This is an exciting time for DC United as the 2021 season gets closer. Surrounded by optimism and marred by new faces, fans of DC are feeling feelings they haven’t felt in a long time. DC finished in 12th place last season in the eastern conference ahead of only FC Cincinnati and said goodbye to their longtime manager of the past decade, Ben Olsen. That 12th place finish was the icing on an already very bad cake.
But there are reasons for optimism, DC is forging a new path with a new leader and he looks to get them back to playing entertaining football. Here are 3 things to know.
New sheriff in town
While many teams go through managerial changes often, the same cannot be said for DC United. For the first time in TEN years, DC has a new manager in charge, Argentinian Hernán Losada. The change is long overdue and finally ushers in a new era for DC United. DCs coaching search went on for a while, even leading into 2021 before they chose their guy. DC is obviously not a fan of the managerial carousel so they took their time to get the right person for the job.
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A Buenos Aires native, Losada most recently managed in Belgium for club Beerschot, leading his team to promotion to the first division in his first season. At 38 he becomes the youngest manager in MLS, just like his predecessor. He speaks multiple languages including English, his first being Spanish.
Losada comes to Washington with a lot on his plate. An organization with the same manager for ten years creates a difficult task for the next manager. His style his vision will all take time to implement. Right now, DC resembles a team with some quality that’s not playing up to their potential, rather than a team with little quality at all.
Losada’s first goal will be getting the best players on DC to play their best soccer. This leads to our next point
Getting the most out of the stars
Losada’s first priority will be getting his star players back to playing their potential. Players like the german winger Julian Gressel and Peruvian attacking midfielder Edison Flores, both showed great potential and talent in previous years but that hasn’t been seen at DC United. DC hasn’t had an attacking maestro since Luciano Acosta, and they will need that to get back to winning ways.
Flores set a DC United transfer record with his $5 million sale from Morelia. Unfortunately, Flores never really found his form and later suffered a head injury that sidelined him for a few months. Losada will need his number 10 playing to his best if he wants to kickstart this team.
And there’s Julian Gressel. Gressel coming into the season is the highest valued player on DC’s roster, per Transfermarkt. But he hasn’t looked the same since his time with Atlanta. In his 22 appearances with DC, he’s scored only 2 goals and 0 assists. Gressel can be the dynamic player down the wing providing playmaking and goal-scoring, but Losada will need to get him there.
DC United and Losada will also be welcoming in some new players for the 2021 season. Nigel Robertha, Kimarni smith, Michael Deshields, and Logan Panchot. Robertha is the lone signing of the window for DC. He is a 23-year-old center forward who was previously playing for Levski Sofia. With no concrete plans for the attacking options at DC, Robertha should see some opportunities to prove what he can do.
DC also brings in their 2021 super draft picks. Smith and Deshields were selected 4th and 5th overall, Panchot was selected early in the second round at 32 overall. Smith, the ACC tournament MVP, is a forward/winger whos quick with his feet. Deshields is a center-back who plays aggressively and likes to get physical. Panchot, who was a captain at Standford last fall, looks to be a nice get for United at the 32 spot. A defender, primarily right back, could play down the field in a wingback role.
All these players are 22 or younger, and they will look to prove early that they belong on this team.