Value Over Replacement | Replacement Over Value
This weekend was marvelously rewarding for neutrals. There was Fulham's nice comeback against Villa, an amazing Boca-River game that made me glad we missed out on Palermo, as well as that Super Bowl thing, and for once the Puppy Bowl was upstaged by the Kitten Half-Time show (last year... not so much). But you can feel that United's return is imminent, and so we must put away the shiny distractions and focus in on the upcoming season.
First, John Haydon devotes himself to the Big Question about United's upcoming season: "Gallardo likely will earn more in one year than Gomez did in his entire United career, but can he match Gomez's numbers?"
Actually, that question is a bit misleading. I don't care if Gallardo can match Gomez's prodigous output in terms of goals. If you head over to UnitedMania and download the soccer show podcast, you can hear about just how remarkable Gomez's goal scoring talent was. Still, if Gallardo gets fewer goals, but sets up the attack and perhaps even involves the wingers to a greater degree, then he can have fewer goals and still be an upgrade. He needs to make the offense work, but he doesn't need to do the work of the offense.
Quick side note: Did anyone else feel a bit queasy seeing Gallardo with the 10 shirt at the press conference before we had traded Gomez's rights. I mean, yes, we know Gomez is leaving, and that Gallardo will get the 10 shirt, but until we finalize that trade, it feels to me like that shirt is still Christian's. Just saying... It struck me as an uncomfortable moment.
Still, the point remains. Will Gallardo not only be as good as Christian Gomez, but so much better that we get down on our knees and thank the Front Office for bringing him in (the way we would for, say, Emilio). That's not hyperbole, that's the level of success we should expect and demand for a player with a Designated Player salary. It is a huge question, but one that we will get a good preview of with CONCACAF action soon. Maybe Harbor View isn't like most MLS teams, but I think we saw from the Olimpia match that Emilio was for real. Can Gallardo provide the same good early returns.
Also from the UnitedMania podcast was the idea that we have to be patient and let this team gel. They argue that if United starts 0-3 again, it is okay because the team will naturally have a transitional time. I respectfully disagree. While I have no problem with a 1-1-1 start, 0-3 is a cause for concern. Yes, it may be a transitional issue, or it could just be a dysfunctional preview of a 0-7-2 start, and that's not acceptable. This team has made moves, and while it may not be utterly fair to judge the team three games into a season, I intend to do so. Last year 0-3 was solved by some decent formation adjustments by Soehn combined with Emilio getting over his transitional problems. That may not be the same situation a poor start would portend this year.
Final note as I'm jotting things down -- Many of you had excellent comments in the previous post here, and I do intend to respond to them. Sometimes comment discussions are so good that I don't want to get involved, and this was the case. Many of you who disagreed with the post (in whole or in part) made excellent points though, and I do not want you to confuse my silence with dismissal. I do owe you all a response, which I will give at the post level. There's a lot of good thought in those 19 comments to date.