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United sits atop the Eastern Conference with 2-1 win over Chicago

Jaime Moreno and Christian Gomez both converted on their set piece attempts to help launch D.C. United atop the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire last night at RFK Stadium in front of a season high 18,369 fans. Moreno scored on a controversial penalty decision in the 24th minute and Gomez beat Chicago goalkeeper Jon Busch to the near post on a beautiful free kick in the 41st minute to help seal the win. Oddly enough, it was the first time this season that United had scored twice in the first half of a match.

Both teams were without the services of their Designated Players as the home side had Luciano Emilio missing due to his red card last week and Cuahtehmoc Blanco not available after double duty with the Mexican National team this past week. However it did not seem to matter as both teams put on a display of fine soccer throughout the 90 minutes and was one of the best MLS games played this season. Both teams attacked each others goal with abandon and it was United’s goalkeeper that ultimately was the difference as Josh Wicks pulled off two stunning saves at the beginning of the second half to deservedly earn Man of the Match honors.

Wicks made a one-one save on Wilman Conde in the 47th minute after being set up by C.J. Brown headed pass. Wicks came out quickly to snuff out the Colombian’s attempt at the game-tying goal. Just two minutes later though, Wicks made the save of the season when he denied Brian McBride on a penalty kick save to his right. The play was set up on the second of two controversial penalties called by match official Baldolermo Toledo. United were awarded the first of the two in the 24th minute when Jon Busch clattered into Chris Pontius after Pontius’ goal bound shot trickled just wide. The almost seemingly predictabe make-up call was awarded when it appeared that Patrick Nyarko had his left shoulder slightly pulled by Dejan Jakovic as he was pouring in on goal. Wicks made the save on Nyarko and was stunned to realize that a penalty had been given just seconds later. It was later realized that the Jakovic infraction was the actual foul that was called.

After the penalty kick save, both teams traded dangerous opportunities for the rest of the match with United coming closest twice. In the 61st minute, Ange N’Silu, a 39th minute substitute for the injured Jaime Moreno, was sent in on goal from a lovely defense splitting pass from Pontius. Busch did well to save the toe-poked shot at goal and the ensuing rebound was hammered by Gomez from 30 yards only to see it thunder off the crossbar. As the game was coming to a close and with Chicago pouring forward and having subbed two of their defenders off for attackers, the inevitable counter attack almost sealed the match for United. Boyzzz Khumalo got hold of a ball on the right flank in the 89th minute and sent a picture perfect cross through the penalty area for the waiting Santino Quaranta who’s one-time volley somehow managed to miss the open goal. Never the less, United got the three points and shot to the top of the Eastern Conference where now a daunting stretch of games will see United play six of their next seven league matches on the road.

Up next for United is a visit to expansion Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday night (ESPN2 @ 10:30 pm EST) and then a quick turnaround match at Colorado on Saturday night (Comcast SportsNet @ 9 pm EST). United does not return home until July 18th when they face the Rapids again.

United Notes

  • Talked to Ben Olsen who seemed upset that he wasn’t include on the 18 man roster. He said he will not be making the trip to Seattle but will be in Denver next Saturday
  • United owner Will Chang nearly took my shoulder out of my socket when he high-fived me just seconds after Gomez’ free kick goal. Suffice it to say, you don’t see that many sports team owners showing that much passion. I missed a golden opportunity to cash in on a lawsuit.
  • Thanks to a quirky MLS schedule, United will only have two home games at RFK in the next two months. Looking ahead through their schedule also reveals that United will finish the season with an unprecedented 5-game homestand before ending the season at Kansas City in October.
  • Word has it that Dejan Jakovic will be called up to the Canadian National team for the Gold Cup. The tournament starts on July 3rd and it means that Jakovic may miss only the July 4th match in Columbus. Unless Canada gets to the Gold Cup final, Jakovic should be available for United’s home match vs. Colorado on July 18th.
  • Rumor also has it that Santino Quaranta and Bryan Namoff are under serious consideration for the tournament as well.

El DC United no pudo fuera de su casa cayó ante el Real Salt Lake 2-1

No fue para menos y se dió la lógica que el fútbol casi no tiene. Real Salt Lake es uno de los equipos que a pesar que es novicio en la MLS (apenas va por su quinta temporada) camina con ritmo ganador y no ha podido ser superado en su casa, el flamante estadio Rio Tinto, en sus dos presentaciones. Esta vez batió al DC United Washingtoniano remontando marcador.

RSL con el DC United capitalino repitió el plato, lo derrotó por 2-1 con dos furibundos goles y de sabor latino. El colombiano Jamison Olave y el argentino Javier Morales, fueron los verdugos del Monarca de Lago Salado.

Un golazo de este último que casi cayéndose sobre la media luna de la zona defensiva rojinegra consiguió el tanto que de pasada lo han considerado nominado como el gol de la semana.

Fue un partido intenso donde incluso las aguilas rojas capitalinas sorprendieron a los dueños de casa adelatándose en el marcador a los 36’ con gol de su artillero Luciano Emilio quien parece estar retornando por lo suyo…los goles.

Pero la alegría le duró muy poco al DC United porque los Monarcas se apearon con todo y en apenas dos minutos igualaron el marcador con golazo de Olave.

Luego RSL se apoderó del partido y a ritmo candente tuvo todas a su favor ante un United que retrocedió sus filas ante el acoso del RSL resultando mortal ya que faltando 10’ para el final Morales selló la victoria para los dueños de casa y algarabía de los más de 11,000 espectadores que llegaron al moderno estadio Rio Tinto.

En panorama general el RSL fue más agresivo que el DC United que intentó manejar el partido a velocidad media.

RSL fue más global en su accionar partiendo desde el fondo para en bloque intentar inflar las redes rojinegras con disparos desde todo ángulo donde Clint Mathis y Will Johnson fueron los más incisivos en la ofensiva de los Monarcas.

