In 2018, D.C. United ended the season as one of the hottest teams in all of Major League Soccer. Having signed Wayne Rooney midway during the effort, Ben Olsen’s side made an improbable run to the playoffs, reeling off five wins in succession, seven in their last ten matches, and moving unbeaten from September onwards.
They ultimately fell to the Columbus Crew on penalties in the playoffs, but the combination play of Rooney and Luciano Acosta, together with a blossoming defence, established the foundation for what was expected for a terrific 2019 campaign in which a real run at an MLS Cup might be made.
It transpired like that. Rooney appeared increasingly older and disinterested, Acosta was curiously poor, eventually nowhere to be seen in the later phases of the season, while the group had success in large part due to a brilliant defence that surrendered just 38 goals, a figure bettered by just Los Angeles FC 37.
So when this offseason rolled around, with Rooney already having announced his return into England with Championship side Derby and Acosta expected to leave at the conclusion of his contract, it was hoped that D.C. United would conduct a fairly huge and significant offensive rebuild.
With 2 Designated Player spots open following the departures of Rooney and return of loanee Lucas Rodriguez, there was hope that D.C. United might finally follow the footsteps of MLS more generally and spend significantly and comprehensively in their frontline. And now, with a little under two weeks, it seems as though they are doing.
Per a wide range of reports, D.C. United are on the verge of signing Edison Flores from Liga MX side Morelia. He’s a pacy, inventive left-footed winger and attacking midfielder who played a key role in Moreila’s recent playoff series in the Apertura of Liga MX. At 25, he’s just coming to the prime of his profession, has flourished at a higher-quality league, and also has international experience as a vital player for Peru – this last point is critical for D.C. United. There is a large Peruvian neighborhood in Washington D.C. which United want to tap into.
However, D.C. United are not stopping there. Based on The Athletic’s Pablo Maurer, who is well connected in D.C., the team is also considering a move for fellow Liga MX celebrity Brian Lozano, who scored ten goals and added six assists in 19 games for Santos Laguna in the Apertura. He is an elite winger who’d add an element of successful and rate goal creation.
Both moves would not come cheap. Feb Maurer, Flores would cost north $3 million, which would be a club record for D.C., although Lozano will likely be pricier, potentially coming in at $10-15 million – Santos allegedly currently rejected a $12 million deal for Lozano. Given D.C.’s conservative history, it might be surprising to so lavishly dab the money, but the team wants it.
D.C. United need an offensive reconstruct. Rooney did not work out, nothing was left by Acosta, and a permanent deal for Rodriguez was difficult to thrash out. Ola Kamara came from the latter stages of last season, more and while Paul Arriola is in the building is still needed.
Lozano and Flores would represent more. Can D.C. United sign both players? It remains to be seen, however, the reconstruct that is offensive is underway, and that may only be a fantastic thing.