Refining the Roster: Trimming the Fat

The streets of America are running red from the hemorrhaging of jobs, and DC United is no exception to the bloodbath. Zach Wells finally choose to walk away from the game since last we spoke, and Joe Vide has been given his marching orders, thus freeing up yet another senior roster spot. Crayton is back from Africa and, though not in perfect health, seems to be working hard to get there. Top all that off with the fact that roster deadline day is less than two weeks away, and it's time to start making some hard decisions, Vide presumably being but the first. A reminder to faithful readers that updates are in bold red.

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
21. (D,GA) Wallace, D/M

. . . which now leaves us with four 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, thus reducing the senior roster to eighteen, but that seems to me like a suicidal approach with multiple competitions on the docket. Now on to . . .

The Questionables

1. Graczyk, GK - league spackle-keeper last year, acquired from Colorado and fighting for scraps
2. (I) Kocic, GK - still negotiating, the way the Roger thing ended and the acquisition of another keeper leaves me wondering . . . and worrying
3. Platter, GK - USL1 import on trial, age (27) would require a senior roster spot
4. Thorpe, GK - fighting for the #3 spot?
5. Adams, D - still wandering around Europe
6. (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?
7. (I) The "Mivdun", D - Jeebus, Danso better not be the answer here, because he's certainly no veteran
8. Veris, D - big center back on trial; concussion doesn't help chances, but he's still around
9. Zaher, D - fighting for scraps as fullback depth, Adams in Europe and Guerrero gone leaves the door wide open
10. Miller, D/M - ditto
11. Mediate, D/M - will he be able to earn a senior roster spot as defensive help?
12. Barklage, M/F - willing to sign a dev deal? no Cordeiro/Kirk/Thomspon = fighting chance
13. (I) Vernan, M - young (21) Jamaican right winger who may be coming in on trial
14. (I) N'Silu, F - another big forward on trial, Euro-journeyman

Okay, so what else do we know? On the Goffblog, we get word that the traveling party for Puerto Rico is 28 players, including four keepers. That leaves one of the four "Questionable" keepers up there on the sidelines, and means that I only come up with 27 currently in camp from my list, unless you include Vernan. Mystery trialist?

Also, I've taken the liberty of removing Martinez from the "Questionable" ranks, as we've heard nothing about him, and am on the verge of pulling the trigger on Adams, unless he returns from Europe with tail solidly between legs in the next week or so.

So we're left for now with three big questions . . .

(1) What does the cutting of Vide signal? I think the one thing we can be absolutely certain of now is that Soehn is not going to play 3-5-2 or any formation with two holding mids. Even assuming Olsen is healthy enough to play significant minutes, that leaves you Olsen and Simms starting and only Jacobson for cover. More likely is that Jacobson is Simms' backup at DMid and that we're playing a rhombus/diamond midfield with Gomez on the attacking point. Olsen is utility cover for pretty much any midfield position.

I guess the other thing we can take from this is that Jacobson is showing well in camp. Here's hoping he can translate that into gametime, because we need someone to really push Simms, not only to inspire a higher level of play, but to absorb some of those minutes that really punished Clyde down the stretch. Not having to play Clyde for 90 minutes every match should pay big dividends in the fall.

(2) When exactly does the defensive cavalry arrive? Danso is nice to have as a project, but where is the real help? Are we really going to start this season with a back line that reads: Burch-McTavish-Janicki-Namoff? I'm confident in exactly one of those guys. Yes, Burch will probably be pressed by Zaher (if he signs developmental terms) and Wallace, but what are we going to do about the center of defense?

I don't remember being too impressed with trialist Veris on his first MLS go-around, but he's potentially useful depth. Mediate? Sorry to say, but I think it's time for Mediate to find his level in USL. If he's our center back depth, we're in for a lot of hurt. Come on, FO, whither the Mivdun? I know you got bitten last off-season, but the answer is not to do the opposite and sign nobody. Your pursuit of Roger indicates that you know this.

(3) How many keepers are we going to carry? I've been thinking that the new roster restrictions would lead to signing just two and using the MLS pool as cover, but the number of keepers in camp would seem to indicate otherwise. The quotes from Crayton on the Goffblog look positive for him sticking around past the summer, so we're fairly assured of our starter. Where it gets interesting is the backups.

We've got a USL1 guy on trial who would require a senior spot, but I think all of the others are eligible for developmental deals. I wonder if bringing in Platter indicates that none of the younger guys looks ready to be a reliable backup yet? Perhaps this is another reason for the dropping of Vide--to clear a senior roster spot for a backup keeper?

Many questions, few answers thus far. Of course, with less than two weeks until the roster has to be finalized, I'm sure they'll start coming thick and fast. So what do you think? Are you confident in the offense that the FO has assembled? Think they'll be able to score enough goals to overcome our defensive frailties? Wonder where that elusive wide threat is going to be coming from? Think Tommy will be around come mid-summer?


  1. A few things:
    Jamaican right wings are a good thing.
    The rhombus diamond is deadly with our personnell.
    Goal scoring is no problem for us.
    Defense? You got me. WTF is the FO thinking? You know it is clueless when a 34yr old injured Brazillian is even considered for the post.
    Though, it is a league wide deficiency at CB.

  2. The rhombus/diamond can be deadly when you have attacking fullbacks and a midfield that can cover for them. We're unproven in the former (Namoff maybe, though he's a defender first) and deficient in the latter.

    But it doesn't matter how deadly we are if we can't keep them out.

  3. I count 28, with the Jamaican winger being the 28th after joining them in PR. Gracysk wasn't taken to Puerto Rico, so substract him and Adams and the Mivdun and I get 28 ppl... which stinks... bc it doesn't include a Mivdun, which I'm anxiously awaiting...

  4. Oh and keep up the great work... Love your blog..

  5. Payne says that they were trying to sign a young up and coming central defender but that negotiations have bogged down and they might have to move to "Plan B" which is going after one of several veterans they have on their radar screen. Aside from the fact that this would constitute Plan D - Chavez, Roger, up and comer and now old guys still available...this does not bode well for us truly picking up someone that would fit well with the team. Hope I am wrong or that our young guys are truly ready to step up.

  6. @Josh--Yeah, I mentioned in the post that I got that same 28 with 4 GK's and Vernan in the mix, though Vernan wasn't confirmed. Thanks for the kind words.

    @Anonymous--Looking at Goff's comments, he doesn't seem too optimistic that we'll have any real defensive help before summer. FO "planning" strikes again. Yikes!