Tag Archives: roster

Drafts and a trialist?

The SuperDraft and the Supplemental Draft are now over, which has added four additional players to DC United’s roster. United’s draft haul includes two attacking midfielders and two defenders, which leads me to hope that United is in deep discussions with international forwards that will be signing this week.

The two attacking midfielders were the first and last draft picks that United had in the two day draft: Nick DeLeon from Louisville and Matt Kuhn out of Drake. Both can play on the wing or more centrally, although it seems as though DeLeon is more comfortable on the wing and Kuhn is more comfortable in the center of the field. For coverage on Nick DeLeon, I recommend the always excellent Black and Red United, who picked up a nice interview with him. Joe Mauceri likes the pick of Kuhn, and says that while he played central attacking midfielder at Drake, he can also fill in at left midfielder and left back.

DC United also picked up two defenders in the draft: defensive midfielder Lance Rozeboom out of New Mexico and center back Charles Rodriguez out of UNC-Charlotte. Rozeboom is a slightly curious pick, as he would be competing with Perry Kitchen, Conor Shanosky, and Kurt Morsink. Kitchen will likely be gone during Olympic qualifying, but I wonder if this is an indication of Shanosky’s standing with the United coaching staff. Or, they might have just rated him the highest out of who was left and drafted value instead of need. Charles Rodriguez captained UNC-Charlotte’s national runner up squad this fall, and I enjoyed his exuberance at being drafted by United. Center back is obviously a position where DC United needs more players and Rodriguez, while not the most physical, apparently has great soccer IQ. I like the draft picks overall, as long as an international forward (or trade for an established MLS starter at the very least) is coming.

Also, a newspaper out of Hattiesburg, Mississippi is reporting that William Carey University goalkeeper Carl Goody is on trial with DC United. Goody was scouted by Pat Onstadt during Carey’s run in the NAIA Tournament and was selected a first team All-American at the National Soccer Coaches Association convention this past week. There are quotes from Goody’s coach, who said that “He [Onstadt] liked what he saw of Carl and was interested in getting my opinion and also learning about Carl’s plans after graduation.” And, for those who are snooty about NAIA, there was at least one NAIA player taken during the actual Supplemental Draft today.

SuperDraft preview

DC United only has one pick in today’s MLS SuperDraft, so they better make it count. Last year, United got solid contributors with all of its picks in both the SuperDraft and the Supplemental draft: a key starter in Perry Kitchen, and quality role players in Joe Willis, Chris Korb, and Blake Brettschneider. This year, however, United has only one pick in the two round SuperDraft and three picks in the four round Supplemental Draft. Both of the picks that are missing this year were traded for players who are not currently on the team’s roster. United traded their second round pick this year in the trade for Jed Zayner, currently out of contract but invited to camp, and traded their first round supplemental pick this year in the 2009 trade for Julius James, currently a starter for the Columbus Crew.

All of that said, it will be their pick at the top of the draft that defines whether it is a success or a failure. United will certainly be looking to get a Generation adidas player, and hopefully they can pull off a coup similar to the one that netted them Perry Kitchen. There are four players that I have seen most often projected to be taken by DC United: UNC midfielder Enzo Martinez, Creighton fullback Tyler Polak, UCSB midfielder Luis Silva, and Maryland forward Casey Townsend. Black and Red United have done some nice profiles of these players (and more!), so I recommend you check them out if you haven’t already.

Martinez and Silva are both attacking midfielders, which is not a position of dire need for United. Dwayne DeRosario and Branko Boskovic will begin the season as the top two on the depth chart at the position, with both of them likely to start, if healthy. However, Boskovic’s contract only runs through the middle of the summer, and the options in center midfield drop off after those two players. Martinez is the Generation adidas player, meaning he would cost less, but Travis Clark considers Silva the more MLS ready of two and the one who is ready to fight for a starting spot now. United obviously needs the more MLS ready player now, and so I would prefer Silva over Martinez.

Tyler Polak is another name that has been linked to United. He is a fullback out of Creighton, who usually plays left back and was one of the catalysts for his team. However, he has not had a very good Combine and that seems to have made his draft stock slip somewhat. He is another member of the Generation adidas class and United do need a left back to challenge or supplant Daniel Woolard; I like Woolard as a spot starter, but United need some more offensive potential out of the left back position. Even though he hasn’t had the best Combine, I would have no problem with United taking Polak.

