D.C. United confirmed a long-standing rumor today, officially announcing the signing of academy player Antonio Bustamante. The 21-year-old Fairfax native is United’s tenth Homegrown signing, and he joins the Black-and-Red after four strong years at William & Mary. United’s interest in adding Bustamante to the roster was first reported by the Washington Post’s Steve Goff back in December.
Bustamante, a midfielder/forward in college who would likely play a role in the attacking midfield trio in the 4231 Ben Olsen preferred last year, made the Colonial Athletic Association’s First Team three times in his four seasons in Williamsburg (2016, 2017, and 2018). He posted 34 goals and 17 assists in 68 career appearances, including a stellar junior year that included 15 goals for the Tribe. That 2017 season saw Bustamante named the CAA Player of the Year, and he was named to Top Drawer Soccer’s Best XI First Team.
Academy Director Ryan Martin, via a team press release, said “[Bustamante] was a national standout during his four years at William & Mary and used his time at the collegiate level to continue maturing and developing as a player. He has all the tools to succeed at the next level and we’re looking forward to producing more players of his quality in our academy.”
In the same release, United GM Dave Kasper added that “Antonio is a promising young player and we are proud to add another Homegrown signing to our roster... We look forward to integrating him into our group this preseason.”
On a team stocked with attacking midfielders and wingers, Bustamante’s 2019 will in all likelihood be spent largely playing for Loudoun United FC in the USL Championship. United will have the preseason to sort those sort of decisions out, but generally a player on an MLS contract being loaned to a club’s USL satellite signs what is called a USL Standard Loan Agreement, allowing free movement between MLS and USL depending on where the coaching staff wants the player to play at a given time.