"Mateusz is a first-rate midfielder who will add top-level experience to our roster," head coach Wayne Rooney said in a release. "I’ve been watching him since he helped lead Leeds to promotion to the Premier League and his vision, range of passing, and scoring ability will be a huge asset for us this season."
Talks between Klich and D.C. have spanned a while – a deal came close a month ago – but hurdles remained. Leeds manager Jesse Marsch hoped to convince Klich to stay, but the player was ready for a new challenge and a larger role. He first joined Leeds in 2017.
This year, Klich appeared in 14 Premier League games (all as a substitute), falling down the midfield depth chart after USMNT captain Tyler Adams joined in the summer and became a mainstay. Klich has 50 goals and 59 assists in 394 career club games, plus has featured 41 times on the international stage.
"This offseason was important for us to analyze our roster and see where we can make improvements after a disappointing 2022 season," Dave Kasper, D.C. United's president of soccer operations, said in a release.
"Bringing in a top-class Designated Player was atop our priority list, and Mateusz has played at the highest levels for both club and country. He will add a ton of experience in the midfield and will be an impact player for us this season and beyond. We’re excited to welcome him to the nation’s capital."
Klich was a fan favorite in England and arrives in D.C. as a key piece of the club's transformation. The Black-and-Red have revamped their defense this offseason, while around a dozen players have departed.
ORIGINAL (Dec. 9) – D.C. United are in advanced talks to sign Poland international central midfielder Mateusz Klich from Leeds United, sources tell MLSsoccer.com. The deal isn't 100% done, but has reached advanced stages.
Klich, 32, has 41 caps with Poland and has been with Leeds since 2017, joining when they were in the Championship (England's second division). The hard-working midfielder was an integral part of Leeds' promotion to the Premier League in 2019-20, appearing in 45 of the club's 46 league games as they won the title.
In the Premier League, Klich was a key player in avoiding relegation over the last two seasons, appearing in all but eight of Leeds' 76 matches between 2020-22. This season, with the addition of US men's national team captain Tyler Adams, Klich hasn't been as involved. He's appeared in 11 league matches, all off the bench.
Klich played in a friendly for Leeds United on Thursday, scoring the game-winning goal against LaLiga side Elche. As news broke before the game that D.C. United and others were interested in Klich, American manager Jesse Marsch was asked about his future.
"It's not totally clear yet. We should hold off on saying anything," Marsch said. "There's been conversations but nothing's concrete. Obviously there's a lot of love for Mateusz in the group, he's been incredible."
D.C. United fit
Klich is excited about a potential move to D.C. United, where he's expected to be a key player under head coach Wayne Rooney. Rooney took over at D.C. last summer and has helped overturn the roster, with 2023 his first full season after last leading Derby County in England.
Last summer transfer window, the Black-and-Red added the likes of striker Christian Benteke, midfielder Victor Palsson, forward Miguel Berry and midfielder Ravel Morrison. This winter, they've already signed MLS veterans Pedro Santos and Tyler Miller in free agency, plus acquired Iraq national team defender Mohanad Jeahze and traded for center back Derrick Williams.
In 2022, D.C. finished bottom of the overall and Eastern Conference tables. D.C. have missed the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the last three seasons.
Aside from Leeds, Klich has featured for the likes of Wolfsburg and Kaiserslautern in Germany as well as PEC Zwolle and FC Twente in the Netherlands after breaking through at Polish club Cracovia.