Igualmente el fornido ariete Robbie Findley fue intenso en su ataque. Findley venia de anotar un ‘Hat Trick’ en la fecha anterior cuando pulverizaron al poderoso campeón Columbus Crew quienes aún contando con toda su artillería liderada por el argentino Barros Schelotto, nada pudieron hacer para deterner la furia de los Monarcas en su casa.

Aqui cabe destacar la buena actuación del portero capitalino Louis Crayton que tuvo la tarde a su favor.

DC United hizo un partido meritorio ya que Christian Gómez, su mediocampista estelar, cuando se desenganchaba inquietaba y tuvo a mal traer al portero (ex-United) Nick Rimando muy atento a los disparos de media distancia de Gómez.

Chris Pontius igualmente dio trabajo a la defensa roja de RSL de hecho fue el servidor del gol rojinegro. Chris perfilado por el lateral, en jugada individual a la altura de la zona roja de los Monarcas, puso bola aérea a Emilio que en toque de cabeza al poste izquierdo infló sin problemas la red de RSL ante mala ubicación de Rimando.

RSL se volcó a fondo e hizo suyo el partido desde los dos minutos siguientes en que emparejó el marcador para irse empatados a los vestuarios.

Reiniciadas las acciones al DC United se la acabaron las iniciativas copados por RSL. Primero fue un disparo a quemaropa de Kyle Beckerman que salvó el travezaño tras estar Clayton totalmente vencido.

DC United en la segunda etapa tuvo a su mediocamista el argentino Gómez sin la puntería necesaria para intentar el balance.

A Christian le pusieron marca férrea y zonal que lograron anularlo y por ende la maquinaria capitalina quedó desconectada.

RSL dió rienda suelta a su imaginación tras colapsar el mediocampo rojinegro. Findley, -en la postrimería del partido-, enganchado por izquierda tocó largo desde el lateral sobre Javier Morales, que rondaba la media luna de las 18 aguilucha, que no dudó en disparar rasante para sellar la victoria de los Monarcas de Lago Salado.

Estadísticas del Partido

D.C. United (1-1-2) vs. Real Salt Lake (2-1-0
11 de abril de 2009 — Rio Tinto Stadium

Goles:
DC — Luciano Emilio 3 (Chris Pontius 1, Fred 1) 38
RSL — Jamison Olave 1 (Will Johnson 1,Findley 1) 40
RSL — Javier Morales 1 (Findley 2, Kyle Beckerman 1) 80

Alineaciones:

D.C. United — Louis Crayton, Bryan Namoff, Dejan Jakovic, Marc Burch, Fred (Devon McTavish 69), Christian Gomez (Francis Doe 76), Andrew Jacobson, Clyde Simms, Rodney Wallace (Santino Quaranta 82), Chris Pontius, Luciano Emilio.

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran (Raphael Cox 59), Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert, Clint Mathis (Ned Grabavoy 74), Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Will Johnson, Robbie Findley (Andy Williams 89), Yura Movsisyan.

Amonestaciones:

RSL — Javier Morales (amarilla) 15
RSL — Chris Wingert (amarilla) 25
RSL — Nat Borchers (amarilla) 35
DC — Christian Gomez (amarilla) 39
DC — Marc Burch (amarilla) 75
DC — Devon McTavish (amarilla) 91+

Árbitro: Kevin Stott
Asistentes: Philippe Briere; Peter Balciunas
Cuarto oficial: Tyler Ploeger

Chicago Fire saca empate a un DC United washingtoniano todavía tibio

La escuadra “Roja” del Chicago Fire sacó un honroso empate -a un gol-, ante el DC United capitalino en partido disputado en el RFK Stadium, en lo que fue el encuentro inaugural del equipo washingtoniano y dentro de la segunda jornada de la MLS estadounidense .

Fue en el marco de una noche de llovizna persistente con asistencia de unos 15,000 aficionados. Una cifra interesante y superior a lo que se registró en el partido inaugural del 2008.

El brasileño Luciano Emilio anotó al minuto siete por el equipo capitalino, con potente tiro desde la banda izquierda al primer poste del arquero Jon Busch, quien no pudo controlar el balón que iba al ras del suelo y terminó incrustándose en el fondo de las redes.

DC United fue más poductivo y balanceado en la primera parte del partido e hizo suyos los primeros 45′. La oncena rojinegra fue más compacta en el medio sector donde se destacó el accionar de su mediocampista estelar el argentino Christian “Gomito” Gómez recuperado desde las filas del Colorado Rapids donde jugó la temporada 2008.

Por Gómez pasaban todas pelotas que en toque raudo y con precisión se apoderó del medio sector del coloso de Anacostia.

Gómez tuvo como contraparte a un efectivo Ben Olsen que para bienes mostró total recuperación de su seria lesión que lo tuvo alejado de las canchas virtualmente toda la temporada 2008.

Hasta allí las mejores noticias para el DC United que por lo mostrado, al margen de la eficacia de su artillero Luciano Emilio, realmente proyectó una carencia que le puede resultar mortal si es que intenta acariciar nuevamente la Copa emelesera.

DC United no tiene el hombre gol efectivo. Luciano sigue en recuperación de su efectividad, de pronto por su lesión que no le permite el apretón final para el martillazo certero.
Preocupantre porque no se ve en la banca la opción de artillero que necesita DC United aunque una buena opción la vimos en Chris Pontius en el partido frente a LA Galaxy con un golazo de pintura.

De allí paremos de contar, el ‘Tico’ Rodney Wallace tiene movilidad y tiene ritmo para desarrollar con efectividad, esperemos que su acoplamiento se dé pronto para proyectarse mejor en la ofensiva y permita al DC United contar con una opción positiva si quiere seguir sumando.

Por lo demás, el partido se trabajó en el medio campo y ambos conjuntos fabricaron opciones que realmente nunca prosperaron para romper las redes contrarias, el más solicitado fue el portero Jon Busch, quien tuvo un par de atajadas oportunas.

En el segundo tiempo se tornó trabado y con acciones que lindaban guerra más que fútbol. DC United se enredó en su parsimonia y el Fire ordenó mejor sus filas.

