Following D.C. United’s 3-0 throttling of FC Cincinnati over last week, combined with the earlier news that left back Mohanad Jeahze suffered a season-ending injury in training the previous week, the Black-and-Red find themselves looking perhaps even more so at what the secondary transfer window could bring. New signings? A cloned Lionel Messi? Who knows? Well, let’s go with what we know and go from there, OK?

First, the summer window (or secondary transfer window as MLS likes to call them) runs from today, July 5, 2023 until Wednesday, August 2, 2023. These are the dates between which MLS may request the international transfer certificate of a player under contract in another country. Out of contract signings are not subject to these dates.

The big factor obviously is Lewis O’Brien’s future. His loan from Nottingham Forest runs until July 16. He is not a Designated Player; those spots are reserved for Christian Benteke, Taxi Fountas and Mateusz Klich, and he’s not subject to Targeted Allocation Money as he’s on loan. That said, Wayne Rooney has expressed an interest in keeping him and reports are that D.C. have asked to extend the loan, and newly promoted Sheffield United are interested in purchasing O’Brien. So let’s go with the assumption that O’Brien leaves before the All-Star Game with Arsenal and we’re all the old guy with the beard waving and getting weepy GIF OK?

OK, so where does this leave D.C.?

If you’ve followed this space before, you kind of know where this is headed, but it gets tricky:

The wording of Jeahze’s injury makes note that he was placed on the season-ending injury list, similar to when Martin Rodriguez tore his ACL in preseason in February. It’s worth bringing these to attention because the publicly posted MLS roster rules and regulations discuss scenarios like this, and the accompanying roster relief.* So D.C. is able to sign an international player without spending extra cash, provided neither make more than who they are replacing. Rodriguez has a $1,000,000 base salary charge per the MLS Players Association salary figures in May, while Jeahze’s is $600,000.

*As an aside, Nigel Robertha has an ankle injury of his own but was placed on the regular injured list in May, as he expects to return (or at least should be) any time now. When he’s officially activated, there’s likely to be an accompanying roster move as well; Gaoussou Samake would presumably be loaned back down to Loudoun so the team can bring Robertha back in and still preserve the spare international spots.

What if they can buy O’Brien?

Well, they have 18 active senior roster players right now, and the imminent return of Robertha puts them at 19, one shy of the senior max of 20, with (I believe) eight active international spots. The most tenured international player is Robertha, who signed with the team in March 2021 and should be due for a green card any time now. If O’Brien comes aboard full-time D.C. does have a couple of options to make it work, it could be either a back-end heavy deal salary wise (as D.C.’s spending like drunken sailors for the first time in a minute) or declared as a replacement player, taking the previously discussed salary charges this year before *gestures in air* figuring out what to do about him next year, where in the winter there will be more roster and budget flexibility and certainty.

Can they sign more international guys?

Sure, but I’d imagine they’d want multi-year deals and want to know what Wayne Rooney’s 2024 plans are, so you’re either figuring out what you can do with the devil you know (in LoB) before the devil you don’t.

What’s the bottom line here?

If you need a three things:

  1. D.C. United does (or apparently should) have the roster and financial flexibility to sign Lewis O’Brien to a longer term deal.
  2. They can sign an impactful player at no financial risk this year, but should be prepared to retain him for 2024 or on an 18 month deal of some sort.
  3. D.C. has a bit of money and international experience coming off the books at the end of this year. I’ll say this in 4 or 5 months time, but whomever comes in after Rooney (whose contract expires at the end of the year) is going to have a chance to put more of an imprint on things, which is what I imagine D.C. is thinking heading into this window.

ByRyan Keefer

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

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Brendan Cartwright

I’ve been kind of expecting activity on the trade market with another MLS team. Like, is there anybody the Rapids would be willing to give up that would be worth having?


I’m thinking Miami might also need to get rid off some guys to accommodate Messi and Busquets and whoever else they may try to bring in. I’m thinking they are keeping Josef because he is likely to link well with Messi and also because Tata Martinez is very familiar with him but would they be willing to part with Leo Campana? Would he be someone who might fit our team?

Matt Glad

I know this is what we signed up for with Wayne, but if he does in fact leave after this season it’ll leave a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I’d imagine Carl Robinson or Fred Brillant would be front-runner replacements and likely implement similar schemes, but this team seems to be heading somewhere for the first time in a while. Such is the nature of sports, I suppose.


Keeping LOB would be nice, but I don’t rate him as highly as others do. He’s a ball shuttling #8 and his game is similar to, but a bit better, than Durkin’s. He would. not be an irreplaceable loss. What actually concerns me is the wing play on the left side. Right now, the left side is Santos, Greene and Samake. Santos is a pro, but he’s old and has been injured off and on. Greene is raw and Samake has no business playing in MLS. A left side, younger wingback would be my #1 signing priority be it transfer or trade. (And no, neither Dàjome nor Robertha can play left wingback in a pinch unless you want to lose 5-2.)


More than anything else, I rate O’Brien highly for his attitude and defensive work rate.

Brendan Cartwright

Looking ahead to next year, do you think Jeahze could play as a wingback? We signed him as a fullback, but I think he could do the job.

Ryan Hunt

I haven’t been following Charlotte much so I don’t know what the deal is, but Joseph Mora isn’t even making the bench for them right now. He’s not a great fit at wingback, but he’s not a terrible one either. I for one would be happy to see him come get a second shot.

Of course he’s on the wrong side of thirty and ideally we’d get someone younger. However, if Rooney et al think Jeahze will come good next year then Mora might be a cheap stopgap.


Mora is not a wingback, he is a competent LB in a back 4 configuration. I also don’t believe Jeahze is really a wingback as well. At $600K, I hope DCU figures out a way to offload him at the end of the season, his acquisition was a mistake on many levels — a mini Flores moment.

Riky Nary

Am I wrong in remembering that green cards only take effect if acquired prior to the beginning of the year?

Brendan Cartwright

I also believe that’s the case. It was a rule change implemented before last season.

Riky Nary

Wouldn’t Harkes have been an excellent option filling in for O’Brien? Did he just not want to come back here?

Brendan Cartwright

This team has been really keen on bringing back its homegrowns that went to Europe (Durkin, Najar, Hamid). But now they’ve “missed out on” Nyeman and Harkes. It’s fine if the team doesn’t want them, or the players would prefer another organization. But the team better have an idea of another player that they can get to fill O’Brien’s shoes.


Nobody missed out on Nyeman. The world doesn’t need a small, slow DM.

Bryan McEachern

He is coming here. At least that is my understanding. Draft pick and GAM (contingent).
He was in the club section last home game, and we chatted up. He was politely indeterminant about his future, I think things were brewing and were just not finalized.

Brendan Cartwright

Goff is reporting that New England is sending DC a draft pick and contingent GAM and that Harkes is going to the Revolution.

Bryan McEachern

I must have gotten it backwards. I was wonder why NE had rights….sigh….

Bryan, spreading alternative facts and fake news……

My bad! Sorry!

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