In part one and part two of this series, I revived the “everyone gets an award” concept of my childhood. Of course, giving awards to everyone works with 6-year-olds because they don’t understand that “best goal-scorer” is a bigger achievement than, say, “most punctual.” Adults, however, recognize a backhanded compliment when they see one. Bottom line: There’s not really any way I can get through this without bashing Hamdi Salihi.
So let’s get get to the bashing of D.C. United’s strikers, which I will try to do with a loving and tender touch.
Hamdi Salihi. The “Best Albanian in MLS” award. He is hands-down the best Albanian player in D.C. United history. He had the most goals of anyone in the league named “Hamdi.” He is the most successful former KS Vllaznia Shkoder player (you know KS Vllaznia Shkoder, rival of RC Kvokwrkisksktyllicillc Blffffssssssstttttttttttt) in the history of American soccer. Look: I don’t know why it didn’t work out. Frankly, when he played, I thought he looked okay, but Coach Ben Olsen obviously didn’t think much of him. D.C. United is “having discussions” with Salihi about his future. I imagine those discussions are going something like this:
United: Boy, times sure are tough! This economy, right? Cutbacks everywhere. Oh, and on that topic: the best we can do next year is $11.50 an hour.
Salihi: Based on my playing time last year, that’s about $96.
United: $96! You could buy a house for that in Albania! Maybe you should go back.
Salihi: Yes, maybe I should.
Dwayne DeRosario. The “Active Senior” award. Had another big year at age 34. One more year like this and De Ro should trademark the De Rosario Diet, which centers around salmon kabobs, root vegetables and having a job in which you burn 1,200 calories a day. I love watching this guy play soccer; he’s one of the brightest talents the league has ever seen.
Maicon Santos. The “Defying Expectations Both Good and Bad” award. At the beginning of the season, I expected very little from Santos. But he scored seven goals early on and suddenly I saw him as an important part of the team. From then on, he did pretty much nothing. Santos is that contrarian friend we all have who does things like argue that “Casablanca” is a bad movie and who refuses to get a driver’s licence based on some sort of weird principle. He just likes being a wild card. Santos presumably voted for Ron Paul.
Lionard Pajoy: The “That’s a Big ‘Except’ ” award. “He’s a good barber, except that he’s bad with scissors.” “He’s a good lifeguard, except that he can’t swim.” These are statements akin to the way I feel about Pajoy: he’s a decent striker, except that he can’t score with his feet. United is keeping him around, apparently in the hope that he figures out the whole “kicking the ball into the goal” thing. Which is kind of like retaining the services of a translator in the hope that he or she will learn to speak English.
Long Tan. The “Most Pun-Prone Name” award. In my opinion, Long Tan will not be with United for a Long Time. I am not the world’s biggest Long Fan. He was acquired when United needed a target striker, but I think it got the Wrong Man.
Raphael Augusto. The “Most Raphael-iest Raphael on the Team” award. In the name of creating a competitive environment, I am declaring my intention to only use the name “Raphael” for one of United’s two Raphaels on the 2013 roster. I’ll give it to whoever plays better. The other Raphael will be referred to as “That Guy” or “The Brazilian” or possibly “Raphae-fail” (I’ve got until March to come up with something better). Raphael Augusto won in 2012 because he looked okay in the brief time he played, and also because Rafael Teixeira de Souza wasn’t on the roster.
Josh Wolff. The “Going Out With Dignity” award. Massive credit to Wolff: once an international-caliber striker, he recognized that age had caught up with him and transitioned gracefully to a bench role. Heck, he was an assistant coach for much of the year, and he wasn’t constantly in Olsen’s ear going “Hey — sub me in!” or “this game needs a little vitamin J” or “Unchain the wolf, Ben! Aaaaaoooooowwwwwooooooo!”. Still, he had some good moments as a player in DC, especially his goal in his first game in Columbus, followed by the Magic Mike celebration.