Una asistencia del colombiano Wilman Conde al ghanés Patrick Nyarko que sacó un disparo de pierna derecha rasante al centro desde el lado derecho del área, estableció el empate al los 53′.

Fire barajó las revoluciones y el partido se tornó calmo bajando la intensidad de las hostilidades, aunque el técnico Denis Hamlett hizo cambios al meter al mexicano Cuauhtémoc Blanco para buscar abrir la delantera a 20 minutos del final, Blanco sencillamenete no apareció repartiéndose los puntos ambas escuadras.

Estadísticas del Partido:

Chicago Fire (1-0-1) vs. D.C. United (0-0-2)
Locación: RFK Stadium de Washington DC

Goles:
DC — Luciano Emilio 1 (unassisted) 7
CHI — Patrick Nyarko 1 (Marco Pappa 1) 53

Alineaciones:

Chicago Fire — Jon Busch, Tim Ward, C.J. Brown (Dasan Robinson 14), Wilman Conde, Daniel Woolard, Marco Pappa (Cuauhtemoc Blanco 70), Logan Pause, John Thorrington, Justin Mapp (Chris Rolfe 80), Brian McBride, Patrick Nyarko,

D.C. United — Josh Wicks, Bryan Namoff, Dejan Jakovic, Marc Burch, Chris Pontius, Christian Gomez (Brandon Barklage 86), Ben Olsen, Clyde Simms, Rodney Wallace, Luciano Emilio, Jaime Moreno (Francis Doe 65),

Árbitro central: Mark Geiger
Assistentes: Thomas Supple; Bill Dittmar
4to official: Andrew Chapin
Tiempo de juego: 1:50
Asistencia: 15,895 espectadores
Clima: Nublado, 51 grados F

Galería

[sspdc album=48 style=matrix]

DC United’s Midfield: “We’re Getting the Band Back Together”

With the return of Christian Gomez and the tantalizing prospect of Ben Olsen making a significant on field contribution this season, it really does seem like the team is looking to recapture some of that magic circa 2004-7, but even while looking back, the team has also made some potentially great moves for the future.

So, in the same vein as yesterday’s look at the forwards, let’s have a go at the midfielders signed to date: Christian Gomez, Ben Olsen, Fred, Santino Quaranta, Clyde Simms, Andrew Jacobsen, Brandon Barklage

First of all, any analysis of United’s midfield situation has to begin with the question marks around Christian Gomez, Fred and Santino Quaranta. Clyde Simms is as solid as it gets in MLS and is beyond reproach unless you’re expecting him to be Maurice Edu or Michael Bradley. Clearly, he is neither of those players, but then again those guys won’t be helping out any MLS teams this year either. Comparing Clyde the Glide to anyone else currently on a roster shows him to be perfectly capable to fulfill his role nicely.

But, last year Gomez had a rocky year in purgatory, Fred performed way below his standards, and Santino is not really a midfielder no matter how good he is at playing there. All three of these guys are also a bit unbalanced in that they favor offense way more than defense, and neither of the wide players actually like to stay wide. So, there are some concerns for sure.

However, that said, assuming the chemistry comes together, and there’s absolutely no reason to think it won’t since these guys have all played together extremely well in the past, this midfield, along with Moreno and Emilio will absolutely shred the typical MLS defense. In 2007, the holy trinity of Emilio, Moreno and Gomez merely scored 37 goals and 16 assists, while Fred and Olsen chipped in 14 more goals and 15 assists. Clearly, their talent is easily on par with the best in the league overall, even if you assume Ben doesn’t play a minute and is replaced by Santino only having another decent year like he had last year (5 goals, 4 a) when if fact, he may well break out into the double digit realm his talent has always predicted.

I think there’s no question Gomez is still as good as it gets in his role, comparable to DeRosario, Blanco, Schelotto, anyone in terms of his impact on winning games, despite his fall from grace in Colorado. I do take that a little on faith as it is disturbing that Colorado shopped him around so aggressively, but knowing Gomez, hearing all the things being said and seeing him already having an impact in beating Puerto Rico the other day, I think it’s safe to say he can play in the top third of the league at the very least for one more year. The real problem with him comes at what to do about him for next year.

As for Fred, 7 goals, 8 assists in 2007, 2 goals and four assists in 2008. The league may have found him out, but I’m not so sure about that either. He had injuries and transition issues, as well as multiple positions to play that seriously affected his play. This year his role will likely be pretty streamlined, and I think he is back on par with the likes of Robbie Rogers 6g, 3a, Brad Davis 3g 8a, Van den Bergh 7g 5a, Huckerby 6g 3a, etc.

Santino easily fits into the upper tier of wide midfielders too. Rogers as mentioned, Eddie Gaven 3g 2a, Mapp 2 g 8a, Mullan 3g 5a, Ronnie O’brien 4 g 6 a, Thorrington 5g 2 a, Colin Clarke 5g 3 a, Stuart Holden 3g 4 a, etc. None of them are startlingly more productive than Quaranta is, and I maintain he is likely to exceed his totals from last year simply by personal growth and being on a better team overall. Plus, if you notice, none of those guys from around the league being compared to Fred and Santino are that much better defenders, nor are they necessarily known for staying wide either. Bottom line, DC’s starting midfield should easily be one of the best in the league this year.

Plus, DC seems to have some very good options should injuries rear their ugly head again. Andrew Jacobsen has had a great pre-season by all accounts and made Joe Vide expendable which is saying something. I could easily see him being a Brad Evans, Seth Stammler, Kyle Beckerman type, but if he keeps improving maybe even continuing on to Ricardo Clarke or even Maurice Edu level as he was that highly thought of in college.

Another interesting option is Ben Olsen, who could seriously contribute some valuable games here and there this year after being left for dead last year. If he can do that anywhere near his previous ability, United’s expectations go up dramatically. Even a bottom of the bench option like Brandon Barklage seems promising. He has been compared to a Josh Gros type worker bee which something United could certainly use, especially if he pans out as well as Gros did overall.

