Plans of Attack
I'll let you in on a little secret as to how I do things here. There's a formula. This is the first thing I check each morning. That's typically how I figure out what people are saying around this vast, wide, internetty thing. From this I typically cull two to three articles that are of interest to me, and thus the morning news briefing. Then I might make a few notes towards posts on things I think about the stuff I've read recently. I'll scan The DCenters email box (thedcenters(at)gmail(dot)com, if you didn't know) for any emails to tips people have mailed in. A check of the soccerblogoball (sphere is synonymous with ball, right?) follows. Then I might drop in on Big Soccer to see what the latest headache to their moderators is.
Now, the nice thing is that following Happy DC United Day, things here have quieted down. I click that first link above, and see little that needs comment. Which means I can turn and think about bigger things. For instance: "what's changed since 2005?"
It has been a crazy off-season (Adu's going to New Jersey, Adu's going Chelsea, Adu's not going to Old Trafford, There was a draft, DCU caught a moose, Piotr Nowak may have said something really bad, somewhat bad, or totally inoccous, Chelse wants Adu -- but only if he's going to be great...) , made all the crazier by a simple fact that seems elusive: Very little has changed. Last year saw the departure of Ezra Hendrickson, Ryan Nelsen, Ernie Stewart, and then mid-season Mike Petke. That's an entire back line, plus a winger who could cross a ball. This season DC United has lost only Dema Kovalenko. Brandon Prideux has not been traded. Nor has Freddy. Nor has Rimando. United decided to stand pat for the most part. What's more, my money is that no DC United player will be going to Germany (Ben Olsen is still only a 20% shot based on the most recent odds posting)
Compare this with the wheeling-dealing Metros, coaching changes in Columbus and New Jersey, The Revs looking at losing Noonan, Dempsey, Twellman, and who knows who else to Bruce, Kansas City has made more than one move... I tend to think that consistency, in a world-cup disrupted year, could be a great factor (especially going after that Supporter's Shield). The question still remains: Is this squad talented enough to catch fire for a cup bid? To my mind, it is clear that the most talented team in the East is still New England. I think New Jersey's talent level has improved, and could get stronger by the end of the season. Columbus will certainly be more of a threat this year. Kansas City is still a cypher to me. Chicago seems to have taken a similar approach as DC this off-season, and we know how they fared at the end of last year. Quick summary: teams that finished below DCU have gotten better. Teams above DCU are standing pat, but may have more problems with World Cup conflicts. I think DC can hold its own for the regular season, but will it translate to playoff success and another cup? Of course, the answer now is "no." It seems like the modus operandi of Payne, Nowak, et al, is to put the team in a good position during the regular season, evaluate their needs in August, then see if they can broker a good deal or transfer to meet that need. It's an interesting strategy, and one that probably prevents the massive sell-offs that could destroy a quality team. But it doesn't create a team that you look at preseason, knowing it's an odds on favorite for the Cup.
I figure I've written about 20,000 words this off-season, which is an awful lot for a team that is still, largely, the same.