Additions to ownership group have United dreaming big
WASHINGTON — When they say that the addition of Erick Thohir and Jason Levien as D.C. United co-owners is a game-changer, they aren't kidding.
On Tuesday, the duo were presented to media and fans as the newest partners in the ownership group that previously saw Will Chang flying solo. The new resources they bring to the table have the club dreaming big.
"We really don’t have any restrictions to what we can do," United president Kevin Payne told media at a local hotel. "It doesn’t mean we’re going to rush out and do silly things and throw money around. But at least as we’re planning, we know within reason we can do pretty much whatever we need to do to grow the brand. That’s the way we’re going to approach the business."
That starts with the pursuit of a new stadium, which will fall under the purview of Levien, a veteran of the local D.C. political scene and a member of former President Bill Clinton's White House staff.
"We see a pathway [to a stadium] and we also know that we’re going to have to use our machete to get there and we’re ready to do so," Levien said during Tuesday's press conference. "We know there are going to be some hurdles along the way and we’re excited and energized to take them on."
WATCH: DC United unveil new owners
The potential to acquire designated players is also enhanced. D.C.'s ownership trident spoke about it openly on Tuesday, with Thohir revealing his thoughts that the Eastern Conference leaders could still use one or two player acquisitions.
"Will, Eric and I have spent a lot of time together talking about DP opportunities and our sense is that it’s great we have the resources to look for those opportunities," Levien said.
Added Thohir: "We’re willing to spend money, but we don’t want to break the atmosphere coach Ben [Olsen] has done with the team. The team is under the right direction."
D.C. United may find themselves atop the East these days based on the results during league play. But it's the new blood in the club's investor group that really has the four-time MLS Cup champs feeling they could reclaim their place as the league's elite club.
"There’s a different feeling right now about our club and it reminds me of the way we always did feel about our club until the last couple of years," Payne told MLSsoccer.com. "Having new investors — young, vibrant youthful investors — with a really broad perspective and a global view of the game. And if we make progress on a stadium, I think we’re going to go back to a level where we’re looked as the gold standard of the league. Again."