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D.C. United Season Preview - There's only one way to go

The District’s Major League Soccer team is BACK.

D.C. United returns to action on Saturday night, hosting Toronto in the regular season opener. For the Black-and-Red, a new season cannot come soon enough.

DCU had the worst record in MLS last year and enter 2023 with a handful of new faces both on and off the field, most notably the new head coach.

Wayne Rooney played at D.C. United in 2018 and 2019 and is back to take over as the ninth head coach since the team was founded in 1994. Rooney replaces Hernan Losada, who didn’t even last two seasons in D.C.

Photo: Courtesy of D.C. United

Rooney was brought in on July 12, 2022. In 14 games, D.C. won twice, tied three time and lost nine. His task in the offseason was to try to bring in some pieces to get the team out of the basement of the league.

The team has missed out on the playoffs for three straight seasons and it’ll be up to Rooney and his staff to end that streak swiftly.

In this article, we take a look at D.C. United overall; where they were, where they are and where they’re going.

There’s only one way to go.



Nuts & Bolts:

  • 2022 Record: 7-6-21 (27 points, 14th out of 14 in Eastern Conference)

  • 8th worst season by any team in MLS history

  • Head Coach: Wayne Rooney (1st full season, 2-3-9 as head coach)

  • Stadium: Audi Field (Since 2018)

  • How to Watch: MLS Season Pass via Apple TV

  • History:

  • MLS Cup Champions: 1996, 1997, 1999, 2004

  • Eastern Conference Champions: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2004

  • Eastern Conference Regular Season Champions: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2006, 2007, 2014

  • Playoff Appearances: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019,

  • 2022 Stats:

  • Full season stats available HERE

  • Goals for: 36

  • Goals against: 68 - T-10th worst of all time

  • Reserve Team: Loudon United FC - USL Championship

  • Follow Along on Twitter

  • Zach Penrice - DMV Sports:


Last Season

It’s a good thing for D.C. United that relegation doesn’t exist in American soccer because if it did the team wouldn’t be in MLS for the 2023 season.

The Black-and-Red had the worst record in the league last year at 7-6-21, which is also the eighth worst record by any team in league history.

Two of D.C.’s seven wins came in the first two games, with back-to-back shutouts over Charlotte and Cincinnati to open up the year.

It took seven games for the team to grab two more wins and before long the squad was dead last in the league, where they’d stay for the rest of the season.

Head Coach Hernan Losada was fired on April 20 after four straight losses and it wasn’t until July 12 that the club brought

in Wayne Rooney as its next head coach.

Rooney struggled as manager for the final half of the season, winning just two of his 14 games in charge.

United’s big splash came in the form of a transfer as the club brought in forward Christian Benteke from Crystal Palace in early August.

Photo: Wayne Rooney and Christian Benteke embrace after a game at New York City FC / Courtesy of D.C. United

Benteke spent ten seasons in England’s Premier League with Aston Villa, Liverpool and Crystal Palace, scoring 77 goals in what is widely considered the world’s best league across the ten seasons.

His best years are most assuredly behind him, but Rooney will need the 32-year-old Belgian striker to be the teams premier goalscorer in 2023.

“If we get him scoring goals and playing the way we know he can play, he will be a huge player for us,” Rooney said.


