By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Oct 31, 2022) US Soccer Players – All eyes over the past few weeks have been on the MLS Cup playoffs. Meanwhile, for the 14 teams that did not make the postseason, this is a time for reflection, revamping, and rebuilding. It’s these three Rs that highlight the offseason for half the teams in MLS that came up short during the regular season.
In a league known for its parity, there are still teams that do better than others. It also means that a team can go from well out of the playoffs to contender over the course of one or two seasons. That also means that rebuilding in MLS is crucial, given the quick rate of success that can take place from one season to the next.
The Houston Dynamo and DC United, two teams that highlight the different paths rebuilding can take, will have a very busy fall and winter attempting to improve ahead of the 2023 season.
Both DC United and the Dynamo were once very successful MLS teams. DC United won four MLS Cups, the last one in 2004. The Dynamo won two titles, the most recent one in 2007. The success both these franchises experienced during the aughts are but a mere memory. Both teams have under-performed in recent years as the league continues to expand.
The Dynamo, who finished second to last in the Western Conference this season with a 10-6-18 record, missed the playoffs for the fifth-straight year, made a coaching change on September 5. For Dynamo general manager Pat Onstad and his staff, the past few weeks have involved interviewing several candidates for the permanent coaching job. Reports have that including USMNT alums Ben Olsen, who previously coached DC United, and Hugo Perez, who currently coaches El Salvador.
Once a coach is in place, the team will need to revamp the roster. Houston brought in two Designated Players this past season, clearly signaling the ambition of the club. Investor/operator Ted Segal, who purchased the team last year, said at his very first news conference that his “primary objectives are to ensure they have the necessary resources to succeed at the highest level and to foster the club’s connection to its community.”
Over in the Eastern Conference, DC United is a team with a coach but in desperate need of a rebuild. Former England international Wayne Rooney, who played for DC United for two seasons starting in 2018, took over in July. DC United finished last in the East, their 7-6-21 record the worst in the league. It was also the worst record in the team’s 26-year history.
Rooney did the best he could with the roster he inherited. This coming offseason will be the time that he, along with the DC United front office, look to restructure the team. DC United, once a regular in the playoffs, has not made the postseason since 2019.
“The club’s on-field performance this season was unacceptable,” co-chairmen Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan said in a statement on October 19. “We owe it to our supporters, our players and our greater community to compete at a high level. We are focused on bringing leadership that will work closely with Wayne Rooney and our management team to build a squad that once again competes at the top echelon of Major League Soccer.”
Now comes the hard work that fans don’t get to see. Can DC United and Houston Dynamo do enough to improve and make the playoffs come next season?
“It’s a big offseason for us,” Rooney said. “If we’re going to compete, if we’re going to be successful, there will have to be big changes and quite a few of them.”
Clemente Lisi is a regular contributor to US Soccer Players. He is also the author of the new book “The FIFA World Cup: A History of the Planet’s Biggest Sporting Event.”
More from Clemente Lisi:
- Q&A with Alexi Lalas: “I think, quite honestly, that the crucial game is the first one against Wales”
- Adding to the Supporters’ Shield, NYCFC defends, and the potential for a first-time champion
- The Philadelphia Union is showing how to balance a roster in 2022
- NYCFC, Orlando City, FC Cincinnati, Inter Miami, and the LA Galaxy put themselves into playoff positions
Photo by Tony Quinn – ISIPhotos.com