31 March 2006

Free Copy

Update: DCist's Jason Linkins has his DCU preview up. Hurrah! And they remember Alecko, so well done there.

Dear DCist... I see that you don't have a DC United season preview up. Since I'm a nice guy, I've written one for you. I'll even use the same format (well, not really) used for that Nats season preview. See, I know you've been promising more coverage to United, but it takes time to identify those writers and volunteers. I get that. So here ya go...

Last Season: The title defense of 2005 was a long, trying campaign that featured DC United in two international tournaments in addition to MLS play. United struggled to find offense in the early going, but questions about a potential hole in the defense were partially answered by undrafted rookie Bobby Boswell. The month of April 2005 saw United win only its season opener in five MLS matches and the home-and-home legs of Champions Cup defeat to the hands of UNAM Pumas.

The team was still finding itself. Subsequent months saw improved play, but it was after the MLS all-star game when DC United went on a five game win streak that really moved them into playoff contention.

The first MLS team invited to the Copa Sudamericana lost a heartbreaker to Chile's CD Universidad Catolica in September, and would go on to finish the season in second place in the Eastern Conference. Towards the end of the season, there were signs that United was losing its focus, giving up late goals and managing only a tie in against the otherwise dreadful Columbus Crew

The playoffs opened in Chicago, and the first leg featured a scoreless draw (after a Chicago Fire set-piece goal was disallowed by Brian Hall). Fans expectations that the team would rebound in RFK were crushed in a four goal massacre at the hands of the Chicago Fire. Christian Gomez received a red card for unsportsmanlike behavior after he spit on the Fire's C. J. Brown. For this incident, Gomez is suspended for the home opener.

Off-season In Action: The only major roster move for DC United was the departure of midfielder Dema Kovalenko. Also gone is much of the reserve squad that won the initial reserve division championship, including Jason Thompson, Shawn Kuykendall, and Nick Van Sicklen.

That's not to say that things may not look different as the season gets underway. Freddy Adu's role as spot starter and substitute may transform into everyday starter, as coach Piotr Nowak has shown a willingness to depart from his 3-5-2 and experiment with both a 4-4-2, 4-3-3, and variations thereof. Of the draft picks, Wake Forest product wide midfielder Justin Moose may see the earliest work on the wing. Third-year keeper Troy Perkins will start for the injured Nick Rimando in the early games, and may win the job outright. Last season's late addition Lucio Filomeno looks to open the season attacking the goal with MLS MVP runner-up Jamie Moreno.

Outlook: With a returning cast of characters that can have incredible chemistry, especially with the interplay between Christian Gomez and Jamie Moreno, and a team that will lose at most one player (defensive midfielder Ben Olsen) to World Cup duty, a failure to make the playoffs would be a monumental collapse. Competition from the talented New England Revolution, revamped New York Red Bulls (formerly the team known as the Metrostars), playoff nemesis Chicago Fire, and coach Sigi Schmid's Columbus Crew may present challenges, but expectations for United should include a top three finish in the MLS East. After that, you'll have to wait for DCist's playoff preview. If they have a DC United writer by then.

Off the pitch: There are three stories that could make interesting reading over the season. The potential transfer of Freddy Adu to a European power has always resulted in bizarre speculation in the foreign press, but as he gets older it becomes more difficult to just ignore. A sale of DC United last season fell through, and a new suitor could be announced at any time, just so long as you never mark that time on a calendar. The DC United stadium drive continues, and features a much lower-key (and less call for public money) than the rankling Nats stadium negotiations. All of these will no doubt be covered by DCist as they occur.

5 Comments:

At 31 March, 2006 14:27, Anonymous Alecko said...

D,

Thanks for ignoring my return to health. Did you catch me on the junkies yesterday saying how much better I'm feeling now?

 
At 31 March, 2006 14:36, Blogger D said...

Alecko --

Valid point. You should definately have made the season preview.

And I missed you on the Junks. May have to find a webcast of that. Did you put any lines in the book with Cakes?

 
At 31 March, 2006 15:49, Anonymous Anonymous said...

heh... i guess they heard you: DCist

 
At 31 March, 2006 17:12, Blogger D said...

Glad they got it up. I was just worried when it turned 3PM and I hadn't seen it yet.

Thank you DCist, thank you.

 
At 02 April, 2006 00:30, Anonymous Alecko said...

D,

I was on just before 9am, towards the end of the 3rd hour. I think they put their shows up on itunes, try looking there.

I gave some props to Freddy, and also talked about how many guys we have fighting over my position.

 

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