2020 Season Preview: D.C. United

After the short-lived era of LuchoRoo came to an end ... it’s all change in D.C. for 2020.

Ben Olsen will return for a 10th season as coach but will have some heralded new arrivals at his disposal after the club spent significant sums in an effort to both replace Luciano Acosta and Wayne Rooney and in an attempt to deliver D.C. United its fifth MLS Cup title and first since 2004. However. a potentially serious knee injury suffered by key midfielder Paul Arriola in preseason looks to have dealt the team an early blow.

2019 Finish

  • MLS Reg. Season: 50 points (13W-10L-11D), 5th in East / 10th overall
  • MLS Cup Playoffs: Eliminated in Eastern Conf. Round One (vs. Toronto FC)
  • U.S. Open Cup: Eliminated in Rd. of 16 (vs. NYCFC)

Star players

  • Edison Flores — A regular contributor of goals and assists for club and country over the years, there is every reason to believe that the Peruvian winger/attacking midfielder can be the new creative hub in D.C.
  • Ola Kamara — After scoring three goals in five appearances following his arrival last August and with ample talent supporting him, Kamara should find the net on a regular basis in 2020.
  • Bill Hamid — After he tied for the league-lead in shutouts and set the benchmark for save percentage in 2019, D.C. United didn't have to think too hard about bringing the U.S. international goalkeeper back from FC Midtjylland on a permanent basis this offseason.

Extratime Analysis: D.C. United

Key acquisitions and departures

  • IN: Edison Flores — His club-record signing from Liga MX’s Morelia was a major statement of intent by the club.
  • IN: Julian Gressel — While there has been much debate over whether the up to $1.1 million in allocation money D.C. paid for the versatile defender/midfielder was value for money, there can be no doubt that if he can replicate his production in Atlanta then it will be money very well spent.
  • IN: Yamil Asad — With 21 assists and 16 goals during his previous two spells in MLS — on loan to D.C. United and Atlanta United — expectation is high for the gifted Argentine winger.
  • OUT: Wayne Rooney — England’s record goalscorer burned brightly during his time in D.C. even if his stay was shorter than many hoped and his production tailed off as his exit to Derby County drew near.
  • OUT: Luciano Acosta - The Argentine No. 10 missed out on a move to Paris Saint-Germain and was subsequently never the same in 2019 before moving to Liga MX’s Atlas.
  • OUT: Lucas Rodriguez — Featured in all but one of D.C. regular-season games last season, but the attacking midfielder will not return after the expiration of his loan deal.
     

Projected Starting XI

2020 Roster

  • Goalkeepers (3): Earl Edwards Jr., Bill Hamid, Chris Seitz
  • Defenders (6): Steven Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Oniel Fisher, Joseph Mora, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Donovan Pines
  • Midfielders (12): Paul Arriola, Yamil Asad, Emmanuel Boateng, Russell Canouse, Edison Flores, Julian Gressel, Felipe Martins, Junior Moreno, Moses Nyeman, Kevin Paredes, Ulises Segura, Griffin Yow
  • Forwards (1): Ola Kamara

Armchair Analyst: Strengths and weaknesses

  • Strength: D.C. have no holes in their starting XI, with guys who are solid-or-better everywhere. If ours is conceived of as a weak link sport, it’s hard to look at United and find one. They also have returned most of the key pieces from one of the league’s best defenses last year, with a potential upgrade at RB in the form of Julian Gressel.
  • Weakness: How many of those “solid-or-better” players are top five at their respective positions in MLS? A few of them – Gressel, Bill Hamid, Ola Kamara and newly arrived record signing Edison Flores – have the potential to be, but nothing’s guaranteed there. And they’re thin on the backline as currently constructed.

Predictions

  • Ben Baer: 3rd in East
  • Marcelo Balboa (Univision): 7th in East
  • Calen Carr: 6th in East
  • Charlie Davies: 6th in East
  • Matt Doyle: 8th in East
  • Kristian Jack (TSN): 8th in East
  • Frederic Lord (TVA Sports): 7th in East
Series: