Hi there, it’s been a whirlwind 36 hours or so for this guy so let’s go to the soccer stuff:

Recaps of D.C. United’s 2-0 win over NYCFC from us, WaPo (with more from Goff here), PSW, Athletic ($), WTOP and MLS. Hudson River Blue with the other side of it.

Wayne Rooney lined up for Birmingham job with Ashley Cole and ex-Man Utd team-mate expected to join coaching team: It’s The S*n, but have seen a few other UK journos mentioning this and that it’s done, or close to it. Waiting, seeing, etc.

Ex-D.C. United trainer files $7.5 million lawsuit after firing over hand gesture (WaPo): Well this seems suboptimal.

Messi returns, but Inter Miami eliminated from playoff contention with FC Cincinnati loss (PSW): Ah well, no Rooney, no Messi in the playoffs? Poor MLS.

DCFC shuts out Loudoun, playoff bid will come down to final weekend (Detroit News): Loudoun went out with a whimper, but remain optimistic heading into the offseason.

Anyway, got to get some yardwork in before work work, so talk to you soon!

ByRyan Keefer

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

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More stories that Rooney is heading to Birmingham City from more reputable sources as their coach, John Eustace, was fired this morning.


David Rusk

Klich & Durkin tally Buzzard Points to down NYCFC 2-0. The final tally for 2023 season:

Buzzard Points (home goals): Benteke (9); Ku-DiPietro (5); Durkin & Klich (3); Dajome & Fountas (2); Greene, Pines, Robertha, Santos, Williams

Talones (home assists): Benteke (5); Klich (4); Ruan (3); Ku-DiPietro (2); Canouse, Durkin, Fletcher, Jeahze, O’Brien, Pirani, Santos

Taloncitos (drew home penalty kick): Benteke & Fountas

Brendan Cartwright

We ended up improving by 13 points over last season. That’s not bad. Especially when we had to get rid of one of our DPs (and one of our two best offensive options) in the middle of the year, and go without the rest of the way. I had thought that Christian Benteke was past it, but 14 goals is a nice campaign, particularly when everyone knows you’re the key to the offense.

The goalkeeping and defense definitely improved. It seemed we had our best play in a three back system, which we largely abandoned once Palsson left, and of course O’Brien’s loan ran out. If we have full seasons of O’Brien, Palsson, and an unracist Taxi, I think the season turns out even better.

Now we need to start over again, but we knew that we’d be having to. I still would like to see us get a Young DP so that we can get two more U-22 players in addition to Pirani. It gives us a future to work towards (particularly with the maturation of Ku-DiPietro, and I’m expecting improvement from Fletcher and Akinmboni next year) while we ride out one more hopefully effective year from Benteke and Klich.

Next year we’ll have Rodriguez. We’ll have Jeahze. We’ll have the improvement of this year. If we make smart hires and good player acquisitions, we could actually be kind of good. Lots of work on that “if,” but hey.


My big lesson about successful teams comes from looking at Philly and Cincinnati. GMs and coaches don’t just get along, they’re on the same page–a shared vision. A consistent style of play (that the youth and academy and reserve sides all mimic and develop players that feed the Mothership). So our GM hire is big. And we need to upgrade the focus on our academy, get the MLSnext thing going and yes, put a USL side in Baltimore to expand our circle and provide a transition from MLSnext to the First Team.

I think there are a lot of pieces here. But are they part of a coherent puzzle? That depends upon the new coach. We can play direct. At times we’ve played some very nice positional, short-passing game. We’ve got a bunch of bodies. Some of the youth has shown performance (TKDP) or potential (Akinmboni, Hopkins) but we need more youth coming in.

One interesting thing for next year–given the number of formations and styles of play DCU showed this year, the new coach will have a lot of options. It’s not like Losada coming in and needing to get a pool of CBs. Or Rooney coming in and having to come up with outside backs. We’re not the most talented team in the league. But we have a lot of potentially useful pieces. So the next coach will need to decide how to use them (and therefore what to jettison).

And we clearly need to add an attacker. Could be an A-mid. Could be a withdraw forward to team with Benteke. I see Klich as a box-to-box mid but not an A-mid anymore. We need someone to score some goals besides “committee.” TKDP has taken a big jump up (I think he’d have 4 more goals if he hadn’t had that extended ankle problem) and is part of the rotation but I’m not willing to say “he’s going to be my #2 threat now next to Benteke.”


KDP being left off the Olympic squad for Paris is an embarrassment to US Soccer.


There is no squad for Paris yet.
But you are correct that he’s unlikely to make it.


They announced the preliminary squad for the friendlies and he wasn’t on it.

Ryan Hunt

I have such conflicting opinions on Rooney.

The good:

He clearly has a decent grasp of tactics and the team improved from last year (how could you not?). They showed some really good flashes of play, particularly when they first shifted to a 3-back system. KDP had a breakout season and Pines showed good progress.

The meh:

Continually playing Asad/Santos/Birnbaum over Hopkins/Greene/Pines. I’m not too upset about this and I understand why he did it, the veterans give you more consistent performances and you risk less with them out there. But they also were proven commodities that were never really going to take the team to the next level.

