So, it is finally here. DC United will start their season this Saturday against the Columbus Crew, 7.30pm, at RFK Stadium and on Comcast Sports Net. This first match against the Crew is a good indicator of where the team is right now: Columbus is in a similar rebuilding mode as United, and a win might put them in a position to have a good year. In an Eastern Conference that has many teams in turmoil, why can’t United grab one of the three automatic qualification spots for the playoffs?
Even though pundits have been predicting/hoping for the playoffs for DC United, it is still ridiculous to be predicting that for the team that finished with the worst record in the history of the league last year. It would be nice, and I am sure that playoffs are the team’s goal, but that is not the only metric by which success (or failure) of this season can be measured. I believe that United can have a successful season without making the playoffs, as long as they are making strides towards that goal. Next year? Playoffs are a reasonable expectation and a metric for measuring the success of a season. I am slightly worried that United fans, including myself, are putting too much faith into the infamous parity of the league and are setting themselves up for disappointed if United cannot meet their lofty expectations. Let’s give Olsen and United an allowance for the Schellas Hyndman plan and not the Curt Onalfo special.
One of our long standing questions about the midfield seems to have been answered. With Ben Olsen choosing Dax McCarty as the club’s captain for this season, it seems as though that means that Santino Quaranta will start the year on the bench. And with ‘Tino on the bench, that can only mean one thing: Andy Najar! I think Olsen may have been wanting to start the year with Najar on the bench early in the preseason, but with Najar being that much better than Quaranta right now, he just could not justify it. With that choice, and the need for Clyde Simms to start in the middle with McCarty, it looks like the roster has (finally) taken its shape. Unless there are any injuries, we should see
Zayner Jakovic Kitchen Woolard
Najar Simms McCarty Pontius
Now, having just said “barring injuries,” Travis Clark and others are reporting that Charlie Davies picked up a groin tweak earlier this week, and Clark expects Davies to come off the bench. Now, I am hoping that is wrong, but I would expect to see Josh Wolff in Davies’ place if that is true. If he does not start, hopefully Charlie can get in at least a good 20 minutes off the bench.
Well, what about a prediction? I think that United is going to pull out a 2-1 victory, with goals by Pontius and Ngwenya, and with Columbus scoring a goal off of a Dejan Jakovic gaffe that makes us all wish for Julius James.