currently holding the top spot in the allocation order, but already has a roster full of young players and is expected to pass on him. That would leave Szetela to fall to D.C. United. Sources tell SBI that Szetela was in Washington D.C. on Tuesday and met with D.C. United officials, who are very interested in the 22-year-old midfielder.

D.C. already boasts Clyde Simms, Andrew Jacobson and Ben Olsen as defensive midfield options, but the club did just lose rookie midfielder Brandon Barklage for the season with a torn ACL.

Szetela has struggled for playing time with Brescia, failing to make any appearances in the final month of the Serie B season after seeing a good share of playing time in the first half of the season. He moved from the Crew to Racing Santander after the 2007 Under-20 World Championships, but never played in a League match for the La Liga club before being sent out on loan to Italy.

If D.C. United acquires him, Szetela could provide cover both in central midfield and on the right flank, and could provide some long-term cover for veteran Ben Olsen.

Whether Szetela actually goes to D.C. United will be determined by FC Dallas, which could choose to select him in order try to secure a deal for his services, but doing so would also cost FC Dallas the top spot in the allocation order. Szetela did play for current FC Dallas assistant coach John Ellinger when Ellinger was the U.S. Under-17 national team coach, but FC Dallas is still expected to pass. Szetela had previously expressed a desire to play for the New York Red Bulls (he was born and raised just minutes from Giants Stadium), but the Red Bulls are not currently in the mix for his services.

What do you think of Szetela returning to MLS? Hoping he comes back and finds a starting role? Wishing he had given Europe another try? Think he can help D.C. United? Hoping FC Dallas adds him to its youth movement?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. DC United’s website says he is signed. fyi — Also, heard rumors of Pablo Campos from San Jose.

    Are they stocking up for a big run in the CCL as well as the MLS Cup?

  2. Frankly, he never should have left. When he played like Sigi wanted, he was good, when he didn’t… he wasn’t.

    If he comes back with a better attitude (read: no sense of entitlement) he could grow into a good player. Right now, he’s unrealized potential.

    FWIW, if he’s the same player he was when he left, he wouldn’t start on a full-strength Columbus squad now.

  3. A few things about this story:

    1) Good decision by Szetela. Like others here, outside of the U-20 Cup, I never really saw anything special out of him… But obviously he is a talented young player, and I’m sure his time in Europe did nothing but help his game grow… I hope his case ends up like Robbie Rogers (i.e. a young player that went to Europe and progressed, even though he didn’t receive extensive minutes)

    2) What is the state of FC Dallas if they are just gonna pass up on this guy?

    Ives mentioned that they wouldn’t grab him b/c they have too many young players. I hope FCD realizes their problem isn’t that they have young players, its that they have guys that just aren’t that good. If anything They need to get more minutes for their young guys like, Brek Shea, Peri Marosevic, Anthony Wallace, Eric Avila. These are all very good young players who get very few minutes…

    Columbus won the championship last year in large part b/c they had exciting young players in Rogers, Gavin, marshall, Ekpo

    Forget young, talent is the most important aspect of a player, and there is no denying Szetela has more talent than most FCD players

  4. @CapeCodFutbol

    i still don’t understand what random distribution of players like the draft and allocations do for the league..anyone want to fill me in..

    it makes more sense to me to allow players to find the team that fits their style the best..

  5. 1. We’ll see what FCD plans for the future. Szetela upgrades their roster but they may lose out at a chance to get DMB.

    2. I suspect the timing on this is a function of:
    –MLS now has an open window for signing players from foreign leagues (and a month ago that wasn’t true unless you were reeleased), and…
    –With the start of most euro club preseason prep, he was probably told by his club coach “you’re not in our plans” at which point he started looking for someplace where he can get minutes.

    3. As to how good of a player he is, I think that’s a function of the system he plays in and the amount of PT he gets. Feilhaber has mostly had 2 years of crap and looked bad. But given some PT to burn off the rust, he show’s that he’s a good fit for BB’s way of doing things.

