15 June 2009

Goalkeeping Impressions

With the win against the Chicago Fire, Josh Wicks should solidify his claim as D.C. United's starting goalkeeper. He made a huge stop on the McBride penalty, plucked a lot of crosses out of the air, and has had, not just in this game, excellent reaction stops. Subjectively, its hard to argue to bench him, and I'm not going to try that.

But, as I was looking at the standings and individual stats this morning, I was a little surprised. With fourteen games played, Wicks and Crayton have bopth played 540 minutes (540, and have identical 2-1-3 records. Wicks does have a statistical edge in goals allowed (6 versus 8), goals against average (1.00 vs 1.33), PK's saved (1 vs 0), and shutouts (2 vs 1).

I know statistics in soccer are less meaningful than in other sports, but I'd say that both quantitatively and qualitatively, Wicks is a better option in goal than Crayton. Once you factor in the salaries of both players, and if Kocis is a credible backup option, then you have to wonder if and why Crayton would be picked up again once his contract expires. Freeing up his salary and roster spot would allow the team to pursue another international player.

What do you think? If Crayton leaves, who would you like to see the team pursue?

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At 15 June, 2009 10:46, Anonymous Grunthos said...

I don't see any chance that Crayton will be renewed. The writing was on the wall at the beginning of the season, with Soehn stonewalling questions about the goalie rotation, and it became obvious when they played Kocic multiple times when he clearly wasn't ready.

Now, if Wicks can keep this up, then this is an outright boon for us, 175k freed up for other talent. I like Louis, but I think he had a fair shot and didn't exploit it fully.

I started down this line in the game thread, but if I had my pick, I'd bring in a good defensive mid to pair up with Simms in our standard 3-5-2. Benny can't be counted on for any minutes at all, Jacobsen (while useful) probably isn't a full-time starter, McTavish is a good squaddie but nothing more, and Wallace needs to be deployed on the flank for maximum effect.

The alternative would be to bring in a center back and switch to a 4-4-2, but I continue to worry that such a move will put too much of the offensive distribution on Clyde's shoulders. We don't have the prestige/cash to get a midfielder who can be a good ball-winner *and* a good playmaker at the same time, so I think switching formations would hurt more than it would help.

At 15 June, 2009 13:06, Blogger Bob Z. said...

The emergence of Josh Wicks and Jakovic as a reliable central defender are two of the key stories for DC at this point in the season. I would submit the third is Soehn's ability to effectively juggle the roster and rest the older players. With that said, I agree that securing a solid holding midfielder to complement Simms would be a wise move. This would give the club a solid defensive middle which is critical to a long playoff run.

At 15 June, 2009 13:14, Blogger Jeremy said...

Any move that gets Fred off of the wing is positive.

If that comes through acquiring a quality replacement for Olsen, freeing up Wallace for wing play, great. As long as Fred / Gomez is the designated rotation for CAM.

Otherwise, an actual quality left winger with some speed and the ability to cross the ball. (Fred can't do either of those.)

At 15 June, 2009 13:32, Blogger Bob said...

Jeremy - Ivan Guerrero comes to mind as a winger with speed, work ethic and good crossing skills.

At 15 June, 2009 14:36, Anonymous Grunthos said...

So by next year, as Jaime/Christian/Benny start to fade away, if existing trends continue we would be looking at:

GK: Wicks
D: Namoff, Jakovic, Burch
DM: Simms, New Guy
Wings: Tino/Pontius, Wallace
AM: Fred
F: Emilio, Pontius/Tino

(Keeping Wallace on the wing accomplishes a lot of things, but one of the most important is that he can help out defensively in a way that Tino, Fred, and Pontius cannot. Accepting the 3-5-2 means accepting that other teams will get some joy down the sidelines, especially if they have real pace - see the 2nd half of the NE game for details. Rodney gives us defensive flexibility there without giving up on offensive options.)

At 15 June, 2009 20:34, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whom should they pursue? Someone who plays the wing better than Fred...?

