Friday, July 15, 2011

This Seasons Storylines…Mid-Season Evaluation (Part 1)

The Youth Movement

Photo Credit: Matt Mathai

As the DC United roster of last season was dismantled and retooled it became apparent we were amidst a rebuilding process focused around youth. The foundation of the team came from young players such as Najar, Pontius and Jakovic and was being complimented by Davies, Kitchen and McCarty. The focus of the team seemed to be to build a talented team that would have the ability to be competitive now and continue to grow together. Injuries have even led to the surprise inclusion of Ethan White and Chris Korb who have both shown promise that they can succeed at this level. Three quarters of the backline at one point couldn’t rent an automobile, yet they were being called on to defend Thierry Henry!

Photo Credit: Matt Mathai

We have seen several positive things happen regarding the youth this year. One, we may have had one of the most successful drafts in a long time with Kitchen, Korb and Brettschneider proving to be valuable assets. Two, we continue to see benefits from the academy with the success of Ethan White and the development of Bill Hamid. The reintroduction of the reserve league has also given us early evaluations of academy products that may be called to the first team. Two academy players who have seen time in the reserve league were even called in to the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland with the U-18 USMNT this week. We look forward to finding out about the continued progress and what that may mean for the future professional careers of Marcus Salandy-Defour (Midfielder) and Jalen Robinson (Defender).

There are always many variables to every equation as complicated as a professional soccer team, but, currently, the team has set itself to meet its goal of reaching the playoffs this year. Even as there appeared to be a more pragmatic turn for immediate results with the addition of Dwayne DeRosario and Brandon McDonald, the team has managed to keep its most valuable young players. The team saw a chance to find success, add more talent and not sacrifice the current youth movement in the two trades that were made. DeRosario appears to still have gas left in the tank given his performances so far with the team and McDonald is only 25. In fact, eight of the players who were in the starting 11 that beat New York last week would still be in the prime of their careers if this team were jettisoned five years in to the future. This team is in a great position to continue to develop, leaving the future almost so bright, you’ve got to wear shades.

Mid-Season Grade- A

Coming next, Mid-Season Evaluation (Part 2)…The New Captain….errr, Wha???

Friday, April 1, 2011

Conor Shanosky Interview

"The motivation of seeing the first team and being a part of the most successful club in this country can really help players develop their potential."

The growth of soccer in the United States has taken a new direction in the previous few years with an emphasis on MLS teams having academies. United’s academy has shown that it is a leader in providing strong talent for the first team as well as at grooming strong prospects for the future. One of the players United has signed is Conor Shanosky, a USA u-20 player. Conor was kind enough to answer a few questions for the blog regarding his adjustment to Major League Soccer and who might be United’s next Academy stand out.

Black and Red on Both Sides: Thank you Conor for taking the time to answer a few questions! First, what has been the biggest adjustment to becoming a full time professional soccer player?

Conor Shanosky:
The biggest adjustment to becoming a full time pro is going from being one of the best players on the team to one of the lower guys on the depth chart. It is definitely a healthy adjustment though and is necessary for any player looking to prove himself at the highest level possible. I want to improve every day and help this club as much as I can no matter where I stand.

B&RoBS: What can you tell us about United's academy system and how it helps prepare young players for the full team?

The academy system is great to help a player prepare for the first team. Being able to be involved with a professional organization is great for youth players. I was able to see firsthand how the first team was, and I wanted to be right there with them. The motivation of seeing the first team and being a part of the most successful club in this country can really help players develop their potential.

B&RoBS: Which players in the academy now should fans be looking out for in the future?

Our academy has produced some great players and I think that will definitely continue. I know we have a good amount of players that are very talented. Marcus Salandy Defour has trained with us the past two days and is a very good player.

B&RonBS: Which of your teammates have reached out to help ease your transition to the full team and what have they told you?

Everyone in the team has been great at welcoming me to the first team. I think Jed Zayner has reached out to me a lot. He has given me good advice about dealing with the ups and downs of the game and just a lot of good advice about being a professional.

B&RoBS: Lastly, just for fun, which pro league in Europe do you follow and who do you have as the team to win it?