Finally, mlssoccer.com’s mock draft projects United to take Casey Townsend, a forward out of Maryland. He is not a stereotypical target forward, but more a goal poacher who is also good in the air. He scored 17 goals and notched two assists for Maryland this year, and has 43 goals in his college career. Unlike the rest of the top forwards in the draft pool, Townsend will likely still be on the board at number 7. United badly need a finisher other than DeRo, and it looks like Townsend is the best one in the draft. While I would be happy with any of the other players selected, the one that I want the most is Casey Townsend.

Two United Academy Products to the U-20 USMNT

Hello to any new followers my Emiliano Dudar story have brought! Hope you all are as excited for the upcoming DC United season as I am.

But the real United news today are the team’s two academy products that have been brought into Tab Ramos’ U-20 United States Men’s National Team. The two are center back Jalen Robinson and left midfielder Collin Martin. Robinson was a member of the 2011 Milk Cup team that played in Northern Ireland this past summer and is rated as the 13th best prospect in the country for 2012 by Top Drawer Soccer. Martin is rated the 39th best prospect in the country for the 2013 class and was the high scorer for the U-16 team the year before. United’s academy teams have been playing a 4-3-3, installed by former Ajax product Soony Silooy and in line with the style of play being installed in the youth national teams.

These players are in addition to academy players Patrick “Paddy” Foss and Brad Vorv, each of whom who have excited fans by featuring in the final two Reserve League games this November. Foss spent the summer at the residency program in Bradenton, Florida, also scored a hat trick in April against the Chinese U-17 national team. And that is still not to mention forward Marcus Salandy-Defour, who has been a part of the youth national teams in the past and paced the U-18 team’s attack throughout the summer.

Some of these players will be signed before going to college or after one year at college; to let all of them get away would be a travesty. And with their Homegrown signings so far, United has done nothing to hint that they will not do what it takes to get these kids under contract if they believe that they will make good pros. My “bold” prediction is that at least one of these players will be signed for the upcoming season; maybe they won’t have a Najarian impact, but then again, who could?

Also seen as I was looking through various Academy rosters: Denis and Cristhyan Najar. I’m sure by the time both of them are on the senior team, Andy will be gone, but how cool would it be to have three Najars spearheading the attack? And for two people who know far more about the youth national teams and club teams than I, follow Joe Mauceri and Travis Clark on Twitter.

United’s long, dark winter

This post has been sitting around in my drafts for a couple of weeks now, but it hasn’t changed. The silly season is currently in fully effect for the teams with plenty of money, but the majority of the teams have gone silent. DC United is currently in a holding pattern, having not taken any players in either stages of the re-entry draft, having only added one player so far this offseason, and having just released eight players. However, the coaching staff has not been idle; various members of the front office and coaching staff have visited all of the continents except Australia and Antarctica (and given the last player to come from Australia, that’s a good thing). There has been some concern out there that doubts United’s ability to sign good players from overseas, and this is concern that is definitely warranted. Over the past two years, United has only gotten 86 appearances out of players who were signed from abroad, which averages just under 11 caps per player. Two players that were signed from abroad, Cristian Castillo and Rodrigo Brasesco, were cut before the season in which they were signed even ended. There is not much optimism that the front office will get it right in the future.

And yet, I am an eternal optimist. If I wasn’t, I would probably be crushed by roster issues, stadium issues, the team moving issues, etc. I do have faith, as Ben Olsen continues to put his stamp on this team, that the overseas signings will improve. There will also be a one or two signings from the Academy as well. And there will be a solid contributor from the draft as well. But training camps open in 15 days, and there have been no rumblings about possible DCU signings. Its time to start getting new players under contract and into this team.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the United Mania guys said that the team needs four new starting level players, in addition to squad players. They have currently acquired one of those: Robbie Russell. The team still needs another fullback, a creative attacking midfielder, and a target forward. Dave Kasper said in November that the team hoped to announce more signings in the coming weeks; hopefully those materialize in the next few days.

#DCU offseason in full effect

In a recent episode of The Best Soccer Show, Jason and Jared lamented the fact that there was no time to properly digest and reflect on the accomplishment of the LA Galaxy, to put them into historical context, and really look back upon the season that was. For those of us who are fans of teams that didn’t win the MLS Cup, however, it allows us to move forward with the shiny optimism that a new season brings. And while there were no DC United players taken in the expansion draft (the most likely scenario all along), the offseason has kicked into high gear this week.

We learned today that United has decided not to review the contracts of Clyde Simms, Santino Quaranta, Steve Cronin, Jed Zayner, Brandon Barklage, Joseph Ngwenya, Marc Burch, Devon McTavish, and Kurt Morsink. The fact that Burch and Ngwenya will likely not be on the team next year is music to the ears of most fans. McTavish, Barklage, and Zayner are all recovering from severe injuries that have limited throughout the season and are not likely to be contributors going forward. Morsink and Cronin simple are not MLS level players at this point; they would probably be served better with a move to NASL. None of the first seven cuts are really that surprising.

