23 January 2007

What is the Masterplan?

Two quick links before I digress into a discussion for which I have no answers.

ACCORDING TO SIMON & GARFUNKLE, THEY NEED TO BUILD A BRIDGE: The Post follows up on their analysis of the Anacostia's rivers (I think Oscar posted a link about two weeks ago) with an editorial calling for the new Nationals and United owners to pony up for clean-up costs. Sure, fair, fine. The only thing is that you now have to consider that part of the cost of the buy-in to the area, which means that the idea of the city "giving away the land" is shown to be more and more of a false premise. It ain't a give away once you consider the environmental costs. So let's stop that argument right now, shall we? I'm sure the Post will get right on that.

WE LIKE VICTOR, CAN WE GET HIM FOR OTHER SPORTS? BlackAthlete.Com laments the failure of [Crazy Uncle Moneybags] Brian Davis to purchase the Memphis Grizzlies. In the process, you can almost hear "Why didn't he get into an ownership group like the one he's part of with United?" We don't know, but we're happy he did.

WHAT ARE THE WINDOWS? Okay, now to what I want to talk about. I had a wonderful time watching the Denmark/US game from Oscar's place. As you can imagine, there was much talk not just about the US National Team, but also about United. CVS, an occasional commenter in these parts, asked a telling question: "Do you guys feel like this is a rebuilding year?" I don't think so, but I understand where that sentiment comes from. We cleared out a lot of players for allocation cash, cap room, and draft picks. We didn't necessarily draft for need. We have a rookie head coach. Add to that the unspoken fear that this might be Moreno's last year (although no one other than Jamie would really know) and you have the feeling that DC isn't really in a "Win Now!" mindset.

I think "rebuilding" is too strong a phrase, but I agree that, as of today, this is a team with more questions than any team since 2003. If I had to offer a complete guess as to what might be in play, I would think that the 2008 and 2009 seasons are more important to the Front Office than this season. Yes, I know we have SuperLiga and the CONCACAF Champions Cup. But that'll be old news as we enter the stadium push endgame. When that time comes there will be real political considerations to having a team that looks strong. Remember that RSL supporters even theorized that the Freddy Adu deal was made to give Dave Checketts some momentum in his stadium maneuvers. I've made fun of Checketts for many things, but that made sense to me.

The fact is, the idea of "windows" popularized in NFL analysis doesn't really translate as well to soccer. Sure, there's a salary cap that comes into play, but it's implementation essentially means that all the teams have to deal with its restrictions all the time, as opposed to the boom and bust cycles of American Football. However, there are times when you can put out a stronger team than others. I think that DC United will be competitive next year, but I don't think you'd look at them as the odds-on favorite for anything. That could change by '09 when planning from this year and next comes together.

So, if I had to guess (and this is only a guess), I would think that United is going to try and be competitive, but not overwhelmingly intimidating, for the next year or two. After that will come the next real set of "Great United Teams." That's the hunch.

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At 23 January, 2007 10:17, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its human nature to focus on loss--Freddy, Eski, Rimando. But lets not forget that DCU still has the Defender of the Year, Keeper of the Year, the energy of Gros, the toughness of Olsen and Carrol, the creativity of Moreno and of course #10. Its still a strong team, the new signing will make it stronger. Even the coach isn't new to the program so there shouldn't be too much of a shakeup.
Vamos United.

At 23 January, 2007 10:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I definitely agree this isn't a "rebuilding" year for United. But I disagree that the 2007 United doesn't have the ability to be one of the next "Great United Teams".

We certainly made a lot of moves in the offseason, but we didn't touch the core of the team. The consistent contributors from last year, the solid backbone of our team is still in place. Moreno, Gomez, Carroll (likely), Olsen, Boswell, Perkins. That's strength right up the center of the park. What we traded, while players of a lot of value, especially in Esky & Adu, were players who didn't perform consistently over the 2006 season. That being said, our team ran rampant over the league for a good portion of the season last year.