My favorite league around the world to watch is the Premier League in England. The intensity of every game and the big name clubs and players throughout the league make it my favorite league to watch. On the other hand, I can't get enough of this Barcelona team. I love the way they play the game with the beautiful passing and fluid movement. I think they are going to be recognized as one of the greatest teams ever, so I try to take in every aspect of their game.

B&RoBS: Thanks again Conor and good luck this season. I look forward to speaking to you again in the future! For those that wish to follow this blog on twitter, click this link and follow!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Revolution 2, United 1, Tole-Doh!

It has been reported that Ben Olsen did not want to discuss the officiating in this match. I too would like to take the high road, almost. It is without question that the game was littered with incorrect or questionable calls. Still, United should have done better. This is a tough loss for a team coming from the momentum of an emotional opening week win. Now we start to see how this team has changed mentally from last year. How will we rebound going to Colorado next week? How will the depth do? So far so good, but next week will be an even bigger test.


-Possession was lopsided throughout the entire match. United held approximately 60% of the possession, but ended up with the same number of shots on goal (5) and fewer shots in total (9 vs 11). Some of this could be a result of United being exposed from pushing to recover from the two goal deficit in the second half, but this push did not result in their chances being any more dangerous.
-United's possession did result in a disparity in corner kick attempts (7 vs 3), but set pieces continue to be a woe for United. Pontius did have a header saved off the line, but generally United has not seemed dangerous on set pieces nor safe when defending them.
-McCarty had a bit of a wobble to his step towards the end of the game but was not removed since United had used their three subs. We haven't heard anything about this in the post game report, but it is something to keep an eye on.
-Wolff is apparently battling a hamstring wouldn't be a season in DC without them, would it?
-Jakovic sees red and will miss the Colorado match. Depth is definitely getting tested. Early reports have either Burch moving to CB with Woolard covering LB or Zayner moving to CB and keeping Korb at RB. I believe the latter option is preferred but is contingent upon Zayner recovering from his week one injury.
-Bosko-gate is in full effect. Why does our DP get DNP's?

Player Ratings
Ratings are 1 to 10, 10 being Etch

Pat Onstad (6): With United dominant in possession, he didn't have much to do. He probably wishes he had that penalty back since he got a hand on it.

Chris Korb (6): A good debut. He made some well timed aggressive runs and only had one awkward moment in the back which he recovered from. With Korb and Zayner both showing well, I am feeling comfortable with our RB position now and in the future.

Dejan Jakovic (7): I felt Dejan had a really good game. He showed some good ball skills and an ability and willingness to get in to the attack, adding another offensive option. Although this did not pay off this time, I like having dimensions to our attack.

Rodrigo Brasesco (6): Seemed to do well for the half he played. Got pulled when we committed more players to midfield.

Burch (5): Was ok in the back. I felt his service on set pieces could be better. There is a stark contrast in what our RB's provide in a game to what Burch brings. He seems limited going forward.

Morsink (5): Looked to move the ball to the forwards from deep midfield but also had some poor giveaways. As much as I wish Simms would get the ball to offensive positions more often, he is stronger at helping us keep possession.

McCarty (5): I felt his service on set pieces was spotty and was not as comfortable as in the first game. Still fought the whole game though, but New England had the better of the middle of the park.

Pontius (6): Had some shots on goal that he could have done better with. He and Najar were active but didn't seem to get the service to our forwards that was necessary.

Najar (6): He is still working on dealing with the additional pressure being put on by the defense. I believe Cirovski said he needs to let the game come to him rather than try to force things. I agree.

Ngwenya (6): Held the ball up better this game but was not particularly dangerous. He made one good turn on a defender in the second half which did not result in a shot.

Wolff (5): Josh was much quieter this game and was a good sub for Davies for the second half.


Davies (6): He was going towards goal and causing problems. He took the penalty well, but lets hope we will see more of his goals coming from the run of play as the year progresses.

Fred (6): He set up Pontius for a nice shot and held the ball well. He was the surprise sub over Boskovic.

Quaranta (5): He was more active than the first game, but I am not convinced that the super sub role is the best for him. I don't see him making a huge impact when he gets on the pitch.