    I think the potential fit with DCU is that with Gomez, they like to play a 3-5-2. And Szetela makes a fine holding mid.

    4. As for those complaining about choice, Szetela actually has a lot of choice. He doesn’t half to sign with MLS and can probably go to other leagues around the world. And I bet his agent has talked to some MLS clubs–he (Szetela) ain’t signing with MLS going into this blind. He already knows what clubs are really interested in him.

  6. Know what this means? DMB coming back, Danny?

    The days of playing in Europe somehwere (even the lower leagues), or not playing but just being in Europe, does not mean you are Nat team material anymore!!!!!

    Hooray! I’ve been waiting for this day. Mostly pros on our U20’s, guys having to prove themselves for the Ntas, lowe end Euro guy sin 3rd an 4th divisions are not gonna be in the Nats picture anymore. Good stuff. Growth. Over the next several years the comp/pressure is gonna increase. We are finally “really” getting there. Slowly but surely.

    Danny has ability but I have always wondered about his professionalism/drive. You gotta really want it. Here’s hoping he comes over and makes an impression.

  7. I never got the message that Crayton was an ego problem. He was a very emotional guy but he seemed like a very good teammate.

  8. I’d have to think that after Crayton, Tommy Soehn has become wary about ego issues that could disrupt the locker room. If you can’t deal with him off the field, it makes it all the more difficult to deal with him on it, and that’s crucial. Team cohesion has played a role in every instance of a successful United season.

    That said, Olsen does need a protege, and Jacobsen doesn’t seem to be cutting it. Szetela could be a great fit if he’s learned some humility on Brescia’s bench.

  9. How about DCU takes Szetela and then trades him for Jeremy Hall. Bulls get a Jersey Boy and DCU gets another UMd grad (we’ll try to pry Omar and AJ away from LA later when they need to replenish their supply of old men).

  10. I’d like to see Danny play for his hometown team, cause we sure could use him. Hopefully we’ll hear some rumors to see what DC or Dallas wants for his rights. Wherever he lands, I hope he can get his career back on track as he has talent and he’s still only 22.

    And for the couple guys who are killing him forhis attitude when he was picked by Columbus, he was what, 17 years old? How did you expect him to act? He’s been a pro for 5 years and has seen lots of ups and downs, so you’d hope that he’s matured. But to be down on him for comments made when he was a disappointed teenager is a little much.

  11. I’d rather have Szetela than Beasley. Beasley doesn’t have much left. Szetela could be a top player in the league for years.

  12. DC could groom him to be Olsen’s replacement, as they have been preparing Tino Quaranta to be Moreno’s. But I’m not sure DC would want to do that to a player who has ambitions to be elsewhere. I would hope Kevin Payne says something along the lines of, “This is how United rolls, we only want you if you’re committed.”

    If not, DC could either draft him and trade him or wait for Adu to come back (who would be a fantastic fit for DC, or does RSL retain his rights?). I almost hate to say it, but Beasley would also be a great fit for United a la Earnie Stewart.

  13. Douchebag Danny back in MLS? This guy was nothing but had the ego of greatness. He had one good youth tournament and a spot game here or there; people slobbered a bit to start saying his name. Jumped ship and crashed now there too with two different clubs. Comes back with his tail between his legs and people are still talking about the one stupid tournament and WC2010 roster comments which are laughable. Creative midfielder he is not only slightly better than an Armas in his distribution as a DM.

    Maybe he’s grown up some but he was essentially crybabying when Columbus got him even though he thought he could demand Metrostar at the time as a draftee. His picture with the Columbus scarf and hat is worth a 1000 words with his faced flushed and pissed off. He’ll have to prove maturity and effectiveness before he gets a pass from me.

  14. Doesn’t sound right that the kid is coming home already. Guess its better to be a small fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in an ocean?


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