Thursday, November 26, 2009

Three simple questions: D.C. United

First, let me start by wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving with lots of stuffing and a safe trip to all travelers. That greeting completed, I'm now gonna toss it over to Kim Kolb, a scribe over at the Screaming Eagles blog The Nest Liner.

NSC: What went wrong?

KK: The season didn't end in July. Injuries. Schedule congestion. Emilio and Gomez didn't produce in the way that you'd hope that almost a million dollars would. But since mid-July, the team was just out of sync on many different levels. It's hard to say if that was due to tired legs, or a MLS-esque disparity between the starting 11 and the bench/depth players.

NSC: What went right?

KK: Youth. There aren't enough words to describe how impressive it was to see Chris Pontius and Rodney Wallace step into the mix for DC United. But that overlooks the contributions of unheralded Brandon Barklage who was coming along quite nicely until sidelined by an ACL injury in Open Cup play. Dejan Jakovic was another great find that helped to finally stabilize the defense. United missed the playoffs on a tie-breaker, that means that if you go back and convert just one loss into a tie, or one tie into a win, United is in the playoffs and not Real Salt Lake.

NSC: What, if not who, does the team need to acquire?

KK: A majority of the pieces are here. But team character has been lacking since the departure of Earnie Stewart and Ryan Nelsen after 2004. Ben Olsen's retirement isn't going to help that situation. A leader must emerge to ensure that the team can perform consistently throughout the year. In terms of play, a new forward tandem must be constructed. The team just can't lean on Jamie Moreno game in and game out anymore, he still brings a support quality that just can't be replicated, but he must work with dependable players that are capable in their own right.

- Greg Seltzer

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