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D.C. United owner speaks out

D.C. United owner Will Chang addressed several issues concerning his winless club before Wednesday night's match against the Kansas City Wizards.

"It's disappointing. It's painful. This is like your kid going through hard times. I lose sleep over it. I am feeling the pain like everyone else around here."

Chang, who is based in San Francisco, said that he will not be able to complete a deal for a new stadium without local investors. Details to come.....

Commenting on the reasons for for the team's miserable start, Chang cited injuries as a main cause. He also took responsibility for the problems, saying, "I have been involved in every single major decision. I am actively involved. I talk to Dave and Kevin almost on a daily basis. The buck stops here. I am not going to say, 'Hey, the team is not performing well, we are going to fire this person or fire that person.' I take just as much blame."

On the angry response from the supporters: "I feel very sorry for our fans. I read the blogs, I read the comments on the blogs. All I can say is that I feel the pain, I share the pain. I know our guys are doing all they can to get through this rough patch, but we have been unlucky with the number of injuries. Preseason I watched our team and I really thought we had a great team."

Continue to the jump.....

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"If we are full strength, I think we will be very competitive. Having said that, are we doing something to shore it up? Absolutely. We're not just sitting around and crying and waiting for something good to happen or praying for something good to happen. We are going to be proactive."

Is he committed to signing a high-priced designated player?

"We are looking. I am not going to say we will. There are some folks in our organization that have been a little bit more firm in their statements. I am not going to make a promise, but we are seriously looking at players. Whether that additional support we bring in the summer transfer window ends up being a DP or not, time will only tell. Just because you want somebody doesn't mean you get somebody. We have a very complicated system where we have a salary cap and all the rules that apply toward the designated player. So even if you have a player, we have to make it fit within the rules of MLS and it's not necessarily an easy thing to do. We are going to look, we are looking very hard."

European reports said that United is interested in French legend Thierry Henry, who has been linked with the New York Red Bulls. Chang, however, said that "it would be highly unlikely that we would bring him in. Read into that any way you would like."

More about the fans: "Fans are not happy. I am going to talk to the fans in Lot 8 [tonight]. I am sure they have a lot of questions. Now is not the time for me to duck from the press or the fans."

Chang said he will not be able to reach a deal on a new stadium unless local investors become involved in the club.

"I don't think I can get a stadium here in D.C. I really need help from local investors and local partners to go out and be goodwill ambassadors in community among the political establishment. I am actively talking to prospective local investors and I am cautiously optimistic that, within the next month or two, I would have a number of people join me."

Although the search for a stadium location continues, "it's a chicken-or-the-egg comes first. Do I get a location and get a deal done without local partners? Or do I find local partners and they help me find a location and they help me negotiate the deal and become the goodwill ambassadors? I am not local. I am not familiar with this politics in this town. I am not known in the community. I don't know the political or business establishment here. I really need partners to go out and be the face of the franchise."

The fear of the club leaving Washington has not dissipated. However, "I am not there yet," he said.

By Steve Goff  |  May 5, 2010; 5:55 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  | Tags: D.C. United, MLS, Will Chang  
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Next: D.C. United rewind

Comments

Posted this in the previous thread, but it's probably more relevant here:

Slightly OT, but Will Chang owns an interest in the SF Giants, no? I wonder if he's at all involved in those supposed talks to buy the Golden State Warriors, and whether that might impact his ownership of DCU...

http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-04-30/sports/20877342_1_oracle-arena-warriors-owner-chris-cohan-mission-bay

Posted by: Juan-John1 | May 5, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Not feeling any positive vibe for the future here....just excuses.

Mr Chang needs to sell the team...he is not committed or does not have/or is unwilling to spend to make the team successful.

Mr Chang is correct "the buck stops with him"

For anyone hoping for a DP or major signing this summer, here's your answer.

How did we come to this?

Posted by: londonboy | May 5, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how much local investment is needed. I'd bet together we as fans could come up with a significant figure, if United were staying in the District.
Then again, I'm not sure how significant 5 - 10 million is.

I'm not saying it's a fix, but who else is going to invest in United?

Posted by: ratco | May 5, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Leonsis for minority owner?

