Sunday, November 8, 2009

RIVER OR LIFE: Attacking midfielders

We've covered the forwards, and we've covered the front office. Heck, our front office results actually have been 100% correct so far, with Tom Soehn leaving the team and Kasper and Payne set to return. We'll have to wait a while to find out if our forward results are correct, but in the meantime, let's see what everyone has to say about our attacking midfielders.

Just remember, a vote for River means that you want the player banished from DC, and a vote for Life means you hope to see the player back next year.

The biggest question before the season was whether Christian Gomez would be more like his usual self in United uniform, when he used to earn around 10 goals and 10 assists every year, or more like himself the year before in a Rapids unifom, when he earned only 3 goals and 6 assists. The answer was somewhere in between.

Santino Quaranta started the season fast with 5 assists in the first third of the season, and earned a return to the US National Team picture with an appearance in the Gold Cup. But he faded later in the year, and injury forced his season to an early end.

The MLS Rookie of the Year candidate Chris Pontius was tied for the team lead in games played, but more importantly, he also won the prestigious Benny Award for the highest average player rating on this blog.

Scoring just 2 goals and 4 assists in each of the past two seasons, Fred has found the MLS to be a bit more difficult than Australia's A-League. Fred is a talented player who has never really fit into DC United's system. Hard to say whether or not that's really his fault though.

One of the few benefits of finishing so poorly in 2008 was that we received an allocation slot high enough to acquire Danny Szetela when he returned to the league mid-season. Szetela had an apparent falling out with the coaching staff and only had limited playing time, mostly outside of league play.

DC's third round draft pick Brandon Barklage had a very promising start to his MLS career, scoring goals in two consecutive Open Cup matches, and looking good in relief of Gomez as a central attacking midfielder in his 4 brief MLS appearances, before falling to injury.

Ely Allen was selected in the second round by the Galaxy and started 11 matches for them last season. This former U-18 National Team player didn't see any time in MLS this season, but did have a few appearances in the Champions League.


Jeremy said...

OK, what could possibly convince anyone to vote to keep Fred on the team?

Do you WANT the team to suck again next year?

DM said...

He should be our CAM, except we have a glut of CAM's and a dearth of wingers, so he gets displaced out wide where, in the MLS, speed is more effective than ball skills (cf. Dane Richards).

I think we're underutilizing the man. Or rather, we're not utilizing his strengths. Let's let Gomez go, throw Quaranta on the right, throw someone new and speedy on the left, and THEN let's see if Fred can't draw some extra attention and make some holes for whomever's up top to exploit. He's got sharp instincts for the killer ball, I swear.

DM said...

Also, Shatz, can we have a smaller "River or Life" for team formations? I'd be interested to see what people think about the 3-5-2 after this season. (What else did we play? 4-4-2 sometimes, yeah, but what else?)

Chest Rockwell said...

Didn't have to deliberate much to answer these.

Gomez: River. He's lost that quick first couple steps, and without that he doesn't find the seams; without those seams, he doesn't have the time and space to kill teams. We shouldn't have brought him back, and we definitely shouldn't keep him.

Quaranta: Life. How is he not 100%?

Pontius: Life, though I think he should leave this category and become a striker full time. His combination of athleticism and skill is best suited up there.

Fred: River. DM is right in saying that Fred isn't a natural wide player, and that he has the skill to pick out killer passes. The problem is that he also routinely makes awful decisions, seems to have no idea how to tackle without fouling, and has an unreliable first touch. Payne says we'll still be playing possession-based attacking soccer, and you can't do that if your playmaker can't be trusted to keep the ball.

Szetela: Life. There's too much potential in Szetela as a two-way central player to be done with him simply because he clashed with Soehn (who also appeared to have no idea what to do with him, and kept trying to play him wide). I see him as good enough to at least have a shout at a starting spot, under the right coach.

Barklage: Life. He's feisty, has a hammer of a shot, and didn't have the oaf's touch you usually see out of midfielders taken late in the draft. Plus, he seemed comfortable playing both centrally and wide. Let me put it this way: If he can't maintain his roster spot through preseason, I will be very, very psyched about our 2010 draft class.

Allen: River. Why did we even sign him?

rke said...

Quaranta: Life. How is he not 100%?

Idjits like me who meant to hit life and absent-mindedly hit river. I am the margin of error.

(Sorry, I just really like rivers.)

- R

Anonymous said...

Oh RKE, the bitter irony of the mistaken vote against Q after all your internet battles with that other commenter (name escaping me) who was absolutely always down on Q. My votes: Keep Party, Bark, and Doghouse Danny. Youth movement, rip off the bandaid now.

Shatz... said...

@DM I like your suggestion. I'll keep the RoL series going through most of the offseason with various different topics.

rke said...

Isn't Q part of the youth movement? I think the Q-to-Pontius connection has been one of the season's strongest, and is especially promising going forward. At least when Q is in a good mood.