Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mid-Season Review part 4: Summary

So the main question posed throughout our series in review of the player acquisitions, departures, and trades made by DC United since the end of last season is whether or not the club is actually better off now than they were last year. Let's review, position by position.

    We added Zach Wells, Jose Carvallo, and James Thorpe.
    We lost Troy Perkins, Jay Nolly, and Shawn Crowe.

    Clearly we are NOT better off at goalkeeper. That's been quite obvious this year. Despite Wells FINALLY earning his first clean sheet, United's GAA was also lower with Perkins in goal. And even though he never quite caught on in DC, Nolly is now the starting goalkeeper for the team tied for first place in the USL1, and would likely have been a much more formiddable challenge to Wells' starting position than Carvallo was.

    We added Gonzalo Martinez, Gonzalo Peralta, Pat Carroll, Mike Zaher, and Jeff Curtin.
    We lost Bobby Boswell, Greg Vanney, and Brad North.

    Judging by sheer numbers, it would be easy to say that we're better off, but I think the verdict is still out on this one. Early in the season, los Gonzalos looked promising, but ultimately some failed communication, disorganization, and maybe a bit of bad luck, caused the defense to suffer. If you're looking again at GAA, then we're worse off, but I still think there's time to turn that around. With the very recent emergence of Pat Carroll as a regular contributor, my gut tells me that the team's defense will ultimately be better off going into the playoffs than we were last year.

    We added Marcelo Gallardo, Ryan Cordeiro, Dan Stratford, Craig Thompson, Joe Vide, Quavas Kirk, Dane Murphy, Jeremy Barlow, and now also Ivan Guerrero (in a trade since the start of my MSR).
    We lost Christian Gomez, Josh Gros, Brian Carroll, Justin Moose, Stephen DeRoux, and Bryan Arguez.
    This is another hard one, but at the midpoint of the season, I actually think we're worse off. Setting aside the Gallardo vs. Gomez argument that entire posts have been devoted to, we lost two significant experienced MLS quality midfielders in Gros and Carroll, and tried to replace them with a bunch of unproven commodities. But the acquisition of Guerrero was certainly a step in the right direction, and might cause me to change my mind here.

    We added Santino Quaranta, Francis Doe, and Franco Niell.
    We lost Nick Addlery, Guy Kpene, Jamil Walker, Jerson Monteiro, and Mira Mupier.
    In the midfield, we tried to replace quality with quantity. Well this is exactly the opposite. We took a whole slew of non-productive attackers and replaced them with two guys, Tino and Doe, with a scoring touch. The moves made at this position definitely improved the team, along with of course Jaime Moreno's return to form.

So where does that leave us in the end? The forwards are definitely better, the goalkeepers are definitely worse. I'm not sure about the defenders, but I think they're better. I'm not sure about the midfielders, but I think they're worse.

On paper, that should lead you to believe that the team should be right in line with where they were last year. Yet in the first half of the season, that hasn't been case. The collapse of DC United was the biggest story in the league when they started out 2-7, but since then, I think the team has flown largely under the radar. And different from the past two year, it's unlikely that United will enter the playoffs as the favorite to win the MLS Cup. I hate to get ahead of myself, but could we take advantage of that position and ride our underdog status back into the Finals?! Chicago, New England, and Columbus will be formiddable opponents, but this crop of players might just be up to the task.

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