MLS Preview: Team by Team, D.C. United Look To Rebuild After Disastrous 2010

Posted In Features - By Ted Meyer On Monday, March 7th, 2011 With 0 Comments

D.C. United’s 2010 campaign was by far its worst ever. Sure, there were the dark ages of the early millennium, but it didn’t even come close to just how awful United was in 2010. Most of the talent they brought in during the offseason flopped horrifically. They scored a league low 21 goals and finished with a -26 goal differential. They were last in the standings by a long shot with 22 points. At the end of the season last year, one thing was clear: It was time rebuild completely.

And rebuilding is exactly what United has done.  Through the SuperDraft, Re-Entry Draft, other MLS signings, and international signings, Ben Olsen and company have built a team that could surprise a lot of people this year.  Top to bottom, D.C. United has gotten a complete makeover. Their forward line has gotten a boost thanks to Charlie Davies coming in on loan. They also traded for Dax McCarty, probably one of their most important signings to improve the midfield. They have also dipped into the international market and signed Rodrigo Brasesco to sure up an ailing backline. This team looks good on paper and has been impressive in preseason games, but as last year showed us, preseason is not always a good indication of regular season success.

The goalkeeper situation is a big concern for United. They traded Troy Perkins away to Portland for Steve Cronin. However, he suffered a broken wrist and will be sidelined for a while. They have young talent Bill Hamid, who impressed early last year but suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the year. He should be ready and has apparently completely changed his habits and workout routine.  However, United still needed a comparable talent in case Hamid isn’t ready. So they brought Pat Onstad out of retirement and signed him for a short term deal. It certainly isn’t expected to be a permanent deal. I have a feeling Onstad will retire almost as soon as Hamid and Cronin are fully fit.

The defensive side will have a lot to prove after last year. United have signed international talent Rodrigo Bracessco to hopefully give a boost. They have also drafted young promising talents Perry Kitchen and Chris Korb from the 2011 NCAA National Champion Akron.  On top of that, they have signed academy player Ethan White and have acquired Daniel Woolard from Carolina. They still have Marc Burch, Jed Zayner and Canadian international Dejan Jakovic. Like most of the team, the defense is young and talented, but they will have to prove themselves this year. Perry Kitchen could be the biggest talent to watch. He has gotten rave reviews from his coaches and is considered mature well beyond his years. The front office and Ben Olsen are very high on him and believe he can start almost immediately. If he performs as well as expected, it could go a long way to improving on the 47 goals conceded last year.

In the midfield, D.C. United improved their lineup significantly by signing Dax McCarty. Last year the midfield severely lacked organization, and McCarty will be tasked with not only organizing but providing the much needed attacking link to the forwards. Returning they have Chris Pontius, designated player Branko Boskovic, captain Santino Quaranta, and of course last year’s Rookie of the Year Andy Najar. The even re-signed Fred after he left Philadelphia. The real concern for Ben Olsen will be just who he exactly he will play. He has so much talent, especially on the wing, that he could end  rotating his lineup on a consistent basis. With the older and improved talent around Andy Najar this year, I think we could see him come off the bench a lot more than last year.

United’s attack combined for only 21 goals last year. Also during the last season, golden boot winner Chris Wondolowski had 18 goals on the year alone. To try and improve their inept offense, they acquired Josh Wolff and Joseph Ngwenya from the Re-Entry Draft. However, that wasn’t enough and they made the biggest splash of the offseason and signed Charlie Davies on loan from his French side Sochaux.  Davies will obviously be the key to United’s attack. If he can return to his pre-crash form and put the ball in net, D.C. United could have one of the most improved attacks in 2011. The spotlight is on D.C. United and Charlie Davies this year. If he performs, it could signal the resurgence of not only Davies but the entire D.C. Untied organization.

What will expect out of United this year? They have a lot of promise and talent, but it remains to be seen if they can put it all together.  Ben Olsen was undoubtedly a natural leader on the field for United and has certainly appeared to have adjusted to the coaching job well. We will see how this new era for United will fare when they open the season at home against the Columbus Crew on March 19th.

About Ted Meyer - Ted Meyer is a writer for The Allocation Order. He is also host of the Bring Back the Stripes Podcast, a D.C. United centered podcast on World Soccer and co-host of Around the League on the Champions Soccer Radio Network.

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>