When D.C. United transferred a controlling ownership share of Loudoun United to Attain Sports and Entertainment in January, it was the culmination of two different paths for D.C. CEO and Co-Chairman Jason Levien and Attain CEO and Managing General Partner Greg Baroni, the latter of whom shared how his portion transpired (among other topics) in a discussion with District Press.

“It started in the fall of 2021, when we we started looking at really two primary sports,” Baroni said. “And I always (say) the reason (for) sports is I had spent so much time in two very significant industries, education and government, and thought that with all the societal focus on on sports and entertainment, it would be a better platform to have to help affect societal change for the better.”

In Baroni’s Attain, their website includes their portfolio of teams, along with three sentences: “Onto the Field, Out of the park, Into the Community.” And he is an advocate of those values and future: “If you look at the mission of Attain, you’ll see that we are all about improving what we call humankind. It’s finding ways to leverage the talents that we have in ways that really improve humankind. So with that in mind, sports became our new venue. And when it did, we picked two sports: one, baseball, which we looked at as America’s pastime and knowing that it had started to wane at least in terms of fan attention span, we were saying, ‘Well can we be part of effecting positive change here and helping it return to its stature and relevance to American society?’ The second was the global sport. And we thought, ‘What better global sport than soccer?’ And here in the United States, it’s not the pinnacle focus as it is in Europe, for example, so I thought at least looking to invest in the men’s soccer side to help raise its stature in the global context. Then I’d say probably even downstream, we’re looking at other investments that might complement that and the other investment for example, might be in the area of women’s soccer, where the United States is already, I think, at the pinnacle. and the question is, can we help in terms of sustainability and long term success?”

Baroni found a similar voice in Levien. “When we were approached in 2021 that provided a tremendous opportunity, and what I enjoyed about it was it was an opportunity to do it in partnership with one of the more successful franchises in American soccer in DC United, and a very enlightened ownership group and Jason Levien and so that’s how it all began. Fortunately, we were able to strike an agreement. It did take a while for us to do that, because while we were first exposed to it, we were also at the time assimilating the two baseball teams (the Baltimore Orioles’ Double-A affiliate team Bowie Baysox and Major League Baseball Draft League Frederick Keys). So we kind of said let us get through the spring at least, and we started in earnest to look at it in summer of 2022. And then obviously, you know, six months later, we ended up closing here in January, so (we’re) excited to be in this situation.”

In taking over the Loudoun controls, Baroni and attain have continued to work with D.C. Business Operations President Danita Johnson and Loudoun Executive Business Officer Doug Raftery and raves about their contributions. “We very much enjoy the opportunity to work with Danita and Doug and it’s been a very strong partnership from day one. What we’re doing right now is working through the transitionof those things that we can leverage today out of Attain Sports and Entertainment, then transition from DC United to that, versus those things that need to be what I call Loudoun United specific. So expect us to be going through all of that. I can tell you just having observed what Danita has done, she’s done a lot in (the) little time since she’s joined.”

Baroni’s praise of Johnson also includes her work with the Black-and-Red. “I went out to their own home opener. And aside from the exciting win in the ninety-eighth minute, you could see everything from the venue to the incredible amount of detailed planning that went into the execution for that event, just well done. Even behind the scenes, we see how she’s built the staff, the investments they’re making in terms of technologies and the analytics around business intelligence, and how they’re using that to improve the game day experience, as well as to to enrich the player development. Danita is obviously going to be staying with D.C. United. And Doug on the other hand, we were just getting an opportunity to get to know him; interestingly enough, he started his career in Frederick with the Keys, so here’s a gentleman who has a little appreciation for the baseball side of things as well as understanding it’s uniquenesses from soccer and soccer’s uniqueness from baseball. So it’s been great for us because we’re speaking from the same verse and hymnal because we understand each other. The way it’s working out is the core front office that had been traditionally supporting Loudoun will continue to do that. And right now what we’re just trying to do is figure out how to increase our focus on the community engagement part and hiring staff to help us get that done. And I think you’re gonna see us continue to make investments in staffing. The one thing that you’ll look in my history, you have to field a great team. A lot of what’s attributed to me in terms of success, I always say is you have to look behind the curtain because it’s not me, I stand on their shoulders, and it’s always starts with a great team. So from my standpoint, it’s making sure we field a great team in terms of who supports our fanbase, and the players and their development. Also, not surprisingly I’m going to say the same thing about the team. The team that we field can’t be a ‘part-time team,’ or one that’s comprised largely of just a development group of players for a parent team. And there was a decision made that the USL championship is no longer a player development league to MLS, so that’s obviously affecting its way through to all of the teams that will formula formerly operated like that, including D.C. United.”