However, the fact that both Santino Quaranta and Clyde Simms will likely be gone next season is a bit of a surprise. Unless I’ve miscalculated, the longest tenured players on the team will now be Dejan Jakovic and Chris Pontius. With Quaranta and Simms, it comes down to economics. Simms lost his spot to Perry Kitchen, and $180k is far too much for a backup. For Quaranta, a player making 110k per year cannot be a sub (at least not for a team like DCU), no matter how super he is. Were he making 68k, Quaranta would still be on this team. Although Goff has now just posted that DCU did not try to negotiate ‘Tino’s contract to a more reasonable number. If true, that is crappy on their part: Quaranta has been a model United player and keeping him at a reasonable number would be useful. Still, another sign that Olsen is breaking from the past and remaking the team the way he wants to make it.

With a third of the team about to leave, though, some replacements are obviously necessary. The first major addition this offseason has been the trade for Robbie Russell, right back from Real Salt Lake. United’s fullbacks have definitely needed an upgrade, a Russell is a solid defender with championship experience. Also, Dave Kasper said today that they anticipate they will be able to announce “additional acquisitions in the next several weeks.” Sounds like some overseas signings to me. Let’s hope that they work out better than recent ones.

#DCU Protection List

Now that the season is officially over, it is time to look ahead to the next one. DC United has a solid, young core to build upon, and I am feeling confident for next year. The first stage in the offseason is the expansion draft, where the Montreal Impact will select 10 players from the other 18 clubs to help fill out their MLS roster.

A quick rundown on the basic rules: homegrown and Generation Adidas players do not have to be protected, there is a sliding scale of how many international players must be protected per team (United only has to protect 1), and if your team has one player picked, they cannot have another taken. For the complete, in depth rules of the expansion draft, see the MLS website. All of that being said, here are the different categories I came up with for United’s current roster, with their 2011 guarenteed compensation (which includes bonuses) in parentheses.

Homegrown/GA players who do not need to be protected:

  • Bill Hamid ($69,750)
  • Andy Najar ($155,800)
  • Ethan White ($71,000)
  • Conor Shanosky ($69,218.83)

Protection List

  1. Dwayne DeRosario ($493,750): Pay the man.
  2. Chris Pontius ($136,250): Pontius was electric the whole season, and the game where he got injured was the high point for him. Unfortunately, it was the high point for United as well, with the offense proving lackluster outside of some amazing DeRo performances. The only question about Pontius is whether he will be on the wing or whether he will play as a second striker.
  3. Perry Kitchen ($148,200): Steve Goff is reporting that Kitchen is likely to graduate from Generation Adidas based on his playing time this year, meaning he would have to be protected. He will be protected, and will be the first choice holding midfielder going into 2012.
  4. Brandon McDonald ($45,000): Brandon McDonald brought some much needed bite to United’s back line; unfortunately, he had some glaring mistakes down the stretch. I think pairing him with Dejan Jakovic, instead of Ethan White, is the best move.
  5. Dejan Jakovic ($201,643): His partnership with McDonald was going very well, until he got injured playing for Canada again. I’m only half joking when I say I hope Canada gets knocked out of World Cup Qualifying as soon as possible.
  6. Santino Quaranta ($117,500): The Santino of the last few weeks of the season looked more like the Santino of old. At this point, I think he’s mostly a super sub and a spot starter (even though he’s still only 27), but I like having him on the bench as a game changer.
  7. Branko Boskovic ($525,366.67): It will be interesting to see what United will do with Boskovic. I could see anything from him getting cut in the offseason to him starting at left wing next season. We’ve never really seen him play, as injury has really derailed him so far, and I still want to give him a chance.
  8. Jed Zayner ($70,375): Zayner was the defender of the year in 2010, which isn’t saying much. However, people forget that he had a wonderful through ball assist to Josh Wolff in the first game of the season, and has been out almost every game since. If the club thinks he can come back healthy next year, I would love to see him starting.
  9. Chris Korb ($42,000): Chris Korb improved late in the season. In the beginning, you could tell that he was overmatched and not ready to start. When he came on at the end of the season, he was mostly solid, with a few (fairly large) lapses. I think he can get better and turn into a regular starter; if not, he’s definitely a serviceable backup, he’s young, and he’s cheap.
  10. Blake Brettschneider ($42,000): Brettschneider is not an out and out goalscorer; however, he combines well with DeRo, is good at holding the ball up, has tons of energy, and can make some decent passes as well.
  11. Joe Willis ($42,000): Protect him because he is a good project for the future, especially for when/if Hamid leaves for larger pastures.

