D.C. United has announced today that club captain Bobby Boswell has signed a contract extension with the club. Boswell, who made the MLS Best XI for the second time in his career last season, has appeared in every single MLS match - starting 76 of 77 - for United since returning to the club after 6 years playing for the Houston Dynamo. The center back has put up 3 goals and 3 assists in that time, most recently scoring yesterday in United's 4-0 win over the Chicago Fire.
This is not insignificant news for United. Since Boswell's return to the District, the Black-and-Red finished 2014 tied with the LA Galaxy for the fewest goals conceded over the course of the season; in 2015, United would have to concede 3 times in their final game of the season to avoid being the stingiest defense in the Eastern Conference. While much of that has to do with Bill Hamid's outstanding work in goal, Boswell's ability to organize the players around him while also reading danger and stepping up to intercept passes is a huge factor for how United goes about winning games.
It's also worth noting that this seems to point to a continued emphasis on being stronger than the average MLS team in central defense. After spending most of the 00s with a roster that was perpetually one good center back short of where it needed to be, United has in the past 2 years picked Boswell up in the Re-Entry Draft, selected Steve Birnbaum in the Superdraft, traded for Kofi Opare, and signed a defensive midfielder with experience at center back in Markus Halsti.
Boswell could have walked away from United at the end of this season due to the MLS version of free agency that was created this past offseason with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The requirements involved are as follows:
Players 28 years of age and with eight years of MLS service who are out of contract, or have not had their option exercised, will have the ability to select their MLS club, subject to certain restrictions.
The 32 year old Boswell is in his 11th year in MLS, easily clearing both hurdles. However, it would appear that he's happy to be in DC, just as United appears happy to have a solid, gritty veteran who in many ways embodies the club's approach.