Baroni and Attain have had to hit the ground running on things with the USL, but are doing what they can to make the landing a soft one, bringing former NWSL President Amanda Duffy into the group. Duffy’s experience with the Orlando Pride (and before that, as President with Louisville City FC) appear to fit a need for Attain, however they currently consider Duffy’s experience a resource. “She’s not taking on any formal role, other than provide advice and counsel, She worked for seven years in the USL, she’s had a significant role in both Louisville and Orlando. And obviously, was the former president of the NWSL. So as you can see, this goes back to our philosophy which is getting really experienced people and and let them loose. We actually did a site visit to the (USL) Tampa HQ, and had a great opportunity meet with everybody over there and they have been nothing but helpful in not only onboarding us, but guiding us through everything all the way through to our home opener, and all the planning that goes with all of that. We’re starting to get a sense of some of the other teams that we need to get a chance to see, and so we are planning to do a tour, something that we did last year in baseball, we actually as an ownership group went to half a dozen different sites. We have identified three sites in particular that we are are looking to attend, and that’s San Antonio, Louisville City and Indianapolis, and there may be others that will certainly be part of it but it’s getting to know the ownership groups as well as the venue as we continue to launch our chapter in this this journey.”

Baroni’s goals in Year One are simple: “I’ve already put a goal in front of them and they know what it is and it’s to make the playoffs. The players and I already have a good bond. For example on Saturday, I’m going to go out there with them on their last day of practice to spend time with them as they get ready to go take the field on Sunday. I did that Before they took off to Memphis, we had a nice get together. They’re seeing a whole different set of visibility, investment, excitement and energy around them as players and their connection to the community. To give you an idea today they were actually out at one of the local schools, I think it was Providence Academy where they were actually helping kids get out of the car and go to the classrooms, they went to visit some of the classrooms. So that whole way of engaging with the community is has been made over now.”

Baroni pauses before continuing, noting a large definition of Loudoun’s USL existence, “Let me also say this because this is important. I’m very aware of the history. You know, one win three years ago, two years ago four wins, last year eight wins. And so to get to that playoff spot, we know that we have to double that count, close to right? We know that we need to be have about 45 to 55 points in order to secure a playoff spot. And not only that, we want to make sure that we secure a home playoff spot. And I put that challenge out there, that’s our moonshot goal, but first goal is to get to the playoffs. So in terms of on field performance, we’re taking a close look at it. We have significantly amped up our team in terms of players. Last week you saw Zach Ryan score a couple goals for us and Tommy Williamson score the other goal, but there’s so many other players; Koa (Santos) he’s an amazing player, Cole (Turner) our other captain with Zach, he anchors the back for us. Aidan Rocha in the middle, Panos (Armenakas) up front. I know these players they know me, and I am so confident with our coach Ryan Martin too, he’s put so much that energy into prepping for this season. We took over in beginning of January, and we had been full throttle in preparation for that day in Memphis. and so, I don’t know I know there’s a lot of energy and excitement in my words right now, my passion for the team.”

Baroni notes the enhancements made off field to Segra Field (and elsewhere) as well. “The second thing I’d say is the same commitment is going to the front office, the amount of new things that you’re gonna see out there (this season), every time they score goal is celebratory red smoke. You’re going to see a new zone we call the pitch level party zone. That’s a semi private space for cocktails and seating. We have new concessions partner Travinia Italian Kitchen. That was another thing, this is how you connect to the community, pick somebody from the community to do that. That’s what we did, in Bowie and it paid huge dividends. But we’re also going to have food trucks. A DJ, you’re gonna see a lot more excitement and energy and while this year we didn’t make that many improvements, we do have one of those big video boards coming (scheduled for early May). We launched our kit reveal, and we already exceeded last year’s total year merch sales on day one. So you just get a sense of the kinds of things that we’re foreshadowing. So, the investment in Northern Virginia here is going to be very real and visible. And who knows, maybe there might be a little competitive tension between us and D.C. over time.”

Baroni’s final thoughts continue with a competitive note for this weekend’s visitors: “We’re gonna put San Antonio on notice that we’re going to be a serious competitor all year long. And nothing would give me a greater sense of pride than see them in the finals. So they are last year’s winners, and we will respect them for being last year’s winners. But stay tuned.”

ByRyan Keefer

Doing D.C./Loudoun United things on here.

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[…] Attain CEO Greg Baroni talks sports, investment in Loudoun (The DP)Our own Ryan Keefer talked to Greg Baroni about his acquisition of Loudoun United FC, plans for the team, and more. Check it out! […]


This is exciting to hear. I do hope Loudoun and DC United remain affiliated but those improvements to Segra Field sound exciting. Greg Baroni seems excited to have the majority stake for the team as well. I can definitely see the difference on-field and hope to see continuous improvements off-field as well.

David Rusk

Another outstanding interview, Ryan. It makes me really excited for Loudoun United.

I’m already a DCU and Spirit season ticket holder and making the long trek to Leesburg and Segra Field is a little much, but I might just do so for a home playoff match. (I’ve only been to Loudoun’s inaugural match several years ago as part of a Screaming Eagles tour.

FWIW, Segra is so close to SEGBA (Servicios Eléctricos de Gran Buenos Aires) that I have to monitor my spell check closely. Be there for the month of April.

Bryan McEachern

Great article. This dude knows how to hit all the right notes.

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