Ally Mackay hired as United’s general manager, chief soccer officer

In an effort to reverse its on-field fortunes after years of disappointment, D.C. United confirmed Monday that it will entrust its soccer operations to Ally Mackay, a Scotsman who helped shape expansion Nashville’s successful start in MLS.

Amid droughts of four years (last playoff berth), eight (last postseason victory) and 19 (last MLS Cup title), United announced it hired Mackay as its general manager and chief soccer officer.

Formerly Nashville’s assistant GM, he will oversee “player identification, recruitment, acquisition and roster development, integration of the academy and youth pipeline to the first team and the management and oversight of the technical staff,” the club said.

At 37, Mackay becomes the youngest general manager in MLS. He signed a four-year contract. Terms were not disclosed. His hiring was first reported by The Washington Post last week.

Mackay, who will report to co-chairmen Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan, also will lead the search for a coach following Wayne Rooney’s departure last month.

His all-encompassing role is a major shake-up to the technical side of the front office, which for more than 20 years had been led by Dave Kasper. Kasper was not cited in the team’s announcement Monday but is expected to remain with the organization as an adviser.

Mackay’s “experience from multiple perspectives, having served both in an MLS front office and as a player agent, will be valuable as it relates to culture building and identifying, supporting and harnessing talent,” Levien said in a statement. “He is full of energy and passion for this opportunity.”

In a statement, Mackay said there is a “massive and immediate opportunity for growth on the soccer side … There are a lot of strong foundational elements already in place at the club that we can build on and improve, and I’m eager to get started.”

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The previous general manager, Lucy Rushton, was fired in October 2022. (She reported to Kasper.) United did not employ a general manager this season, instead turning to Kasper and technical director Stewart Mairs for roster decisions.

A year after an MLS-worst 2022 campaign, United (10-14-10) finished 12th in the Eastern Conference — three spots out of a playoff berth — and 23rd in the 29-team league.

Rooney and United went their separate ways, marking the third time in four seasons the coaching job had been left vacant. Mackay has already shared ideas about coaching candidates, two people familiar with team operations said, and the process will accelerate right away.

Mackay was among several candidates from MLS and abroad who interviewed for the front office position.

The former University of Evansville defender worked for Stellar Group — an international player agency — before joining Nashville ahead of the club’s 2020 inaugural season. He reunited with GM Mike Jacobs, his Evansville coach, to become the assistant general manager.

Nashville is among three teams in MLS history to qualify for the playoffs each of its first four seasons. Separately, this summer it lost in the championship game of the inaugural Leagues Cup, featuring all 49 MLS and Liga MX teams.

Mackay was credited with helping acquire German attacker Hany Mukhtar, the 2022 MLS MVP, and standout defender Walker Zimmerman.

With Mackay in place, United is expected to finalize decisions on player contract options. The deadline is Dec. 1.

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