With D.C. United’s season over, here’s what it has and what it needs

D.C. United performed what was probably the final native group recreation at RFK Stadium on Oct. 22, in entrance of a crowd of 41,418 — the biggest in 10 years. (Thomas Johnson,Joyce Koh/The Washington Post)

D.C. United‘s season ended Sunday awash in sentimentality a couple of fading stadium and disappointment a couple of last-place efficiency. Missing the MLS playoffs for the primary time in 4 years has afforded the teaching workers and entrance workplace prolonged time to guage the roster and start concentrating on acquisitions earlier than coaching camp begins in earnest in late January in Clearwater, Fla.

United’s 9-20-5 file and 32 factors had been the third poorest in membership historical past — all three have come since 2010 — and left D.C. tied with the Los Angeles Galaxy for the worst mark within the 22-team league. United was the one group to lose 20 occasions and completed with the crummiest objective differential (minus-29). After 5 late-summer strikes and three consecutive victories, D.C. went out on a 1-5-1 skid, culminating with a 2-1 defeat to the New York Red Bulls within the RFK Stadium farewell Sunday.

After mid-May, United by no means rose above ninth place. The U.S. Open Cup marketing campaign ended after two matches, within the spherical of 16.

With administration sustaining religion in his teaching potential — and pledging to present him the instruments to compete after many frugal, make-the-best-of-it years — Ben Olsen will maintain his job and return for an eighth season. He’s second in MLS tenure behind Sporting Kansas City’s Peter Vermes.

With the promise of a bigger payroll and a brand new stadium at Buzzard Point, Olsen will come below growing strain to win. Because of the schedule, although, the membership will supply him some slack: Audi Field won’t open till the summer time — the tentative debut is June 30 — and United will begin the season with a heavy load of away matches.

MLS has but to find out whether or not it can match all of United’s 17 house dates into the final 4 months of the season. If it can’t, the membership should organize a couple of “home” video games within the spring at various venues within the area. United won’t return to RFK Stadium or play at Nationals Park, which is 2 blocks from Audi Field. The Redskins’ FedEx Field additionally appears unlikely due to the price and measurement. That leaves Richmond, College Park, Annapolis and Baltimore.

There are solely seven weekends between late June and late September when the Washington Nationals are out of city. (The Nats might need playoff video games in October, although with such uncertainty, United wouldn’t keep away from particular dates.)

United is working across the baseball schedule — which was finalized final month — and in search of to keep away from overlaps that will trigger main logistical and parking issues.

In 2010, whereas awaiting completion of Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa., the Philadelphia Union performed eight away matches, plus two house video games at Lincoln Financial Field, house of the NFL’s Eagles. The debut within the new stadium happened June 27.

Regardless of location, United might want to tackle a number of positions. This summer time’s spree bolstered the midfield with three starters — left wing Zoltan Stieber, proper wing Paul Arriola and defensive midfielder Russell Canouse — and equipped the potential first-choice goalkeeper (Steve Clark) in addition to an attacking prospect (Bruno Miranda).

“The reboot was a good one. We needed to be nearly perfect once we rebooted” to make a long-shot playoff push, Olsen stated. “Not quite a bit went our means, and that’s often the case if you sit in final place. The group now we have proper now, I believe you’ll be able to see some excellent stuff there.

“We have a variety of work to do, however we’re very enthusiastic about what we will put collectively on this new constructing.”

General Manager Dave Kasper is making ready for a busy winter.

“We have a lot of very good pieces,” he stated, “but our work is definitely cut out for ourselves to make things better.”

Kasper stated the place to begin is the “spine” — goalkeeper, central protection and midfield, as much as the striker.

Here’s a have a look at the present roster, by place:

Goalkeepers: Bill Hamid, the longest-serving participant on the roster and prime starter for seven seasons, turned down a proposal from United than would’ve a minimum of doubled his base wage. Instead, with a starvation to play in Europe, he selected free company and signed a pre-contract with Midtjylland in Denmark. He’ll be a part of his new membership when the winter switch window opens in January.