Not protected, but would be nice if they stayed

  1. Clyde Simms ($179,250): Clyde Simms has been a model United player; however, it looks like he has lost his starting spot to Perry Kitchen, and so will probably be left unprotected. I would like to see him stay on the team though, as he’s a great guy and has tons of experience.
  2. Daniel Woolard ($50,000): Woolard plays solid defense on the left side and offers little going forward. I would like to see United try and upgrade both fullback spots, but Woolard is a solid backup to have.
  3. Stephen King ($46,500): I have a soft spot in my heart for Stephen King. No, he’s not starter material, but he’s also a good backup at a good price.
  4. Josh Wolff ($160,000): Wolffy had a frustrating year; after an exciting first game, the promise of him and Davies playing off each other up top never really materialized. I wouldn’t mind having him around again next season, as I think he’d be good off the bench, but I don’t want to see him starting.
  5. Austin da Luz ($82,375)

Don’t care either way

  1. Steve Cronin ($72,000)
  2. Devon McTavish ($50,000): I feel for McTavish and really hope that he’ll be able to continue his soccer career. However, I think Korb and Woolard provide what McTavish does.
  3. Kurt Morsink ($63,500)
  4. Brandon Barklage ($43,566.67): I originally had Barklage in the “Hope he stays” category, but I moved him down here. His injury history is a big concern. His plus is that he can play on the wing or at fullback, but I don’t think he’s good enough to even serve as anything more than an emergency backup at either position.

Go away forever

  1. Marc Burch ($97,500): Burch has got a big left foot, but can’t defend at all. Even when Olsen needed more offense down the stretch, he couldn’t stand more than a few more games of Burch.
  2. Joseph Ngweyna ($156,000): I would have cut him before Wednesday’s game even ended.
  3. Charlie Davies ($244,870): Books could (and have) be written about Charlie Davies’ time with DC United. All I know is that, unless there is a massive reduction in his salary, it is time for him to go.
That’s my list. Who are the 11 that you would protect?

Tradesplosion! McDonald, DeRo, and Dax

Ben Olsen’s DC United has been anything but tame. Olsen shook things up in the offseason, and he has done it again today. On my drive home, I saw that United had traded allocation money for Brandon McDonald, a physical centerback from the SJ Earthquakes. I think it is a good move, giving United some physical bite in the central defense while Jakovic is out, and possibly allow Kitchen to take over Clyde Simms defensive midfielder role.

But then came the real shocker: Dax McCarty traded for Dwayne DeRosario. My first reaction was that United got the short end of this deal, trading away long term stability for a run at the playoffs now. But really, the more I look at it, the more that Dax McCarty just wasn’t going to fit with the other personnel on this team. Dax needs to play as a more deep lying midfielder, with someone else having the attacking role. But, in DC, that role is taken by Clyde Simms, or Perry Kitchen, or Conor Shanosky. Playing Dax out of position for the next 10 years isn’t going to do him any good. He is a class person and I am glad that United was able to get him into a position where he can succeed, even if it has to be with the Red Bulls. It doesn’t hurt that United gets one of the best attacking players in the history of the league in return. Hopefully United can also get a long-term solution in the attacking midfield for after the two or so years that DeRo gives them soon.

So going forward, what lineup do I want to see, at least until Jakovic comes back?

Zayner McDonald White Woolard
Najar DeRo Pontius
Davies Wolff

I would put that front five up against any other in the league right now. Vamos United, and bring on the Union!

Boskovic on the wing

D.C. United has been playing with our expectations; and no, I’m not talking about Charlie Davies. When Branko Boskovic was signed as United’s designated player last summer, it was with the understanding that he would be the #10, the playmaker in central midfield. In the two preseason scrimmages that have been played so far, Ben Olsen has been playing Boskovic in his natural position, on the left wing. Even though the preseason is still in its infancy, Boskovic seems to be playing more like the designated player that we expected him to be; it just happens to be out on the wing. He served in two crosses that led to goals, one from a corner kick and the other from the run of play. He also put in a goal in the intersquad scrimmage played on Friday.

