D.C. United again made the rumored official this morning, re-signing Chris Odoi-Atsem to a contract which runs through both the 2021 and 2022 seasons, with a option for 2023. The 25-year-old had a breakthrough season of sorts in 2020, with his games played (15), starts (8) and minutes (769) accounting for more than his previous three seasons combined. In addition, Odoi-Atsem scored his first professional goal in a 2-1 win over FC Cincinnati on October 18.
In a team release, General Manager Dave Kasper said, “Chris has really grown as a player since he joined the club and he had his best season last year, consistently performing well for us at outside back...His energy and dynamism in both defense and going forward bring a lot to our side and we look forward to the positive impact he will continue to have on our team for years to come.”
Odoi Atsem was selected by D.C. with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 MLS Draft from the University of Maryland and played in nine games (starting five) that season. In late 2018, Odoi Atsem was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and underwent treatment for the disease. He managed to return to the field on May 11 with Loudoun United as a second half substitute and later made his D.C. return in a May 29 start. His increased role in 2020 was sidelined due to a concussion in late October 2020.
Odoi-Atsem’s return brings D.C. up to 23 total roster players, but it is his contract term of two guaranteed years that seems to hint at a substantial raise (Odoi Atsem was making the reserve minimum in the last reported salary list in 2019), and even a potential spot on the senior roster, which would count towards the team salary budget. It remains to be seen how or if D.C. addresses the right back spot (the natural depth chart consists of Odoi-Atsem, homegrown signing Jacob Greene and recent MLS draftee Logan Panchot), but Odoi-Atsem would have to have the inside track for the starting spot at this point.