Plus, aside from that, all those converted midfielders playing defense last year, as well as young forwards and draft picks all could pitch in at midfield too. Khumalo and especially Pontius could easily play in midfield. Rodney Wallace too is raw, but should be ready for some minutes, surely. But, even better a guy like McTavish who I think is really better suited as a 13th man, jack of all trades, now that he isn’t likely to be a defensive starter can be freed up to cover for Simms or either wide player quite nicely if push came to shove.

So, there you have it on every level, the midfield looks to be in very good shape, easily as good as anyone in the league. Along with a forward cohort that looks to be equally as strong if not stronger, United should be in great shape from the midfield forward. I think there’s little question this group will capture a good level of chemistry right off the bat and their talent is unquestioned, especially as there’s seems to be enough depth all over the field that some of the older guys will have their minutes managed quite easily, which with the lighter schedule will already be less of a concern.

Unfortunately, I think that’s where the bloom comes off the rose. A grim look at the defense tomorrow, as well as a wee bit of a preview of the tournament DC will be playing in Charleston starting Saturday night.

DC United Plays it Safe with Return of Christian Gomez

After a year of exile in Colorado, Christian Gomez and DC United are reuniting for the 2009 season, and though it is a conservative and possibly short sighted decision, I must say given the deal they made to get him back I am starting to come around myself after some initial misgivings.

First of all, Christian Gomez is flat out a great player in MLS despite his being benched and banished from Colorado, as well as his scrappy exit from DC last off-season. Gomez was easily as good as ever up until July last year when the regime change in Colorado pretty sealed his fate with the Rapids. He just didn’t fit into their new coach’s style. True, Gomez is 34 and likely beginning to head downhill, but no question he is still a game changer in MLS and will be a huge improvement for DC United’s offense this season.

All the quotes from players coming out about his return all express their delight at having him back in the team and attest to his obvious skill. Gomez himself has been nothing but clear and emphatic about his desire to return the team towards its usual winning ways. And this is a guy that has the ability to carry a team on his back when things aren’t going well, an attitude sorely lacking last season when he was gone.

Also, chemistry problems were a huge issue last season, and had DC United gone out and signed virtually any other playmaker, those issues could easily have reared their ugly head again. But it’s extremely unlikely Gomez will be anything but an addition to team chemistry given his familiarity with the team and players. There’s also no transition shock bringing in someone to this area, Gomez and his family loved it here and couldn’t wait to move back.

So, in terms of ability and chemistry, no question Gomez is about as good as it gets if you’re going to play it safe.

Secondly, the deal DC made to get him is an exceptionally safe deal when balanced against his almost certain value. DC loses Guerrero, its DP slot, and a second round draft pick in return for Gomez with Colorado paying half his salary, an international slot, and an intriguing young goalkeeper.

So, breaking this deal down, the draft pick, international slot, young goalkeeper, and even the DP slot are all sweeteners, not the main course. No, the real meat of the deal is trading Gomez at 200 K for Guerrero’s 150 K cap hit. Basically trading an overpaid, but solid winger for an aging, but extremely talented former league MVP for 50 K more, to be brutally honest.

No doubt Guerrero was a great addition to the team last year, and he is classy player as well as pretty much the only true wing player on the team. But honestly, for 150 K you’d really expect a bit more production from an outside midfielder. With four goals and 20 assists in 101 career MLS games, there’s no reason to think Guerrero would be any more than a one goal four assist player next year too. Fred is almost certain to double or even triple those numbers, even a youngster like Pontius could certainly put up similar numbers at a lot less money.

Neither, however would be anywhere near as good as Guerrero defensively, but they’re certainly decent enough defensively to make the deal palatable. Guerrero would actually be a better left back, but the team has gone with much more economical players like Burch, Zaher and Wallace there, so that’s not really an option either, so if anyone on the team had to go, he’s the best bait unless Colorado just lost their mind and wanted the rights to Lightning Rod Dyachenko or something like that instead of a solid starter.

Bottom line is that it’s very likely DC had to either accept Gomez at full price, or throw in a starting quality player. I think clearly Gomez would not be as great an addition if he cost 400K and hampered the team’s ability to spend for a player they truly need like in central defense. But as it is, getting Gomez at half pay means they still have ample money to chase position players they need. So, if it had to be a player, Guerrero is actually about the best DC could hope for. It cuts a bit of fat out of the salary cap in a role that can be reasonably well filled with guys already on the roster, and most importantly, the player wasn’t a young player with potential as DC needs to keep all those it can.

As for the rest of the deal, the DP slot is pretty worthless anyway as we only had it for the rest of this year, and using it would mean you have to find a one year player to use it on – not a palatable thought given the Gallardo fiasco – or DC would face a tough decision on Emilio at the end of this year. Plus, if you aren’t going to use that DP slot for a playmaker, much less on an even bigger gamble for an expensive defender it’s really not a big loss. Nor was the slot all that big of a trade value to any team but Colorado as it was their slot we got for only two years in the original Gomez deal.

As for the international spot, draft pick, and goalkeeper. Let’s face it, if I can’t even remember that goalkeeper’s name this deep in this article, nor do I even have the energy or inclination to look it up, how good can he be? The international spot might well be a boon if we in fact use it for someone valuable, but if it’s for another Jose Carvallo (sorry Martin) then who cares about that. Even the draft pick is nebulous. If DC tanks another season, then it’s a good pick in the second round last year. But, frankly if we tank another year, a good pick in the second round is hardly succor or solace. Most likely it’s an end of round pick that’s even more of a crap shoot than every pick is inherently.

I can understand the consternation, and feelings of vulnerability like the team had been fleeced in getting Gomez back, but there’s no question in my mind this particular deal is well and truly in DC’s best interests for the moment.

Unfortunately, we don’t live only for the moments that this season will bring. As glorious as another Cup or two will be, let’s face it, if Gomez is on his way downhill and Moreno not far behind, as well as Emilio struggling through another season, then DC is well and truly effed. I personally believe Emilio and Gomez can be significant contributors well worth their salaries next season and Moreno can be eased into a supersub role as well soccer gods willing. But the fact remains that all of them can underwhelm and DC will be in a world of pain next year.

