As Audi Field makes progress toward completion, D.C. United still has issues to resolve

AUDIFIELD041 - As Audi Field makes progress toward completion, D.C. United still has issues to resolve
Audi Field will open this summer time in Southwest D.C., about two diagonal blocks from Nationals Park. (Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post)

D.C. United reached a development milestone at Audi Field on Friday with the set up of the final metal beam. A number of hundred followers and workers attended the ceremony on the bustling Buzzard Point plot in Southwest D.C., two diagonal blocks from Nationals Park.

While the festivities unfolded, two different essential issues remained works in progress: Ben Olsen’s roster and the placement of one of many two dwelling video games earlier than the brand new stadium opens July 14.

Let’s take a look at every concern:

The staff. United opened coaching camp final week in Washington earlier than transferring operations Sunday to Clearwater, Fla., for the primary of two visits to the Sunshine State throughout preseason. The first keep will culminate with a Feb. eight pleasant towards Swedish champion Malmo at IMG Academy in Bradenton.

Everyone on the preseason roster has reported to camp, besides three midfielders on U.S. nationwide staff responsibility: Paul Arriola, Ian Harkes and Russell Canouse. They are due to be a part of the squad within the coming days after nearly three weeks of exercises in Carson, Calif., and Sunday evening’s pleasant towards Bosnia at StubHub Center.

Four gamers searching for to earn contracts are in camp: Brazilian attackers Rafael Andrade Santos (Virginia Commonwealth) and Afonso Pinheiro (Albany), each MLS fourth-round draft picks this month; proper again Chris Odoi-Atsem, a 2017 first-round decide whose choice wasn’t exercised after final season; and proper again Sheanon Williams, an eight-year MLS veteran who was launched by the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Other trialists are doubtless to arrive in camp at varied factors, however United’s major purpose is to signal two Latin American gamers: an attacker and out of doors defender. Club officers declined to determine them. The attacker, they stated, would require focused allocation cash, which suggests he’s in a wage vary of $500,000 to $1 million.

There are apparently no plans, nonetheless, to signal a real striker at the moment, regardless of a roster with three front-line candidates who’ve by no means scored greater than eight objectives in a season. If Darren Mattocks, Patrick Mullins or Bruno Miranda don’t fill the void, United would doubtless readdress the corps through the summer time switch window.

The “home” opener. United administration wished to play all 17 dwelling matches at Audi Field. The league stated completely not. Its reasoning: Too many dwelling dates in a decent window, scheduling issues for the remainder of the league and a aggressive benefit down the stretch.

So United should play two video games at dwelling earlier than the brand new venue opens: March 17 and April 14. MLS is predicted to approve the placement on the latter date, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, for the Columbus Crew’s go to.

However, MLS has to this point balked at United’s proposed web site for the house opener towards the Houston Dynamo at Maryland SoccerPlex, a 5,200-capacity venue in higher Montgomery County that the staff has used nearly yearly for U.S. Open Cup matches. The league is anxious about an inadequate locker room for the referees; crowd management at a posh that may host a youth soccer match in addition to different occasions that day; and the TV optics at a small facility.

Neither aspect will remark, however sources stated there’s some optimism that they’ll attain a compromise and proceed as deliberate on the SoccerPlex. With the match lower than seven weeks away, a decision is required quickly. Most different believable choices within the space have scheduling conflicts that day.

United’s season opener is March three at Orlando.

The stadium. Eleven months down and 5 to go earlier than the inauguration of the 20,000-capacity venue, which can change RFK Stadium as United’s dwelling after 22 seasons.

United officers say development is on schedule and, even within the case of snow, climate delays have been constructed into the timetable. “A day here and a day there of snow, it’s no problem,” stated Tom Hunt, United’s president of enterprise operations. “If there’s a ‘snowmageddon,’ you just don’t know.”

United would really like to stage a gentle opening with restricted attendance for a sporting occasion of some type, however the timeline to full the challenge and obtain the certificates of occupancy from town authorities might be too tight, membership officers stated. (The first occasion at Nationals Park was a George Washington University baseball sport, eight days earlier than the 2008 grand opening.)

Hunt stated the staff has offered shut to 9,000 full season tickets — about 7,000 on the east and west sides and round 2,000 within the supporters’ group sections on the north finish. Partial plans usually are not but out there. United would cap season tickets at 12,500. Single-game seats won’t go on sale till May.

With no parking round Audi Field, ticket holders will want to use tons close to Nationals Park or take Metro. On Friday, a brisk stroll to the brand new digs from Navy Yard station alongside busy South Capitol Street took 12 minutes — about 5 minutes longer than the stroll to RFK from the Stadium-Armory station.

AUDIFIELD024 - As Audi Field makes progress toward completion, D.C. United still has issues to resolve
D.C. United fan Kristian Sookhal indicators the ultimate piece of structural metal. (Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post)
AUDIFIELD038 - As Audi Field makes progress toward completion, D.C. United still has issues to resolve
A glance inside Audi Field 5 half months earlier than the grand opening between United and the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 14. (Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post)

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