Charlie Davies and Julius James: D.C. United making moves

The worst kept secret in all of D.C. area sports was confirmed yesterday: Charlie Davies is now a member of D.C. United. I am happy for him to be in D.C. as a fan, but also happy that he is finally able to get back to first team soccer after his horrific accident. Even though he is not quite there yet, I think that we will see Charlie in the starting lineup on opening day against the Crew.

In a more interesting (or at least weird) story, D.C. United waived defender Julius James today. He was only making $61k and United is already below 30 players, I believe. Is this an attempt to get the extra allocation money that leaving those two final roster spots open provides? Remember: “Clubs may elect to leave up to two of these roster spots (25-30) vacant and use $35,000 for each empty spot as allocation money.” Or, might they be trying to play with the cap? Because: “Roster spots 19 and 20 are not required to be filled, and teams may spread their salary budget across only 18 Salary Budget Players. A minimum salary budget charge will be imputed against a team’s salary budget for each unfilled senior roster slot below 18.” Or maybe James doesn’t work in Ben Olsen’s system as well as other players and he wanted out. We may never know. UPDATE: Soccer By Ives is reporting that D.C. United traded the international roster spot formerly occupied by Julius James to the LA Galaxy for allocation money. More money to pay down Charlie or is there another move lurking in the works?

Regardless, I thought that he did a good job last year, better than the performance that Dejan Jakovic put in. If United were just trying to be cheap, which is the fear of many D.C. United fans, they probably would have waived Jakovic and his $167k salary. That likely would have been met with less surprise than waiving James. The memory of Jakovic that I cannot get out of my head was the red card he got in the home opener last year against the Union, which gave a bad penalty that lost the game for United and confirmed the tone of sloppy play, set in the opener against the Wizards, that would dominate the year. James wasn’t a shoe-in as a starter, but he was definitely one of the leading candidates for one of the two centerback spots. He was taking up an international player spot, but United only had 4 on the team at the time and now has 3, so I don’t think getting an open international player spot was the reason. I also think this leaves United a little thin in central defense, especially when Perry Kitchen is on U-20 national team duty. We all have seen Devon McTavish as a centerback and it is not something I want to see again. Also, Clyde Simms starting in defense last year (and getting immediately injured) also started United’s injury bug last season, another memory I do not wish repeated.

What does this all mean for the starting lineup? This is how I see it right now:

Zayner Brasesco Jakovic Burch
Najar Simms McCarty Boskovic
Davies Pontius

With this formation, I would give Dax McCarty the armband; Clyde Simms has been with the team the longest out of anyone I project to be on the field, but I don’t see him as the vocal leader that a captain needs to be. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Simms with the armband. I am also a little worried about projecting brittle Marc Burch as the starter at left back. Hopefully Ethan White (or Chris Korb) can develop at a quicker pace and perhaps be pushing for a starting role by the middle of the season.

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