Refining the Roster: Crying the River Forlorn

Well, it's not exactly the raft of updates we've come to expect from the Goffmeister, but it's an update nonetheless, so we'll run with it. Left back Mike Zaher has been let go, thus clarifying the developmental picture somewhat. More on why this is a boneheaded move by the FO after the revised lists, but without further ado, may I present . . .

The (Incomplete) Roster

1. (I) Crayton, GK
2. Janicki, D
3. Namoff, D
4. Burch, D/M
5. McTavish, D/M
6. (I) Fred, M
7. Jacobson, M
8. Olsen, M
9. Simms, M
10. (I) Gomez, M/F
11. Khumalo, M/F
12. Pontius M/F
13. Quaranta, M/F
14. (I) Emilio, F
15. Moreno, F
16. (I) Doe, F
17. (I) N'Silu, F
21. (D,GA) Wallace, D/M

. . . which now leaves us with three senior and three developmental spots to fill, as well as three open international spots for potential additions. Of course, if we can convince more players to accept ridiculous developmental deals, we can have as many as six dev guys, thus reducing the senior roster to eighteen, but that's not going to happen. Now on to . . .

The Questionables

1. (I) Kocic, GK - wonder if the arrival of Platter (and his 90-minute spell against Puerto Rico) signals that the SuperSerb isn't all the FO thought he was?
2. Platter, GK - USL1 import on trial, age (27) would require a senior roster spot
3. Thorpe, GK - fighting for the #3 spot, if indeed we're keeping three keepers
4. (I) Danso, D - "signed", but Kasper says they're giving him an "opportunity to earn a spot"; center backs are needed, but is this the answer?
5. Peters, D - monster center back, small-college product, age (25) would require a senior roster spot, no pro experience
6. Veris, D - concussion hurts his chances, in a "winner-take-all" with Peters for a senior spot?
7. Miller, D/M - looking to provide flank depth on the right; developmental fodder
8. Mediate, D/M - will he be able to earn a senior roster spot as defensive cover?
9. Barklage, M/F - can he get a dev deal? no Cordeiro/Kirk/Thomspon = fighting chance

I've given up hope on the Mivdun. That ship has sailed, by all appearances, at least until summer rolls around with its gaping transfer windows and mercenary free agents looking for a quick buck. Zaher has shuffled off, stage left. While we're on Zaher . . .

Okay, I get it, Pontius provides backup at left mid for Fred, Wallace can play either left mid or left back, and Burch + Fred is our likely starting left flank. So why am I upset that we let Zaher, who seems to be excess depth, go? Frankly, I thought he brought us a lot more options than Burch. Sure, I guess Burch might be able to play at left mid as well, but what does he bring to the table beyond size, a cannon shot and nice cross (that take a dog's age to launch, and so are rendered useless against a defense that knows what to expect), and questionable defense? Pardon me for wondering if we're going to get torched down that flank this year. I wonder if maybe Zaher wanted a senior deal or nothing?

Alright, alright, enough of that. How about the battles that are going on for the final spots? Turns out that, like in so much else, MLS's definition of the roster compliance "Deadline Day" is neither a deadline nor a day. It's just sort of a vague suggestion that FO's shouldn't have too many players already on the books and should feel free to keep stringing along the trialists and vacillating on the merits of various draftees, foreign imports, Euro-rejects, and journeyman mercenaries for weeks on end.


Which leaves us the following:

(1) Three of the six questionables above are not going to make the roster. One of those will be a keeper--Platter, Thorpe, or Kocic--leaving one senior and one dev spot taken by netminders. I think Mediate's punched his golden ticket by virtue of his versatility (with reduced rosters, it'll be important to have guys who can cover multiple positions) and the incriminating photos he must have of somebody in the FO. That means one of Peters and Veris will be walking as well with just one senior spot left. Which leaves us Danso, Miller, and Barklage fighting to be the last man on the roster lifeboat. The fact that Miller has a number already means I'm just about ready to pencil him in as official. So it's Danso and Barklage in the Thunderdome.