Ben Olsen (7): There was nothing he could have done regarding the ref and I give him credit for rolling the dice and committing more people forward early instead of as a last ditch effort. One has to wonder what is going on with the Bosko saga as he keeps showing well in reserve games.

What are your thoughts and ratings?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Alecko Eskandarian Interview

"I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to play again so I promised myself that when I came back I would celebrate every single goal like it was my last."

Alecko Eskandarian brought many emotions to United fans during his time in DC. His career gave both joy, with his 2004 MLS Cup MVP performance, and sadness, as he struggled with lingering effects of his tragic concussion. Whether he was performing a controversial goal celebration or simply being a stand up guy with a contagious smile, he was a player who brought a playfulness to the game mixed with an unforgiving intensity and competitiveness. Having stepped away from the pitch, Alecko was kind enough to answer a few questions for the blog, giving an update on what is currently keeping him occupied and what he’d do with a designated player spot if he were running a team.

Black and Red on Both Sides: As a result of your awful injury, you have been forced to step back from the game. Is your focus still on eventually making it back to the pitch, or do you see yourself involved in the game in some other capacity?

Alecko Eskandarian:

My focus at the moment is to just try and live a normal, healthy life. As a result of the injuries I sustained while playing pro soccer, I have a lot of issues that still that have not been resolved which led to doctors refusing to clear me to play. At first, I was on a mission to beat this thing and get back on the field. But after some scary symptoms involving vertigo, dizziness, painful migraines, depression, etc., playing soccer was put on the backburner. On one occasion I had to call my friend to drive me to the emergency room. That's when I really got scared for the 1st time because I was actually afraid that I might die. It puts everything into perspective....

So at this point, I'm just grateful for every day which I am able to wake up and be productive and try to be a better person. With that said, I will ALWAYS live and breathe soccer. I am obviously limited in what I can and can't do but I will definitely be involved with the game in some capacity. I enjoyed being in the booth broadcasting for the LA Galaxy. Coaching with the UVA men's soccer team and with the US U-20's has been a wonderful experience as well. And my ultimate goal is to get into management and possibly an MLS front office position.

However, my primary focus as I continue to recover is to graduate from the University of Virginia, which is a promise I kept to my Mom (and to myself) before I left school to go pro. It's been a long road and I've made a lot of sacrifices throughout the years to make this a reality, so I'm ecstatic about graduating in May.

Photo by Rafael Crisostomo

B & R oBS: There are many moments which United fans remember you by, which moment, or moments, stand out to you while you were a member of the Black and Red?


There are so many great moments! From a soccer perspective I guess I can narrow it down to a Top 3. The 1st being the 2004 MLS Cup because the team we had was so special. It was an amazing season which was capped off by a great final, and the feeling of being named MVP of the championship game is one I will never forget.

The 2nd would be scoring a goal vs Real Madrid in front of almost 70,000 people in Seattle in 2006. As a kid you always dream about scoring against the top teams in the world, and on that day my dream came true. I don't know how many Americans have ever scored a goal against them, but I guess I can always tell my grandkids that I scored on Iker Casillas and Real Madrid.

And the 3rd would have to be the banner that our fans put up for me after my devastating concussion in 2005. I'm not sure who's idea it was, but I remember some fans telling me to make sure I could see where the Screaming Eagles and Barra Brava sit during the 11th minute of the match. And sure enough they put up this giant banner that said "Esky #11" and I literally started to tear up. As a player I took pride in giving everything I had for my team each time I stepped on the field, and it was so humbling for the fans to show that they hadn't forgotten about me and were keeping me in their thoughts while I was out injured.

B & R oBS: As someone who came to Major League Soccer via the college draft, what are your thoughts on the team youth academy systems and their affect on the NCAA soccer?


I think the Academy systems are a huge step in the right direction for soccer in this country. Though there is still a lot of work that needs to be done, it’s important for our best youth players to be put in an environment where they will play against good competition on a consistent basis and learn how to be young professionals. Sometimes we underestimate how talented our youth players could be.

I think our youth can do amazing things if they are just challenged and held to a higher standard. Rather than just being content w/ being the best player in their city or scoring a couple goals against kids their own age, some of these kids have the opportunity to now practice with MLS teams where they are challenged and can develop necessary skills at a younger age.

