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???

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