Rise and shine! It’s a busy one with midweek matchups and your District Press team is on the bounce from illnesses, work travel, and more. So let’s get down to it!

Ted Ku-DiPietro made the bench for MLS Team of the Matchday for his outstanding performance against Nashville SC on Saturday.

It’s that time of the season when the schedule starts to get packed. The Black-and-Red hit the road to face Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, May 17 at 7:30 pm ET. They return home to take on LA Galaxy at Audi Field on Saturday, May 20.

Loudoun United will also take the pitch at Segra Field midweek against New Mexico United. Which matches will you be watching tomorrow? Let us know in the comments!

Have you seen the NWSL table? We may just frame it!

Alright, before we go, we can’t get enough of this duo! We’re looking forward to more of this energy this week! Have a great day!

BySarah Kallassy

Managing Editor

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Talonesque #

Have a few thoughts on the game and United I want to separate out, glad we get Tuesday kicks!

I thought the team showed pretty well considering the lack of Benteke and the demoralizing loss of Taxi in the first half, but I want to focus on Taxi for a second. There are a couple levels of negligence here that led to his departure.

I obviously don’t see him in training and working every day, but I think it’s been increasingly clear over the last few games of his return that he was dangerously close to another injury, riding the dreaded “red zone.” Yes, he’s received second half subs a few times, but he’s also spent a lot of time on the ground asking staff to look at his legs, and not at times when it would have been shithousery- he legitimately wasn’t doing so well. I was already wondering if it wouldn’t be better to rest him this week, limit his minutes to make his metaphorical red zone a bit greener. With Benteke out, his responsibilities were instead increased, and I think long term that’s a mistake. An even bigger one was trying to milk him when he has already pulled up with hamstring tightness without contact. This all begs the question, did the staff care more about short term momentum than his long term health? Cuz the evidence is pretty likely “yes,” and though the medical staff should have spoken up, the buck stops with Rooney who continued to play him.

Luis Granados

I was stunned to see Taxi come back onto the field. Never should have happened, after the way he went down without being touched.

Riky Nary

I very much expect him to be like most pro athletes and that they think they can get after it right away and as much as possible. There is definitely some on DCU for straining the hamstring and letting him go this hard, but they’ll learn from this and hopefully get him at a good baseline before next time.

Bryan McEachern

It is a two-way street.

The old proverbial visit to the pitcher on the mound: “Naw, Skipper, I’m good…..”

Talonesque #

My other main point is in response to some sentiments in the match thread about Fletcher. He’s played very limited minutes in MLS, but those minutes have included a dramatic turnaround in fortune in the home opener and an even clearer impact in the draw this weekend. I argued that minutes should increase a bit, and was met by negative opinions about his open cup performances.

So, let me be clear, conceptually, I like the open cup and what it stands for. That being said, the team didn’t value it, and just like a rising tide lifts all boats, a lesser lineup usually lowers everyone’s ability to play. For a few reasons reasons, I admit, didn’t watch the cup matches even when it streamed, but unless Fletcher tied someone to some railroad tracks during it, I couldn’t care less about that environment. He’s stepped up at the MLS regular season level when called upon, and would you believe it, that’s exactly what we need him to do.

There’s also this weird dynamic about arguing that we need him to play only limited minutes cuz- yeah, that reasoning isn’t worth finishing. It’s dumb. First off, development requires minutes, and secondly, game state matters for development. We’ve been throwing him on desperate for goals in chaos mode, and it’s time we taught him how MLS works outside of that. With Taxi almost certainly unable to go and Benteke at a concern, it’s time to acknowledge the length of the season, and divide up minutes in a way that isn’t immediately ideal, but good for players like Fletcher.

Luis Granados

Giving Paredes minutes worked out well. They should do the same with Fletcher.


We’re not gonna have much of a choice of players keep getting hurt. The Open Cup match was one I wouldn’t judge individuals too harshly given the obvious lack of chemistry. Fletcher’s very young and will get exposed a few more times no matter what part of the game he’s playing. He’ll also skin some defenders who don’t know anything about him. I’ll trust Rooney to determine how ready he is for a starting assignment (starting against the Union I feel would be like throwing him into the Pacific Ocean without a life jacket, but I could be wrong).

Sort of off-topic, but I feel like Hopkins is kind of hurt by the whole idea of only putting in the young players in while the game is chaotic. He seems like he might actually benefit from a starting role and getting subbed out by a veteran sometime in the 2nd half. He doesn’t seem to thrive as a super sub.