I love NCAA soccer as well and especially in a conference like the ACC, there is a high level being played where these kids learn a lot and develop not only as soccer players but as people. I know our program here at UVA tries to incorporate a "young professionals" mentality and we hold our student-athletes to high standards that will allow them to be successful as pro soccer players or in any other avenue they choose to pursue.

B & R oBS: The DP rule is one that has had mixed results since its 2007 inception. If you were in charge of an MLS team, what attributes would you look for in an ideal designated player?


That is a tricky question because there are so many different factors that go into it. The player's qualities, the style of play of the team, the supporting cast, the coach, life off of the field, everything. Just look at all the different types of DP's that have been successful or unsuccessful in our league. Look at Ferreira from Dallas. With all due respect, his 1st 2 months in MLS I didn’t think he was anything special. A year later, with a new supporting cast and a new system, he tears it up and becomes MVP of the league.

It was the same thing when Christian Gomez came to DC United. I remember after his 1st training session, we all looked around in the locker room like "Really? They signed THIS guy??" He was SO BAD! Haha, then a week later he scored like 5 goals in a practice and we were like "Wow. THIS guy is awesome!" Some players adapt and fit in, some players struggle with it.

The same can be said for any professional player, really. Certain players fit in better in certain systems, so the trick is to find how these players will fit into your system and if the supporting cast compliments this player to maximize his abilities. This is why I would love to get into a management/technical director position in MLS someday!

B & R oBS: Whether it was doing pushups or spitting out Red Bull, you know your way around post goal exuberance. Please take us through what makes a great goal celebration.


Its funny to me that I have gotten attention for my celebrations because all the way up until my senior year of high school I never celebrated any of my goals. My friends would always get on me for being too boring, and they ended up creating a monster. Haha to be honest, I just think you have to have fun playing this game and when you score a goal you have a chance to show a bit of your personality and to be creative. Soccer is such a team sport, but when you score you have about 5 seconds of everyone's attention.

After my season ending concussion in 2005, I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to play again so I promised myself that when I came back I would celebrate every single goal like it was my last. I wanted to have fun with it and enjoy each and every moment. Peter Nowak created an environment where we all worked our asses off each day in training but also had fun doing it, and we reaped the rewards of our work on gamedays.

So the celebrations were along that same philosophy of working hard to score goals and having some fun while doing it. Some of the celebrations were planned, and some weren’t at all! For example, when we played at Chicago in 2006, I was coming off of an injury so I didn't start. Peter asked me to warm up a couple minutes before halftime and when I was behind the goal, the Fire fans were heckling the crap out of me. They were actually hilarious! But I knew I had to do something to return the favor if I got into the game and scored. Sure enough I scored a goal but had no idea how to celebrate. So as I ran to their fans, the stadium was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop and instinctively I did the "Hulk Hogan hand behind the ear" to let them know I couldn't hear them anymore. Haha that one might be my favorite.

Thank you Alecko for your taking the time to answer a few questions. We all wish you the best with your continued recovery and all of your future endeavors!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

United 3, Crew 1

What an exciting way to return to the season. United showed a new look and a new attitude to the game. First a few observations followed by player ratings.


-You could tell from the very beginning that this team is different from last year. At the end of the day, there is just more quality on the field. There is a reason Boskovic and Quaranta are on the bench, they have been out played for starting spots.
-The team seemed to have trouble on set pieces.
-We capitalized on mistakes by the other team, a big change from last year.
-Charlie Davies was overwhelmed by his success. Shedding tears at the end of the game, and not in the Miami Heat sense, you could see the attitude of this team. You could see what we all hoped Ben Olsen would give to this team. This game mattered to them.
-Zayner came out injured - hamstring. TBD the extent of the damage.
-Ngwenya was reported as having ice on his ankle at the end of the game, but that it was just maintenance. It is still something to keep an eye on.

Player Ratings
Ratings are 1 to 10, 10 being Etch

Pat Onstad (5): Seemed to struggle a bit on timing some crosses, but came up with some key reaction saves when needed.

