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2018 Review: Mora shows high upside in first season

Defender Joseph Mora joined D.C. United on March 7, 2018, on a transfer from Deportivo Saprissa after making 83 appearances for his Costa Rican club and winning two Invierno Championships. One of the Black-and-Red's primary goals ahead of the 2018 season was revamping the back line, and the addition of Mora provided United with another promising outside back with technical and physical ability. 

In his first Major League Soccer season, Mora earned 28 starts in 30 appearances for the Black-and-Red. Despite having only been signed on March 7, he played his first 90 minutes for D.C. United on March 17 against the Houston Dynamo, and was called upon immediately to step up in the absence of veteran left back Taylor Kemp, who recently announced his retirement from professional soccer, but missed the entirety of the season due to injury. 

Mora became more and more comfortable in his role as the season progressed, and was a critical presence in the back as United made their playoff run, and the injury of Oniel Fisher led to shuffling in the defensive line. Mora showed his high upside as he continued to grow into his position with United, using his dynamic skillset to control the left flank, manage opposing threats with his speed and strength, and whip crosses into the box on the attack. The defender notched two assists on the year—one at LAFC on May 26 and one against Minnesota on September 12. 

The defender showed his promising potential as a core member of United moving forward, and his play this season also earned him the attention of the Costa Rican National Team. Mora received his first senior team call-up on November 8 for Costa Rica's friendlies against Peru and Chile. One of the strongest teams in CONCACAF, the Ticos consistently hold their own on the international stage, and have gone as far as the FIFA World Cup Quarterfinals in 2014. Mora appeared for Costa Rica at the youth level, competing for the U-17, U-20, and U-23 teams, but his first senior team call-up was a testament to his development as a player and his solid season stateside. The defender appeared against both Peru and Chile as a substitute, and while he didn’t clock a lot of playing time, the caps were important first steps for Mora’s future with a senior team that is in need of young talent.

As for Mora’s future with the Black-and-Red, he remains under contract through the 2019 season, and will again be relied upon to hold down the left back spot. With his first MLS campaign in the books, Mora will look forward to another year in the District, another season at Audi Field, and another chance to make a run toward the top of the Eastern Conference. 

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