So you're taking the core of an '06 team that was pretty good and adding at least Luciano Emilio and hopefully one other flank player. I think if our signings work out as planned then we could be looking at another VERY good team. Our greatest weakness last year was our inability to have a second forward who could stretch the defense with speed and finish with regularity. I think 'Lucky' Luciano can fill that role.

Sure there are question marks regarding this team, especially with the coaching change. But I think the front office expects Luciano and any other signing to be upgrades NOW over Esky and Adu. I think they believe they can have a great team this year. If the team can gel, I think they could be right.

At 23 January, 2007 10:35, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah I've got agree with K. I really think we are just seeing United be United here. Some may take this as cocky, but I really feel that the front office/owners are not worried about not finishing as one of the top three clubs in the league this year. As usual they seem to expect it, and as they should I mean K is right we still do (by comparison to the rest of the league) have a pretty bang up squad, and with that being said, we still have alot of allocation money left, and room under the cap. I think if you fill out the roster with one more starting level defender, and a talented winger youv'e got a championship level squad. Who knows maybe we'll even pull Fowler out of the bag and have a really solid forward situation? Sure he's not what he once was, but between him, Jaime, and Emillio up top, that's pretty good. These are all good moves, that should and will be made. The only thing that worries me is we will not field a finished squad for the upcoming CCC, and that is very dissapointing. I have faith the MLS, and Superliga campaigns will go really well, but I feel right now like the CCC is a lost cause after the first round... if that.

At 23 January, 2007 11:18, Blogger Kinney said...

I think the reason Davis didn't bring in a MacFarlane type investor is that he wanted to be the man running the show in Memphis. He wants to be a part of the Anacostia revitalization because it is a good business opportunity, in his hometown, via a sports franchise. He true love will always be basketball and he wanted to do that in Memphis.

As for United, I think the problem right now is that they have 5 major trophies to contend for this year. They realize they can't go for all of them (hello 2005), but they don't want to scratch any off this early in the season. So instead of any blustery "we are going to win this" statements which really isn't their style anyways they are waiting to see what the have a legitimate shot at when the chips are down.

I would love to see them throw in the reserves against the MLS between the Chivas games if we make it past Olimpia in the CCC. We have all three of our Superliga games at home. Hopefully fans will demand that United advance and from there anything is possible. Heck, we might be facing an MLS team in the first round and make it to the finals against Pachuca or somebody where it is a one off game. But at the same time we have to finish at least 8th in the league to make it to the playoffs. It will be an interesting season.

We have five chances to add to our trophy case, if we don't get one, the year will be a disappointment.

At 23 January, 2007 13:28, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My belief is that, initially, the roster housecleaning was intended an attempt to get more of our salary cap on the field. Expensive backups like Rimando and Prideaux were moved, and were expensive players at positions we were targeting for upgrade - winger (freddy) and striker (esky) - since those players would otherwise end up on the bench as well.

So, we got the striker (sorta. I don't think this Emilio was the first option.) We still don't have the winger. And the confusing thing is, we still have a big war chest of allocation funds and cap space left unused. My bet is that things did not go as planned for our FO in the transfer market and their plans to make '07 a big year with an explosive starting XI have unraveled somewhat.

'07 may end up in retrospect being a rebuilding year, but I doubt that was what was intended.

At 23 January, 2007 15:53, Blogger Rich Horton said...

You said: "Remember that RSL supporters even theorized that the Freddy Adu deal was made to give Dave Checketts some momentum in his stadium maneuvers. I've made fun of Checketts for many things, but that made sense to me."

I can't say that I've been following the doings of RSL closely, but in my capacity as a fan of the Checketts owned St. Louis Blues, I have to say he hasn't screwed up anything yet. In fact the orginization hasn't had such a positive outlook in a while.

He might just know what he's doing.

At 23 January, 2007 16:32, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...as of today, this is a team with more questions than any team since 2003."