At 16 June, 2009 09:24, Blogger Jeremy said...

Bob- Guerrero would be a great option.

What's the deal with him in Colorado. It doesn't appear that he has even touched the field.

At 16 June, 2009 10:53, Blogger Bob said...

Jeremy, I spent a bunch of time on the Rapids' site yesterday trying to figure that out. I guess he's injured, but no info about that either.

At 16 June, 2009 12:06, Anonymous Skippy said...


Not to borrow trouble, but if Wallace, Pontius, Wicks and Jakovic continue to play well, is DCU going to be able to afford to keep them all on the roster? Maybe if Jaime, Benny and Gomez all retire, but otherwise aren't all four of those guys going to be looking for pay raises? How much room does United have under the cap and when do these guys contracts expire?

At 16 June, 2009 14:10, Blogger Juan-John said...

The real question is, did Crayton travel with the team to Seattle and Colorado?

At 16 June, 2009 14:13, Blogger Jason said...

Didn't we offload Guerrero in the Gomez trade? How are salaries working with the two of them? If I remember correctly the Rapids are paying part of Christian's salary. Are we doing the same with Ivan? I was disappointed that we traded him. We don't have too many players that still play for their respective national teams.

At 16 June, 2009 14:19, Blogger Jason said...

From the DCU site:

M Christian Gomez re-acquired from the Colorado Rapids, along with an international roster spot and salary cap considerations, in exchange for M Ivan Guerrero, a Designated Player roster spot and a second round 2010 SuperDraft pick.

So, if Luci is our only DP, then with the Gomez/Guerrero trade can we get another DP? DPs are outside of the salary cap, yes?

At 16 June, 2009 15:11, Anonymous Grunthos said...

@ Skippy,

I was going to write a post off the cuff, but now I've gone and crunched all the numbers that are readily available. I'm not clear how we are under the cap *now*, let alone in the future. My understanding was that our 20 senior roster guys had to be under a cap of $2.3 million, but using the players union numbers (and properly cutting off Emilio's cap impact at 415k), we seem to be at $2.55 million or so.

Moreno + Olsen + Gomez is ~$750k in total cap hit, so as they retire, that much will become available for raises elsewhere. Which ought to be enough to cover the four guys in question, since they're already making $320k between them... in 2-3 years' time, we can be paying each of them $250k.

Benny's obviously just about done... the mind is willing but the body won't cooperate. Jaime could string things out for a few years yet if he can stay healthy, in a Dennis Bergkamp sort of way, but he's not going to keep the same wage until he's 38. So the major question is squaring Gomez with the new crop. Which may mean that Christian's return will be short-lived.

Overall, it's not really a question of keeping Pontius, Wallace, Jakovic, and Wicks. Barring European intervention, we'll do that. It's a question of doing so without reducing the bench to a bunch of scrubs making $20k each.

At 16 June, 2009 15:18, Anonymous Grunthos said...

Additional note: the $2.55 million estimate does not include Avery John.

Jason reminds me that Colorado's contribution to Gomez's salary may not count against our cap total, which would account for most, but not all, of the overage here.

We could acquire another DP slot from someone, but since $415k of the DP's salary does apply against the cap, we would have to do so in combination with the removal of that same $415k from the current roster in order to actually sign a DP. Which, in turn, means you're either trading Fred or convincing Benny to retire early; either move, in concert with releasing Crayton, would be roughly enough room to have a second DP.

At 16 June, 2009 15:20, Blogger blockski said...

With regards to cap hits next year, remember that the CBA expires at the beginning of next year. It's entirely possible all the labor rules will change significantly - salary cap included.

At 17 June, 2009 09:28, Blogger jaywag86 said...

According to SI, Crayton did not make the trip. It would appear that he will be released assuming the FO is satisfied with Wicks and Kocic.

At 17 June, 2009 10:58, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guerrero was released by Colorado. He's back playing in the Honduran League.


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