Refining the Roster: Dev Dollar Dance-off!

Roster Compliance Deadline Day came . . . and Roster Compliance Deadline Day went. There was some swirling, nasty nexus of negative energy gathered over LA, but we'll get to that later. What I want to focus on is the near-completed status of the DC United roster. With just under three weeks to go until First Kick, the roster is, for all intents and purposes, settled. Sure, we've got to clear up the keeper depth and see which of the dev boys gets voted off the island, but let's take a look at what we've got. Updates, as always, are in stunning bold red.

The Roster

1. (I) Crayton, GK
2. (I) Jakovic, D - not quite a Mivdun, but certainly a mystery man, can he hold together a young back line?
3. Janicki, D
4. Namoff, D
5. Peters, D - winner of the Monsterback Duel with Kyle Veris; paperwork hurdles still to be cleared before announcements are made
6. Burch, D/M
7. McTavish, D/M
8. (I) Fred, M
9. Jacobson, M
10. Olsen, M
11. Simms, M
12. (I) Gomez, M/F
13. Khumalo, M/F
14. Pontius M/F
15. Quaranta, M/F
16. (I) Emilio, F
17. Moreno, F
18. (I) Doe, F
19. (I) N'Silu, F
21. (D,GA) Wallace, D/M
22. Miller, D/M

. . . which now leaves us with one senior and two developmental spots to fill, as well as two open international spots for potential additions. I'm still running with the assumption that Khumalo has his green card, having been in the US a while, but I suppose that's subject to change should I find out otherwise. Likewise, the Goff-father speculates that Nic Platter will be offered the final senior roster spot and one of the dev spots will be claimed by Thorpe or Kocic, but until I get something more official, they're left open. Now on to the questionables, with updates for everybody!

The Questionables

1. (I) Kocic, GK - the offer from Sweden has got to be for more than the paltry Dev Dollars being waved about by the United FO; will he stay or will he go?
2. Platter, GK - USL1 import looks likely to snag the backup keeper job and the 20th senior roster spot in one fell swoop
3. Thorpe, GK - if Kocic bolts, the Dev Dollars are Thorpe's for the taking; hell, they might be even if Kocic stays to fight it out, such has the SuperSerb's red star fallen
4. (I) Danso, D - a project at center back; in a fight with Barklage for the last of the Dev Dollars; if Kocic signs, he pretty much needs Khumalo to have a green card or the dream of rolling in massive piles of developmental cash (ping! goes the sarcasmometer) goes poof!
5. Mediate, D/M - the final days for Dom? With Peters signing and Platter likely to take the 20th senior spot, it looks like USL awaits for the versatile midfielder/defender
6. Barklage, M/F - two men enter, one man leaves! fighting Danso for the final spot (special thanks to BurchFan4 for an inspired fit of name-dropping on the Goffblog)

Down the stretch they come! The first of the head-to-head duels has resulted in monsterback Anthony Peters thumping his chest and stomping on the corpse of Veris-zilla, while nobody noticed Ryan Miller's back-alley shiv-work on Mike Zaher. So that leaves us the Danso-Barklage cage match and the Great Goalie Scrum to resolve. Those battles aside, I think we can safely say that the roster is pretty much set. So where do we stand?

Defense - Crayton gets the nod in net, with Platter looking the probable backup and either Kocic or Thorpe making up the numbers (and hopefully pushing Platter). The back line should look something like Namoff-Janicki-Jakovic-Burch, with Peters pushing Janicki for playing time, McTavish providing depth everywhere (including midfield), and Wallace and Miller providing depth on the left and right flank respectively.
Assessment? Young. Very young. And unproven. Namoff is the veteran head, but he's positioned on the right and isn't the voluble type. Maybe Jakovic's limited international experience and short Euro-jaunt will give him the tactical nous to organize at the back. Otherwise, it'll be down to Crayton to provide direction. At least the FO can claim to have padded the numbers and landed some promising and athletic talent. Now let's see if they can be molded into an effective unit by Tommy & Co. That usually works out for us, right? (crickets)

Midfield - Simms anchors, with Quaranta on the right, Fred on the left, and Gomez back on the point of the rhombus. Khumalo and Pontius provide options with guile in the wide areas, while Jacobson can man either central spot, and Olsen can slot in pretty much anywhere. McTavish, Miller, and Wallace offer more defensive-minded depth, while Moreno might be able to do spot duty as cover for Gomez.
Assessment? Not a bad starting midfield as far as attacking talent goes, but to me it lacks a bit of steel, though Quaranta did show encouraging tendencies in that direction last year. Much will depend upon Olsen's ankles, as he can provide some of the missing bite and fire when needed. Also, I don't see that we've done much to address the problem of service from the wings. Overlapping fullbacks would seem to be the order of the day, but Namoff has never struck me as much of a crosser and Burch's crosses, while dandy, aren't exactly swift in arriving. Significantly, if Olsen can't provide solid minutes, our depth is also a great unknown with only McTavish having logged significant miles in MLS.

Forwards - Emilio is a lock to start, but who will line up beside him? It'll surely be Moreno to begin with, but how many minutes can the aging legs handle? Doe and N'Silu provide depth and variety, though both are unproven as starters. Quaranta could potentially move up to play the Moreno role, but then who claims the right midfield spot? Along with Quaranta, both Pontius and Khumalo look to be options up top as well as wide midfielders.
Assessment? The return of Gomez is sure to draw defenses' attentions in a way that the deep-lying Gallardo never did, thus creating more room for the forwards, and his passing should create chances as well, but how many minutes will he be good for? 60? 65? Doe showed flashes down the stretch that he might be emerging as a solid forward option, but N'Silu remains a mystery, though one that is likely to provide defenses with a different sort of beast with which to cope. We've got some proven finishers, but Gomez and Moreno aren't getting any younger, and Emilio needs to return to his first-season reliable best. At least one of Doe, N'Silu, and perhaps Pontius, needs to become a truly threatening third option.

I'll leave the overall analysis to your commentary for now. I'm generally a bit more optimistic than I was just a week ago, and I think we've assembled enough good pieces to make the playoffs, but will we be able to do damage once there? What do you think? Is this a playoff team? Have we made enough moves to keep up with the rest of the league (or at least the top dogs in the East)? Do you see this group challenging for trophies this year, or are we just "rebuilding"? Have at it, ye scurvy internet dogs!


  1. You've laid it out like a perfectly weighted thru ball FB!
    and that shout out was well deserved (I'm Burchfan4)

  2. "Rebuilding" may have been a necessary evil after last season, but not necessarilly a bad thing. I too am more optimistic going into the start of the season than a week ago. We have managed to secure some good young talent to compliment the seasoned vets. If we can keep the vets healthy and at the same time allow the younger players to mature, we just may do some damage in the playoffs. Time will tell, although not too soon for me.

  3. Thanks, Josh.

    It'll be interesting to see what happens, jaywag. I've sorta half been following the rest of the league's progress this offseason, but it looks like a fair few teams are making big changes. The itch for the season to start is getting pretty unbearable about now.

    Also, Goff just tweeted from practice that Danso is gone, so it looks like Barklage may have won the cage match.

  4. Barklage is in. Just signed a developmental deal.

  5. So is Kocic, also signed a dev deal. Giving Platter the last senior spot will just about wrap the roster up for now...

  6. Yep. Just put up a post to that effect.