More questions than 2004? Let's revisit that team:

- Nowak came in with no coaching experience at all
- Namoff had only just begun his conversion from midfielder to defender
- Carroll was put in as a starter having played not a minute of MLS soccer
- Olsen was being used in a new and completely different way
- The hoopla surrounding Freddy had just begun
- Our first choice strikers were not known until a couple weeks before the season, and they were Moreno (who, in his previous appearances for United in 2002, had looked a broken man) and Esky (3 goals in his rookie season despite getting a healthy amount of time)
- No playmaker to speak of

The only reliable things on the 2004 team going in were Ryan Nelsen and Earnie Stewart (and maybe Convey, who for me never really gave it everything he had here). Everything else was unknown. It all worked out fantastically, obviously, but going in, I was honestly expecting a mid-level playoff spot and probably getting knocked out early.

This year, the big questions are whether Moreno can last through another season, who will play right midfield, can Soehn make the step up from assistant to head coach, and can Emilio adapt to MLS. That's it. Esky and Adu were popular, but inconsistent. Erpen is young, so he will get better. The core of the team is still intact (Perkins, Boswell, Carroll, Olsen, Gomez, Moreno). If we can find a good counterpoint to Gros on the right, and Emilio gets consistent goals, we should be fine.

At 23 January, 2007 17:11, Blogger D said...

Anon 1 (K): There's a point there, but secretly I wonder how much we have left in Gomez and Moreno.

GUTuna: Valid, all valid. At some point I should examine how much production teams got out of their "other" forward. What's the typical dropoff? Then I could calibrate what success would be.

Anon 2: Really? I honestly feel like we'll have to be lucky to be feared. Perhaps more on this later.

Kinney: Defining success! Excellent. Get us hardware, I like it. I still think it may be a bit optimistic, but hey...

BigKris: I honestly think you're the comment I agree with the most. And that's what happens when you try to play the transfer market.

Iconic: Fair enough. I personally believe that some of what he's done (or hasn't done) has been ridiculous and, at times, he's been a bit of a charlatan. But only in MLS, not in NHL related things.

Anon #3: I was trying to say "since after the 2003 season" (specifically in my mind was the firing of Hudson in December 2003) but clearly butchered the syntax in an utterly misleading way. You are absolutley right to call me on it.

At 23 January, 2007 23:22, Anonymous Anonymous said...

at least we can take Carroll off the "undetermined" list: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=404329&cc=5901

i feel pretty confident about this season, actually. a lot will depend upon how good Emilio is, and i think none of us has a clear idea of that until we see him. Moreno's fatigue (and that of the team in general, especially if they go deeper into all of the cup competitions) will be an issue. thankfully, practically everyone in MLS makes the playoffs, so unless we're on pace for the Shield, there should be plenty of opportunities for days off.

At 24 January, 2007 00:15, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much of whatg has happened was outside the control of DC Untied. Freddy came back from Man U with a new career gameplan, Nowak's contract was up, and he saw his chance to stay coaching, but have more family time. Add in the things we couldn't stop (like the expansion draft) or opportunites that popped up (if you match RSL's cash with TFC's cash from a trade and lighten the salary load, now all of the suffen you have working capitol)

So I think with what happened opportunity arose, but grabbing good talent overseas is always a tough thing, and time consuming when you don't have EPL budgets to shop with.

A last minute signing (or two) and everyone's outlook will greatly improve. And IMO the team with a good winger and another defensive star will be one of the best that you could field with a MLS budget.

Next year (08), with the usual increase in salary cap (betting it will be a big increase this time), there will be salary room enough to find a DP replacement for Jamie.

But don't write 07 off quite yet.

At 24 January, 2007 02:43, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's January 24. We have 7 days to sign two starters (preferably Brazilian or Argentine), and we will be the team to beat this year...and have a shot at Concacaf right away. But if we don't bring in two quality players, Chivas is gonna destroy us in Mexico, bc our midfield won't be too threatening, and they will attack us from start to finish. Trading Freddy is all fine and good as he needs to be the man somewhere, but trading Freddy without bringing in a player as quality or dangerous as Freddy makes no sense when we have an important international tourney right at the start of the season. If we do nothing, and get pounded in Mexico again, the blame falls squarely on KP and DK. They saw what happened two years ago. They have been preparing for this for a while now. It's not being too demanding to ask for results...


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