On the soccer field, as a defensive midfielder tasked with covering large swaths of grass, Russell Canouse is, in a way, a master of real estate.
Off the field, the D.C. United player passed the Virginia exam this month to become an actual real estate agent. He is just 23.
“ ‘Canouse Your House’ has a nice ring to it,” he said, suggesting a rhyming slogan that would end confusion about how to pronounce the family name.
With an eye on the long-term future and a hunger to expand his horizons, Canouse began pursuing the real estate angle last year.
“I am always looking for ways to better myself. That’s the way I am,” he said. “There are side interests and side passions, so why not use my time wisely, right? Obviously, my focus is pro soccer player, but I think guys shy away from doing other things with their time.
Canouse is aligned with Elite Real Estate Group in Falls Church. He has known the owners, Erich and Sheila Cuadros, since 2017, when they hired him to provide private coaching lessons for their son.
“I am training their boy, and all of a sudden, I find out we share the same interest,” Canouse said. “I thought, ‘How can I pick their brain to learn more? How can I get involved?’ "
Preoccupied by an athletic career, one that has led him to become among MLS’s top defensive midfielders, Canouse said he is not sure yet how he will put the license to practical use.
He has thought of buying houses, flipping houses, maybe creating a service that educates players around the league. He and his wife of four months, Erika, own property in the Lancaster, Pa., area — where both are from — and on the Delaware shore.
A retweet by teammate Wayne Rooney (17 million followers) of the real estate accomplishment did not hurt Canouse’s cause.
“I have ideas flowing through my head right now,” he said. “Maybe in the offseason I can be more hands on. It will help me understand the business. I’m learning.”
Not just as a player and aspiring real estate agent. He earned a national B coaching license from the U.S. Soccer Federation. He also has his eye on the wine industry. His father, Greg, a former Drexel soccer player, has begun that family pursuit with a business near Lancaster.
“I like wine better than beer,” Russell said laughing. “It’s his idea, his passion. Maybe one day it could be a pursuit for me. I am interested in what goes into the business and how much care is required is fascinating.”
Canouse dived into the soccer business at an early age. By 15, he was in Germany with Hoffenheim’s youth academy. He captained the under-17 team and became fluent in German within a year.
He featured for the U-19 squad and Hoffenheim II in the fourth division before making his lone Bundesliga appearance in March 2016 with a 23-minute run against Wolfsburg.
In 2016-17, Hoffenheim loaned him to second-division Bochum. After the season, he moved to MLS.
Injuries stalled his 2018 campaign, but when he was healthy for the second half, Canouse filled a pivotal role behind playmaker Luciano Acosta as United built momentum and gained an improbable playoff berth.
His two-way performances earned a call-up to U.S. national team training camp during MLS’s offseason. He did not play in either friendly but is on Coach Gregg Berhalter’s radar as the rebuilding program begins a new World Cup cycle.
In Washington, partnering again with Venezuelan Junior Moreno, Canouse started well but, like the rest of the team, hit a rough spot in a 4-0 home defeat to Los Angeles FC last weekend.
He is expected to be in the lineup Saturday night outside Denver when United (3-1-2) will face the Colorado Rapids (0-4-2).
It’s all about soccer for the next six months. Then maybe he will pursue something new on the side.
“Guys like playing video games. I’m not just wasting time,” Canouse said. “I want to impact people’s lives. If I can help someone buy or sell a home, whether it’s a teammate or a random person in Northern Virginia that I am referring, changing people’s lives is a cool aspect of it.”
D.C. United at Colorado Rapids
Where: DSG Park in Commerce City, Colo.
When: 9 p.m. Saturday.
Live stream: FloSports and ESPN+. Both are pay services. ESPN+ is blacked out in the D.C. area.
Records: United 3-1-2, 11 points; Rapids 0-4-2, two points.
D.C. probable starters: GK Bill Hamid; Ds Jalen Robinson, Frederic Brillant, Steve Birnbaum, Paul Arriola; MFs Zoltan Stieber, Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno, Luciano Acosta, Lucas Rodriguez; F Wayne Rooney.
Colorado probable starters: GK Tim Howard; Ds Keegan Rosenberry, Axel Sjoberg, Kofi Opare, Dillon Serna; MFs Nicolas Mezquida, Jack Price, Kellyn Acosta, Benny Feilhaber, Cole Bassett; F Kei Kamara.