Brendan Cartwright

Fletcher’s career stat line is 85 minutes played in league play, 1 goal, and two assists. That’s a pretty impressive game for a young kid, if it was all condensed. He showed a bit of class in the Open Cup, but much less than I was hoping for. I do think he’s got a good niche of coming on late where he can use his dynamism to run on the wings and create. He’s made some really nice passes, and used some impressive body control to open up a lane for his pass to Teddy KDP. And his goal against Cincinnati last year shows he’s not afraid to call his own number and take some good shots. He’s making the most of his opportunities, but I think he’s still best as a late game sub. Maybe start giving him 20 minutes rather than 5, though.


Fletcher’s problem in the Cup match was a concrete touch trying to control passes. With a lot of work he can develop that…. He clearly is pretty good with the ball at his feet.

Ryan Hunt

Sorry if I came across as top negative with my comments about him. I fully agree that he needs more minutes in game states that aren’t “we need a goal desperately right now” but I think that putting him on as a starter might be a bit premature for a couple of reasons.

One, it adds a level of pressure that could be detrimental to his development.

Two, I don’t think Rooney has figured out what Fletchers best position is in this lineup yet. He’s been effective as a winger, but the 3-5-2 doesn’t really have a spot for a winger. So he’d be either on as a wingback, one of the two forward spots, or they alter the formation some. Teams would go after him hard if he was at wb and nothing he’s shown so far suggests he’s an MLS level defender at this point. Up top, KDP is a better fit for the Taxi role and Hurtado has better holdup play so he’s a better fit for Benteke. Swapping to a 3-4-3 and putting Fletcher as one of the three could work, but we were constantly getting overrun in the center of the park when we only had two CMs.

Bottom line is that he should be getting more minutes, but I think those minutes should be coming as a sub until his best position can be identified and he’s had a chance to build some chemistry with the starters and not just KDP.

Talonesque #

Fair enough. I’m not sure if starting him is ideal, myself. That said, apparently TKD is also dealing with an ankle injury, and reportedly told Rooney he’d contribute 10 minutes last game if he could. Fletcher could very well be tried out as a second striker, the Taxi role, if TKD isn’t fit to start yet.

All that said, I like the idea of giving him a regular runout as opposed to turbo mode, and if the depth puts him near the top with injuries, maybe it’s time

Last edited 6 months ago by Talonesque #
Matt Glad

Fletcher definitely just needs consistency both in playing time and position. In most of his MLS appearances he’s been deployed out wide. In the Open Cup he was up top and he wasn’t a world beater but he wasn’t dreadful.

I guess the question is if DC is sticking with the 3-5-2, is Fletcher a wingback? I think we’d prefer him further up field maybe in a wide attacking position in a 3-4-3? Either way I’ve been pleased with Fletcher’s performances this far.

Talonesque #

Lastly, short one, watch Spirit games if you can afford the streaming or a ticket, this team is a blast.

David Rusk

Let me Second Talonesque’s urging more DP Commentariat to follow and comment on the Spirit. They’re clearly the best, most engaging fútbol club in the DMV with at least a half dozen national team (USA and others) members. The Commentariat needs to step up to match the quality of the coverage of the Spirit and Loudoun United that DP is providing.

David Rusk

KDP’s second clutch Buzzard Point “naughts” Nashville 1-1. The tally to date:

Buzzard Points (home goals): Benteke (3); Ku-DiPietro (2); Durkin, Fountas, Greene, Klich

Talones (home assists): Ku-DiPietro (2), Canouse, Fletcher, Jeahze, O’Brien, Ruan, Santos

Taloncitos (drew home penalty kick): Fountas

Bryan McEachern

TKD has shown well at Buzzard Point, just to drive that one home (get it?)

David Rusk

Some thoughts from Section 135, row 26 on Saturday night’s match: my season ticket is West Side mid-field but, believing that I would miss the match, I transferred my ticket to a buddy. Then, when weekend plans changed, I bought a Screaming Eagles ticket for the Chico Stand (but ended up sitting in the adjacent section because my creaking bones cannot stand for a full match.

First, the Chico Stand was certainly in fine (and loud) form;

Second, I thought that Rooney’s system/ coaching really showed, especially on defense. DCU always looked organized and limited the Eastern Division’s number three team to six shots, only two on goal (both on the same play ending in that fluke armpit goal).

Third, Benteke’s absence was key as our offensive threats organize around him. I can see KDP, O’Brien, Klich playing off him effectively and hope that Rooney gives Taxi a good rest to recuperate his hamstring.

Fourth, I am very comfortable with Tyler Miller as our sweeper/keeper despite his two misadventures against Cincinnati.

