WIWFC Part 4 - The Claws & Teeth

Welcome back. Having addressed the spine of the team and the appendages that make it move, we now have to shift our attention to the business end of this deadly beast--the nasty, big, pointy teeth if you will. The question marks here are big and bold in 36-point font with exclamation points, as the Godfather of Goals, Jaime Moreno, and the best player in the league over the last three years, Christian Gomez, may have played their last minutes for the Black-and-Red. After some distant rumblings, only Emilio looks to definitely be returned to the United attack in 2008. Depth and speed are also major issues as we turn our attention to the danger men . . .
  • Attacking Midfielders - While Gomez didn't exactly light the league on fire in the first half of 2007, he closed the season approaching his normal deadly form. Will United balk at offering the Argentine a two-year guarantee on his contract? Will they risk losing him to an overseas bidder, or worse yet--another MLS franchise? Will the ghosts of Marco's latter years rear their ugly heads? At the moment, the waters are muddy. If Gomez re-ups with the good guys, his game isn't dependent upon speed, so he should continue to be a force in the league. We've got some quality depth in the form of Fred and Rod Dyachenko, despite Fred not having shown MLS what he's capable of in his preferred position yet and Rod still presenting mostly momentary flashes of promise. Though the attack probably wouldn't flow through Fred or Rod quite as much as it does with Gomez, that shouldn't be necessary if we can manage to get our paws on some true width. Current Status: A [Assuming Gomez stays. If he leaves, we're probably down to a B+ until Rod or Fred prove their worth. Heck, if Jaime sticks around, he might even see some minutes in this spot. Diagnosis at the moment--deep and varied = loaded!]
  • Forwards - Will he or won't he? We've got the returning Golden Boot winner in Emilio, but United legend Jaime Moreno could be on his way off the island. Even if he stays, United needs another proven finisher as the goals have started to dry up for #99 from open play. While Kpene had moments of inspired play last season, he never managed to find the back of the net. I still think it was just some bad mojo, as he did hit a few nice shots--and a post or two. Dyachecko also provides depth, though he seems better suited for a deeper role in midfield, and we've yet to see what late season acquisition Jerson Monteiro can bring to the table. Walker and Addlerly will probably be out the door on the heels of the reserve forwards that have already been shown their walking papers. That leaves us with one top-level goal-threat, a second who is in decline (and possibly won't be around come spring), and a handful of backups. Current Status: B [Maybe a bit harsh here, but if Moreno and Gomez are gone, a lot of weight is going to fall on Emilio to bang them in. We really need another front-line striker to pair with Emilio, preferably one with the speed threat we so sorely lack up top.]
And that brings us to the end of our positional assessments. For all of the intrigue and mystery surrounding the status of United's top weaponry, we've still got a pretty dangerous arsenal at our disposal, even if a few bits of hardware get sold off or traded away. That's not to say that we can't improve--indeed, speed and width should be tabbed as necessities. Hell, they might even arrive in the same player if we get someone capable of playing both up top and on the wing. I suppose much will depend upon contract negotiations, the salary cap, what we pick up at the trading post, and what our secret shoppers bring back from the bargain bins of South America.

Up next, we'll take all that we've discussed in the first four posts and attempt to put together the list of What I Want For Christmas. And you can be sure I'll keep the list in a very safe place.

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