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D.C. United General Manager Lucy Rushton talks analytics and her role with the club

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The new GM chatted with the Filibuster podcast about why she took the job, her admiration for the organization, and her approach to player evaluation and analysis

Xavi Dussaq / D.C. United

D.C. United fans were excited when the club announced the hiring of Lucy Rushton as general manager and head of technical recruitment and analysis. We’re still excited about it.

One of the masterminds behind Atlanta United’s electric debut roster, Rushton brings experience from both sides of the Atlantic into the role. Long a favorite of the American soccer analytics community, her hiring signals a deeper commitment by the DCU organization to using data in scouting and player evaluation. It’s a very welcome sign for an organization that has a reputation for pinching pennies and in no event will be spending money with the Atlanta Uniteds and LAFCs of the league.

Then there’s also the fact that Rushton is only the second woman to hold an MLS general manager position and the first to focus on soccer operations.

Rushton joined joined Jason, Ben, and me last week for her first podcast interview since joining the Black-and-Red. We discussed her journey to the District of Columbia, her thoughts on the existing front office, and her view on the role of data in player evaluation.

Select quotes from our chat with Rushton are printed below.

On why she joined D.C. United:

It’s the club. It’s the owners, the staff here, the infrastructure, the ambition, and the job role. It was just a no-brainer for me to come here.

On balancing data and the “eye test”:

I’m a big believer that a combination of the both is what is key to success. I’m an analyst, but I would never, ever try to sign a player or provide feedback on a player’s performance based on data alone. Just because to me, the data only ever asks more questions than it gives answers. So, you really need to use it at that stage to give yourself questions to ask, but then to take that forward with the subjective, which is what you’re seeing.

On her role with D.C. United and the new structure of the front office:

This is a new role for me, and so to some extent I’m still learning the ins and outs of the role. And, I will say that I think it’s different at every club, especially in MLS, where you have different titles and different people with slightly different roles. Even in my relationships now with other MLS clubs and people in my position, the day-to-day of each of those persons is quite different.

With [D.C. United] and having [former GM and current President of Soccer Operations] Dave [Kasper] and myself, Dave can very much now focus on the infrastructure of the club and things like the academy and Loudoun and how we kind of unite all three of these organizations and parts of the club. Things like facilities and the training ground and the community. It gives him the ability to operate on that level more so I can manage the day-to-day of working with Hernan [Losada] and his coaching staff, making sure things are right from the day-to-day logistics of the food we give the players, where we’re going to train, what time we’re going to train, the management of the squad, obviously the scouting and recruitment of players as well.

I feel like you have your fingers in all different areas of the club, which is fantastic, and it gives you that ability to really dig through and influence things on all levels. Whether that means directly with the first team roster management or indirectly through helping your kit management team or your performance analysts, making sure they have the tools they need to do the job, too.

There’s a lot more in the full episode, so make sure to check it out! Listen to the entire interview in the plyer below or at the Filibuster page on Pinecast. You can also find this and every other episode of Filibuster wherever you get your podcasts.