Needs Assessment Part II
Continuing our earlier thoughts, let's look at another off-season priority for DC United
2. Find Threats on the Wing
Why? Attacking threats on the wing have never been D. C. United's strong suit. The departure of Freddy Adu and the unlikely return of Mattias Donnet have exacerbated this situation. Pairing Josh Gros and Domenic Mediate on the wing is serviceable, and unlikely to do any harm, but is unlikely to strike fear in most MLS backlines. What's more, the conventional wisdom says that the outside back position is one of the thinner talent depths throughout MLS, exactly the kind of situation a 3-5-2 could exploit. Further, while Gros has the flexibility to play outside back for United, the lack of depth in this area makes moving him a dangerous opposition, and denies us tactical flexibility.
Efforts to Date: The big story in this area seemed to revolve around Ruy Beuno Neto. It's not clear if those negotiations are dead or simply stalled (the story changes from week to week, back and forth again.) However, since Emilio Luciano was signed on a free transfer, United still has a great deal of allocation money left, so obstacles to a deal are more likely coming from player negotiations and not from the clubs (if they are coming from the clubs it is probably fair to assume that the transfer fees being asked for are ridiculous.) The D.C. United front office has recognized this need, and if future signings are planned it is likely that this is where the allocation will go.
What to do? Signing an international with an allocation seems like the correct move here. It's unlikely DC United could work a favorable deal to trade for a wing player already within MLS. There are far too few of them to make the potential cost reasonable. However, the transfer market, as we have seen, is a crazy place to work. It's possible that even with the best efforts and intentions, United might be unable to make something work. At that point you're stuck with either using Gros, Mediate, and McTavish on the wings, or trying to convert a player. The 2006 roster doesn't provide much hope here, as Alecko Eskandarian was the one player who DC United experimented with on the wing as a potential conversion. United may try to convert a Brad North or Ricky Schramm to the wing, but without seeing them in person neither seems to be a particularly good candidate. Supplemental pick Guy-Roland Kpene may be the most reasonable option, given his decent assist tally which indicates at least some ability to send a ball through. At 5'10", he's not a target forward, which makes me hope that he has some skill with the ball and some pace as well. Of course, that's a long-shot, but that's what the Supplemental Draft is for, right? And if you can't get someone with an allocation, taking a long-shot while playing safe with Gros and Mediate doesn't seem like that bad a deal.