The 2011 Carolina Challenge Cup is coming to an end, on the face, in a similar manner as the 2010 edition. DC United is winning matches, but not scoring very many goals. However, I see the two teams in completely different ways. The 2010 team reached the peak of its potential when it won the Carolina Challenge Cup and then fell off a cliff. The 2011 edition, on the other hand, is still coalescing, growing, and figuring out its personality.
Chris Pontius has gone from trade bait to possibly keeping United’s designated player on the bench. Ben Olsen has said that his natural position is on the left wing, which is also Branko Boskovic’s natural position. There are rumors that Boskovic is currently nursing an injury, and with Pontius on form that could push him into the starting spot; that said, I could see Pontius starting up top in a withdrawn forward role that would allow him to make the diagonal runs that are making him dangerous.
If Pontius does not play up top, then that leaves Josh Wolff, Joseph Ngwenya, and even Blake Brettschneider battling it out for the second forward position. I would give the nod currently to Ngwenya, with Wolff able to provide a spark off the bench, but don’t discount the 4 goals in under 90 total minutes that Brettchneider has contributed. He even looked like the better forward in the game against the Chicago Fire. I still think Charlie Davies will be given the starting role and some time to grow back into the position, but Brettschneider really could turn into a serviceable target forward. A steal in the supplemental draft even if he maxes out as a career backup, and an unbelievable steal if he turns into anything more.
And that’s not even to start discussing the midfield. Out of all of the four positions, I think only Dax McCarty is guaranteed a starting position. It could be Boskovic or Pontius on the left wing, Boskovic or Simms in the second middle position, and Quaranta or Najar on the right wing. So, in today’s game against Toronto FC, everyone assumes that we will see the final alignment, the final roster that will probably be the starting 11 on March 19. Who will that be? Well, here’s my guess:
Zayner Jakovic Kitchen Woolard
Quaranta Simms McCarty Pontius