Will Nelson

On Mother’s Day, Old Glory DC fell to the New England Free Jacks in a battle of Eastern Conference 1st vs 2nd 42-24. The Free Jacks were as dominant as they’ve been all season. With the loss and New York’s close fought win over Chicago 21-20 New York jumps OGDC into 2nd and OGDC falls to 3rd.2 points back in the standings.

If the playoffs were to happen now then OGDC and New York would face off in the Eastern Conference Eliminator Round with the winner advancing to the Conference Final to take on New England. However, OGDC does have a game in hand on New York. OGDC has 5 games remaining in the season and no more bye weeks. New York has 4 games remaining in the season with a bye week still to come. New England pretty much has 1st place in the East and a 1st round bye locked up. They’d have to lose out and OGDC and/or New York win out in order for New England to be caught.

Last edited 6 months ago by Will Nelson
Bryan McEachern

I went to the match. It as a nice affair. New England was nasty, yet I can see why you enjoy rugby and old Glory!


Off topic, but Balogun has committed to the US. Huge win for the program.

Brendan Cartwright

Particularly good recruiting by an interim coach, with a big assist to the England and Nigeria federations for bungling their ends of things.

Talonesque #

Oh, this is massively arrogant and short term thinking on Southgate’s part. Yes, you’re England, but this is arguably your next generational talent after Harry Kane. England produce great players at a good clip, but ignoring Balogun and driving him to the US is a massive assist of pure shortsightedness.

Bryan McEachern

Especially, understanding that we don’t even have a permanent coach at this time. It’s a blind head-first dive!

Talonesque #

Holy shit, we’ve got a much more/even more exciting home World Cup to look forward to! This is massive, completely the position of need.

Brendan Cartwright

I’m still feeling kind of salty about the Open Cup. I understand Rooney’s reasons for not playing his stars, but the Nashville game showed the folly of that logic. We don’t want them to get hurt! Well, two out of your three DPs got hurt anyway. So do they do it in service to a tournament, or to the regular season?

Rooney chose the regular season (as Chad Ashton did last year, and as DCU has every year since 2013). So he lost the Open Cup, and they’re out of that chance at a trophy. Did he at least take maximum points in this 1/34th part of the MLS season? Nope. It was a good, gutsy game by the players – and having Ku-DiPietro available for the Open Cup would have really helped – but you still only took one point. It’s kept you in ninth place, a playoff position, but what will you against Philadelphia on short rest? Ashton lost 7-0, and that’s how Rooney got his job in the first place.

I’m bitter about throwing away even the chance at being just a few victories away from a trophy. I wish the team valued the Open Cup, just a little bit. I wish the team wasn’t as reliant on older players that might be more likely to sustain injuries, but here we are.

Let’s just hope we can build on the positives that came out of the Nashville game and get an unlikely win in Chester.


I share some of your sentiments of wanting to take the Cup a bit more seriously. Its a (relatively) easier way to get some hardware that gives us something to cheer about. However, I also see a situation where we started Taxi in the Cup game and he sustained the same injury that he did against Nashville. If that ends up happening, I think that the conversation around his injury changes from “did we rush him back” to “why in the world are we playing Taxi in an Open Cup game on an artificial surface and risking our regular season.” So I get where Rooney is coming from, but maybe, if we have a few less injuries (looking at the injury list for tomorrow is rough), maybe we get a stronger Cup lineup, or at least a “hybrid” sort of lineup. Maybe next year, if we stop getting so many “thigh” injuries


I like the idea of taking the Cup seriously. But I don’t think that was in the cards for this situation. I think the combination of games so close to each other, the turf, and Rooney just had a need to rest some people. Take Ku-DePietro for instance. He wasn’t going to play this last match–Rooney was going to rest his ankle. And Teddy KDP came to Rooney and said “if you really need me, I can give you 10-15 minutes tops.”


Honestly, I think everyone would have raised hell if Taxi and/or Benteke had gotten injured in a mid-week Open Cup game that was played on an artificial turf, knowing full well that their replacements cannot offer 1/3 of what those two players bring to the team. As always, I don’t think this is when you question a coach, be it Benny, Chad or Wayne, this is when you question the FO who didn’t build the team with true depth. We have bodies, yes, but teams with true aspirations need a bit more than average depth. Place yourself in Rooney’s shoes, knowing that Birbaum, Najar, Santos, Robertha and Rodriguez are out injured. Jeahze is not available. Would you risk Taxi (who is injury-prone)? Benteke (who at 32 should get some rest now and then)? Klich? I, myself, wouldn’t. Sure Taxi got hurt in a regular game but perhaps as someone else had mentioned, Taxi shouldn’t have been played against Nashville either. He had asked to come out two games ago holding his hamstring, he should have rested for at least one week. Not having TKD hurt us a lot but that game was lost in part because the players really played as if they had never played together before which is odd because they at least practice with each other, and two because a lot of them didn’t play well individually. Asad didn’t play well, Hopkins didn’t play well, Fletcher didn’t play well. None play at the level that we know that they are capable of. That group was never going to play great but in all honesty had each individual player played better, they could have pull it off. They lost by 1 goal.