“He has really wanted this,” Kasper stated. “Every offseason for as far as I can remember he was in my office, he was in Ben’s office, talking about ‘Where can I go train? I want to get seen. I want some exposure. And I want to talk about a potential move.’ That day is finally here for him.”

Clark, a three-year starter in Columbus earlier than spending six months with Danish membership Horsens, began the final 5 United matches and will enter the winter break because the first-choice keeper. The membership can be out there for somebody who will problem Clark for the beginning job. The others on the roster, Travis Worra and Eric Klenofsky, appear extra suited to vie for the No. three position.

Defenders: The again line was in flux all season as middle again Bobby Boswell departed through summer time commerce; middle again Steve Birnbaum missed time on three events with concussions; left again Taylor Kemp skipped the final 11 matches with a hernia harm; Sean Franklin’s conversion from the suitable aspect to middle fizzled; Nick DeLeon shuttled between the again line and midfield, and additionally underwent hernia surgical procedure; Chris Korb and Chris Odoi-Atsem stuffed voids on the corners; and Jalen Robinson gained 5 late-season begins within the center.

Olsen used 15 totally different mixtures.

Even if Birnbaum returns to kind, United will want one other middle again to strengthen the center. DeLeon’s versatility is effective. Franklin appears unlikely to return.

Midfielders: United has a robust core with Stieber, Arriola, Canouse, Luciano Acosta, Ian Harkes and Lloyd Sam (assuming the membership workouts its possibility on the English winger).

Decisions await on defensive midfielder Marcelo Sarvas, 36; central midfielder Jared Jeffrey, who didn’t play within the final eight matches; Rob Vincent, whose knee harm sidelined him for all however the first two matches; and Julian Buescher, the 2016 first-round draft choose who was loaned to second-tier Rochester late within the season.

Patrick Nyarko, a stable performer on the wings for 1 1/2 seasons, didn’t play after July 22 due to his eighth concussion in 10 years. It’s unclear whether or not he’ll resume his profession. Chris Rolfe, a standout attacker in 2014-15, has not recovered from a concussion suffered 18 months in the past and, though he was on the roster all 12 months, successfully retired.

Nyarko, Rolfe, Franklin, Boswell and Hamid accounted for about $1.four million on the $three.845 million wage cap this 12 months. (Some of that new cap house will go towards the contracts of gamers who joined this summer time.)

The membership is excessive on homegrown signing Chris Durkin, a U.S. starter on the Under-17 World Cup. He can play defensive midfield or middle again. After enjoying on mortgage with second-tier Richmond and showing in United’s U.S. Open Cup matches, is he prepared for first-team minutes in 2018? United can be holding an in depth eye on homegrown prospect Eryk Williamson, a large attacker from Alexandria who’s in his junior 12 months on the University of Maryland. He excelled with the U.S. under-20 squad.

Forwards: After going scoreless in 17 of 34 matches, United is out there for a confirmed striker. And it may use designated-player money to perform it.

Last winter, Chicago solved its scoring issues by signing Hungary’s Nemanja Nikolic to a $1.7 million base wage. He led the league with 24 objectives because the Fire rose from final place in 2016 to 3rd this 12 months.

Patrick Mullins is atop United’s depth chart, however his 5 objectives got here in two matches over 4 days final month. Overall, amid two harm setbacks, he appeared in 20 video games and began 12. Mullins’s greatest position would appear to be as a major reserve and spot starter.

Deshorn Brown arrived midseason and scored twice in 16 appearances. He has a large contract possibility in 2018, which United gained’t train however might restructure. More probably, although, he won’t return. Miranda, a 19-year-old Bolivian who made 5 substitute appearances, is on mortgage from Universidad de Chile by way of 2018.

Kasper was scouting in Argentina lately — he didn’t specify the targets or their positions — and plans to go to a number of South American nations quickly. United can have the second or third choose within the quite a few MLS participant acquisition platforms, behind the Galaxy and, in some instances, growth Los Angeles FC.

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