Jakovic (7): Played a good game and was called for a questionable hand ball in the area which made for a soft penalty. It was commented that playing next to a vocal organizer such as Kitchen has made him a better player, lets hope so!

Burch (6): Didn't make any key mistakes, didn't do anything to stand out either. I am a big fan of his ability to deliver a long ball. I am not a fan of the fact that his only way of relieving pressure on tight situations is to lump the ball up field and give up possession. He does get props for his goal line save.

Zayner (7): I feel he is fitting in to our system well and we must hope he is not seriously injured. Had the assist on the first goal.

Kitchen (6): He can certainly play with the big boys. He took a little time to settle in, even making some early ill-advised slide challenges, but got his footing and kept the defense organized well.

Simms (6): Did well, won a good amount of headers in midfield and seemed to be a little more physical than in the past. Still has a penchant for the horizontal/back pass.

McCarty (7): Had a great first half with a good chance at goal that had the keeper (and the post) beat to the outside. He was not as noticeable in the second half, but was not needed to be as prevalent.

Najar (7): Did not score a goal, but had to deal with extra defensive pressure that was not given last year. He dealt with it well and still seemed to be a cut above.

Pontius (7): It was mentioned that Pontius was enjoying the competition for spots as it gave him the motivation to work hard. He certainly showed some extra class, particularly in the first half, that should keep him in the starting spot for a while. Welcome back Chris.

Wolff (8): Man of the Match. He worked hard, scored a great goal that came from work, a good assist from Zayner and a nice finish from the outside of the foot. I thought Ngwenya would be the starter up top with Davies, but perhaps it will be flipped around with a Wolff/Davies combo.

Ngwenya (6): Did alright at holding the ball, alright at being an outlet for long balls, but all the things he did alright at do not make up for his poor finishing. I hope that he isn't planning on continually shooting high and wide instead of hard, low and to the far post. Still, the Davies sub for him was perfect.


Davies (8): Came in for Ngwenya in the 52nd. Did well and showed that there is speed, there is fast and there is Charlie Davies. He can close on a defender holding the ball in the blink of an eye. He did two circles around Marshall, dizzying him, causing him to lose the ball in befuddlement to Davies for his second goal. I think he answered a lot of critics tonight and answered a lot of questions he had of himself. This is truly an inspirational story and I wouldn't be surprised to see him starting next week.

Brasesco (7): Came in for Zayner in the 70th. Came in on a minutes notice and held his own. Seemed to be comfortable with the ball at his feet and coming in to the attacking half. He also had a good sense of the game, awareness, and was strong in the tackle without being reckless.

Quaranta (6): Came in for Wolff in the 83rd. Didn't show too much but also didn't have as much time to make an impression. I hope we see more from him as the season goes on because he is a likable guy. But I will like him more when he is part of a successful United team.


Ben Olsen (8): He has remained tempered and has seemed to make this team his own while modeling it after his fighting spirit in a short amount of time. He made a smart switch to put on Davies and looked sharp in his Pea-coat.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

MLS 2011 Award Predictions (with Black and Red colored glasses)

I love the predictions game! Truth is, as Beau Dure points out,
no one knows anything when it comes to season predictions. Since I accept this truth to be self evident, I have decided to make my predictions with a heavy DC United bias. Thus, let me present the MLS award predictions for the 2011 season with Black and Red colored glasses. Yes, this is being prepared after drinking the kool aid. Please help yourself and have a read!

1. Most Valuable Player

First award is going to....Dax McCarty. He will end up being the lynch pin in the middle of the team. He will be the type of grit and leader the team will need and will lead the team to spoils this year, leading the league in assists.
Runner up: Clyde Simms

2.Defender of the Year

Defender of the year will be Dejan Jakovic. He will have a renaissance year, and will benefit from the vocal organization of being paired with Perry Kitchen. We will see him live up to the promise horse he came riding in on back in 2009. He will be the stand out figure in a defense that will allow the fewest goals in MLS.
Runner up: Marc Burch

3.Goalkeeper of the Year

This will be the year in which Bill Hamid will show why he was brought in to the league with high expectations. After working his way back from shoulder surgery and reclaiming the starting job from placeholder Pat Onstad, Hamid will lead the league in shutouts and Goals Against Average.
Runner up: Pat Onstad