Santos was good as a wingback, but dreadful as a LB or LW. There were better options there.

Defense or offense, rarely both.

The “bad”:

This is a little tough to judge him on, because our front office was a wreck this year, but his lack of pragmatism really showed. He kept with a flat 4-4-2 way too deep in the early season when we just didn’t have the personnel for it. Maybe he was counting on players getting healthy, but the wing depth was never there for that system and Klich/Durkin were wasted out wide. He needed to either go with the 4-4-2 diamond (a bit harder to do without Pirani at the point) or shift to the 3-5-2 that eventually gave us our best run of form. I’m trying to not bee too harsh on him here because I don’t know what conversations were being had about bringing in new players, but Dajome/O’Brien/Hurtado were the only reinforcements we got.

Lack of youth development. Okay, maybe the youth players we have aren’t quite ready for the big stage, but we only brought in one player under the age of 23 since Rooney was signed. He clearly had some input into roster decisions and the fact that youth wasn’t prioritized really irks me when it’s so crucial to the current phase of MLS.

The ugly:

Ravel. Which isn’t all on Rooney, but the manager needs to be able to motivate/develop talent and Ravel never once looked like he wanted to be here to me.


To be fair, Ravel has had that problem everywhere. It’s clear he has a lot of talent so teams take a chance, but for whatever reason he just does not really pan out on the field.

Ryan Hunt

Yeah, but it seemed like Rooney was basically trading Gressel for Ravel last year. I think there was a little more to it, the GAM we got for Gressel probably helped pay down Palsson’s contract while Gressels salary went to Ravel. Still, Gressel showed with Vancouver this year that he can play as a box-to-box mid and I think Rooney was unrealistic in thinking he could completely remake the team as opposed to building the team around our best/most consistent assets.


Rooney chose to bring him in while knowing that, right?

Bryan McEachern

Thanks for the memories, Wayne. You improved the squad over last’s years utter embarrassment. Good luck at Birmingham. Truly one of world’s worst kept secrets. Our coaches are generally are successful once they leave DC United, so I expect to see Birmingham improve.

I think we need speedy wing play and a replacement for Taxi and/or Lucho, but are otherwise sea-worthy.

Moving Kasper out of the war room is a good step in the right direction, but I am certainly not betting on a solid GM hire at this time. Then we get around to hiring a coach, in that order. Past is prologue with this sadly moribund franchise. Yet, I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

There are a lot of non-renews in the season ticket base, and if wasn’t under contract for another year, I would have certainly pruned my attendance in 2024. At least the roof was finished, and we weren’t the total dumpster fire that we experienced in 2022.

So, I have a vague sense of hope for next season. Likely Messi will be injured when they travel here…..

Is it raining yet?


I wonder what the breakdown in season ticket sales was and how it differs? Anecdotically it seems like more people cancelled this year, but it could just be they’re more vocal about it and without real numbers it’s hard to tell. And were the cancellation reasons different that last year? I finally parted way with the season ticket package, but only because I’m out of town too much for it to be of any use (I only made 3 games in totally this year).

Will Nelson


The automatic qualifiers for 2027 Men’s Rugby World cup in Australia are set.

From Group A France, New Zealand and Italy have qualified for Rugby World Cup 2027. From Pool B the teams are Ireland, South Africa and Scotland. From Pool C they are Wales, Fiji and Australia. From Pool D they are England, Argentina and Japan.

The US missed a men’s Rugby World Cup for the first time ever this year and Canada was also absent having been to several. An argument can be made and I agree that North America and South America got screwed over by the qualification process for France 2023 as the 2 regions were combined. The champions from both North America and South America were then force to participate in further rounds of qualification. While Namibia who qualified as Africa 1 only ever had to face African competition.

The 2027 RWC is expanding to 24 teams with 6 4 team pools and the introduction of a round of 16 for the first time ever. https://www.americasrugbynews.com/2023/10/05/incoming-expansion-to-24-teams-for-rugby-world-cup-2027/

Will Nelson

OGDC continues to build their roster for the 2024 MLR season hoping to build on reaching the conference finals this past season. They’ve added ex Pumas 7s (Argentina 7s) Axel Müller who brings experience to a rebuilt backline. He joins Scotland international Damien Hoyland and Kiwi Jason Robertson (who returns to OGDC after playing in France).

OGDC’s social media team also reports that Capped Eagle (played for US Men’s 15s) Mike Dabulas has re-signed.

Will Nelson

The US Women’s 15s start play in the WXV tier 2 league this Saturday when they take on Samoa: https://www.wxvrugby.com/matches/WXV2

In this first season of WXV there will be no pro/rel between tier 1 and tier 2. However, the bottom placed team of tier 2 will play the top team from tier 3 to see if they stay up. The lowest placed tier 3 team will play the highest world ranked team that did not participate in WXV this season to see who gets to play in WXV 3 for the 2024 season.



Interesting note in the Rooney to Birmingham announcement, both Shuttleworth and Robinson are slated to join him. Shuttleworth I had assumed, but Robinson was thought of as a backup coach if Rooney left, but I guess that’s off the table now.

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