That's the question that is likely to define the success of DC United over the next two or more years.
With the Gomez to Colorado trade all but official, it looks like we'll now have a pretty good measuring stick that we wouldn't have had if Gomez went to the Middle East or back to Argentina. We'll be able compare Gomez and Gallardo's numbers side by side with them playing in the same league. And I have a feeling that Gallardo will not win that comparison.
But the more I think about it, keeping in mind our most frequent slogan ("I trust the front office. I trust the front office"), there's a different way to look at this. My new thought is… Gallardo wasn't brought here to get better numbers than Gomez. Gomez averaged almost exactly 10 goals and 10 assists in each of the past three years, and without guys like Moreno and Emilio around, I'd be willing to bet that his goal production might actually INCREASE in 2008. It would be nice if I'm wrong, but I doubt Gallardo will average 10 goals and 10 assists in league play over the next two years.
So if not for more productive numbers, why did the almighty all-knowing front office bring Sr. Gallardo to DC? Over the past three years, United had some pretty nice accomplishments with Gomez as our #10 - namely, a couple of Supporter's Shields. But they failed to reach the MLS Cup finals all three years. They couldn't advance past the semi-finals in the Concacaf Champions' Cup, or in the Superliga. And they fizzled out in the round of 16 in the Copa Sudamericana. DC United has been largely a failure internationally over the past three years. So with those three international competitions in mind, plus the new Champions' League starting in 2008, and with the exciting possibility that US Clubs could eventually be allowed to participate in Libertadores at some point in the future… The front office, and in them we trust, decided that the best way to proceed would be to bring in a man with the highest level of international experience. And that man would be Marcelo Gallardo.
So Gallardo might not be the prolific playmaker and scorer that Gomez has been for us. I'll refine some predictions as we get closer to the season, but I might even be as bold as to say that United will probably not win the Shield this year. But Marcelo Gallardo gives us a distinct advantage over every other team in MLS when it comes down to international competitions.
And that's why he's here.