By adding a trio of proven MLS players ahead of the close of the 2019 MLS Secondary Transfer Window, D.C. United GM Dave Kasper believes his team can still make the most of the final weeks of Wayne Rooney's tenure with the club before he returns to England.
"This being Wayne's last year, we want to finish strong and make a deep run," Kasper said in an exclusive interview with MLSsoccer.com.
"Wayne knows what lies with his future, his teammates know what lies with the future and the group collectively can say 'Listen, we're now in the final stretch, we know who we are, what we have, especially with the new additions. Let's get to work and let's compete for a trophy this year.'"
Those new additions of Ola Kamara, Emmanuel Boateng and Felipe -- "Guys that understand the league," as Kasper called them -- might not represent the final move made by the team before the Aug. 30 roster freeze.
Kasper told MLSsoccer.com that the club would continue to weigh potential offers for Luciano Acosta, whose MLS contract expires at season's end, before the summer windows close in other leagues.
"I think there’s flexibility with that," Kasper said via phone. "If he does move in the European window, or any league that has a window that extends beyond ours in Major League Soccer, we will be prepared for it. If he stays, we’ll have him as an option to make a deep run in the playoffs."
D.C. nearly sold Acosta to Paris Saint-Germain last winter before negotiations fell through very late and the No. 10 has been linked to several potential suitors abroad this summer. He could also depart D.C. after the season along with Rooney, who earlier this week officially accepted an offer of a player-coach role at English League Championship side Derby County beginning in January.
D.C. reportedly won't get a transfer fee for Rooney and wouldn't for Acosta either should he play out the season in Washington. At the same time, Kasper still believes together there's a possibility for that duo to accomplish something special.
"We’ll weigh what Lucho can add to the team versus what’s on the table to move him," Kasper said. "We’ll just have to take it as it comes."
Kasper also pointed out the team would retain Acosta's MLS rights if he leaves on a free transfer.
"We see it more times than not, players when they leave the league, they want to come back in a short amount of time," Kasper said. "There will be future value there."
One such player was Kamara, the former Columbus Crew SC and LA Galaxy striker who played only five games in the 2019 Chinese Super League after scoring 14 goals for the Galaxy last year. The Norwegian international's acquisition was made official on transfer deadline day, shortly after separate acquisitions of Boateng and Felipe.
Kasper also confirmed the club "want to keep" goalkeeper Bill Hamid in D.C. beyond his 18-month loan from Danish side Midtjylland FC, which expires at the end of 2019, and "will certainly address that when the time is right."
As for Rooney's desire to move back to England, Kasper admitted it caught the team by surprise. However, he also feels that Kamara can eventually fill in for Rooney at center forward.
"I think the timing was actually good that we were still in this transfer window," Kasper said. "The Ola [Kamara] signing is great because he can help us right now, but he’s also a player that is going to fill a big hole with Wayne’s departure since Wayne has been playing in the No. 9 position.
"For me as a GM it allows me to see how this gels over the next three months, and now we can start working on knowing Wayne won't be here in January. We can start planning -- I can start planning -- to fill holes in the January window."