On Wednesday, D.C. United of Major League Soccer purchased Rob Vincent with an undisclosed permanent transfer fee from the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the United Soccer League. The attacking midfielder had been on trial with United since the beginning of the MLS preseason. He recently featured in the second half of D.C.’s 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union at Al Lang Stadium, home to the Tampa Rowdies, who are currently hosting a pre-season tournament. The signing represents a deserved opportunity for Vincent, but it could land him back in the USL for a period of time.
A native of England, Vincent played college soccer at the University of Charleston before playing three seasons for the black and gold Riverhounds. During his time in Steel City, the 25-year-old was a mid-field force on a strong offensive squad. He scored 28 goals during his 88 appearances in the USL. His consistent game-changing performances earned him a spot in the USL All-League First Team last season.
Vincent’s transfer became public one day after D.C. United and the USL’s Richmond Kickers announced they are extending their formal affiliation until the end of the 2017 season. Since 2013, when these clubs first officially announced their partnership via an agreement between MLS and USL, the Kickers have prominently featured players loaned out from the nation’s capital. It has not been unusual to see former United players sign with Richmond after departing the MLS.
The big question, then, is whether or not Rob Vincent will play for D.C. United or Richmond Kickers.
The affiliation between United and the Kickers has been unlike some other MLS/USL affiliations in which the MLS club would just send out their undesirables, players who would damage the USL team’s chemistry and structure. Richmond has flourished through their partnership with their red and black MLS counterparts. Players such as Travis Worra and Andrew Dykstra have provided stability on loan as goalkeepers, while field players Collin Martin, Luke Mishu, and Connor Shanosky have been very beneficial to strengthening Richmond’s roster in years past.
A younger talent like Vincent could easily break into United’s starting XI over the course of a long MLS season that plagues a team with injuries. It would not be a shock, however, for an MLS team to loan a new signing to a USL club to get more minutes in competitive matches. Earning one’s stripes seems to be a trend with new signings via lower division clubs or the MLS SuperDraft.
On opening day in March, will Rob Vincent be donning the red and black of D.C. United or the Richmond Kickers? Tell us what you think.