The vision for D.C. United’s roster under new head coach Wayne Rooney is only in its infancy, with plenty of changes on the horizon.
Lucy Rushton, the Black-and-Red’s general manager, said as much on Tuesday’s MLS Today show.
“We're close on a few [deals],” Rushton said. “We've got a few additions we want to make in the next few weeks, so it's going to be a busy time. But exciting times, definitely.”
The wheels are already turning with fullback Julian Gressel getting traded to Vancouver Whitecaps FC for up to $900,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM). Earlier this summer, before Rooney’s arrival last week, they also opened a Designated Player spot when transferring midfielder Edison Flores to reigning Liga MX champions Atlas.
As for incomings, per MLSsoccer.com’s Tom Bogert, they’re acquiring striker Miguel Berry in a trade with the Columbus Crew for $225,000 in GAM and are close to signing Jamaican international midfielder Ravel Morrison, a free agent who played under Rooney at Derby County. They’re waiting for Chilean winger Martin Rodriguez to debut, too, after arriving from the Turkish top-flight in late June.
Busy times, indeed, that are just underway.
“Both players are of interest to us,” Rushton said of Berry and Morrison. “We’ve been talking to the clubs and we hope to get something over the line. I think you’ll see something probably in the next 24 hours which will give some clarification on both those situations. And hopefully that’s just the start for us because there’s certainly a couple more we want to bring in in the next few weeks, too.”
As moves carry through the summer window closing on Aug. 4, D.C. still await Rooney’s coaching debut. They’ve been led by interim boss Chad Ashton since parting ways with Hernan Losada on April 20, though face an uphill climb. D.C. have 18 points from 19 games, sitting bottom of the Eastern Conference and overall league tables.
In Rooney’s vision, Rushton believes a squad refresh is a net positive. They’re expected to switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation and scrap the high-pressure tactics that defined the Losada era.
“We probably need to go out and bring in some players as well that can hype the team up a little bit, bring a little bit of leadership too,” Rushton said. “I think that’s important to us. I think with the season we’ve had, to have some fresh faces in the building, it’s going to be a real plus to the group and it’s going to be competition for places.”
All the while, D.C. have two open Designated Player spots alongside 2022 MLS All-Star forward Taxi Fountas. It’s expected that Rooney’s global profile can pay dividends there, with players ranging from Luis Suarez to Jesse Lingard linked to the capital city club.
Until then, it’s crunch time over the next couple of weeks to try and salvage the year and plan for 2023.
“Wayne's coming at a time when we can still make changes to the roster,” Rushton said. “That's important for any coach, really, to be able to come in and maybe bring in some players that fit his style.”