4. Rookie of the Year

Perry Kitchen. Hands down. He will become the leader on our defense. He will get a call up to the full senior side and will displace Tim Ream as the next up and coming American defender.
Runner Up: Chris Korb

5. Newcomer of the Year

As a new player to the league, and everyone pulling for him to succeed, Charlie Davies will walk with this award. He will lead United and the league with goals (18) and be an easy choice for this hardware.
Runner up: Rodrigo Brasesco

6. Comeback Player of the Year

Branko Boskovic makes amends this year for his rude and lackluster entrance to the league last year with a stellar follow up chipping in 7 goals and 8 assists from the left wing, despite helping Montenegro in Euro qualifying for a few games.
Runner up: Santino Quaranta

So there are my predictions. In all honesty, I would settle for only 75% of this happening. Glasses off, kool aid down. Have a great day everyone.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pre Season Champions!!!

We won the Carolina Challenge Cup and go undefeated in pre-season! What does that mean? Who knows. We won this tournament last year and went from success to disaster as soon as the season began. Nonetheless, I would rather win than lose. Come on real games!

A New Season, A New Hope

It is that time of year again...the beginning of the MLS season. United has had their share of turnover and one thing can be said with absolute sincerity, things will be different. After a nightmare-ish last season, roster fluctuation should have been expected, but the way the roster has been revamped is more than most could have hoped for. Players were not just added for their skill level, but for their competitive attitude. I think the focus of the front office was to build this team with fighters while be competitive enough to make it to the playoffs. In order to do that, three questions definitely needed to be answered: 1) Where are the goals coming from, 2) Who was the coach on the field and 3) Who was the vocal organizer from the back line. I believe the team has done its best to answer these questions with these players.

1) Charlie Davies

Will he score the goals? His acquisition is shrouded in uncertainty due to his severe accident. I think the key thing to remember is that he is still young and he has the competitive spirit to power an army. The fact he has made it back to his current level of form should be enough to give anyone hope for the playing level he will eventually reach. The acquisition of Davies and Ngwenya certainly give us more speed than your average Allsopp.

2) Dax McCarty
Will he be the coach on the field? He has captained the US National team recently and has a striking similarity in playing style to Mr. Olsen. Nothing is certain yet, but this seems to be the role he is meant to fill. He brings skill and tenacity to the midfield and has both the credentials and personality of the player that will grab the team by the collar when need be.

3) Perry Kitchen

Kitchen has the track record of being a vocal leader. Jakovic has shown defensive skill, but has been unable to fill this role. Has United found their ideal centerback pairing for years to come? Kitchen comes with glowing praise from all his previous coaches and has done nothing but impress since arriving. On top of all that, he just looks tough.

In summation, I think three big questions were answered for United in the off season. Most importantly, we got faster and YOUNGER! This is a team with great potential to grow. The players I just highlighted are all under 24. I think it is an exciting time to be a United fan. First up, Columbus!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Holly, Jolly Cristman! and Oh Danny boy, the doctor's office calls you...

As we look to understand the type of system United will play under coach Onalfo, it is best to look at the acquisitions being made. At this point, it would appear that we are looking to have attacking wings and a strong defensive middle of the field in order to cover for any ground the wide players will leave exposed.

Exhibit A: Castillo - an attacking left wing
Exhibit B: Allsopp - a big target striker
Exhibit C: Flo - a defensive mid
and now Exibit D: Adam Cristman - another big target type of forward

I like the Cristman pick up. I think you can't ask for much more to round out your group of forwards. His production versus salary (while not injured) has been great. He is also local, another thing I like. He is American, making him less of a sexy choice, but allows us the freedom to look for quality in other areas from overseas.

Also, Danny Szetela is to go under the knife. I think if the front office was truly content with the players they have, then this should be the wake up call. With one injury, the middle looks even weeker. It is looking like Danny will be out for a month. Good thing it is just pre-season.

