I returned from vacation to find out that nobody wants D.C. United’s players. Including, apparently, D.C. United.
United decided not to re-sign nine players, the most of any team. Of these players, the ones not traded or re-signed at a lower salary will be made available in the re-entry draft, at which point most of them will be told by every team in MLS that they don’t want them, either. After that, USL teams will come knocking, but only to leave a bag of dog doo on the doorstep and write “you stink” on their car in shaving cream. Indoor soccer teams will de-friend them on Facebook. WPS teams will re-form just to declare their lack of interest and then immediately disband. And then, after the rejection has been dished out in Cheesecake Factory-sized portions, players will be free to re-sign with teams at a lower salary.
It’s almost certain that at some point in that process United will lose two long-time staples: Clyde Simms and Santino Quaranta. I understand why United is severing ties, but I’ll still be sorry to see them go.
Simms has been a good player and a good guy throughout his tenure with United. He was our second-best player in 2010, but that probably says more about the 2010 roster than it does about Simms.
Quaranta turned his life around in his second stint with United, so for that reason alone his time here should be considered a success. As for the soccer, well, it wasn’t always great, but when Tino was bad he was at least bad in a way that was entertaining. I loved watching Tino make scintillating, 40-yard runs capped by overplaying a through ball by 70 feet. The Kurt Morsinks and Craig Thompsons of the world are bad like a Nickelback song. Tino is bad like R Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet”.
So, having given the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech to roughly one-third of its roster, United have some holes to fill. The re-entry draft includes some interesting names, especially if you find the name “Bobby” interesting: Convey and Boswell are both available. Here’s my take on each:
Bobby Convey: Pass. Made $336,000 in 2011, and from what I saw (which wasn’t much, I admit) his performance didn’t warrant that kind of money. He also doesn’t fit well: United’s midfield is more-or-less set: it’ll be Kitchen, Pontius, Najar, and Boskovic, at least to start. Boskovic makes things difficult — he could be good, or he could be worthless. Nonetheless, bringing in Convey — a guy who plays similar positions to Boskovic and has a similarly large salary — only to put one of them on the bench doesn’t make sense. United need a quality striker and help in defense, so I’d rather see that money go elsewhere. And putting Convey at left back isn’t likely to work; he hates it there, and personally I don’t think it plays to his strengths anyway.
Bobby Boswell: Draft. Even if our defense was air-tight, I’d still want him back on the roster just so I could expunge the fact that we traded him for Zach Wells from my memory (actually, just expunging Zach Wells from my memory would be enough). But last year proved that we are one quality center-back short. I’m not worried about what combination of Jakovic, McDonald and Boswell would start — one of them will get hurt (probably Jakovic) and the decision will be made for us. If they all stay healthy, then great — you’ve got a competition for the starting spots (remember how Woolard stepped up his game last season when Burch got healthy). The $210,000 price tag is hefty, but Boswell never stopped being a quality defender and I don’t think better options are going to be available this offseason.
As for forwards, the options are grim. How grim? This grim: let’s discuss Nate Jaqua for a minute. Some would point out that Jaqua is the type of forward that United need: big, wins a lot of headers, can hold the ball while DeRo or Wolff enter the attack. I would point out that the type of forward United need is the type that is good at soccer. And that, in my humble opinion, does not describe Nate Jaqua.
But it does describe Brian Ching. Ching is in an interesting state of limbo: at the end of his career, he’s been drafted by Montreal but doesn’t want to leave Houston. I don’t know if Ching has any interest in coming to D.C., but United should be on the phone trying to get him. Maybe United have some great foreign signing lined up (Drogba? His name has been floated, specifically earlier in this parenthetical), but domestically we’re unlikely to do much better than Ching.