No team in MLS goes into the hot stove season with more desire than DC United as they pick over the cold leftovers around the league looking for veterans with a chip on their shoulder.
MLS released the first ever list of Free Agents as well as the Re-Entry players that will be made available. Created with the CBA agreed upon just before this season, MLS players 28 years or older with 8 years in MLS are available for free agency and can negotiate starting tomorrow and sign with any team without any qualifications. Other players released around the league are made available through the re-entry draft held in two phases Dec 11th and December 17th.
United has made a name for itself in mining the league’s castoffs for reliable starters itching to show the league they still got game as Captains Bobby Boswell and Davy Arnaud can attest. The MLS list has some very intriguing names on it that would seem to suit Olsen’s gritty style to perfection. With Perry Kitchen all but out the door and Arnaud staring the end of his career in the face, a hard man like Jeff Larentowicz or some under-rated central players like Ned Grabavoy, Paulo Nagamura, Nick Labrocca, or Nathan Sturgis all fit the bill of players who would be itching to shore up United’s midfield and show up their former teams.
DC also needs to be in the market for upgrades in outside midfield as well with Pontius seemingly gone to Philly and only Lamar Neagle rumored to be on the way to join the underwhelming Nick DeLeon and the aging Chris Rolfe. The best wing players out there are guys like Justin Mapp or Oscar Boniek Garcia but wide guys who stay wide and get deep don’t really fit the way Benny wants the position to be played. However, guys like Mauro Rosales, Marco Pappa, and Eric Avila fit into Bennyball’s more narrow midfield roles quite nicely.
While those midfield holes absolutely have to be addressed, some other intriguing players available could bring some much needed speed and athleticism as well as fitting into Olsen’s somewhat lackluster opportunistic attacking style.
At forward, Danny Mwanga or Edson Buddle could help stretch the field and complement Fabian Espindola as well as provide a different look than Alvaro Saborio. Or Alan Gordon could bring in some serious bang off the bench, and Maxi Urruti is another very intriguing option but might be too expensive for DC’s taste. In midfield, some speedy guys worth a look are Jackson and Robbie Finley.
And while the defense is a strength for DC, the injury to Chris Korb and the dramatic drop-off in Sean Franklin’s play as well as the age of iron man Bobby Boswell would indicate that shoring up the back is a good idea. Jermaine Taylor, Chris Schuler Seth Sinovic, and especially Steven Beitashour are all good players that the league tends to underestimate all the time. With Andrew Dykstra apparently on the outs, picking up a solid backup like GK Jon Busch or Tally Hall for Hamid is a no brainer if those guys aren’t too pricey.
DC has some money to spend and they’ve shown they will absolutely over pay to replenish the team with solid MLS veterans as opposed to overseas signings or bringing in precocious young players so I’d expect the next two weeks to go a long way toward defining United’s roster for the upcoming season.