Long time, no chat, my friends. I took a bit of an "internet holiday" over the last couple of weeks, so you'll forgive me if it takes a few days to get back up to speed. Not that I missed too terribly much...
Oh yeah, the new boss.
My thoughts on the appointment of Curt Onalfo as the new DC United head coach?
* It's not the end of the world, but neither is it the beginning of a brave new one. Given his pedigree as an assistant, and the fact that he's already learned the ropes, both of MLS and head coaching in general, while in charge of the 'Zards, it seems likely that Onalfo will be competent in the job. Heck, assuming he takes the mistakes he made in KC on board, maybe he'll be something more than competent. Still, there's nothing about his signing that seems to signal a new dawn for a stagnant club.
* A younger system? Based on the way KC played, you've got to assume that Onalfo will try to install a quicker, more direct system of play that encourages getting the ball wide and running at defenders. Certainly, this would seem to suit the young core of more athletic players that we have to build around. Whether this fits with Kevin Payne's idealized worldview of soccer tactics is another matter entirely, but it does seem to indicate that we've probably seen the last of Emilio and Gomez. That said...
* How do you solve a problem like Moreno? Unless Onalfo was forced into the style he employed with KC by the players at his disposal (which I don't dismiss outright, though he did have a say in player signings), I fail to see where the current "flicks and tricks," slow-things-down Jaime fits into a direct system that looks to get the ball wide and attack quickly. Even if you surround him with willing, energetic runners in a Schelotto-like role, I think his inclination will still be to slow things down. It will be interesting to see what role Onalfo has envisioned for Moreno and how much he relies upon him.
* Success through failure. By default, Onalfo is going to have the luxury of a less-condensed schedule than Soehn faced over the last couple of years. That means not only being able to field a more stable lineup week-in and week-out, but probably ensures fewer injuries as well, which feeds back into lineup stability... Bottom line? Given that Soehn, who looked increasingly desperate and tactically unsound, missed the playoffs on the last day each of the last two seasons, the bare minimum expectation of Onalfo is that he comfortably qualifies for the playoffs. Right?
I think the first point is the one that sticks with me the most. Onalfo is a somewhat safe and familiar pick. He'll probably enjoy reasonable success in the job, but there's always going to be that nagging sense that (1) he wasn't the FO's first choice and (2) the club settled rather than pushed the envelope. I wonder if, like much else that surrounds DC United these days, the next year or so will just feel like we're in a holding pattern, going through the same rote actions, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Familiar feeling, isn't it?