But that’s really the only downside to this deal. This deal for Gomez is as safe and reasonably profitable as any move this off-season could possibly be. As much as I would have liked to see some bold move towards signing a young Marco, or a savvy Lubos Kubik clone to lead the team into the next generation, I suppose it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Christian Gómez regresa a D.C. United…

Se va Iván Guerrero ¿Quién entiende?…Sin duda solo la alta dirigencia.

El D.C. United anunció que el MVP de la MLS 2006, Christian Gómez, regresa al D.C. United para su segundo ciclo con el club capitalino.

Es, deveras, una muy positiva desición del DC United porque creemos, y lo dijimos en su momento, transferir a Gómez al Colorado Rapids en el 2008 fue lo mas desacertado que pudo hacer la directiva capitalina.

Christian estaba en un buen momento, tuvo una gran campaña con el equipo y lo dejaron partir para darle el espacio a Marcelo “El Muñeco” Gallardo, el tercer jugador mejor pagado de la Liga y que terminó siendo un tremendo fiasco para el equipo, fue sinceramente un error garrafal que se reflejó en la desastroza campaña capitalina en el 2008.

Para bienes…Christian regresa a la escuadra rojinegra también en buen momento por lo hecho y capitalizado en Colorado Rapids. Sin duda será un buen referente para la temporada 2009.

Lo muy lamentable es la partida del hondureño Iván Guerrero, dejan ir a un jugador que mostró pareja actuación en el conjunto rojinegro.

Iván tiene trayectoria y cartel, es seleccionado nacional con puesto fijo y no solamente eso, en cada partido con la rojinegra capitalina mostró gran conocimiento de jugador con proyección para irse al frente por cualquiera de las dos bandas sin dejar espacio abierto en su posición defensiva.

Consideramos que Guerrero fue uno de los pocos jugadores que se salvan de una campaña magra en el DC United en el 2008.

Incluso en una reciente entrevista mostró lo que llevaba dentro para el DC United para el 2009… “En lo personal, una ilusión: es un nuevo año y trae nuevas cosas. Mi mente está positiva. El año pasado fue algo duro con lo que vimos en el equipo, hubo un montón de lesionados, un montón de circunstancias que no fueron muy favorables para el rendimiento del equipo.

Con el nuevo año, me imagino que va a llegar nueva gente, nuevos refuerzos. Independientemente de eso, estamos con las ganas renovadas, con las ganas de hacer bien las cosas, de volverle la mística al nombre de D.C. United poque siento que el año pasado, a raiz de todas las cosas, el equipo no lució de la mejor manera. Estoy con ganas de que comience el campeonato para iniciar la revancha en el nuevo año.” Comentarios sobran.

Algunos felizmente ya partieron. El argentino Franco Niell y el peruano José Carvallo fueron separados del equipo en el 2008 tras unos pocos meses por su bajo rendimiento. Marcelo Gallardo ya es historia.

El colombiano Gonzalo Martinez igualmente no está en la capital, si bien es cierto fue un jugador que brilló en la primera mitad del torneo pero después se fue apagando casi con el mínimo de chispa.

Lo mismo el argentino Gonzalo “La Torre” Peralta no está mas en el equipo, debemos hidalgamente mencionar que lo trajeron a menos las lesiones hacia el final del torneo pero que el el panorama genérico no rindió en los momentos cruciales.

Insistimos, la directiva capitalina tiene por supuesto la absoluta potestad de hacer todos los cambios en su plantilla de jugadores y escoger a lo que mejor se adapte a sus necesidades.

Pero dejar ir a jugadores que realmente “SI” aportan a la escuadra nos parece no usar el criterio balanceado y sentido común cuando se trata de armar una escuadra que debe resarcirse de sus heridas para volver a ser el gran tetracampeón de la MLS.

Con 11 títulos -entre competencias domésticas e internacionales– el D.C. United es recordados como un equipo de gran tradición ganadora y es sin lugar a dudas el club más exitoso en la historia de la MLS, además de ser un buen referente  del fútbol estadounidense en el extranjero.

Esta tradición que exige lo mejor y eso tiene que volver a la capital.

Sinceramente se debe poner barbas en remojo para decidir. Opinamos, con todo al aprecio que se tiene a Tom Soehn el coach de ya varias temporadas que debe ser el primero en partir.

Sus desatinos al experimentar fórmulas y alineaciones sin resultads positivos hacen de él definitivamente la primera carta para desacreditarla.

Por lo demás la lista podría ser larga con nombres que deben partir pero esperamos, y la hinchada también, se tenga más capacidad de desición para reconsolidar al gran equipo capitalino.

Las movidas del DC United

Al traer a Christian Gómez, el conjunto rojinegro adquirió también al portero Mike Graczyk, una plaza del plantel internacional y consideraciones monetarias del tope salarial en una transacción con Colorado Rapids a cambio del carrilero Iván Guerrero, una plaza de Jugador Franquicia de United, y una selección de segunda ronda del SuperDraft 2010.  

Gómez viajará a Washington en los próximos días y probablemente estará disponible para hablar con los medios de prensa después de la sesión de entreno de este viernes por la mañana en el Estadio RFK.

“Estamos muy complacidos con el retorno de Christian a D.C. United”, dijo el Presidente de United Kevin Payne.  “El trae unas cualidades únicas a nuestro equipo y entiende bien la cultura de nuestro club. Creemos que nos va a hacer un mejor equipo para así poder competir para la Copa MLS de nuevo.”

“Estoy contento de regresar a D.C. United, al igual que mi familia y esposa”, dijo Gómez.  “Espero contribuir y hacer todo lo posible para que el equipo regrese a donde merece estar y volver a gananar campeonatos. Estoy consciente de la importancia de los aficionados al club y sus expectativas y espero poder complacerlos.”

“Nos emociona mucho que Christian regrese a D.C. United”, dijo el Gerente General de United, Dave Kasper.  “Es un soberbio profesional en la cancha y en nuestro vestuario, y estamos entusiasmados por ver sus contribuciones a nuestro club”.