I’m going to make one other point about the Open Cup. You can play a young squad and take it seriously. Or you can send a message of “we’re mailing this one in.”

For instance, there are some times in the past where DCU had an assistant run the game against our open opponent. There are times when it’s clear you’re taking the match seriously, you’ve scouted the opponent, you have a game plan for the match. In instances like that, I’m fine with starting younger players–you’re seeking to win but also recognizing scheduling issues, health, and trying to grow young talent. The Open Cup is a great venue to start youngsters because the USL sides take this seriously, our youth gets a much better workout than practice, and you either win or go home–so it’s got a quasi-playoff feel to the match.


Looks like the rumors on Kang looking to go big in Women’s football were true.


Bryan McEachern

I hope her success matches her ambition.


Any thoughts on the USL trying to go Division I with their Women’s Super League which would put them head to head against the NWSL. Seems like a bit of a stretch since there are now 3 NWSL teams up for sale, that the market could support 12 more teams with some sharing the same market (they’re targeting a team in Loudoun in the same market as the Spirit.) Looks like a recipe to destroy both leagues to me.



I’m not really clear on the significance of gaining Division 1 status, even if the USSF could bless 2 rival leagues as with first-division status (this seems like an inherent contradiction). Playing in the same markets seems…awkward. Been tried many times, and almost always fails. The leagues which have succeeded set themselves up mostly in other markets — though NY and LA were pretty key to being viable — and forced mergers. Going head to head in most cities, especially with what I assume is still a limited market for women’s sports, seems…bad.

Stunned Duck

MLSPA salaries are out. DC has the fourth highest guaranteed spend in the league, apparently.

  1. TOR $26M
  2. LAG $24M
  3. ATL $21M
  4. DCU $20M
  5. AUS $20M

Last is MTL at $10.5M.

Benteke is the 9th highest individual guaranteed wage, almost $4.5M.

David Rusk

I hope that DCU’s having the fourth highest guaranteed salaries in MLS will put to rest all the yammering by some Commentariat about how “cheap” Jason Levien and our other owners are.

Talonesque #

It’s worth remembering that we’re likely having to overpay just to have players here. Our DP’s aren’t necessarily part of that, but we give out a lot of TAM contracts and use MLS fun money a lot. The owners continue to be competitive for “worst in the league,” it took last season for them to start putting out fires.

So, naw, “yammering” will continue to be a thing.

Brendan Cartwright

There’s spending, and then there’s spending. The Athletic just put out a list of players that are underperforming their contracts, and United has three (!) players in the “Starting XI” and another in the dishonorable mentions.

The three that are mentioned are Mohanad Jeahze, Ravel Morrison, and Derrick Williams, and Cristian Dajome is the dishonorable mention. Part of this is having to overpay, as Talonesque mentions, and part of it is missing on players on big salaries, and the knock-on effects it can have for a team.

Now, Derrick Williams has actually been pretty good this season. He makes roughly the same salary as Steven Birnbaum, and has been filling in for Birnbaum during his injury. There hasn’t been a lot of time when both have been healthy together, but it would be interesting to see how they fit together, especially given how Pines and Palsson have played, and now that Hines-Ike is back.

Similarly, Cristian Dajome just got here, and has looked pretty decent in very limited minutes. Vancouver is still largely on the hook for most of his money, so this becomes more of an issue next year.

I was very excited about Mohanad Jeahze’s signing, but despite picking up two assists in the opener, he hasn’t really shown the crossing ability I was hoping for. And that’s before we get into arrests and assault allegations, and suspensions. He’s under contract for another two seasons after this one, I believe. Pedro Santos and Jacob Greene have looked pretty good at left wingback, and even Gaoussou Samake looked like he could bring speed and some dubious crossing to the team. If Jeahze is reintegrated into the team, I think he could still do quite well. But, it’s kind of up in the air.

And then there’s Ravel Morrison, just the big miss. That one falls on Rooney’s shoulders, and ownership’s for not saying no and for not backing Lucy Rushton. Just embarrassing all the way around. He has a guaranteed salary of $922,000+ this year. So yes, ownership will spend. But imagine if they spent that money on a player that could even make the roster!