Who’s Out

  • Antonio Alfaro - Defender

  • Contract option declined, joined NYCFC in December 2022

  • Miguel Berry - Forward

  • Joined Atlanta United for 2023 season

  • Zoumana Diarra - Midfielder

  • Beginning 2023 season at Loudon United

  • Sofiane Djeffal - Midfielder

  • Joined Austin FC for the 2023 season

  • Michael Estrada - Forward

  • Loaned back to Toluca, out on loan at Cruz Azul

  • Edison Flores - Winger

  • Joined Atlas for the 2023 season

  • Tyler Freeman - Forward

  • Signed with Nashville SC on January 3, 2023

  • Julian Gressel - Midfielder

  • Traded to Vancouver Whitecaps in July 2022 in exchange for $900,000

  • Sami Guediri - Defender

  • Joined ES Setif for 2023 season

  • Bill Hamid - Goalkeeper

  • Transferred to Dundee United on February 23, 2023

  • Rio Hope-Gund - Defender

  • Beginning 2023 season at Loudon United

  • Dane Jacomen - Goalkeeper

  • Out on loan from Loudon United to Charlotte Independence

  • Jon Kempin - Goalkeeper

  • Contract option declined by D.C. United

  • Houssou Landry - Midfielder

  • On loan at Loudon United from ASI D’Abengourou

  • Skage Lehland - Midfielder/Forward

  • Joined Detroit City for the 2023 season

  • Azaad Liadi - Winger

  • Joined Huntsville City for the 2023 season

  • Moses Nyeman - Midfielder

  • On loan to Real Salt Lake from Beveren

  • David Ochoa - Goalkeeper

  • Joined Atletico San Luis for 2023 season

  • Chris Odoi-Atsem - Defender

  • Contract option declined by D.C. United

  • Adrien Perez - Forward

  • Joined Empire Strykers for 2023 season

  • Rafael Romo - Goalkeeper

  • Joined Universidad Catolica for 2023 season

  • Drew Skundrich - Midfielder

  • Joined Colorado Springs Switchbacks for the 2023 season

  • Brad Smith - Defender

  • Joined Houston Dynamo for the 2023 season

  • Kimarni Smith - Forward

  • Joined San Antonio FC for the 2023 season

  • Griffin Yow - Forward/Winger

  • Sold by D.C. United to Westerlo

  • Abdoul Zanne - Midfielder

  • Beginning 2023 season with Loudon United


Who’s In

  • Mohanad Jeahze - Defender

  • Signed on December 7 after a two-year stint at Hammarby IF in Sweden

  • Mateusz Klich - Midfielder

  • Transferred from Leeds United

  • Tyler Miller - Goalkeeper

  • Signed as a free agent on November 23, 2022. Spent last three years with Minnesota

  • Pedro Santos - Defender

  • Joined D.C. United after six seasons with the Columbus Crew

  • Ruan Gregório Gregorio Teixeira - Defender

  • Acquired in trade with Orlando

  • Derrick Williams - Defender

  • Acquired in trade with LA Galaxy, out with leg injury to start 2023


Who’s Back

  • Matai Akinmboni - Defender

  • The 16-year-old had two appearances for D.C. last season

  • Christian Benteke - Forward

  • Transferred from Crystal Palace in August 2022

  • Steve Birnbaum - Defender

  • Been with D.C. since 2014

  • Russell Canouse - Midfielder

  • Been with D.C. since 2017

  • Chris Durkin - Midfielder

  • Traded to D.C. in March 2022

  • Kristian Fletcher - Forward

  • Two appearances for D.C. in 2022

  • Taxiarchis Fountas - Forward

  • Transferred from Rapid Vienna in Spring 2022

  • Jeremy Garay - Midfielder

  • Third season with D.C. - Zero appearances with the club

  • Jacob Greene - Midfielder/Defender

  • Third season with D.C. - Zero appearances with the club

  • Brendan Hines-Ike - Defender

  • Second season with D.C.

  • Jackson Hopkins - Midfielder

  • Second season with D.C.

  • Ola Kamara - Forward

  • Fifth season with D.C. - 32 goals in 80 appearances

  • Theodore Ku-Dipietro - Midfielder

  • Second season with D.C.

  • Ravel Morrison - Midfielder

  • Second season with D.C.

  • Andy Najar - Defender

  • Third season in D.C.

  • Victor Palsson - Midfielder

  • Second season in D.C.

  • Donovan Pines - Defender

  • Fifth season in D.C.

  • Nigel Robertha - Forward

  • Third season in D.C.

  • Martín Rodriguez - Midfielder

  • Second season in D.C. - Out for the year with ACL Injury

  • Gaoussou Samake - Defender

  • Second season in D.C.

  • Hayden Sargis - Defender

  • Spent 2022 on loan at Loudon United and Phoenix Rising

  • Luis Zamudio - Goalkeeper

  • Spent 2022 at Loudon United


This Season

How do you measure success when you were the worst team in the league last year? D.C. United has done the opposite of sit on its hands, rather the club has found a new head coach in the form of a legendary player while acquiring on-field talent that has performed on some of the biggest stages in the sport.

Christian Benteke, along with Mateusz Klich and Taxiarchris Fountas are the highlighted acquisitions that will spend their first full seasons in D.C. The club added nine players overall this past offseason.

“Taxi [Fountas], and Christian [Benteke] got a taste of what the league’s like,” defender and team captain, Steve Birnbaum said. “[Mateusz] Klich coming in, he’s been really lively. He wants to be on the ball, he wants to create for us, and that’s what we want. He’s going to dictate the game a lot for us.”

In the 14 games that Rooney managed, D.C. used four different formation combinations, all with four defenders and usually running with multiple attackers up front.

I expect D.C. to come out with a point to prove early in 2023. The team was a laughing stock last year and is filled with players and coaches who are not used to being on losing sides.

The squad should have all the motivation it needs to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2019.



12-9-13 MLS regular season record, 45 points, 9th in Eastern Conference, misses playoffs

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