Hernán Losada: A look back at El Profe's First Year with D.C. United


Hernán Losada was named D.C. United’s head coach on January 18, 2021, becoming the youngest active coach in MLS (38) at the time. He joined the team after concluding his first coaching tenure with Belgian First Division team, Beerschot Wilrijk, from 2019-2021, after retiring as a player in 2018. 

The Argentinian came to D.C. United seeking a new challenge in his young coaching career. Taking the helm at D.C. United in Major League Soccer seemed like the right move to challenge himself, as he has expressed his belief in it becoming one of the top leagues in the world. 

“The feeling everyone has about the league is that it’s growing massively,” Losada said. “That it’s supposed to be, and I’m sure is going to be, one of the top five leagues in the world, in a very short term period. When you see the players, the quality of coaches, and the new infrastructure, stadiums and facilities, it’s amazing. I didn’t think twice [about coming to the MLS]. All the comments are very positive. And, especially in Argentina, more and more games are being televised, and everyone can follow MLS all over the world.”

Losada joined the Black-and-Red after a disappointing 2020 campaign in the District. Due to COVID-19, D.C. United ended a short 2020 season, consisting of 23 games with only 25 goals, a 5-12-6 record, and finishing in 13th place in the Eastern Conference; 24th overall with 21 points.

Following Losada’s arrival, the team have turned themselves around and have forged a strong identity heading in 2022. In 2021, the Black-and-Red ended the campaign with nine more wins and their new attacking brand of soccer yielded 56 goals (second most in the Eastern Conference). Despite the impressive turnaround, they ended the regular season in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 47 points, narrowly missing out on a playoff spot by one point.

Games Played
Home Wins
Away Wins
Goals per Gamee

“I think he revived us and sparked us up again as a group and as an organization. He’s kept everyone on their toes from the start,” said wingback Julian Gressel on what Losada has brought to the club.

From the beginning of his tenure, Losada was prepared to implement a more offensive approach to a D.C. United team that needed a change. The team adopted an “energy drink” style of play, where they press the opposition for 90 minutes. It forced the players to elevate their fitness levels in preseason and at the start of the regular season, and once those were reached the results began to follow. This style of play also made for an exciting brand of soccer for the fans, especially at Audi Field where they scored 32 goals and recorded 11 wins in 2021.

“You have to entertain the fans because they are going to watch a game, and when it’s over they go home with the feeling that they want to come back and watch this team play again because it gives them good feelings and emotions, and soccer is emotions,” Losada said.


Losada brought a new sense of passion and drive, despite having a similar roster to last year. He was able to bring D.C. United back to life using his ‘collective above the individual’ philosophy to make adjustments that have been vital to the Black-and-Red’s success. This powered the emergence of 18-year-old Homegrown Kevin Paredes, the revitalization of Ola Kamara’s career, who had the most goals in MLS (19) in 2021, and the successful move of Julian Gressel to wingback. Changes Losada saw were necessary to achieve his objectives during his first year.

“I said it very clearly at the beginning of the season that the objective was to build a new philosophy of the game, change the mentality of the club to a winning mentality, go out to win every game, and I think all of that was achieved, and some more.” Losada continued, “This year, we did more than expected because of the way of playing, the results and the number of goals. What we did with players who had received a lot of criticism, I think it is outstanding."

Hernán Losada helped D.C. United become one of the season's biggest surprises, as one of the most improved MLS clubs in 2021. He turned a team that was predicted to have similar results to their previous year into a team that won the second most matches in the Eastern Conference and was in contention for a playoff spot until Decision Day. Losada gave them the stability, confidence and style of play the team was lacking. With a full offseason and preseason under Losada’s belt ahead of the 2022 season, supporters can be optimistic about the future success of the Black-and-Red under El Profe’s guidance.