Gómez comenzó su carrera en la MLS con D.C. United en agosto del 2004.  El mediocampista reforzó la ofensiva de United y ayudó al equipo a conquistar su cuarta Copa MLS.

El volante argentino impresionó en su segundo año con el equipo, registrando 11 goles y nueve asistencias en 31 partidos (30 como titular). Su desempeño lo llevó a ser nombrado al Partido de Estrellas de la MLS y al Onceno Ideal de la MLS.

Gómez tuvo su mejor temporada en el 2006, cuando encajó 14 goles y marcó 11 asistencias. Su extraordinaria actuación durante la temporada lo llevó a ser nombrado el Jugador Más Valioso de la MLS.

En el 2007, Gómez alineó de titular en todos los 27 partidos que jugó, registrando 10 goles y nueve asistencias en la campaña. El mediocampista argentino terminó la temporada con su tercera presentación consecutiva en el Partido de Estrellas y en el Onceno Ideal de la MLS. El el 2008, su único año en Colorado, Gómez vio acción en 20 partidos (17 como titular), marcando tres goles y seis asistencias para los Rapids.

Gómez comenzó su carrera profesional a los 17 años de edad con el Nueva Chicago de la Segunda División argentina. El volante de ataque encajó 46 goles para el club del 1991 al 1996. En el 1997, se unió al Independiente de la Primera División, donde encajó 12 goles en 80 presentaciones.

Después militó en el Argentinos Juniors antes de regresar a Nueva Chicago en el 2000 y ayudar al club a subir a la Primera División. Regresó a Independiente por un corto período antes de fichar con el Arsenal de Argentina. Allí jugó en 30 partidos y registró seis goles.

Guerrero deja los registros de United luego de haberse unido al club capitalino el 31 de julio de 2008. Inició la temporada 2007 con el San José Earthquakes después de ser seleccionado por el equipo californiano en el Draft de Expansión de 2007.

El carrilero hondureño fue titular en 13 de los 14 partidos que jugó y anotó un gol en su paso por los Quakes, antes de ser fichado por D.C. United a mediados de la temporada.

En las filas rojinegras, Guerrero se estableció como titular indiscutible por la banda izquierda. Alineó de titular en todos los 13 partidos de Liga que disputó el equipo y registró cuatro asistencias.

“Queremos agradecerle a Iván por ser parte de D.C. United, y le deseamos muchísima suerte en el futuro”, agregó Kasper.

— Con apuntes del DC United

Q & A with United’s coaching staff

Head Coach Tommy Soehn
How did the first phase of pre-season go for the team?
“I think it confirmed what I said at the end of last year, that we built from the bottom up. I happy with the guys. We’re still looking for a couple of pieces, but it’s a real competitive roster. I still have a couple of hard decisions to make. But, that’s a coach’s dream.”

“I think in the next camp that we’ll focus a little more on the tactical stuff. I addressed it a little bit today knowing that we have a game tomorrow. The starting points were real good.”

You said in the first interview a week ago that your main purpose this week was to build team chemistry. Did you accomplish that? How so? Is there chemistry on this year’s team that was not present last year?
“Yeah. The real pleasing part for me is how well this group has come together as friends. You overcome a lot of battles when you fight like friends, and that’s what we’ve managed to do. It’s a good group of guys. They are all happy to be a part of this. I think we’ve accomplished that first step.”

Two big roster moves in the last 24 hours. First, Roger. He looked to me as if he was not physically ready. Is that the case? Also, the team said that it was a personal decision by the player. Can you expand on why he decided not to play in DC?
“All I can say… I’m not going into big details, but what I can say he did do it for personal reasons. Having said that, they were all very professional reasons right up to the point where he was looking out for his interests and for the interests for DC United. He was a first class guy and wish him the best in whatever he does.”

Last year’s main problem was defense. Now that Roger is gone, how big of a hole is that to fill?
“Roger was here for depth and experience. He’s not the only guy that we’ve been after. We’re still in the process of making things happen in that regard. That’s all I’m going to say on that.”

The other big move is Christian Gomez coming back to DC United. How did that decision come about?
“We had some early discussions; probably back in early December, wanting to know if he was a good fit for us again.”

“We always knew what kind of talent he had and what kind of chemistry he had with our guys. He understood the way we play. He understood what the organization is all about.”

“When he left, no one knew where thing stood at that point. We weren’t able to work things out with his agent – it was never him.”

“So, Dave (Kasper) and I had a long talk with him to confirm that he is still the same guy that we know he can be.”

“I had a lot of talks with our senior guys to make sure that was the direction that we wanted to go. Consistently, everybody said that they wanted him back. That says a lot about a guy when most of the guys that know him and have played with him wanted desperately to get him back.”

The team now has Gomez at 34 years old, Moreno at 33 years old, and Olsen at 30 plus with a bum ankle. With the injuries and the general wear and tear how concerned are you about that aspect?
“On the flip side, I think we’ve gotten really young. We’ve got a lot of young guys as part of our core. And we’ve picked up some young draft picks who I think are going to contribute.”

“Adding some experience and some veterans to a team … when you have a lot of young guys, you need guys that can settle a game down. Christian has a lot of good qualities, as does Jaime, as does Ben.”

“Having a deep team allows you to now have several different options … different formations. I’m hoping it’s going to be a year where we can look at several different options every time we play and make it difficult to predict what we’re going to do.”

Who impressed you in this first week, especially of the rookies and trialists?
“I think our draft picks pretty much lived up to my expectations. I still think there’s still a real big upside to Chris (Pontius) and Rodney (Wallace). You can see Rodney’s athleticism everyday when he plays because he does some things that other guys can’t. But, on the other side, he still shows some inexperience. In a good environment he’ll get through that instead of just relying on his athleticism. Everyday you see special qualities in that kid. You can’t wait to see what he turns into.”

“Chris, on the other hand, relies a lot on his smarts. I think when he plays along side of our better players he’s going to really shine.”

“Milos (Kocic) had an up-and-down camp. There’s a lot of talent there. Obviously his physical size goes a long way.”