Posted by: Josh86 | May 5, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

The United need local ownership not just local investors. After the initial optimism when Chang took full control of the team and he said all the right things, his team has fallen apart. The guy is clearly way too involved in the day to day on field workings of his club and not nearly involved enough in the business side of finding a spot to build his owndamn stadium.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | May 5, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

A couple of things. 1) What is Chang doing evaluating talent? Seems to me that's too much Dan Snyder-like. Maybe I'm over-reading his role in the process. 2) He's absolutely correct in the extra difficulty he'll have (in DC) by not being a local, and trying to navigate it's political waters. I'd say he's cooked without local support. And I also think that Payne was covering his behind with the comment on the DCU site about a VA location. I think Baltimore is the only real option right now, but they just won't admit it. Yep - pure, complete internet speculation on my part. Thanks for reading.

Oh, and DCU Wins tonight 3-0. ;-)

Posted by: nairbsod | May 5, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I like Will Chang and respect his involvement. It's impossible to tell from these comments whether he is frustrated with the front office or coaching staff or players--and that's good, because he shouldn't criticize his people in the newspaper. His frustration with the losses seems pretty genuine. And I think he's also being honest about the chance that the team could leave, if they can't pin down a stadium.

As you can see, all I expect from owners is a desire to win and an appropriate degree of public candor.

Posted by: hungrypug | May 5, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Before we bash Will Chang, we'd do well to think about the rotten hand he has been dealt so far. He comes in with MacFarlane, and they are pretty much set to move this team out of RFK to Poplar Point. Oh wait...that didn't work out.

Coupled with some rotten personnel decisions and Macfarlane selling his share of the team, I'd say Chang has been pretty devoted to DC United. Let's give him a bit more time to sort things out.

Posted by: DonDraper | May 5, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Well...having a hands on owner may be ok in some cases, but I really wonder what Chang's qualifications are as far as soccer goes. We need a proven person in the FO making the personel decisions along with the coach. Let KP take care of the business, but I'm not sure we have the credibility in the FO as far as soccer goes to be where this club should be...on the top.

Posted by: FAkeemail9875 | May 5, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

@hungrypug

My thoughts exactly.

Posted by: swampdogoh | May 5, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Allllllsopp!

Posted by: swampdogoh | May 5, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Chang,

You say you read these blogs. So one piece of advice: fire Curt Onalfo and hire someone like Hans Backe who can solidify the performances of the limited talent you have on hand.

You probably don't have enough talent to win MLS Cup at this point, but this team should not be performing as poorly as it is. There have to be several managers around the world who will happen to be out of contract in the next few weeks.

If you don't do something at some point, it lends credibility to the idea that you are driving the club into the ground to justify moving it.

-- just the viewpoint of a long-time fan of MLS soccer who respects the special place your club holds in our league's history.

Posted by: scott47a | May 5, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Mr Chang,

Thanks for buying the team. I have been impressed with your presence, and I enjoyed shaking your hand in KC last year. If you intend to move the team, please, please, sell it. It's your money, but it's not your team. It's ours. Yes, I am not so dumb as to think that gives us the right to tell you how to do this, but you can appreciate how I would rather have a poor or underfunded United than no United. I've lived and died with them for 14 years and you haven't.

So you tell me: what can I do to keep United in DC? Moving the team is not an option. I consider that a divorce. Short of that, I am United until I die. What can we do?

Posted by: bdwooton | May 5, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

As a long time DC United follower I feel for everyone involved with this team from MLS, the owners and the fans. I live in Puerto Rico and have managed to see 4 DC United matches live in RFK and have always followed the team and love the big crowds. Now that this team from top to bottom is frustrated there is one way to fix at least part of the equation. WIN! DC United has to win for its fans, for MLS, and for Will Chang. A winning team will only help the future of this team. If it can't manage to win then people stop believing, they stop showing up, and they stop caring. WIN DC!!!

Posted by: elfelixg | May 5, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Mr Chang needs to sell the team...he is not committed or does not have/or is unwilling to spend to make the team successful.

Posted by: londonboy | May 5, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, who would buy DC United (awful team, old stadium, bleeding money) other than Montreal who would “move” the team to Canada and replace United with Impact?

The one area where DC United is still strong is the fans.

I say pull a Drew Carey. Sell 20% (or more) of the team to the fans who can purchase shares. The fans will then elect a representative to speak for us and voice our concerns.

It keeps the team in DC, keeps the fans involved and gives you a loud local voice in DC politics.

Posted by: Southeasterner | May 5, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Ok maybe the fan ownership isn't exactly true with Seattle...but why not?

