D.C. United hired Lucy Rushton to become the club’s new general manager, the team announced Wednesday, continuing a slow-moving trend of women in sports earning more prominent positions.
Rushton will step into the role Dave Kasper previously held, as well as becoming the head of technical recruitment and analysis. Kasper, who has been with D.C. United since 2002 and served as general manager since 2007, will become the team’s new president of soccer operations and sporting director.
Rushton joins D.C. United after five years with Atlanta United, serving as the club’s head of technical recruitment and analysis. In that role, Rushton oversaw Atlanta’s scouting department, managing scouting networks and travel while preparing videos of potential player targets the team could sign. She also worked to cut game clips for players to study ahead of matches.
“Lucy’s experience at the top levels of our sport and her ability to match talent to a certain identity and system of play through the application of performative data analysis and qualitative analysis is second to none in our league,” Jason Levien, CEO and co-chairman of D.C. United, said in a statement. “We’re confident in her ability to lead our soccer operations teams, contribute to building exciting rosters, and drive a culture that delivers on-field success.”
Before that role, Rushton spent time in England with Watford FC as a player recruitment analyst and with Reading FC as the head of technical scouting. When she was with Reading, the club won the English League Championship title during the 2011-12 campaign, earning promotion to the Premier League. At that club, Rushton led pre-match, in-game and post-match analysis, according to her Atlanta United biography.
Rushton becomes the second female general manager in MLS history after Lynne Meterparel, who served as the general manager for the San Jose Clash in 1999. Other major sports have seen an increase in representation, too, although Rushton becomes just the second active female general manager for a major men’s professional sports team.
The Miami Marlins hired Kim Ng in November as the team’s general manager, making Ng the first female general manager in MLB history. Six female coaches worked for NFL playoff teams last season. There are several female assistant coaches in the NBA, including Kristi Toliver on the Washington Wizards.
In December, Becky Hammon became the first woman to serve as head coach during an NBA game after Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was ejected. Jennifer King became the NFL’s first Black, female full-time coach when the Washington Football Team named her assistant running backs coach in January.
D.C. United has undergone massive changes this offseason. After the departure of longtime coach Ben Olsen in October, the club hired 38-year-old Argentine Hernan Losada as its new head coach. The black-and-red also hired Danita Johnson in December as president of business operations, making her the first Black team president in MLS history.
Kasper’s new role as sporting director gives him oversight of the club’s first team, Loudoun United, and the academy squad.
“Dave’s knowledge of our league and the sport globally will be integral in the evolution of our club as we enter this new era at D.C. United,” Levien said in a statement. “Dave’s leadership and experience will have us well-positioned to maximize the impact and results of the recent investments the club have made in our soccer infrastructure, particularly our new, state-of-the-art training facility and performance center in Loudoun County, where our first team, Loudoun United FC, and Academy will all train.”
D.C. United opens the 2021 season Saturday night against New York City FC, with a roster that resembles the one that missed the playoffs last year. Losada did bolster his unit with the signing of 23-year-old Dutch forward Nigel Robertha in March and defender Brendan Hines-Ike on loan from K.V. Kortrijk in Belgium.
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