Now, it remains to be seen if this play is the result of Boskovic being put on the wing or from him now having a full preseason to integrate himself into the club. The problem with midyear signings is that even good players need time to learn their teammates and be able to help them; this is even more pronounced in players that are supposed to be playmakers. A new striker can still make a mark by getting into the right positions and putting shots on frame; a new defender can concentrate on marking his man, while working into his other responsibilities. A midfielder’s play is totally dependent on service and until he has enough time to learn his teammates, he will not reach his potential.

As D.C. United roster continues to take shape, Boskovic’s possible move out to the wing is another part of the roster dance that United is playing. If he can keep this level of play while playing from the central midfield, he could be that number 10 that United has been missing. Boskovic running the show from the middle, with Najar and Quaranta bombing down the wings and Davies and Pontius (or Ngwenya or Wolff) is an enticing proposition. But even if Boskovic fails in the middle, if he can keep this play up on the wing he has locked down a starting spot. Boskovic out on the wing brings Simms back into the starting lineup and puts Davies, ‘Tino, Pontius, Ngwenya, and Wolff in competition for two spots. What is important is to continue to watch how Olsen constructs his lineups throughout the preseason; I am sure we will see Boskovic in the middle at some point, as well as Pontius and ‘Tino as both midfielders and forwards. I know I speculate a lot about the construction of this season’s roster, but what else is the offseason for?

State of the Roster (Charlies Davies Edition)

Ben Olsen’s coy comments about American strikers have come true, as D.C. United has used their position on top of the allocation order to, pending an extended physical, sign Charlie Davies to a year long loan. On the surface, this is a great move for D.C. United, as it takes a player that has almost universal support in the US soccer community and puts him on a team that sorely needs that kind of goodwill. And if Charlie can get anywhere near his previous form, it should provide United with the goal scoring punch it so badly missed last season.

MLS rules require an option to purchase in any loan deal, but I would guess that Sochaux would make that so high as to make it just a token offer. I have heard that some people are surprised that its a year long loan; it makes sense for Sochaux too, allowing them to sign their own loan player for the first half of next season and get Charlie back as he (hopefully) is back to the level he was before the accident.

But what does this mean for D.C. United’s roster? Assuming Davies is healthy, I would imagine he would be a lock for a starting striker spot (if he’s not, then we’re in the same place we were last week). I think his strike partner, as of right now, could very well be Josh Wolff. Wolff’s game has evolved into more of a second striker, who puts himself in good positions to link up with the other striker and to bang home loose balls in the box, without having the pressure of being the primary goalscorer. This is the role that Chris Pontius needs to grow into if he wants a place on this team and I think Wolff can be the mentor to get him there. They are similar players and Wolff was brought in to be a stopgap and a teacher, not a long term solution. Pontius may pass Wolff for this position during training camp, during the middle of the season, or for the beginning of next season, but this his position; now he just needs to prove he can fill it.

With that said, what would the roster look like?

Brasesco James Jakovic Zayner
Najar McCarty Boskovic Quaranta
Wolff/Pontius Davies

Amid all of this, the odd man out is still Clyde Simms. D.C. United is going to play a more attacking brand of soccer this coming season and, even though I theorized about it in my previous post, I don’t see United playing with two holding midfielders. Also, by drafting Perry Kitchen, Simms’ days on the team are already numbered. Simms has been a warrior for the club and, if he is not a part of the plan going forward, I would like to see United trade him to a place where he can play, as a thank you for his years of hard work.

State of the Roster, 1/30/2011

This offseason has contained a lot of turnover in the D.C. United roster; gone are the older players who where trying to help United stave off the inevitable rebuilding process.

I don’t think that the current D.C. United roster is going to be the one that we see on opening day, but if the season did start today, who would be playing? To get all of United’s best talent on the field, I think that the best formation would 4-1-4-1. While United doesn’t have the traditional target forward that this formation often requires, I think that Najar, Pontius, and Quaranta bombing forward could provide some interesting results.

Brasesco James Jakovic Zayner
Najar McCarty Boskovic Quaranta

But Olsen preferred the 4-4-2 over the course of his tenure as manager last season. So why not try the Bob Bradley patented empty bucket?

Brasesco James Jakovic Zayner
Najar McCarty Simms Boskovic
Quaranta Pontius

It really comes down to movement around the midfield. This formation puts Branko Boskovic back into the position he plays with the Montenegrin National Team; I could also see Quaranta playing more in the hole, like how Tim Cahill plays for Everton. I want to see Pontius be given at least a half season at forward to see if he can develop into a viable option up there. Now, this might all change if United signs another forward, as Ben Olsen hinted they would. And to be fair to all United’s current players, the team does need a player who can turn and shoot, not try and walk the ball into the net. I’ll do another roster preview in a couple of weeks to see if anything has changed.