As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what DC United will be looking to achieve.
DC United were the early Eastern Conference pace-setters last season, suffering only one defeat in their first ten matches. They ended the 2015 campaign in fourth place in the East as a season that began with so much optimism ultimately fizzled away, with playoff elimination coming against the New York Red Bulls for the second-straight season. Too many away defeats played a factor in their fall from the top, with ten defeats on the road a poor return. The heavy 5-0 defeat to Columbus on the last day of the regular season at the MAPFRE Stadium was the lowpoint. Sadly the season will also be remembered for being the last for former DP Eddie Johnson, who had to retire due to a heart problem that ultimately left him on the sidelines for the 2015 season. DC have CONCACAF Champions League commitments to deal with in late February before the MLS season starts, with a two-legged quarter-final against Queretaro coming up. They have suffered a huge setback with the news that goalkeeper Bill Hamid is set to miss 4-6 months with a serious knee injury.
Last Season’s Finish:
Eastern Conference – Position: 4th – P34 – W15 – D6 – L13
What Needs To Change This Year?
Away form. As mentioned above, the road form last year brings cause for concern this season as three wins on the road just simply wasn’t good enough for a team that needs to be challenging at the top end of the Eastern Conference. This terrible away record was compounded by the fact they only scored nine goals away from RFK Stadium – something they need to seriously address. Their home form remains relatively strong, so there are some positives they can take into next season, but improving the returns on the road would put them in a much better position to challenge for success.
Key Changes To Squad:
Ins: Lamar Neagle – Midfielder, Patrick Nyarko – Midfielder, Marcelo Sarvas – Midfielder, Luciano Acosta (loan) – Midfielder
Out: Eddie Johnson – Striker, Jairo Arrieta – Striker, Michael Farfan – Midfielder, Facundo Coria – Midfielder, Perry Kitchen – Midfielder, Chris Pontius – Midfielder, Conor Doyle – Striker
Patrick Nyarko – Midfielder – The midfield acquisition from Chicago Fire brings bags of experience and will hope to make an immediate impact with his new team. He recorded three goals and three assists last term and will hope to nail down a starting berth early on in what is a competitive DC United midfield. He will want to impress Ben Olsen and prove his worth to become a mainstay in that midfield and could become a key part of the side.
One To Watch:
Luciano Acosta – Midfielder – The 21-year-old Argentine has arrived on loan for the season from Boca Juniors. He made his debut against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, bagging an assist for Fabian Espindola in a 1-0 victory. Ben Olsen has said: “He’s unpredictable, he’s electric and he is a lot of fun to watch”. DC fans must be filled with glee at what this young man could bring to the RFK in 2016 and he’s definitely one to keep an eye on.
Eastern Conference – 4th – We predict that DC will finish 2016 in exactly the same position as they finished up in 2015. The lack of forward options at Ben Olsen’s disposal is a slight concern as they released three forwards during the offseason. They should still make the playoffs but the absence of Bill Hamid in particular could prevent them from challenging at the very top. A few experienced names have come in, but they are all predominantly midfield options. It should be an exciting season nevertheless and they will hope for a better run in the postseason, should they qualify for the playoffs as expected.
What are you expecting from DC United in 2016?