When last we met, the discussion revolved around what DC United's tactical approach would be going into 2009. While I made some mention of "modern" single-striker frameworks and formations built around allowing the crown jewel, Gallardo, to shine, I also stressed having a roster that would allow for tactical flexibility.
Not so easily accomplished with a reduced, 24-man roster, but perhaps more possible given the expansion of the senior roster to 20 players. Theoretically, this gives us more room to employ a greater quantity, and by extension, a greater variety, of players. Despite having two DP's on the roster, ditching some of last year's inflated salaries frees up a little bit of cap room in which the front office can operate.
So what do we go after? Part III of What I Want For Christmas identifies the gaping holes in the roster and what we could use to fill those holes. Let's take it line by line . . .
Defense & Keepers
Assuming Namoff re-signs, I think we've got a fair amount of depth at fullback (huzzah!) with the likes of Burch, McTavish, Carroll the Younger, Guerrero, and Zaher, although it's a bit of a worry that most of those listed would not be primarily considered fullbacks. In goal, we're pretty much set with Wells as a decent backup to Crayton, though I think the latter is overpaid and has the potential to become a headache over the course of an entire season.
It's in the middle where we're woefully undermanned. We've got Carroll and Koroma from the developmental ranks, a USL2 import (Janicki), and a handful of guys (McTavish, Burch, maybe Namoff) who can do spot duty, but who I wouldn't list as likely long-term starters in central defense. Peralta may be back as well if his salary comes down.
Primary Need: Central defenders - quantity and quality, and pace wouldn't hurt either
Secondary Need: Depth at fullback if Namoff is gone
We're pretty well stocked with attacking options, though outside of possibly Khumalo, we don't have much in the way of speed in the wide areas. Fred, Coredeiro, and Guerrero down the left; Quaranta, Khumalo, Thomspon, and maybe Kirk down the right; Gallardo in the middle, with the likes of Quaranta, Fred, and Moreno available for cover.
But when it comes to defensive and two-way, center of the park guys, we're a bit short, and our shopping needs will depend upon Tommy's tactical approach going forward, though I'd argue that having some depth here would increase our flexibility. Simms and Vide are decent options, but I'm sure most of us are pretty much expecting that Olsen will not return. If he does, fantastic!, we probably only need a draft pick to fill out the numbers. If not, I'd say we have both shopping and drafting to do.
An interesting addendum to this section of the discussion would be the Goffmeister's recent story about Appiah. Now that would have shaken things up a bit, not only because we would have been shipping Gallardo out, thus changing the formation, but because it would have addressed the depth issue and brought some real steel and dynamism to midfield--think Benny's fire paired with athleticism. As it stands . . .
Primary Need: Depth in defensive/holding midfielders
Secondary Need: Speed/crossing from the flanks
There are some major questions to be asked here. Can Emilio rediscover his 2007 form? Can Moreno continue to roll back the years? Will Doe be available on loan again? How many Central Americans are we going to be bringing in as reinforcements?
I'll take a stab.
Emilio + Moreno isn't a bad combo, but it doesn't bring much in the way of speed to the equation. Equally questionable is how much Moreno will be able to contribute this year. Doe proved he can pick up some valuable minutes last year, but right now, he's your only depth, unless you include Quaranta (who I think should be spelling Jaime as a deep-lying, playmaking striker) and Khumalo (who can't finish, thus making him a bit of a liability in the forward department). Outside of Khumalo, none of the above are (currently) blessed with fleet feet.
Primary Need: SPEED!
Secondary Needs: Depth and variety. If Kirk doesn't resign, it wouldn't hurt to pick up a physically gifted (fast and strong) forward, if one were available (they grow on trees, right? ;-)
What Do You Think?
Okay, so that's the current state of the roster as I see it. Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below, and I'll take everybody's input on board for the fourth and final post in this series, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday. In that rousing finale, I'll present the top five off my wishlist and sit back to await the arrival of the fat man with the beard.