With the group of players and the changes that have been made, has there been a philosophical change? Maybe a change in tactical philosophy that gets away from strong forward defense and pressure, attack the wings, etc?
“I think adding Christian gives us the ability to us different lineups and formations. I was saying that in our tactical session today. Whatever we play, if it’s a 4-4-2, it takes on so many different shapes, and that’s beauty of our game. And I think our team has a lot of outlets. We can press and force it … .go over the top, attack out of the back … .”

“The philosophy, the way I approach the game, hasn’t changed at all. Obviously some of the players’ faces have changed. Like I said, I think we have a deep team, experience in the right parts of the field. It’s going to be a fun year to see it grown and come together.”

General Manager Dave Kasper
What was the background on Roger leaving? There were such big expectations from previous news articles?
“He really wanted to come. He had some offers in Brazil, but what came through really clear was that he wanted to come to MLS. We were excited to get him.”

“He played some big games last year in Copa Liberadores, but at the end of the day, I think he just didn’t want to do it.”

“I’m not so sure that he’s going to play anymore. That’s not for me to comment on. But, I think he may be headed in that direction.”

Last year’s team the defense was the problem. Roger was going to be one of the pieces to solve that problem. What would you tell the fans that with five weeks before the season kicks off and the defense seemingly is still a problem?

“We have been looking, and we’ll continue to look. We have some players on the radar who are central defenders. We’ll see if something gets done here in this transfer window – we have until April.”

“Things got better towards the end of last year. I think Lewis (Crayton) was a big part of that. He came in and did a great job. Also, we got Janicki from Pittsburg on loan and we’ve executed his option and he’s back. He’s a big, strong central defender and a ball winner. Namoff is back… Burch is back… Devon (McTavish) played a lot of central defender with us. Those were the guys that at the end of the year, when we needed to get results, they started shutting down the other team.”

“We certainly want to get better. Certainly a big emphasis will be shutting down the other team and we’ll get there.”

The team also decided to bring back Christian Gomez. He is very much an offensive player, but the needs of the team seem to be defense. What was the thinking behind that move when there seems to be a conflict of needs?
“Behind the scenes we’re working day and night trying to identify players. It’s a difficult window – the January transfer window. I’ve alluded to this before that you have to find the right situation, maybe a player that is not happy with his club, who wants to leave. Then you have to negotiate to get the player out. Or, find a free agent.”

“The main transfer window is in the summer time.”

“We have been looking, actively looking, and having many conversations. It’s not as easy as it may appear. We’re talking about bringing a guy into our league at the right price as well. Where do you find this guy? You have to look very hard and find the right situation.”

Speaking of the right price, what kind of salary budget condition is the team in after all the changes from last year and the roster moves to this point this year?
“I would say that we have a fair amount of cap space available to make a move.”

More than an average player?
“Yes. A big part of our deal with Colorado was holding a significant part of his (Gomez) salary. It’s about fifty percent. That was important to us… being able to add other pieces, not just the Christian trade… . we’re getting Christian back, but now we have the flexibility to go out and get additional pieces to make us better.”

Speaking of additional pieces, DC United has not really had the opportunity to develop a young player over the last several years, mainly due to the lack of decent draft picks. Now the league has done away with the Reserve League. How does that affect the team’s philosophy when it comes to younger players?
“We can still play up to forty-five games this year! We could still play the same number of games that we played last year, so we’re going to rely on all of our players – all twenty-four of our players.”

“We will look to loan some younger players out that are not part of the eighteen down to the USL. The USL is a great place for young players to get some experience and grow as a player. We’ll look to do that. We’ll also look to play a couple of exhibition games against USL sides during the year.”

Goalkeeper Coach Mark Simpson
In general what are your impressions on Thorpe and Kocic at this point in pre-season?

“I think they’re doing well. It’s been a while since they’ve played. And Milos is getting used to the guys on the team. That’s what pre-season is for, just to settle down and work on the fine tuning.”

“The came with good starting points in terms of fitness and sharpness. Now we just have to work on the tactical side of it, and getting to know guys, and reading plays a play or two ahead, and when things do break down you make sure you get guys into the right spots and that’s something new to them at this level. So far so good. The just have to work on the fine tuning points.”

Can we assume that Crayton is the number one goalkeeper and these two are fighting it out for the number two and three?
“Well, I’m a big believer that you win your job everyday. Obviously we excused Louis to attend to some family matters. He’s assured me that he will be training with the Liberian National Team. We’ll assess where he’s at when we get them altogether.”

“Guys win their jobs everyday, it’s not just given to them. So, no matter how much you’re paid, or how much experience you have, it’s win your job every day. And every week we decide on who will play.”

With the Gomez trade the team brought in another goalkeeper. Why was that done?
“With the uncertainty with Zach (Wells) and trying to figure out what decisions he’s making, we’re just covering our bases and looking at as many guys as possible. That afforded us the opportunity to call in another guy.”

“Last year we tried to call him in as a league pool goalkeeper for CONCACAF, but he had prior commitments. So this gives us a chance to look at another guy.”

Gomez to return to United, Guerrero to Rapids

The Washington Post is reporting that DC United has traded for Christian Gomez, sending midfielder Ivan Guerrero, a designated player slot and a second round draft pick in 2010 to Colorado. More from DCU’s official website.

“We’re very pleased that Christian is rejoining DC United,” said United President and CEO Kevin Payne in a statement. “He brings unique qualities to our team and he understands the culture of our club. We believe he makes us better able to again compete for the MLS Cup.”

“I am extremely happy to return to DC United, as is my family – my wife, my kids and my family in the D.C. area. We are excited to be back in the Capital,” Gomez said in a statement. ” I am coming into the team to contribute and do everything possible as a member of the team to bring the club back to where it belongs – winning championships. I realize how important the fans are to the club and what their expectations are and I hope to make them happy.”

DC United Hits Rewind Button

With the imminent departure of Gallardo, as well as the possible return of the play maker he replaced, Christian Gomez, it would seem DC United is attempting to put the sand back in the hourglass. But that might not be the best way to right the ship after such a disappointing season.

