Friday, 14 Dec 2018

D.C. United plans to be part of a training camp in Asia or the Middle East

Seeking to capitalize on Wayne Rooney's worldwide fame, D.C. United is exploring the possibilities of leading a training camp away from home in early 2019, the Insider has learned.

Possible destinations include China, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia.

United will spend the bulk of the pre-season in Clearwater, Florida, but with international trips to the study, the schedule remains uncertain. MLS teams will begin official training sessions on January 21st.

Without giving further details, chief executive Dave Kasper said Wednesday that United is considering an "international destination" for part of the training camp and that the organization is finalizing its plans. People familiar with the team's plans said Saturday that Asia and the Middle East were at the rendezvous.

The Insider announced in July that Chinese promoters had approached United for a potential tour this winter, centered on Rooney, the former Manchester United superstar and the English national team that had joined DC last summer and inspired a push from last place to the playoffs.

Beyond his talents on the field, Rooney was brought to Washington with a multi-million dollar salary for his marketing power. With the striker on the list, United has enjoyed a global brand and visibility, especially in Europe.

Football is extremely popular in Asia and the Middle East, although the regions do not produce many high quality players and teams. Without a doubt, Rooney and United would attract large crowds for appearances, open workouts and friendlies.

With the English icon David Beckham employed between 2007 and 2012, the Los Angeles Galaxy has made it to China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia.

In the United States, United usually organizes warm-weather training camps, such as the West Coast of Florida, Orlando, Austin and Charleston, S.C.

The team sometimes traveled abroad to attend preparatory training sessions and matches: Japan and Hong Kong in 1997; Bermuda in 1999; and Spain in 2006. In addition, Concacaf competitions brought United to Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean earlier this year.

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