Rolling the Dice

"We are here in the rat and raccoon infested bowels of RFK, where we've secretly replaced the FO normally in charge with..."

Seriously. What the hell? A coherent plan for forward help? With a backup plan (targeting both Eddie Johnson and Charlie Davies on loan) in place? Who are these guys? And the kicker is that they didn't jump in with both feet, but set up a toe-dipping week-long trial to evaluate if Davies can actually perform at the level required. Shocking.

So. Charlie Davies. If he's able to get anywhere close to the level he was at before his injuries, this is a great move. That said, there are some additional points to consider.

(1) Is the speed still there?

Davies' mercurial rise to national team prominence came courtesy of his speed, work rate, and reasonable (though not excellent) movement off the ball and finishing. I don't think we can doubt that he's maintained his work rate, even if he'll need matches to get back the stamina to make it count. His movement and finishing were never best-of-breed to begin with, but should, again, return with matches. It's the speed that's got to be the concern because much of his game is/was predicated on it. Can a player still be effective minus his trademark speed? Sure, if he's got the technical chops to transition to a different style of play. Otherwise, you're just Michael Owen in disguise.

(2) Is his head on straight?

Returning to DC, the scene of the incident that derailed his career, is certainly a brave move. Likewise, the dedication he showed to try and get back into the World Cup frame was certainly admirable and speaks of a driven young man. But there's that worrying incident upon his return to France. I presume part of this week-long evaluation is going to be about his head as much as his body, though you'd be hard pressed to find a coach that better understands fighting back from (and adapting his game after) career-threatening injuries.

(3) Does he fit?

Amongst Davies' merits, as discussed above, are his work rate and determination. He gets after the ball and after defenders. That puts him in good stead with both Olsen's personal style and the type of team said coach is building.

But, of course, United has already been stockpiling such players. Where the clearest need exists is for a finisher. I'll make the assumption here that we'll be paying a not-insignificant chunk of Charlie's wages while he's here, meaning we're probably priced out of another proven option up top. That means Davies is the go-to guy for goals, even if it looks like United is taking more of a "goals from many sources" approach.

That's a big gamble. Presumably the week-long look-see will be enough to determine if that's a gamble worth taking. And of course, given that the EJ option is off the table, we'll really get to see if the FO passes the Folgers test if Benny and Co. think Charlie can't cut the mustard in MLS. Do they have a Plan C? Also to be considered: Davies is a short-term fix (if he pans out).

Whatever the case, assuming the various injured players return to full fitness (Pontius, Hamid, Davies, and I'll lump in Simms and Jakovic as also having been long-term absences in 2010 while steadfastly ignoring the club's insane devotion to the also-returning Burch), and the kids land on their feet (Kitchen, White, Shanosky, the newly-mature Hamid, and Najar avoiding the sophomore slump), United looks like a competitive team again. And in MLS, the Parity Police dictate that "competitive" is often good enough to take, or at least mount a reasonable challenge for, a title.

Then again, those are some big assumptions and hefty dice to roll.


  1. Not sure what the issue is with the week long trial. Honestly, this is my favorite part of the whole deal. DC has been to ready to buy players with high expectations off of a few replays (Castillo being the latest). This way we're showing some very basic pragmatism.

    Let's face it, DC can't afford a great stiker right now, it can only hope for rebounders and golden oldies.

    Other than that, agree with many of the concerns, but you gotta give this club some hope.

  2. Yes. Um. That was what I was trying to express: shock that the FO showed a pragmatic bent rather than jumping in with both feet. Sorry if that didn't come across.