On Dec. 21, 2017, D.C. United signed Ulises Segura on a permanent transfer from his Costa Rican club Deportivo Saprissa, and the midfielder moved stateside to begin his Major League Soccer journey. After recording 14 goals and four assists for the club in 124 appearances over four years, Segura was brought to the District ahead of the 2018 campaign for his physical presence and box-to-box ability. The Costa Rican added additional depth to the Black-and-Red's overhauled attack, and a versatility to line up centrally or on the wing.
Segura began his first MLS season intent on proving his value in a deep midfield rotation. He started seven of the first eight games of the season, and scored the game-winning goal over the Columbus Crew on April 14, before a knee injury sidelined him for two months. When he returned to health and the pitch at the end of July, he had lost his role in the starting XI, but continued to serve as a valuable substitute throughout the month of August, earning an assist in United's 4-1 win over Portland on August 15 as a late-game sub.
The midfielder returned to starting regularly again in September, beginning with the Black-and-Red’s 3-1 win over Atlanta United on September 2, when the Costa Rican logged his first 90-minute shift since April 28. He spent most of the remainder of the season as a member of the starting XI, and added another goal on September 12 when United downed Minnesota 2-1 at home.
While he only got on the scoresheet three times in his D.C. debut season, Segura made an impact in high-pressure moments. His game-winner against Columbus in April was the third-fastest goal in United history, and helped the Black-and-Red secure a crucial three points in their difficult early stretch prior to the opening of Audi Field after going down to 10 men for most of the second half.
Segura's goal against Minnesota was also a much-needed score. With United facing a 1-0 deficit 65 minutes into a must-win game against the struggling Loons, Segura collected a ball in the box, turned, and fired a shot into the back of the net for the equalizer. The goal helped awaken the crowd at Audi Field and swing momentum back in United's favor, and forward Darren Mattocks would ultimately score the game-winner for three more massive points in the Black-and-Red's playoff push.
At 6'0 and 154 pounds, Segura gives United added strength and depth, and helps diversify the midfield's physical makeup and playing style, as opponents must prepare for the strength and physicality of players like Segura and Russell Canouse, but also the pace and scrappiness of smaller players like Luciano Acosta and Paul Arriola. Segura's regular time with the Costa Rican National Team also adds experience to the Black-and-Red's youthful lineup.
Moving into 2019, Segura will strive to become a more impactful player for his club, whether that's as a starter or reliable depth option off the bench. With his first MLS and D.C. United season behind him, he will prepare this offseason to return next year ready to hit the ground running to push United toward another winning season, and, hopefully, another Audi MLS Cup Playoffs berth.