Rob's What I Want For Christmas List
I'd really like one thing: a long-term plan, focused on building a stable, long-term future for the team. Ideally, it encompasses just about everything: coach, stadium, players. No more of this "we just need one or two more pieces and we'll win everything this year" nonsense; even if it's correctly calculated, it'll blow up in a year, and you're back where you started.
The best summation of this strategy that I've seen is this Peter Wilt article at Pitch Invasion. The goal, roughly paraphrased, is to nurture and develop a core of players that can stay together for 4-6 years. This core will be supplemented by talented young players who will eventually graduate out of MLS to better-paying jobs in tougher leagues overseas, as well as older and experienced players who offer direction to the younger core. Namoff, Moreno, and Simms will be the latter next year (as would Arnaud, with my fantasy draft). Pontius and Jakovic (and Wallace, though I'm less certain about that) are probably the former.
1. Three young players and one savvy vet: Will Johnson (M) (51,000), Davy Arnaud (M/F) (220,000), Nathan Sturgis (M/D) (100,000), Kevin Alston (D) (55,000). I don't think we could realistically trade for them (they're worth more than they cost, which is an expensive commodity in a salary-capped league), but we could probably afford the salaries (dump Emilio and Fred, and it's relatively easy; in fact, you've probably still got room for a new goalkeeper, which would also be great), so it's not as unrealistic as a list of washed-up Euro talent or even a selection from the All-Star list. Really, though, it's arbitrary; the point isn't the names, but the principle of picking up relatively young, relatively cheap talent, which is good enough to start, but not so good that all of it will leave and/or need massive raises in a couple seasons.
2. Castillo and Szetela to flourish under the new coach, whoever he is.
3. Drafting well. One or two impact players, one or two successful long term projects.
4. Continued progress from last season's rookies, including Wallace to left back successfully.
5. A stadium on the Metro, whether in Maryland, Virginia, or the District.
I wouldn't mind replacing Wicks, and obviously a quality coach figures in there as well, but I'm out of wishes...
Here's how I'd line this prospective team up, in 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2
The drafting wish brings up an interesting point. Since we're likely to be shedding a bunch of salary this off-season, it would be a nice year to have a solid draft position. Unfortunately, as best I can make out, we don't.
Climbing the Ladder has us with one pick each in the first, third, and fourth rounds. Plus, we owe LA a conditional pick for Wicks. Since Wicks did become our starting keeper last year, I'm guessing we would have been giving up our second-rounder if we hadn't already traded it away for Gomez. Does that mean we lose our third-rounder? Tough to draft well with the 7th and 55th picks overall, even in what appears to be a deep draft class.
That said, I think we do have a solid core of guys in their early to mid twenties already. Can it be augmented? Certainly. I'll probably touch on that in my own WIWFC post tomorrow. But I don't see that we're in a solid position to be trading for the types of players Rob outlined above. We have few draft picks to trade, and there's not much interest in the players we'd be willing to offload. Therefore, we'd either have to give up promising youngsters or hunt for talent abroad.
I wonder if the FO is paying attention to some of the young American talent out of contract overseas?