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In what has been a busy summer transfer window for D.C. United, the Black-and-Red have found another piece of the puzzle.

The club announced the signing of defensive midfielder Victor Pálsson on Wednesday. The Iceland international comes to D.C. after captaining newly promoted FC Schalke 04 back to the Bundesliga.

Pálsson has spent much of his career in Europe, overlapping with D.C. United defender Brad Smith at Liverpool, where he started his professional career.

But the 31-year-old is no stranger to Major League Soccer—far from it.

Unfinished Business

In 2012, the then-21 year-old, signed for New York Red Bulls. After making 16 appearances with our rivals, he was loaned to Eredivisie club NEC where he eventually completed a permanent transfer.

That experience, Pálsson told club media, stuck with him for the past 10 years.

“I’ve always had it in my mind that I wanted to come back and play in MLS. And now being 31, still fit I still have a lot to bring. I want to play for many years and hopefully I can do that in this club.”


“When he calls, of course it has an impact”

Discussions between Pálsson and the club date back to the preseason.

“To be honest, the biggest reason that I wanted to come to the U.S. is my family lives in North America, so I’ve been living away from my family for some time. That was a big thing for me,” he said.

In the midst of those discussions, D.C. United announced the return of MLS, Premier League, and England national team legend Wayne Rooney as Head Coach.

Like Rooney, Pálsson has never shied away from tackle—playing with a type of intensity that has been infectious everywhere he’s been. When it came down to it, the two were keen to work with one another.

“When [Wayne Rooney] calls you and tells you how he wants you to join the club, of course he has some impact on that [decision], as well.”

"Taking responsibility is in my DNA”

In Pálsson, D.C. is getting a veteran leader—one who is used to shouldering the responsibility of getting the most out of his teammates.

A quick look at his tape and you can tell that, above all, he loves to defend. “I’m a ball-winning player,” he said. “I can play as a centerback as well, so the defense is definitely my strength. Other qualities such as leadership and taking responsibility is in my DNA.”

Pálsson started his career as captain of Liverpool’s reserve squad, before going on to captain the 2017-18 Swiss Cup winners FC Zürich. And after leading Schalke through an emotional fight for promotion last season, he has no doubt in his ability to help lift the level after a difficult start to D.C. United’s 2022 campaign.

“I know the team is going through some hard times at the moment, but hopefully I can help turn that around.”


A decade after his first stint in Major League Soccer, Pálsson still feels he has much to prove.

“I’m hungry. I’ve won titles in my career, and I’ve always had that ambition that I want to be as successful as possible.”

He’s yet to put on the shirt and represent the Black-and-Red, but his demeanor and the way in which he talks about the club lets you know that he has high aspirations, for the team and on a personal level.

One of those personal goals, he said, was to add a sixth language to his arsenal. The Reykjavík-native speaks English, German, Icelandic, Danish, and Swedish, but knows how valuable speaking Spanish will be inside the D.C. lockerroom.

“I want to be able to help the team on and off the pitch, and I want to help the team to become better.”

When asked what D.C. United fans can expect from him, the midfielder offered up this reply:

“I can’t wait to go on Audi Field and play in front of them, and hopefully give them something they’ll be happy with.”