Lastly, is it just me or are we missing a lot of players right now? What is the body count or MIA?
-Castillo - Wisdom teeth (if they really made you wiser, then why do you take them out?)
-Allsopp - Visa issues
-Szetela - reference above
-Namoff - Alecko/Gros syndrom
-Quaranta - recovering from surgery
-Wicks - recovering from surgery
-James - recovery from injury
-Jackovic - international duty
-Perkins - international duty
-Pontius - international duty

That is a long list!

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Is Allsopp Hopeless?

There have been three things which have puzzled me and have forced me to do a little research in order to either substantiate or debunk what seems to have reached common knowledge status at this point. Today I present you with the first story. Here we go!

Danny Allsopp’s performance versus Indonesia for the Socceroos.

Upon the signing of Danny Allsopp, many DC United fans became discouraged due to his most recent performance for the Australian national team. Guided by the most notable source of Wikipedia, fans began to question Allsopp’s ability based on the quote written in his Wiki regarding his last national team performance. Coach Pim Verbeek described his performance as “absolutely hopeless.” Ugh. I can’t deny the fact that I was turned off by the statement as well, but further research has shown that there was much more involved in the situation. I do not have all the facts, but I believe I have unearthed a few which should make any supporter feel a little better about the situation.
First, we must look at the entire quote from Pim Verbeek, someone decribed as “frank” and seems to be out to bash the level of the A-League according to the rest of the article. "I am just being honest. They were absolutely hopeless” he said reagrding the forward pairing of Allsopp and Thompson. But, obviously, that was not all he said. "But in the last games (for Melbourne) I have seen they were very good, so maybe it was because of Indonesia or the trip." So he is already bringing to question a factor which could have affected play. Jakarta, where the game was played, is 3,235 miles away from Melbourne, the place of Allsopp’s previous match. This led to an approximate six and a half hour flight. Comparatively speaking, Los Angeles is approximately 1,000 miles closer with a flight that would be two hours shorter. I believe this is something United fans can appreciate given our teams struggles on the west coast in recent seasons and the amount of travelling done for international tournaments.
Some may point to the fixture congestion United has had in addition to these trips. It seems Danny was in the middle of a bit of fixture congestion himself, as well as eleven of the other players named to the Australian squad. Verbeek named twelve players to the squad who had played the season finale in Melbourne five days earlier. That may lead to some tired legs. If the previous matches were not enough, Melbourne’s strike pair of Thompson and Allsopp were gearing up for the A-League playoffs, which began for them ten days later.
I imagine that many United fans follow the US men’s national team. This would give us a distinct understanding of another factor, home field advantage. The match was played in Jakarta, a city of close to ten million people. Imagine that kind of hostile environment! San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, Guatemala City and Mexico City would most likely provide a similar environment. How would you feel if a group of MLS players played to a draw in Guatemala? I believe that most would come to an understanding that it was a fair result.
Lastly, looking at Allsopp’s highlight films, he tends to thrive from service. I can imagine he received very little given the Indonesian’s 63-37 advantage in time of possession. Perhaps Verbeek should have been criticizing the midfields inability to hold posession in order to provide better service for the forwards. Despite this, Allsopp got at least one good shot on goal. When looking at the highlights, you see Allsopp win a header and then rip a shot from outside the box which gives the keeper a little trouble at the forty five second mark.

None of this guarantees that Allsopp will be the second coming of Diaz-Arce, but it does seem to point to Verbeek’s description of his performance as a poor barometer of his ability. What are your thoughts?

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010


For those that are interested, you can also follow the blog through twitter. Account name MRoadarmel.

Steve Goff Interview

Hey Steven, myself, as a DC United fan and blogger, and DC United fans are grateful you taking the time to answer some questions. We all appreciate the work you do.

B&R: There are a few reporters who follow United, but you provide the most encompassing coverage, year round. Do you prefer being the big dog on a particular beat, or having a competitive situation with numerous colleagues from other papers?

Steve Goff: It doesn't matter to me. I go about my job the same way, whether I'm the only reporter (as is the case with DCU away matches) or among several. My job is broader than DCU, so besides covering the team on a regular basis, I also try to break stories involving other MLS teams, contribute to the Freedom coverage and follow the national team, particularly in a World Cup year.

B&R: What has been the most memorable moment you have had in your time covering United?

