It wasn't so long ago that DC United was the class of MLS. As recently as 2008, they won the U.S. Open Cup and it was just 2007 that they last finished atop the Eastern Conference during the regular season.
But times have been tough. United have missed the playoffs for three years running and last year set a MLS record for goal-scoring futility (22 goals). A lot of the problems can be traced back to an inability to identify talent. Just look at last year's signing of Pablo Hernandez, a player who was brought on loan for about $250,000 a year, made 14 appearances, never scored and was let go at the end of the season.
As Black and Red United's Martin Shatzer points out, maybe the signing of Charlie Davies is a sign that things are turning around. While Davies suiting up for United is not exactly a done deal, the way DC put itself in position to even have that option seems to be a positive sign.
Davies coming to D.C. isn't luck or good fortune. If any other team were at the top of the Allocation list instead of D.C., Davies would probably be staying in France. United sought him out. The innovative approach was that they used Allocation as a tool for acquisition - not just something to keep in their pocket in hopes that some Yank Abroad would decide to return home later this summer.