D.C. United announced their initial preseason roster for the 2021 season, with this morning marking the official start of training camp for most MLS teams.
United has 26 players under contract at the moment, 25 of whom are in camp (Paul Arriola remains on loan with Swansea City until sometime in May). The club has also invited ex-United players Andy Najar and Rodney Wallace to camp on trial, while 2021 second round pick Logan Panchot is with United as they weigh whether to offer him an MLS deal or start him out with Loudoun United at the USL Championship level. In an interview today with reporters, Loudoun head coach Ryan Martin added that D.C. may end up calling some Loudoun players into camp depending on team needs.
United’s preseason schedule has for years included a trip to Florida, but owing to both the later start to camp and reducing travel during the pandemic, United will spend most of camp training in the District. There will be a five-day trip to Cary, NC from March 15-20, which will conclude with a match against an opponent yet to be confirmed.
United will then return home to play Loudoun United at Audi Field on March 26th before their next two preseason games both take place in the Philadelphia suburbs. They’ll first face the Union March 31 at Subaru Park, before an April 4 friendly against NYCFC at Power Training Complex (the Philadelphia Union’s training facility next door to Subaru Park). Their preseason finale will come on April 10, with a trip to Red Bull Arena to take on the New York Red Bulls.
At the moment, the plans are for all games to be played without spectators, while United says it will announce how to watch the games from afar at a later date.
The preseason schedule is as follows:
2021 D.C. United preseason schedule
|3/8/2021||Preseason officially begins|
|3/15/2021||Team travels to NC|
|3/20/2021||Game vs. TBD|
|3/21/2021||Team returns from NC|
|3/26/2021||Game vs. Loudoun United (Audi Field)|
|3/31/2021||Game at Philadelphia Union (Subaru Park)|
|4/4/2021||Game vs. NYCFC (Power Training Complex - Chester, PA)|
|4/10/2021||Game at New York Red Bulls (Red Bull Arena)|
Training camp will last just under six weeks, with the regular season set to kick off on April 17 following delays relating to the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the pandemic. Players were granted permission from MLS to report last Monday on a voluntary basis for physical exams, Covid-19 testing, and a seven-day quarantine. Players have been able to train individually during the last week, but coaches and technical staff were not permitted to be present at those sessions.
MLS teams in the CONCACAF Champions League (Columbus Crew, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, and Atlanta United) and the Voyageurs Cup final (Toronto FC) were able to start this process in mid-February.
Najar and Wallace have both been known to be coming in for a preseason trial for some time now. Najar, who turns 28 later this month and played in a World Cup for Honduras, is looking to earn a contract at the club where he started out as a 13-year-old in United’s academy. Najar ended up winning the MLS Rookie of the Year award in 2010 before a $3 million transfer to Belgian powerhouse Anderlecht in 2013.
During his time in Belgium, Najar played in 157 matches, though knee and thigh injuries hampered the back half of his six-year spell with them. Still, he was Anderlecht’s Player of the Season in 2015-2016 and in 2016-2017. He spent 2020 with LAFC, playing in eight games but never quite breaking into the lineup as a regular.
Wallace, 32, spent last fall informally training with the Black-and-Red as he built his fitness back up following hip surgery that cost him much of 2019 and 2020. A Costa Rica international who spent much of his youth in nearby Rockville and attended the University of Maryland, Wallace is aiming to return to the club where he started his professional career back in 2009.
Both players would be in contention for a spot on the roster as wingbacks, with Hernán Losada potentially considering playing with a back three. However, both Najar and Wallace have experience playing in attacking roles on the wing, or in central midfield as well, potentially adding valuable depth.
United will enter the preseason with some injury absentees. Steven Birnbaum and Bill Hamid had offseason surgeries that, according to a report from Steve Goff at the Washington Post, are expected to keep them out for all (Birnbaum) and half (Hamid) of the preseason. Felipe Martins (ACL) is months away from being available for games, though his recovery appears to be proceeding slightly ahead of schedule. Additionally, a recent social media post from Frédéric Brillant indicated that he was undergoing surgery on a thumb injury, though it is unknown whether this will keep the French veteran off the field.
United’s full preseason roster is as follows:
D.C. United preseason roster as of 3/8/2021
|7||Paul Arriola||On loan with Swansea City|
|11||Yamil Asad||Under contract & in camp|
|15||Steven Birnbaum||Under contract & in camp|
|13||Frédéric Brillant||Under contract & in camp|
|6||Russell Canouse||Under contract & in camp|
|35||Michael DeShields||Under contract & in camp|
|10||Edison Flores||Under contract & in camp|
|33||Jacob Greene||Under contract & in camp|
|31||Julian Gressel||Under contract & in camp|
|24||Bill Hamid||Under contract & in camp|
|N/A||Brendan Hines-Ike||Under contract & in camp|
|9||Ola Kamara||Under contract & in camp|
|21||Jon Kempin||Under contract & in camp|
|8||Felipe Martins||Under contract & in camp|
|28||Joseph Mora||Under contract & in camp|
|5||Junior Moreno||Under contract & in camp|
|27||Moses Nyeman||Under contract & in camp|
|3||Chris Odoi-Atsem||Under contract & in camp|
|N/A||Logan Panchot||Unsigned draft pick in camp|
|30||Kevin Paredes||Under contract & in camp|
|16||Adrien Perez||Under contract & in camp|
|23||Donovan Pines||Under contract & in camp|
|29||Yordy Reyna||Under contract & in camp|
|1||Chris Seitz||Under contract & in camp|
|17||Kimarni Smith||Under contract & in camp|
|50||Erik Sorga||Under contract & in camp|
|22||Griffin Yow||Under contract & in camp|