D.C. United 2021 Season Preview

It’s a new era for D.C. United. For the first time in a decade, a new head coach is in place.

Rising Argentine manager Hernan Losada takes the big seat on the bench. He’s the youngest active coach in the league and was highly-rated during his time with Beerschot in Belgium, promising to bring a high-energy, exciting style to United.

2020 season

  • MLS Reg. Season: 13th place in Eastern Conference (21 pts - 0.91 PPG - 5-12-6, -16 GD)
  • Audi MLS Cup Playoffs: DNQ

Star Players

Edison Flores
Midfielder · D.C. United

The league suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent injuries made his debut MLS campaign a bit of a throwaway year, but D.C.’s club-record signing gets a fresh start in 2021 under Losada. Will Flores play as a No. 10, second striker or on the wing?

Julian Gressel
Defender · D.C. United

Another one of the club’s big 2020 signings who didn’t enjoy a great debut year with the club. The versatile Gressel could be set to return to right wingback, a position he excelled at in Atlanta, if Losada plays a 3-5-2 formation as theorized by many.

Steven Birnbaum
Defender · D.C. United

Birnbaum will be out for the first couple of months of the season, but the center back will anchor the backline once again when he’s fit. He started every single game D.C. played between 2018-19.

Young Player to Watch

Moses Nyeman
Midfielder · D.C. United

Nyeman has already been earmarked as a name to watch after being recognized by The Guardian as one of the world’s top rising prospects. The 17-year-old impressed over 11 appearances (five starts) last year and should be set for more in 2021.

Key Acquisitions

  • Nigel Robertha: Signed from the Bulgarian top flight, Robertha had 20 goals and eight assists in 39 games with PFC Levski Sofia. The 23-year-old forward had previously played for SC Cambuur-Leeuwarden in Holland’s second division.
  • Jovanny Bolivar: Another forward, Bolivar arrives from Deportivo La Guaira on loan with a purchase option. The 19-year-old is a Venezuelan youth international and gives Losada another option in attack.
  • Brendan Hines-Ike: Hines-Ike is an American center back who had spent the last half-decade in Europe. He most recently featured for K.V. Kortrijk in Belgium, where Losada would have been plenty familiar with him.

Key Departures

  • N/A: With Paul Arriola’s loan to Swansea City cut short due to injury, D.C. aren’t missing many regulars from last year’s team.

Projected Starting XI

dc united projected xi

2021 Roster

  • Goalkeepers (3): Bill Hamid, Jon Kempin, Chris Seitz
  • Defenders (8): Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Michael DeShields, Jacob Greene, Brendan Hines-Ike, Joseph Mora, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Donovan Pines
  • Midfielders (10): Paul Arriola, Yamil Asad, Russell Canouse, Edison Flores, Julian Gressel, Felipe Martins, Junior Moreno, Moses Nyeman, Kevin Paredes, Griffin Yow
  • Forwards (7): Jovanny Bolivar, Ola Kamara, Adrien Perez, Yordy Reyna, Nigel Robertha, Kimarni Smith, Erik Sorga

Armchair Analyst's Breakdown

  • Strength: Uhhh… tbd? I’ll say that based upon early reports it seems like Losada’s gotten buy-in across the roster and the group seems to be reinvigorated, which was a clear necessity. If that’s the case, maybe Losada can take what’s not an overwhelming amount of talent and knit it together into a group that plays as more than the sum of its individual parts.
  • Weakness: This was one of the worst teams in MLS last season and they haven’t made many adjustments to the roster. That’s left them thin in defense and very questionable in attack — though I do quite like the potential of their midfield.


  • Charles Boehm: 12th in East
  • Tom Bogert: 13th in East
  • Susannah Collins: 10th in East
  • Charlie Davies: 9th in East
  • Matthew Doyle: 10th in East
  • Sam Jones: 13th in East
  • Michael Lahoud: 12th in East
  • Joe Lowery: 13th in East
  • Jillian Sakovits: 12th in East
  • Greg Seltzer: 12th in East
  • Steve Zakuani: 12th in East