Posted by: Southeasterner | May 5, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Translation~

Chang: Take my soccer team. Please. In the mneantime, I'm gonna keep my foot firmly on the brakes in terms of player acquisition.

Posted by: Ron16 | May 5, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Well, he's clearly not smart enough to distance himself from Payne and Kasper, and he doesn't have the ability to make the team exciting again.

Enough already?

Posted by: UnitedDemon | May 5, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Will is a savvy guy and understands that local, connected investors will really help DCU. I hope he gets the right people...soon.

I like our owner. Would Dan Snyder hang in Lot 8? Or even do that interview? Relax, folks.

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | May 5, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

wow i think some of you see dan snyder behind everything. it's understandable but completely off base here. chang doesn't evaluate and sign the players. be reasonable people i can guarantee he wasnt scouring the MLS waiver wires where we seem to have gotten most of our players.

his honesty was very refreshing. we are still lucky to have him as an owner and his ownership is perhaps one of the only bright spots on a horrendous team.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | May 5, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Chang,

I've been a season ticket holder since 1995 and appreciate your commitment to the team.

Want to build a new stadium? Sell me a seat license. Add a slight equity interest and I'll probably pay more.

Need help with the local political structure? Pay for it (build it into the cost of the seat license). This town is full of lobbyists.

Posted by: Curious99 | May 5, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

By the way, great game tonight.

Posted by: Curious99 | May 5, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

I think being honest about needing a) lots of capital and b) more local power to go with that financial muscle is a good sign. Maybe not having to do it in public, but that's just the way it is right now. United fans have to get real, there is no one in DC's govt or a new buyer out there to buy the team with magic wands to make a stadium appear. It's going to take a large shared effort with a big developer, lots of entrepreneurs, govt approval and some positive reinforcement from MLS (not Garber fanning the flames).

I also like that Chang is not whining about the situation but trying to get out there and find people who can do something about it.

Posted by: Kev29 | May 5, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Wow some of you people are nuckin phutz!

Posted by: JkR- | May 5, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Somehow all these people hating on Will Chang would think he's the greatest thing ever if we were 5-1 and not 1-5.

Having said that, Chang has become o a soccer fan, but that's far from being knowledgeable about soccer . . . .maybe he should step away from being so involved in personnel decisions.

A) Castillo needs to get his butt in gear.
B) KC was awful tonight.
C) United left some goals on the pitch.

Posted by: delantero | May 5, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Was that seriously a microphone in front of the SE/BB types tonight? Do they not make enough noise that they had to put a microphone directly in front of them? I've watched several ESPN matches this year and always thought the supporter noise was out of proportion to the rest of the stadium. Now I know why. That doesn't seem to far away from 'piping in' crowd noise a la Fox Sports World a few years ago.

Posted by: mbyrd28 | May 5, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

""Was that seriously a microphone in front of the SE/BB types tonight?""

Not only that, but when KC blew the shutout, you could clearly hear a DC player (Talley?) say . .. well, rhymes with duck.

Posted by: delantero | May 5, 2010 11:00 PM | Report abuse

DC was very poor tonight, but KC was horrendous. That was a painful match to watch.

Posted by: Hoost | May 5, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

@londonboy
Really?? You think Chang should sell the team and he isn't committed? Have you been huffing paint? For one thing its hardly his fault the team is 1-5 (whooo hooo not 0-6), secondly he took blame for the poor start though how its mostly on him is questionable but thirdly you seriously think he is a bad owner? Again I ask if you have been huffing paint? Would you prefer a Ted Lerner or a Dan Synder? The man doesn't have to attend tailgates or interact with fans but genuinely seems to enjoy interacting with fans and seems to feel our pain. Mr Chang, please don't listen to these nutcases, the majority of DCU fans know you are good for the team and wish the best of DC United.

Posted by: rockotodd | May 5, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

DC was very poor tonight, but KC was horrendous. That was a painful match to watch.

Posted by: Hoost | May 5, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

No disrespect intended but a United victory is never painful to watch. Some are just more enjoyable than others. :)

Posted by: croftonpost | May 5, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

United rewind?

Posted by: redskinsux | May 6, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

someone really needs to gargle these ballz...sheesh.

Posted by: DadRyan | May 6, 2010 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Chang:

Let me introduce you to Mr. Leonsis. He's probably good for $5 to 10M. Plus his front office may bring economies of scale to the DCU front office. And over here is Mr. Fernandez who'll bring $2 to $3M and an in to the untapped local latin community. The two combined also can match their investment three times over through their local tech connections. They might even bring a former VA governor along for influence.

