Team Profile: D.C. United
Year founded: 1994.
First season in MLS: 1996.
Stadium: Audi Field, Washington. D.C.
Honors: MLS Cup (1996-97, 1999, 2004), CONCACAF Champions Cup (1998), Supporters' Shield (1997, 1999, 2006-07), U.S. Open Cup (1996, 2008, 2013).
2023 highlights: the one thing which leaps out from D.C. United's 2023 schedule is that their regular season finishes two weeks before everybody else. With 29 teams in MLS this year, one team will watch on when decision Day Sunday comes around on October 21st. That team is D.C. United, who conclude their campaign at home to New York City on October 7th. They begin the season at home, entertaining Toronto FC. The two worst teams in the Eastern Conference last year meet at Audi Field on February 25th. From August 26th to September 23rd, Rooney's side plays five of six at home. When it comes to Western Conference opposition, they host LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, and San Jose Earthquakes, while traveling to FC Dallas, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Austin FC. They play six matches in both May and September.
Head Coach: Wayne Rooney.
Players to watch: Christian Benteke, Mateusz Klich, Taxiarchis Fountas.
Alex Bono (free agent) Mohanad Jeahze (transfer from Hammarby IF) Mateusz Klich (transfer from Leeds United) Tyler Miller (free agent) Ruan (trade from Orlando) Pedro Santos (free agent) Derrick Williams (trade from LA Galaxy) Luis Zamudio (signed from Loudoun United)
Tony Alfaro (option declined) Sofiane Djeffal (option declined) Sami Guediri (option declined) Bill Hamid (out of contract) Ola Kamara (out of contract) Jon Kempin (option declined) David Ochoa (out of contract) Chris Odoi-Atsem (option declined) Adrien Perez (option declined) Rafael Romo (mutually part ways) Drew Skundrich (option declined) Brad Smith (option declined) Kimarni Smith (option declined)
2022 summary: last year proved to be one of the worst in D.C. United's glittering history. Not only did they finish bottom of all of MLS, but their 27-point haul was the lowest return in a full season since scraping 16 points in the humiliating 2013 campaign. In all, they mustered a mere seven wins in 34 games, so it will come as little surprise to learn there were long spells without success. That said, they began with back-to-back wins straight out of the gate. Four of their seven wins came in the first nine games, after which they had three separate spells of six games without success, including the final half a dozen matches. Wayne Rooney took over as head coach in July. Chad Ashton had been interim since the sacking of Hernán Losada three months earlier. A sign of Rooney's pulling power was seen toward the end of the season when the club signed former Liverpool and Crystal Palace forward Christian Benteke. He managed one goal in his seven appearances.
Facts and Stats: the 71 goals leaked by D.C. United last season were the most given up by the MLS original, beating the previous high of 63 conceded in 2000. Only once have they suffered more than the 21 defeats endured in 2022. They were beaten 24 times in the miserable 2013 season. The 12 goals scored by Taxiarchis Fountas were exactly one third of the team's total. D.C. United used four goalkeepers last year, who combined for six shutouts. In contrast, D.C. were kept off the scoresheet in 16 of their 34 games.
* All four 'keepers used last year have since departed, though Rooney has brought in Tyler Miller and Alex Bono, both bringing with them plenty of MLS experience. Miller's last start in MLS came for Minnesota United on March 3rd, 2022, and a 1-1 draw at home to Nashville. It was his 100th regular season start. Bono, meanwhile, arrives from Toronto FC. His previous two seasons had uncannily similar numbers. In both 2021 and 2022 he started all 24 appearances for 2,160 minutes, and in both seasons faced 126 shots.
Milestones in 2023: D.C. is certainly going to hit 350 regular season losses all-time. They start the year on 348. It would be some turnaround if they hit the same milestone for all-time wins, though they are 13 away in that category. Chris Durkin is three away from 50 starts in MLS, all with D.C., across two spells.