Troy Lesesne, whose only first-division head coaching experience came in an interim role with the New York Red Bulls last season, agreed to terms with D.C. United to become its head coach, people close to the matter said Tuesday.
United officials said they did not want to comment. Lesesne could not be immediately reached for comment.
Lesesne (pronounced Le-sane) agreed to a three-year guaranteed contract, said one person close to the team, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the deal.
The Red Bulls declined to renew Lesesne’s contract. Before joining the Red Bulls, he coached second-division New Mexico United for three years. He was also an assistant at second-tier clubs in Charleston, S.C., and Charlotte.
Lesesne’s hiring came the same day Rooney was fired by Birmingham City, the English club he joined after leaving Washington. His low-key background comes in stark contrast to Rooney’s when United hired him in the summer of 2022. The English former superstar rejuvenated interest in the organization but failed to lead the team to a playoff berth. United has missed the playoffs four consecutive years and hasn’t won a postseason game since 2015.
Lesesne’s hiring brings another young element into the upper levels of United’s technical staff. In November, 37-year-old Ally Mackay was named general manager and became one of the youngest decision-makers in the league.
Mackay’s coaching search included former MLS coaches Robin Fraser, Domènec Torrent and Caleb Porter (who was hired recently by the New England Revolution); U.S. men’s national team assistant B.J. Callaghan; and former Salvadoran national team coach Hugo Pérez.
According to two people, Mackay also spoke informally with Bruce Arena, the most successful coach in U.S. pro soccer history whose tenure at New England ended last summer amid an MLS investigation of inappropriate remarks in the workplace.
The final candidates were Lesesne, Fraser, Torrent and Pérez, one person said.
Torrent, 61, seemed well-positioned for the job after serving as chief assistant under famed coach Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City. In 2019, he guided NYCFC to its finest regular season in history before taking jobs with Flamengo (Brazil) and Galatasaray (Turkey). It was unclear, though, whether United could have met his salary demands.
D.C. and Montreal were the last MLS teams seeking a head coach following a volatile year of coaching changes around the league. Montreal has yet to announce its choice.
United’s interest in Lesesne was first reported by The Washington Post last month. The Athletic was first to report Tuesday that United was in talks to hire him.
United’s move for Lesesne, a South Carolina native, comes less than two weeks before it is scheduled to open training camp in Leesburg. The team is close to finalizing plans to visit Saudi Arabia for a bulk of camp and multiple friendlies, people familiar with the matter said.
The season opener is Feb. 24 against New England at Audi Field.
Mackay has made several roster acquisitions, most notably the permanent transfer of playmaker Gabriel Pirani, who made 10 appearances for United last season while on loan from Brazilian club Santos. United has one remaining slot for a designated player, the classification used by the league for high-end players falling outside regular salary parameters.