WASHINGTON – It was a fascinating eight days for Gordon Wild.
The former University of Maryland striker was waived by Atlanta United on July 17. Five days later, he received a call from D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper on the possibility of coming in on a trial. Wild arrived on July 23 to train with the Black-and-Red for the first time.
Then on July 25, he started for United in a friendly for the club against French side Olympique de Marseille, playing 31 minutes and providing an assist in United’s only goal before halftime. For the former Terp, being back on the field and in familiar territory was a big deal.
“It was a very quick turnaround,” Wild said. “It is good to get my first minutes for the club under my belt. I know it is just a friendly, but I’m getting used to the guys. I think the first half we did fairly well and we managed to tie it.”
United signed Wild for the remainder of the season, adding depth to their roster as they head to the second half of their MLS season. He becomes the third former Terp on the roster, joining defenders Chris Odoi-Atsem and Donovan Pines.
For the Leonberg, Germany native, it is a chance to restart his career with opportunities abound.
“I know this area; I trained here three years ago before I (left) Maryland,” Wild said. “I am very grateful to be here; thanks to Dave (Kasper) and Ben (Olsen) for giving me this opportunity and I am looking forward to my time here.”
After his junior year at College Park, Wild elected to bypass his final year at Maryland to go pro and was selected with the No. 37 pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft by Atlanta. He was immediately sent on loan to second division side Charleston Battery. In his first year, he made 32 appearances and scored seven goals.
He started his 2019 campaign playing with Atlanta’s reserve team, Atlanta United 2, which also plays in the second division. He only made eight appearances and scored once before he was let go by the club in mid-July. In his two years with Atlanta, Wild did not play any minutes with the first team and has yet to make his MLS debut.
“I had a lot of good players around me and built good relationships,” Wild said. “I don’t want to say anything bad or I have nothing bad to say. It did not work out at the end. It was not right there so I am very happy for this opportunity with D.C. United came along and like I said, I am very happy to be here now.”
“We are excited to be adding a young talent in Gordon,” Kasper said. “Gordon has all the tools to be an MLS player, and we believe a change of scenery will do him well.”
Head Coach Ben Olsen said he will place Wild in a more attacking role with United, recalling his successful college years. He spent his freshman year in University of South Carolina Upstate of the Big South Conference and scored 16 goals in 15 games before electing to transfer to Maryland.
With the Terrapins, Wild excelled playing in the striker role. His best year came during his sophomore season in 2016, where he scored 17 goals and was named the Big Ten Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year. His performances lead to his nomination for the MAC Hermann Trophy for the best college player of the year.
However, Wild said he does not want to limit his role with United in attack. During his endeavors with Charleston and Atlanta, he had to play multiple positions, including wing back on defense and midfield. While it was a learning experience for him to play in more defensive roles, the former FC Mainz product said it made him a more well-rounded player.
After his assist against Marseille, Wild joined United’s second division team, Loudoun United FC, to regain his match fitness. In two games, he has already played 159 minutes and scored a goal in their 4-2 loss against Atlanta United 2 on Aug. 2.
“I think he has a little bit of a new lease right,” Olsen said. “He is going to get some minutes, I’m sure, with the first team, but he will see some significant minutes with Loudoun.”
United (9-9-7) will call upon his past striking history to provide an extra spark for the Eastern Conference team who slipped down to fourth place after being thumped by first-place Philadelphia Union 5-1 at home on Aug. 5. The Black-and-Red will look to end their three-game winless streak in league play when they take on the Los Angeles Galaxy on Aug. 11.