Author: Sam Stejskal | Cover illustration by Duane Tomaszewski
On the field, 2017 will be all about continuity for D.C. United. Off of it, it’ll be a bit of a transitory season, with United set to play one final year at RFK Stadium before moving into their very own Audi Field. After qualifying for the playoffs in three straight seasons but failing to make much noise in the postseason, D.C. will be looking to take the next step this year as they attempt to send their old park out in style.
Key Offseason Transactions
|KEY PLAYERS IN:||KEY PLAYERS OUT:|
|Ian Harkes (M)|
Sebastien Le Toux (M)
Jose Guillermo Ortiz (F) All transactions
|Kennedy Igboananike (F)|
Chris Korb (D)
Alvaro Saborio (F)
Player to watch: Luciano Acosta
He started his D.C. tenure slowly, but Acosta got things going by midseason, finishing his first year in MLS with three goals and 11 assists in 31 regular season appearances. United permanently acquired the little Argentine in November, paying the highest transfer fee in club history to sign him from Boca Juniors. They’ll expect the No. 10 to be their creative hub again in 2017, banking that a full year with striker Patrick Mullins will pay dividends in the East.
How they'll play
HEAD COACH - BEN OLSEN
Olsen has said that United will stay in the 4-1-4-1 setup that served the team so well down the stretch last year. That should mean plenty of looks for Mullins, whose midseason arrival from NYCFC in 2016 turned D.C. into the one of the more productive attacking teams in MLS and sparked one of the best offensive runs in club history.
Projected Starting XI
4-1-4-1, right to left: Bill Hamid (GK) — Nick DeLeon (D), Sean Franklin (D), Steve Birnbaum (D), Taylor Kemp (D) — Marcelo Sarvas (M) — Lloyd Sam (M), Jared Jeffrey (M), Luciano Acosta (M), Patrick Nyarko (M) – Patrick Mullins (F)
4th in Eastern Conference. D.C. don't quite have the talent level of Toronto or either of the New York teams, but United have a clear idea of who they are and an understanding of how to play together. Ben Olsen's group are deep at every position, very solid down the spine and shouldn't have much trouble making the playoffs for a fourth straight year.