David Rusk

Re Ravel Morrison, as you say, that high-priced flop is on Rooney and not on ownership’s (un)willingness to spend.

Talonesque #

But at the same time, this club has created an environment where there seems to be a “play for us, we’ll give you a bonus” desperation when it comes to recruiting that I don’t think has anything to do with Rooney. There are clubs in MLS that are desirable landing spots to play soccer, and we’re arguably the furthest from that. Maybe that changes in the future, that certainly seems to be our current reality.

Brendan Cartwright

I was kind of surprised that Bono was on a league minimum. That seemed like some really good business.

Talonesque #

That’s a good contract, for sure, but also probably a reflection of where Bono knows he is in his career, I don’t see him stealing a starting spot from anyone in the league currently. He might also have gambled that he wins an open competition for starting spot in the previous preseason, and lost the bet for a bigger contract. I’m glad he’s on our bench, massive upgrade from Kempin, I just don’t think that one contract disproves the overall trend.

Brendan Cartwright

It doesn’t, but just some kudos to the front office on turning around our goalkeeping corps and saving beaucoups bucks while doing it.

Bryan McEachern

Total good job, right you are!


Not to be pedantic about this, but Morrison is very much about the club’s unwillingness to spend Levien’s money. Keeping him around means MLS pays his wage, whereas, they could’ve decided to cancel his MLS contract and pay him themselves.

Last edited 6 months ago by Fischy

I feel like Morrison is really the only egregious entry on that list. Jeahze having legal troubles and injuries is whatever. Dájome only recently came in, so this has to be a reflection of his time in Vancouver more than us. Williams has been fine, if expensive, so again, perhaps more a reflection of his time in LA than us.


I somehow missed this discussion and posted my takes separately. I largely agree with you — Williams may be overpaid, but he’s looked good lately. A good fill-in for Birnbaum, and not much different than Palsson. Hines-Ike has a lot to do to secure his place for net year. Jeahze didn’t impress at all after that first game. If his deal is guaranteed for 2 more years, that’s not a great prospect.

I’ll disagree with Dajome — hasn’t impressed me at all. Decent athlete, but isn’t doing anything with it. Very big money next year. If DC has any option here, they may want to bail. You also didn’t mention Rodriguez. His deal is even bigger than Dajome’s. Hard to see how he fits in at his wage (even if they have the TAM to take him under DP-levels), unless the team is stuck with him.

Last edited 6 months ago by Fischy
Bryan McEachern

Not implying innocence or guilt, but I would think there is an exit clause in his contract for criminal or similar behavior(?).


So much off-topic news… Balogun, USL launching a woman’s league, apparently including Loudoun — and now, MLS reportedly has settled on San Diego for team #30 (fin?). Egyptian billionaire Mohammed Mansour (also took major role in UK Tory party), in combination with part of local Native American tribe that operates a resort and casino outside San Diego.


Nothing here about the salary info drop?

DC United are in the top 5 for salary. Unfortunately, that includes $922k for Ravel Morrison. Almost half of the team’s wages go to the 3 DPs and Morrison. Throw in Palsson, and you get to half of the more than $20M. The three DPs, of course, don’t fully hit the salary budget, but I assume that Morrison does. Got to find a way to unload him this summer. Could they afford to sign O’Brien, if they unloaded Morrison? Probably not and he wants to go back to the UK, but they could find someone good for Morrison’s money and they will need someone to push the attack.

Other takeaways: Dajome’s hit next year would be huge, more than Morrison. Dajome’s being paid by Vancouver now, but $965K this year — could it top $1M next yr? He’d better start producing. Also, Hines-Ike ($467k) and Mo Jeahze ($660k) seem way over-priced compared to what they’ve delivered. Robertha (at $622k) is also problematic to carry forward.

Almost certain to be in the picture next year: Santos, despite fears of his expected free agent deal, is a relative bargain at $390k). Williams (at $881k) isn’t cheap, but I am guessing he’ll still be in the team’s plans. That pedigree doesn’t come cheaply. DItto for Palsson, who is finally growing into a role here. Birnbaum makes a good wage ($815), enough that I expect hell want to come back for another year. Canouse ($575) and Durkin ($481k) seem to be paid right in line with their play. Respectable.

Then, there’s Rodriguez, who has a hefty price-tag ($1.266). Even healthy, I think that’s too much for what he brought to the team. Coming off an ACL reconstruction? Hard to see how the team can justify that.

Some decisions ahead for next year, though re: Dajome, Jeahze, Hines-Ike, Rodriguez and Robertha. I haven’t seen anything that has me wanting them back at their wages, though all but Rodriguez can still make their case this year.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x