September 20, 2019

D.C. United: Club loses Neal, McNamara in MLS Expansion Draft

All things considered, the MLS Expansion Draft on Wednesday could have gone far worse for D.C. United. With players like Eddie Johnson and Davy Arnaud left unprotected, the club was at risk of losing a starter or two, or at least a player who logged significant minutes in the highly successful 2014 season.

Instead, United suffered a loss in the midfield as Lewis Neal was taken by Orlando City SC in the fifth round of the draft, which also included selections by New York City FC. The latter club took midfielder Thomas McNamara from United in the eighth round, a player D.C. had only recently acquired from Chivas USA. McNamara never appeared as a United player. Each new club, which will begin play in 2015 as members of the Eastern Conference, selected 10 players. No MLS club could lose more than two players in the draft, and by rule, United pulled Arnaud off the list of available players once Neal was selected.

Neal was never one to put up big numbers with United, but he will certainly be well remembered for his contributions to the club. Neal scored the lone goal in D.C.’s 1-0 win at Real Salt Lake in the 2013 U.S. Open Cup final. He also scored the goal in 2012 that clinched a playoff spot for United, a late winner in a 3-2 home victory over Columbus.

In all, Neal made 53 regular-season and 5 playoff appearances for United, scoring two goals and adding three assists. This season, he was often one of head coach Ben Olsen’s top choices as a second-half substitute to control the ball and protect leads. However, Neal did make seven league starts in 2014 and 19 total since his acquisition on March 13, 2012.

Andrew Driver, a 27-year-old midfielder recently acquired from the Houston Dynamo, may be in line to help fill Neal’s former role. Driver, who formerly played with Hearts in the Scottish Premier League, was with Houston for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, appearing in 60 matches (42 starts) with three goals and two assists. United sent reserve goalkeeper Joe Willis and defender Samuel Inkoom to Houston for Driver and a fourth-round pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.

United were involved in two other trades, receiving allocation money in both. D.C. traded international rosters spots that are good for the next two seasons to Orlando and NYCFC, respectively, on Monday. According to the club’s website, the team also will receive a sum of allocation money in response to having two players selected in the Expansion Draft.

Also Monday, the club announced it had declined contract options to defenders Jeff Parke, Nana Attakora, Conor Shanosky, and midfielders Kyle Porter and Alex Caskey. Parke began the season as a starting center back along side MLS Best XI defender Bobby Boswell, but was injured and did not return, opening a spot for rookie Steven Birnbaum, who started 21 matches and finished third in league Rookie of the Year balloting. Caskey and Porter each saw very limited minutes in 2014, while Attakora and Shanosky did not make any league appearances.

Along with Boswell, United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was named to the league’s Best XI. Fittingly, Hamid is also the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Hamid blossomed into the league’s best shot stopper in 2014, while posting 14 wins and 10 shutouts. Both numbers were career highs for the 24-year-old from Annandale, Va.

Ed Morgans is the D.C. United Page Editor for District Sports Page. Follow him on Twitter @writered21.

About Ed Morgans

Ed Morgans is DC United Page Editor for District Sports Page. Ed worked for The Journal Newspapers (now The Examiner) and covered DC United from 1997-2002. He spent the 2003 season writing for the club’s website. Ed has covered All-Star Games, MLS Cups, CONCACAF Champions Cup, World Cup qualifiers, and international friendlies. He also worked as a blogger at www.bigsoccer.com, the country’s leading soccer message board website. You can follow Ed on Twitter @writerEd21.

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