Tuesday, December 1, 2009

RIVER or LIFE: Goalkeepers

As voting on the DC United defenders draws to a close, we seem to have finally found the most polarizing player on the United roster. No one should be surprised that that player would be Marc Burch, who is currently sitting at exactly 50% River and 50% Life at the time of this posting. Moving on now to our final edition of River or Life for DC United players, we turn to the goalkeepers, where there may be a few more difficult voting decisions to make. A reminder for those who are new, a vote for River means to send him down the river, and a vote for Life means to keep him around next year.

Joining the team in 2009 to very little fanfare, Josh Wicks was acquired via trade as what most of us thought would be a stopgap while Louis Crayton recovered from injury. As it turned out, Wicks did so well to impress the coaches and fans that he was named the team's regular starter. He made some big saves for us this year, but his occasional lack of discipline and mediocre 1.40 goals against average might not be enough to keep his job safe in 2010.

Milos Kocic was drafted by United in the second round of the 2009 MLS Superdraft to be the team's goalkeeper of the future. Apparently the future is not now, because DC didn't have enough confidence in him to give Kocic a starting role late in the season after Wicks' injury, turning instead to a USL player as a temporary replacement. Kocic did look good at times though when given a chance in early Open Cup and CCL matches.

United acquired Steve Cronin via loan from Portland in a last ditch effort to make the playoffs and advance in the CCL. While the USL Goalkeeper of the Year allowed only 3 goals in 3 matches, it still wasn't enough to do either. DCU might have a hard time retaining Cronin for the 2010 season since he is not under contract with the team and will surely garner interest from other clubs after a great year. Makes you wonder what our record would have looked like if he was in a United jersey from the start...

Signed late in September from the DCU Academy, Bill Hamid didn't see any action with the first team in 2009, but could be given a chance to compete for a spot on the gameday roster in the near future. All we've heard from the front office is that Hamid is big, quick, and has excellent leadership ability. I don't know about you, but it sure makes me feel old to look at Hamid's bio and see that he was born in 1990.


Chest Rockwell said...

This is the easiest category:

Wicks: River. He did make some big saves, but being a shotstopper is not all a keeper is supposed to do. There were big communication issues between him and the back three/four, and since our defenders were often rotated you have to think that Wicks just wasn't communicating well enough. His lack of discipline is also a big problem, obviously. Most worrisome for me, though, is his questionable decision-making. Wicks never seems to know whether to stay on his line or come out, and that shatters the confidence of the guys in front of him. If Wicks stays on as a backup, I could live with it, but as the #1? Absolutely not.

Kocic is less crazy than Wicks, but he's also the lesser keeper. His decision-making is weaker, he drops more crosses, he leaves rebounds when he shouldn't, and his communication appeared no better. Kocic doesn't merit a spot on the senior roster (though post-CBA, who knows how that'll all be structured), and Hamid is already our developmental GK. I think Kocic needs to spend some time learning the trade in whatever the US 2nd division is called next year.

Hamid stays aboard, and hopefully goes on loan to a local lower-division club. He's got the size, and looked respectable for the Academy team against Carmel United in that nationally televised tournament final last season. I don't imagine he'll be ready to be a first-choice keeper here for at least 3 years, but when that day comes we better make sure he's ready.

Oh, almost forgot Cronin...he did play very well on his debut against Columbus, but at KC he looked more like the guy widely mocked in MLS during the 2008 season. Decision-making again was a huge problem, even if he was fortunately not punished too often for it. If memory serves, I cursed him at least 5 times in that game for being blatantly out of position. I guess he can come fight Wicks and Kocic for the backup role, but if any of them is starting for us, we're going to struggle.

Jeremy said...

I would like to see all of the keepers retained and to let them battle it out in the preseason to determine who stays with the team.

Memories of how much Perkins was able to develop in just one year make me want to give each of these guys a shot, unless there is a clear cut great replacement that we are able to acquire somewhere.

Wicks performed well last year, but always made me nervous. I think a keeper needs to have better control over his emotions. He should NEVER get into a shoving match with a defender... especially during a corner kick.

It sounds like we would have a tough time actually signing Cronin, as there will probably be a lot of competition for his services in both USL and MLS. I wouldn't want FO to sink a lot of money into him after just two starts.

The two youngsters look like they might be able to develop into starters this year, and I would like to give them a shot.