You may also want to meet Mr. Jemal. Not sure how much he can pitch in but he'll find a gem of a spot for the new stadium in DC in a place nobody even thought existed. He might even join you in Lot 8.

And then of course there is me and my 5,000 buddy loyal fans which can buy about $5M shares or so. We'll even stick around after games to help clean up.

Posted by: marcool | May 6, 2010 12:44 AM | Report abuse

my god! what a bunch of whining b@#$%$s some of you are.
are you going to criticize chang because he hasn't given each of you a poney?

Posted by: Figgy | May 6, 2010 2:20 AM | Report abuse

Two suggestions

1. Consider renting another stadium to get leverage on RFK and renegotiate rental+rennovation there. As long as it is business as usual at RFK, nothing is ever going to change. Who else does RFK rent to? If we, their major renter walk or threaten to walk, what kind of concession can we get? An empty stadium brings in nothing.

2. Find us a young, creative, exciting playmaker for the attacking midfield position as our DP, a person about which we can build a team and someone who represents a strong DCU future. I do not want any 37yr old South Americans who play holding midfielder and sit on the bench 1/2 the season from injury. I want some bright young player about which a team can be built. We need a spark and a future.

Posted by: Wiggan | May 6, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

The best quote is "I am not there yet," when responding to if the team is going to move. This team has been awful ever since the new ownership of Chang and MacFarlane. When MacFarlane left (I think that is his name...I know its Mc something or another)I was happy because I got the sense he only cared about the real estate aspect of owning a team. He didn't give a crap about soccer. With that in mind I was highly skeptical of this group. I did not know what their intentions were, but now I see that they didn't have any game plan outside of Poplar Point. When that blew up so did our team. I have no respect for Chang and as a matter of fact I respect Snyder more than him because at least he is spending money to improve his time despite his misguided attempts. We have the one franchise in the DC area that has won a championship in the last decade, but because of the incompetence of ownership we are being held hostage as fans. I hope MacFarlane burns in hell! I think Chang wanted to own a soccer team, but that greedy SOB MacFarlane had no business using this team for his own gain. Thanks a lot. Hey Chang if you read this send my sentiments to your former business partner.

Posted by: no_recess | May 6, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Chang might not be personally evaluating talent, but he signs off on everything that Payne and Kasper do, which also means he can veto things he doesn't want done. Those guys can't order post-it notes from the office supply without Chang signing off on it.

This is Chang's soccer team. The fish rots from the head down.

Posted by: Ron16 | May 6, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

So, did anyone see Mr. Chang in lot 8 last night?

Posted by: Reignking | May 6, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

This strikes me as worse than Zzzzzzzzz for stadium news. Sounds like finding local partners is iffy, and then they must re-start the goodwill ambassadorship (which I think United already did, back in the Poplar Point days, right?), and then start the long process of getting anywhere.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | May 6, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

To FallsChurch1:

You are correct; Will and the gang are basically back to the starting blocks when it comes to a stadium in DC. Other jurisdictions (Loudon County, Baltimore) might be able to build a stadium offer that wouldn't necessarily require Will to add new investors, but he seems to want to give DC first play at keeping the team.

Posted by: lgm6986 | May 6, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Just don't get the warm and fuzzies with Chang.

Posted by: cfrazier91 | May 6, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

So, did anyone see Mr. Chang in lot 8 last night?

Posted by: Reignking | May 6, 2010 9:23 AM
___

Yes, Mr. Chang was in Lot 8 last night - no handlers in sight, just him; he visited with the BB and SE's. He's a frequest visitor to our tailgates and hung out yesterday to talk to the fans, shake hands and have a slice of birthday cake.

Posted by: fsfitz | May 6, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Will,
Before last season you told season ticket holders in a letter that management would be held accountable moving forward. Yet we've not heard of any actions taken, nor have we heard any updates to your letter. Why should your words matter now if they clearly didn't matter before?
Fix our front office please.

Posted by: dsheon1 | May 6, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

As for potential locals how about Lerner, Snyder, Leonsis, Hendricks and Saylor for starters? All would be excellent local partners who know Washington and most have existing teams or (Hendricks) deep soccer connections!

I think Chang is alright--Not many owners would brave a "lot 8 like" crowd of fans of a lossing team!

Posted by: lovinliberty | May 7, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

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