16 January 2007

Needs Assessment Part I

Even with Luciano Emilio, DCU's Roster Is Incomplete

Let's get out those pencils, and take a look at DC United's requirements for improving its roster. I don't think these have been formally stated, but let's give it a shot. If we had to pick three top priorities for considering transactions, what would they be, what has DC United done to date, and what do they need to do? Here's how I would analyze this (part 1):

1. Improve Backline Depth

Why? For all of the legitimate focus on getting balls in the net, this is an area that is overlooked by many fans. This was a mild problem before Brandon Prideaux was traded to Colorado, but his departure certainly elevated the situation. Our back 3 of Erpen - Boswell - Namoff is a good group, but behind them you have Wilson (a servicable LB), Stokes (erratic at best), and potentially conversions of Josh Gros and Jeff Carroll. In this situation, Prideaux (when healthy) was a great 4th option. Given the fear on injury or the problems of card accumulation which dogged United the second half of the season, there's not much there. A starting quality back, preferably on the outside, could help a great deal in maintaining a three man backline, let alone giving Tommy Soehn some flexibility in moving to a four man back line if he felt the occasion warranted it.

Efforts to Date: United drafted Jay Needham from Southern Methodist University, and there's reason to think Neeham has significant potential. That being said, let's not forget how unlikely and rare the Bobby Boswell story was. Even Bobby was sent to the bench the second half of his rookie year, and while his potential was clear to see, he really matured in his second year in the league. To expect Needham to do the same or even more is unfair, he'll need a year of acclimation just to acquaint himself with the speed of the game. I don't think you can rely on him as the answer.

What to do? The conventional wisdom says that MLS is relatively poor when it comes to play at LB, the center backs are relative plentiful. You can get an option there simply because supply outpaces demand. The reason Erpen was worth an allocation was his speed makes him a rare commodity on the outside. I don't think you have to use an allocation to grab a player here, but if you do it should be for a back that can play outside as opposed to in the middle of the line. Stokes, if he is to have an impact, needs to step it up this year. If he can show more to his game than I think I, or pretty much anyone, have seen to date, he has the most to gain from this situation. Otherwise we may have to look at some form of midseason trade, and our one area of depth where we could deal from is our defensive midfield. We may resign Carroll, only to see him or Benny or Simms traded. For purely fan reasons, I don't like that idea, but it might be the only competitive option.

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At 16 January, 2007 10:53, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, and I'm glad you brought up this point. I don't think anyone publicly (besides the fans , that is) has mentioned this. And your also right about our depth in DM, even moreso now with the drafting of Bryan Arguez, sure he's a rookie, but just one more guy playing that style and position on our roster. I really hope DC adresses these pressing issues of lopsidedness in the roster. We have four DM's, and only 5 or 6 true defenders on roster. The scales seem a bit off? or is it just me?

At 16 January, 2007 10:59, Blogger Kinney said...

Actually I think we are okay after the drafting Needham. If he is good enough he can be cover, if not than hopefully he can develop in the Reserves. Erpen is worth an allocation not because he can play on the outside but because he can play both the outside and the inside. If Boswell goes down we use Erpen in the center and Wilson on the wing. If Boswell and a winger go down than we can use Mediate or J. Carroll or McTavish, all of whom spent time in the reseves at defense.

Remember that we will probably be picking up another defender in the supplemental draft. Probably won't help us, but there is a chance it could.

This is basically the same defense that led the league last year. Remember Prideaux was hurt until after the all-star break (when our season started to fall apart). We traded Needham for Prideaux, which is a good cap space move. Would I like more cover, sure. But I think that this is one area where we are as good as we are going to get without an allocation. Which we are not going to use because we would have just kept Prideaux, unless you want to mess with the regular back three, which I do not.

At 16 January, 2007 11:00, Blogger Oscar M. said...

Don't forget - Stokes is out of contract so if he gets an offer elsewhere, he's likely gone for next season too.

At 16 January, 2007 11:06, Blogger Kinney said...

Anon: Goff says Arguez will fill the Dyachenko role. Buzz says that he is pure D-Mid and that him bumping McCarty in the U-20s when he aged up is pure BS. It will be interesting to see who is right when the season rolls around.

At 16 January, 2007 13:09, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinney: Yeah, I've heard those mixed reports too, I agree it will be interesting, if anything it'll be somthing to watch if the kid even pans out at all, being our first pick, and given how well (sarcasim) our last first rounder did. I also agree in Needham, I hope he can bring somthing, becuase I fear the defense is a little worse off than some are assuming. True it is essentially the same great defense of the past year, but we have to remember Stokes could possibly be gone before our first game (as oscar m. already mentioned) and John Wilson very likely may not be playing at his previous level before his knee injury. Early in the offseason rumors of his retirment were even tossed around. I wouldn't put my money on his services being as touted as they once were. That leaves DC (at this moment) with no secured viable options off the bench. What if Boz goes down? Erpen hits a bad streak? These are serious questions with no decent answers at this time. I really hope DC adresses these in the next couple weeks, or we're screwed.

At 16 January, 2007 13:25, Blogger Crazy Al said...

With so many games on the schedule, what are the chances of switching to a flat back four? This would allow us to slow some games down and save our legs for later in the season. Your thoughts.

At 16 January, 2007 14:40, Blogger D said...

Kinney: Not being at the workouts, it's tough for me to disagree with you. My sense is that we are thinner than we were, and it worries me a bit. I'm just not sure that JCarroll, McTavish, or Needham are really ready yet, even with the time they've got, and Wilson does not inspire me with confidence.

Anon #5: You have accurately articulated my nightmares.

Crazy Al: The personnel for a flat back 4 does not inspire me with confidence, although as part of a 4-5-1 it might work. Maybe. Our wingers (later topic) really aren't great in a 4-4-2 Diamond, although I could see perhaps a 4-3-1-2. Plus the best options for a flat back 4 are Erpen - Boz - Namoff - Gros or Wilson - Boz - Namoff - Erpen. Seems a bit speculative, but it might work. For a bit. It'd be better with another. Right now, I feel like our roster almost dictates a 3 man backline.

At 16 January, 2007 16:07, Anonymous Anonymous said...

D. Is the young kid from Jamaica still on the team? Devoux I think???

I'd love to se him get more time..he's raw but a definite game breaker

At 16 January, 2007 16:09, Blogger D said...

Matt: You're probably thinking of Jamaica's Stephen deRoux, also known as the Pride of PG County. Unless he's improved, he struck me as very reserve game quality so far.

At 17 January, 2007 00:22, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've seen him more than me so I'll take your opinion.

He just seemed to have great speed and wasn't afraid to take players on. Maybe a perfect late game sub?

At 17 January, 2007 08:13, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever our defensive needs, I can't see Benny being put on the trading block.

At 17 January, 2007 09:10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally got around listening to the SE Podcast's excellent coverage of the Luciano Emilio press conference.

First off, I was excited about "Lucky" Luciano when I heard the reports in the Honduran press. I'm even more excited after hearing that whole press conference.

Second, during the individual Q&A's for Soehn and Kaspar, they made it clear that we're still looking to make two foreign signings before the season opens, if possible. When asked what positions they were looking to fill with those signings, the answer was more help up top and possibly on the wing.

Correct or not, it seems the brain trust running our team believes we can get defensive depth from players already on our post-draft roster, and our signings should be primarily offensive-focused.


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