Well, it’s over. After a hard-fought, tumultuous season, DC United has been knocked out of the playoffs. In their first-round matchup against Toronto FC, they gave up four goals in the first period of extra time. With the game ending 5-1, the Rooney era in DC came to an end.
The last few games personified the season for DC, which included a 0-0 draw to the worst team in MLS history against a team down two players. It is evident that changes on the team need to be made, both on the field and in the front office.
On the field, changes have already begun. Talisman Wayne Rooney has already agreed to leave in December to become a player and assistant coach for English Championship side Derby County.Midfielder Luciano Acosta seems destined to leave upon his contract expiry in December as well. With winger Yamil Asad rejoining the club after a year in Argentina, and Bill Hamid implying that he wants to remain with the club in a recent meeting with the press, two key players are set to rejoin the squad in 2020.
With Rooney off the payroll, a designated roster spot has opened up, giving DC potential to sign loanee Winger Lucas Rodriguez to a long term deal. Just as the Nats got better while losing its biggest star ever, I think the same will happen for DC United.
The players will need to work harder to fill the void Rooney and Acosta will leave. This will open up opportunities both during the game and for younger players like Griffin Yow to get valuable playing time. If GM Dave Kasper can pull off a couple roster moves like he did at last year’s deadline, DC United might be a scary team to watch. That being said, there is still a lot of work to do.
During his now almost decade-long tenure as manager of the Black and Red, Ben Olsen has been good, but not great. While a managerial change isn’t necessary, it might become likely if DC wants to go in a new direction after Rooney’s departure. Dave Kasper has been great as GM. In the last several years, he has shown he can bring world-class players to the District, as well as established MLS talent like Forward Ola Kamara and Midfielder Felipe Martins.
What DC United needs are solid players to fit their style of play that also share the goals of the club and agree with the direction the organization wants to go. Fading European stars are not the answer to the club’s long-lasting mediocrity. Staying true to the club’s roots of homegrown stars and young South American talent combined with established MLS veterans could be the solution they are searching for to fix their struggles. Following that tried and tested formula might be what finally gets the nation’s capital back on top of the MLS.