(2) I hope none of our left sided players get hurt. Unless, of course, we're planning to have Mediate fill in at left back and Khumalo cover the left wing. Still, it seems like we've got way more depth up the right flank (Khumalo, Olsen, Quaranta, Namoff, McTavish, and likely Miller and Mediate) than the left (Burch, Fred, Pontius, Wallace).

(3) Assuming we sign either Peters or Veris as our requisite "monsterback" of prodigious physical gifts, but limited skill, and Danso as a project, that still leaves McTavish-Janicki as the starting pairing and options off the bench that aren't exactly ideal. Now maybe Janicki will carry on being decent, as he did down the stretch last year, but why-oh-why is McTavish penciled in as a starting center back? Did the FO burn the tapes from last year? If they did, did they also have their memories wiped as well? I like McTavish as versatile cover, and I think he can be a pretty good right back or defensive-minded right mid given time and some work on crossing, but a starting center back?

Color me unexcited for now. I think we've got a decent set of players, and probably have enough to challenge for a playoff spot, but I see too many holes and too little balance. I guess the best that I can come up with is that we're going to be exciting to watch. With a wealth of attacking options, a goalkeeper that likes to wander from his box, and a dearth of quality central defenders, we should regularly be featured on Goal of the Week clips--on both sides of the ball.

What do you think? Do you see gaping voids, a tilted field, and an FO in denial, or do you see young American solidarity and vigor propelling a flowering of attacking futbol from our aging Sudamericanos? If you're in the Morrissey-esque weepfest with me, who do you see walking the plank first from the FO? Or does Tommy get the early boot? Want to get even more maudlin? Which do you expect first--a stadium or an MLS Cup?

Sheesh. I think I might have missed taking my meds.



  1. The MIVDUN lives!!
    D.C. United announced Friday that the club has signed defender Dejan Jakovic. The 23-year old central defender and Canadian international comes to United via a transfer from Red Star Belgrade of the Serbian First Division.

  2. Glad to see I wasn't the only person to come rushing to this blog as soon as I heard about the Jakovic signing! Is he the MIVDUN you've been waiting for? Love to hear your thoughts.

    Also, I'm pretty sure the front office has already confirmed (without officially announcing) Ryan Miller as having signed a developmental deal. Another reason why Zaher was expendable. But I disagree with any claims of Zaher > Burch. Burch is about 10" taller, and he provides emergency center back relief. And even with Jakovic's arrival, I'm still more worried about our depth at center back than our depth at left wing.

  3. Jeebus! Is my timing awesome or what?

    @jaywag86: A 23 year-old with a handful of pro and U23 international appearances hardly qualifies as a "veteran", though Jakovic sure fits the "mystery", "defender", and "unknown origin" tags. More of a Midun, if you will ;-).

    @Shatz: Man, I know you've gotta fly the flag for UMD, but were you watching the same "Burch at centerback" experiment that I was? Who knows, maybe he'll be a revelation this year at left back, but I doubt it. I just don't see him having the tools to be a quality left back. Here's hoping Wallace grows up fast!

    Alright, time to go post a whine about my awful timing ;-).

  4. PS Shatz.

    You still planning to hit the UMD/DC friendly now that they've moved the dates?

  5. Sunday afternoon? Tuesday night? It doesn't matter. They could have this scrimmage at 3 AM on a Wednesday and I would still go!

    Re: Burch... He improved late in the year. Hopefully we won't need him at CB. My point is just that I'd rather have extra depth who has experience playing LB/CB/LM than a 2nd year player who has only seen action at LB, *might* be able to play LM, but is definitely too short to play CB.

  6. Craig Stouffer reported per Kasper that Veris was cut loose.

    Also, it has been reported by eyewitnesses that Soehn confirmed the signing of Anthony Peters. Presumably to a developmental contract.

  7. Peters is 25, so unless MLS changes the rules (wouldn't be the first time!), he can't be developmental. I'm going to hold off on the next "Refining the Roster" until we get confirmation of this (presumably later today).

  8. Well, that's why I shouldn't go around presuming all willy nilly!

    So Peters is a full roster spot. I guess it was always going to be either him OR Veris, not both (although perhaps neither).