SG: I don't know if I could pinpoint one particular moment, but the first MLS Cup was special because of the comeback, the extra-time drama, the weather, the setting. The most emotional game was probably the 1998 final, Bruce Arena's last in league competition.

B&R: United has had some colorful characters come through their roster, who would you say you have had the most "interesting" professional relationship with?

SG: Ben Olsen has been the most enjoyable to cover because conversation often went beyond soccer and turned to politics, movies, family, etc. Hristo Stoitchkov had the fiercest presence (on and off the field). Freddy Adu was intriguing because of his age and the massive expectations surrounding him. Ray Hudson was a hoot -- greatest quote ever: In describing Dema Kovalenko's disposition, "He would stab his grandmother in the eye for another bowl of porridge."

B&R: What do you see, from your objective standpoint, as the biggest weakness for the team going in to next season?

SG: United addressed the goalkeeping situation, so that's one issue resolved. The club needs another center back, a true central midfielder (assuming Gomez does not return) and perhaps another forward. Bryan Namoff is a concern because of post-concussion issues.

B&R: As someone who follows MLS closely and has spoken with many officials for the league, what is seen as the next "big" step for MLS?

SG: The next step should be greater investment in players. You get what you pay for, and with the salary cap as tight as it is, the quality of play is limited. Until MLS is able to retain American players (instead of losing them to second-tier European leagues) with better compensation and attract more well-known internationals, it will remain what it is today: a good league, not a great league.

Thanks again for participating Steven. We all look forward to your continued coverage of United and soccer throughout the world (but particularly United)!!!

It's been a while...

Hey all, it has been a while since I have posted, but I have a few subjects I want to tackle in the upcoming days regarding the blog. First is to address what we have learned about DC United. One has to think that we are not the completed article yet. We have seen some departures and some additions. But there have been several areas of concern. Let’s look at those and see what has been done about them.

1) Striker: With the departure of Emilio, we have acquired Allsopp. Is this the answer? Who knows? I was hoping there may be another addition to the forward ranks or further midfield coverage to ensure that Pontius will not need to fill in unless absolutely necessary.

2) Midfield: We have lost Jacobson, Fred, Olsen and it has recently come to light that Gomez is not in the current plan for United. We have added...........uh,.....oh yeah, Floribert N'Galula and Castillo. He comes from a good pedigree and was on the Manchester United Reserve side, he is still young, so there is upside to this signing. There has been some debate as to whether he was on trial at Crewe (English 4th division) and was not offered a contract which would lead to many questions about his ability, but that is for another blog post. Just by sheer numbers, we need to add to this group. I think we have lost a large amount of attacking flair which has been partially replaced by Castillo, but needs further reinforcement.

3) Defense: Are we comfortable with Jackovic and James as our starting centerbacks? Who will be our right back when Namoff does not come back due to lingering concussion symptoms? Is it Lawson Vaughn? Who will be at left back? Wallace? Burch? Are we comfortable using Burch as a backup centerback? So many questions.

4) Goalkeeper: Perkins. Done.

So I still feel that we are not done acquiring players. We have yet to see too much come from the South and Central American scouting trips. There was the rumor regarding the Honduran u-23 Quiarol Arzu had been invited for a trial during pre-season. Is this an attempt to get a Honduran before they go play for the national team since we seem to have such a high rate of failure at completing transfers with Senior Squad Hondurans...Pery Martinez, Carlos Will Mejia, Osman Chavez...anyone I am forgetting? There was also the rumor that we were looking at the Uruguayan Matías Corujo, a right sided midfielder, but Goff poured water on that fire. So bring it on front office, earn the paycheck and make us happy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Roster sicheeashun...

For those that may have missed it, here is the current roster situation.

Surprises or interesting bits:

-DiRaimondo is currently under contract.
-Habarugira is not in the plans for the next season. He fit in well to the token young African player brought in late in the season, only to not return in the following season.
-We currently have four keepers under contract.
-Lawson Vaughn is not under contract, but will have a chance to earn a contract at pre-season.
-Continued speculation in regards to Gomez who is said to be "under consideration." I read that as an all else fails plan. Wasn't that what led him to going to Colorado?
-Continued speculation in regards to Namoff's status. I hate concussions.