Trade Freddy (Or Trade Someone): Part 2
(Part 1 here)
So what's the goal of all of this personnel analysis? To state what may seem to be the obvious, DC United is trying to be the dominant team in MLS, and win championships. I know that seems simplistic, but many sports teams rather wish to have the illusion of competitiveness (to support ticket sales) while keeping payroll low. Others want to have only an outside shot at a championship and keep their payrolls even lower (See: Capitals, Washington; Phillies, Philadelphia; Cardinals, Arizona; Wizards, No Fixed Address). Sometimes this pays off for a team, but usually the team teases before disappointning. To be dominant, a team must have not merely good talent and a superstar, but very-good to excellent talent in multiple positions.
But before we enter into the wheeling and dealing of the trade market, let's consider an idea: That it might just be a good idea to stand pat and take chances on players improving and a few smart selections in the next draft. Here's a run down of some of the non-starting DCU players that could make an impact in various areas next year:
- Troy Perkins (G): A decent keeper, who has seen starting time, with decent distribution skills but has shown signs of acquiring Nick Rimando's problems of adventurous ball handling. At age 24, he's got the potential to develop a little more as a keeper. He was acquired as a Developmental Discovery, and that story warms the hearts of everyone who has had a crap job. Supporters of Perkins like the fact that he has at least 4 inches on Rimando (whose generously listed at 5'10") . Haydon in The Times indicated that Perkins may see more time in the upcoming season.
- Andrew Weber (G?): Drafted as a keeper by DCU with an impressive resume, Weber hasn't made a start as a keeper in either reserve or friendly competition. The question mark next to his position is because he has played 3 games for 58 minutes in the reserves, most of them as a forward. Converting a keeper to a forward seems like an unlikely move, so this may have just been done as a general fitness move. Clearly, the impression of the staff is that he's not ready for competition yet. His best hope is some reserve minutes in 2006, but if he does well expect his name to be come up with some more frequency.
- Andrew Terris (G): Currently part of MLS's league goal-keeper pool, Terris made two appearences for DC United in reserve matches, and has been called on by Columbus and the Metros at various times. In appearences with United it seems he did not impress, and is not currently listed on DCU's roster. (Back in the pool, and unlikely to see any more time)
- John Wilson (D/M): Wilson had one of the best 2005s of any non-starting player, establishing some strong presence as a wing player in both defense and midfield. While it seemed he had some problems with marking and the timing of his tackles in his earlier performance, both of those improved as the year went on. His ball handling skills are far better than DCU's last defensive spot starter (Ezra Hendrickson). More starting time as well as minutes off the bench are definately a possibility, especially in any deal that packages Prideaux, Namoff, or Kovalenko
- Stephen DeRoux (D): If the reserve division benefited anyone, it was Stephen DeRoux. Stephen clearly improved his skill level to the point of becoming an all-around general pest by the time the final reserve game came around. His decision making and distribution can be called into question enough that it drops him to third on the list of defensive players that might make a move.
- Clyde Simms (M): First, it is amusing that Mr. Simms has more caps for the USMNT than Mr. Adu. But that being said, they are rather different players. Simms is a defensive midfield player who could probably start for a number of MLS teams. He seems to have considerable upside as he figures out how to deal with crafty attacking. He's behind Caroll and Olsen on the depth charts, but has managed to grab to occasionaly match minute here and there. As Olsen ages, or potentially as Carroll departs, Simms seems to be a fairly good option to spell him for a game now and again, and then at some point to take the job on.
- Nick Van Sicklen (M): I don't know what to do with Nicky. Really, I don't. But the waiving of Nana Kuffour and Tim Merritt are at least a slight endoresement that Sicklen is the bet DC is making in terms of developing a capable wing player. What makes things difficult is that it is hard to see anything that Nicky does particularly well. He's faster than Dema (but not Josh), has some height but not exceptional aerial ability, handles the ball competently but not exceptionally. He shows every sign of developing into a particulary average MLS player. That's nothing to sneeze at, considering how many teams have to worry about holes, but it's nothing to point at as a strength either. He just plays the game at a rate where exceptional things seem unlikely.
- Matt Nickell (F): I like Matt Nickell. I really do. He's not a sure thing to emerge as a true out-and-out striker, as he needs a little more sense in the box, and perhaps a touch more creativity, but that could happen. The question for him is two fold: Does Alecko Eskandarian come back and push him down the depth chart, and how much does Filomeno represent a case of DC hedging its bets with Matt. I don't know the answer to either of those things.
Standing pat and waiting for talent to develop will not address DC United's most critical needs, but does provide insurance as DCU's established strengths grow older. The pipe-line is providing depth, but not bredth, with the possible exception of Nick Van Sicklen at wing, and even there it's not a situation where a hole is being filled. There's value in the reserves, but value that is more likely to be leveraged though trades, where these players may provide a more immediate upgrade for another team. To improve DC United to a dominant position, you're going to have to make some deals. In short, it is time to Trade Freddy. Or, someone. Part 3 will adress trading ideas.