It’s been a relatively quiet offseason for the Black-and-Red, but over the past couple of weeks more than a few things have happened, including the latest being Ben Olsen receiving an extension to remain the head coach until 2021. The Washington Post’s Steven Goff broke this news two weeks ago, but the official announcement came earlier today from the club. There have been a few additions to the club in terms of players as well. With training camp starting January 21st, this isn’t a bad time to get caught up.
The extension for Olsen shouldn’t be surprising in the least. Prior to last season, the club hasn’t always been as active or aggressive in pursuing players. For a while they relied on getting veteran players and trying to gut out wins. That changed over the last two years with Audi Field coming closer to being open. Acosta, Asad, Canouse, and Arriola were all acquired in one season. Last year the big splash of landing Wayne Rooney and bringing back Bill Hamid played a huge role in the 11-2-4 to close the year, taking D.C. United from the bottom of the East to a fourth seed in the postseason. Along the way “Benny Ball” changed quite a bit as a team that often had to play with a bunker type mentality saw it’s attack evolve into a creative, exciting flow that routinely put defense on their heels and the ball in the back of the net.
This is what Olsen had to say on receiving the extension. “I am proud and humbled to have been associated with this club for the last 21 years. I am thrilled that ownership has shown faith in the path my staff and I are taking with this extension. Our aim is to continue to put a team on the field that our fans and community will identify with and be proud of. The major goal, however, remains the same since the day I took the job and that’s to bring trophies back to D.C.”
The Black-and-Red added another talented youngster to their midfield as well, acquiring Lucas Rodriguez on a year long loan. From the clubs press release: D.C. United have acquired midfielder Lucas Rodríguez on a year-long loan with an option for a permanent transfer from Club Estudiantes de La Plata of the Argentine Primera División pending receipt of his P1 visa and ITC. D.C. United will send $50,000 of General Allocation Money (GAM) to Atlanta United in exchange for the player’s discovery rights.
In terms of the fit, it gives D.C. United another quality attacking player that can put a defense on their heels. We’ve seen the way Luciano Acosta has been able to wreak havoc on opposing teams with his ability to break players down in 1v1 and sometimes 1v2 situations. It’s been said that he can play all across midfield, be it centrally or outside on the wing. With the Yamil Asad situation still up in air, in regards to whether he returns or not, this signing definitely takes away some of the pain of Yamil isn’t retained. Lucas has played with Lucho in the past, so that familiarity certainly can’t hurt. Most importantly, another very dynamic player has been added to an attack that got more and more creative during the second half of the season.The clubs general manager, Dave Kasper had this to say. “At 21, he has been a consistent starter at the top level of Argentine soccer over the last three seasons and has both Copa Liberatadores and U-20 World Cup experience with Argentina. Lucas can play any of the attacking positions centrally and in wide areas, and has all the qualities to succeed in Major League Soccer. We are looking forward to welcoming Lucas to the team and having him represent the Black-and-Red.”
The MLS SuperDraft was last weekend, in the First Round D.C. United selected Akeem Ward. The versatile defender was regarded at the top right back in the draft, he’s capable of playing both right and left. It’s an area of need for the Black-and-Red as Nick DeLeon is no longer with the team. Leaving Joseph Mora, O’neil Fisher(coming off an ACL injury) and Paul Arriola who spent some time back there after Fisher went down. Not to be forgotten, Chris Odoi-Atsem is undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Also selected were Leandro Alves and Shinya Kadono in the third round. The Black-and-Red also acquired veteran keeper Chris Seitz in a draft day trade.
Ian Harks has signed a two-year contract with Dundee United, they play in the second tier of Scotland’s League Championship.
With training camp approaching, it’s fair to assume that there are still several moves to be made as the situation at outside back isn’t fully cleared up. Finding a backup to Rooney up top can’t be too far down on that list of priorities either. Depth at centre back may be on that list as well.