I came up with most of this while standing in line outside in 20 degree weather for two hours to see Barack Obama speak in College Park yesterday (well worth it).
Major League Soccer is probably unlike any other league in the world that I can think of in its limitation of foreign players and players over the age of 25. The ACLU could have a field day with the MLS rules committee if they wanted to. Because of these rules, it's pretty much required that we review the current roster every other month or so.
18 players on the Senior roster:
First, the senior players from last year who are more or less guaranteed a spot on the senior roster again: 1 Emilio, 2 Moreno, 3 Kpene, 4 Olsen, 5 Fred, 6 Simms, 7 Dyachenko, 8 Mediate, 9 Burch, 10 Namoff, 11 McTavish. (Although McTavish and Burch are both still young enough to be eligible for the Developmental roster - born in 1984 - they were promoted to the Senior roster last year and will likely remain there.)
Next, we have our offseason acquisitions: 12 Wells, 13 Gallardo, 14 Martinez, 15 Peralta, 16 Niell.
That leaves 2 spots left. 17 will likely go to Jose Carvallo. He's only 21 years old so he's eligible for a Developmental contract, but would he leave his Peru club team to make less than $30,000 a year? Unlikely. So he's probably occupying another Senior roster slot. That leaves only spot 18 left, and the competition probably comes down to Justin Moose and Jamil Walker. We'll see how this plays out.
10 players on the Developmental roster:
Assuming Carvallo is on the Senior roster, we've got exactly 10 players remaining who are eligible (born in 1984 or later): 1 Jerson Monteiro, 2 Jeff Carroll, 3 Ryan Cordeiro, 4 Tony Schmitz, 5 Dan Owens, 6 Dan Stratford, 7 James Thorpe, 8 Pat Carroll, 9 Ardalan Attar, 10 Grady Renfrow.
8 International players:
Again we have some controversy, and it involves the same player. We've got: 1 Emilio, 2 Fred, 3 Gallardo, 4 Martinez, 5 Peralta, 6 Niell. If rookie Dan Stratford makes the team, he becomes 7. And finally, there have been unconfirmed rumors that Jose Carvallo has a green card, and therefore would not take up an international slot. But if not, he would be 8. That would put Stratford on very shaky ground, because if the team struggles early in the season, and maybe even if they don't, then they are likely to pursue additional foreign talent before the international transfer window closes in July, and in order to sign anyone else, United will need to cut somebody first. Stratford appears to be the low man on the totem poll, so he'll have to impress.
All of that leaves us in pretty decent shape. We've addressed a lot of needs for depth, but have very little room to add new players if the need arrises. The only area where we're potentially light is, as usual, defense. What happens if say Namoff gets injured, and then one of los Gonzalos (© CL) sits out with a red card? Who do you start? Obviously McTavish should be able to fill in anywhere on the back line, but after that we're down to either Owens or one of the Carrolls. Someone's going to have to step up.