- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On March 12, 2008
- 6 Comments
Once again it is time for another season preview as we gear towards the start of the new season here at the end of the month. Today we set our eyes on the back-to-back Supporter’s Shield trophy winners, DC United.
2007 Record and Finish: 16-7-7, 55 points, Supporter’s Shield winners for best record overall, 1st in East, lost in Eastern semi-finals.
Incoming: Zach Wells (trade with Houston), Ryan Cordeiro (SuperDraft), Tony Schmitz (SuperDraft), Josť Carvallo (transfer), Franco Niell (loan), Gonzalo Martinez (transfer), Brandon Owens (Supplemental Draft), Dan Stratford (Supplemental Draft), James Thorpe (Supplemental Draft), Gonzalo Peralta (transfer), Marcelo Gallardo (transfer), Quavis Kirk (trade with LA), Jeff Curtin (claimed off waivers), Santino Quaranta (signed), Pat Carroll (signed)
Outgoing: Brain Carroll (Expansion Draft), Bobby Boswell (trade with Houston), Troy Perkins (transfer), Jay Nolly (transfer), Nicholas Addlery (transfer), Bryan Arguez (transfer), Christian Gomez (trade with Colorado), Greg Vanney (trade with LA), Josh Gros (possibly retirement)
Questions Going Into 2008
1. Will all the offseason moves pay off?
Kind of a tough one to answer just yet but I do think all the moves will with the amount of games that United has on their plate this season. A lot are risks, lets make no mistake about that right now. We don’t know just how good Marcelo Gallardo will be in the MLS compared to Christian Gomez (the man he is replacing).
I think what DC did well with their moves was get rid of heavy contracts that were dead weight (Vanney), add depth in key areas all over and they made sure they got players who would be capable of a long season. They don’t just have the 30 regular season games this year. Throw in the CONCACAF Champions Cup and Champions League later this year, with SuperLiga, the US Open Cup and anything else they get into. Lots of games will wear down any club in this league but I think DC has built themselves into a team that can handle more games unlike most teams in the league.
2. Will the defense really be any better with out Boswell and Perkins?
Absolutely. I love the additions of the two Gonzalos, Colombian Gonzalo Martinez and Argentine Gonzalo Peralta. Both have lots of experience on big stages and both will be really good in this league I think.
Martinez brings leadership while Peralta brings loads of size and toughness to the back-line that got exposed very easily in the playoffs by Chicago.
In goal, I like the competition between Zack Wells and Jose Carvallo. Wells will more than likely be the starter, which is great because this kid was due for a starting gig in this league somewhere. I think he will have a solid season this year and surprise many.
Overall with the new players mixed in with a couple that were more solid than others like year (Devon McTavish, Marc Burch and Bryan Namoff), DC should have one of the best defenses in the league, if not the best.
3. What kind of impact will Gallardo really have?
A lot of debate this off-season on Gallardo and what exactly he will bring to the table for DC this season. A lot of pressure is on him to produce well this season since he is the club’s first designated player and the fact that he is replacing a former MVP in Christian Gomez.
Gallardo has to prove himself early with this club that he is a leader on and off the field. Also, he has to show DC that they made a mistake in not going after him first. Remember he wasn’t the club’s first choice at DP this winter. That nod went to Juan Sebastian Veron. If Gallardo can put aside the fact that he was the next best thing and show the club that they should have gone for him first, then his impact will be that of a Juan Pablo Angel or a Blanco.
In other words he has to be the Angel or Blanco type of DP and not the Denilson type. I think we all know that though.
4. Will we see a healthy Ben Olsen?
Hopefully we will because a healthy Olsen means a lot for this club even with all the firepower that they have on offense in Luciano Emilio and Jamie Moreno. Olsen was one of my MVP’s of last year. When he was on the field and healthy, DC was by far the best club in the league.
If Olsen struggles to recover from his current injuries, D.C. doesn’t have anybody who can do what he does for the team. He is still out after the surgery on both his ankles last December to remove bone spurs in each ankle.
I will put it this way, a healthy Olsen means a better shot at winning a MLS Cup this year. An unhealthy Olsen means DC will struggle to come close to their recent accomplishments.
5. Which transfer/trade/signing will have the biggest impact?
A number of guys could really prove their worth in why DC traded or went out and signed them. I really like DC getting Quarvas Kirk in the Greg Vanney trade with LA. Kirk is due to breakout in the next year or so in DC I think. Kirk should get plenty of playing time with Olsen on the mend right now, which is good too because if he can step in and fill the role from Olsen then DC fans should feel pretty good about their chances this season.
I am also eager to see how Franco Niell is with this club. He adds some nice depth to this roster up top with an aged Moreno and a stellar forward in Emilio. Niell isn’t the biggest of players though, actually I would be willing to bet he is barely 5’4 or 5’5. Thing is his speed will really make a difference for DC when he is out on the pitch as either a starter or a sub.
Since Emilio will have loads of attention on him, look for Niell to get some goals in the process thanks to that speed.
2008 Season Outlook:
D.C. United made more significant personnel moves than any other team in the league this offseason, but is it going to be enough with all the extra games? I think so. But anything less than a MLS Cup would be a disappointment for this bunch.
As packed as the east is right now, DC is the team to beat. I don’t know if they will actually win the Supporter’s Shield again (three times in a row would be crazy to think of really), but they will make the playoffs as one of the top clubs entering it.
Before we start talking about the amount of hardware that could enter the trophy case this year, we have to kind of wait out the questions above. Will Gallardo make people forget about Gomez? Will Olsen be healthy? Will the new players fit into the league properly? If the right answers come out of this then DC could expect to have to make room for a MLS Cup, a SuperLiga trophy, a CONCACAF Champions Cup trophy, and who knows what else.
The sky really is the limit with this club right now. If all pieces fall properly we could see some history this year with this club.