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)
- Dwayne DeRosario ($493,750): Pay the man.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Austin da Luz ($82,375)
Don’t care either way
- Steve Cronin ($72,000)
- 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.
- Kurt Morsink ($63,500)
- 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
- 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.
- Joseph Ngweyna ($156,000): I would have cut him before Wednesday’s game even ended.
- 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.