DC United’s new owners apparently want a do-over as they were clearly un-amused by shelling out approximately 2.5 million in new players last January, only to see the team tank in MLS and CONCACAF and lose fifty percent of their games overall. That’s about 100K per loss if you’re counting, and I think they clearly are.

It was such a promising January last year too. After Gomez had refused DC’s salary offer and was dealt away, United introduced five shiny new South Americans, and now none are likely to make it a full year. Niell and Carvallo didn’t even make the Summer last year, Peralta is gone on loan this winter as we couldn’t even sell him, Martinez is in limbo but probably gone soon, and now designated player Marcelo Gallardo is off to River on loan as apparently they don’t want even want to shell out a transfer fee for him.

(Rumors abound that rather than a straight sale to River, which would require a transfer fee, DC is going to loan him out for the remainder of his contract and collect a loan fee, which must obviously be less than a transfer fee (which Gallardo would also collect a percentage of). So, basically, United is washing their hands of him for a nominal fee that frees up salary and roster room that can be used elsewhere. But, it also means River is clearly wary of shelling out too much money for him either.)

So there you have it, United’s biggest signings of last year all purged with pretty much nothing in return apart from the roster and salary cap space they are no longer owed. Which leaves United right back in almost the same situation they were in last January after Gomez refused United’s contract offers, and in an odd twist, Gomez might well return to fill the hole Gallardo leaves in the central midfield. This might be seen as admitting a mistake last winter, but honestly no one could have predicted how badly those moves turned out for everyone involved. Surely Gomez won’t be holier than thou. His purgatory in the Big Dick should have been enough to humble anyone, and aside from that bitter contract negotiation last winter, Christian is nothing but a class act.

Now, if you are one of those Chicken Little types, you may well be hyperventilating a bit given United’s current roster situation. Yes, there are holes in the team you could drive a herd of cats through. Yes, there is the shuddering thought of another round of chemistry issues after a mad scramble to hurl money at whatever skilled South American shows an interest in coming to America, especially considering how well DC’s front office and coaching staff handled the influx of talent last year.

But, there may well be a silver lining to all this as it gives DC a real chance to re-structure the team to get it on a more even keel heading into the future. No disrespect to Gallardo, who I maintain is the most talented player ever to lace up boots in this league since Donadoni, Beckham and Blanco included. But United with Gallardo was hamstrung with salary cap, and had a lot of key offensive players approaching the end of their careers here at the same time.

But, without Gallardo and the expensive Gonzalo brothers, United now has about 800K to spend over the next two months and that’s a lot of gelt able to hide a multitude of sins.

Consider this, with Moreno, Emilio, and Quaranta with Doe or Khumalo as extras, they have a pretty nice rotation of forwards. You’ve got an old expensive guy, an expensive solid pro, and a young talent who can sub for either of them without a hitch, while at the same time a nice balance of speed and power on the bench to keep you afloat in a pinch. So no real worries at forward this year, and even if both Moreno and Emilio bail on next year, you only need to hope Pontius pans out, or sign another scorer which you should have money (and hopefully a scouting system) to do.

In midfield, you now have a few problems, but they can be overcome both short and long term too. With Guerrero, Fred, and Simms you have three solid pros, two who are over paid for sure, but the Fred of 2007 is worth the money, while the 2008 version is a bit more sketchy. However, either are also good trade bait if you find somebody cheaper or a youngster develops. Still, there’s no real worries over their positions for the most part, nor are there concerns about next year as all of them can return or soccer gods willing, be upgraded.

The real worry is the playmaker and leadership role which Gallardo leaves gapingly vacant. But, he would have been in the last year of his deal here and have to be replaced at the end of the season anyway. Gomez would seem to be an obvious choice to fill both roles, but honestly, he has the same problem. He’s even older and nearly as expensive, so really should only be re-acquired as a last resort, and even then only if Colorado is willing to offer a fair deal. If they hold DC ransom, we should definitly pass. Christian is a great stop gap for one year for sure, but is that really the best thing for the team going into the future?

The way to look at this is take that big wad of cash and go after fixing the foundations of the team, not just have a revolving door of shiny new foreigners every off-season. Unless, there’s a sure-fire DP out there, which I doubt, DC should be looking for a younger playmaker to build the team around (or restructure the team a bit to play a five man midfield, or two two-way players in the middle, etc.), and then literally heaving the rest of the money at some rock solid defenders with some leadership potential.

They should be able to find somebody for that central midfield role too. There’s plenty of talent in MLS, USL-1, and the region as we saw in CONCACAF play. An alluring designated player could be found if they’re lucky, but at the very least a solid pro, or a young phenom can be brought in given the money they can afford to spend. And the guy doesn’t have to be lights out fantastic either because the money you save from the difference between his salary and Gallardo’s should easily be enough to beef up the rest of the team so the new guy isn’t carrying the full load.

That’s the real bonus of losing Gallardo. If he’d stayed, you only have about 250K (The Gonzalo’s money minus a few upgrades to Quaranta, Simms, etc.) to solve your defensive woes, all in all not too promising. But that immediately springs up to 500K if you sign a midrange salary guy for playmaker. There is no doubt in my mind, DC United can find 2-3 solid pros to fill out a defense with that much money available. I’m not talking Rogers and Epsteins from god knows where, I’m talking good old fashioned gosh darned American beef wallowing around in the North Americans leagues. Money talks. Lots of MLS defenders would love to come to visit the White House now that DC has some money to throw around.

By my estimation, DC has a solid right back in Bryan Namoff, a great backup right sided defender/midfielder in Devon McTavish, who can play anywhere in a pinch. A decent prospect in central defense in Greg Janicki, and not much else there. Oddly enough, the left appears to be covered. Burch is a solid player there, and Wallace or Zaher will fight to be a very capable backup (or even Guerrero is a possibility if a left midfielder emerges from the depths of the roster). So, central defense is clearly the problem.

Not only that, but the club is still lacking for leadership, which is a very traditional role for a central defender as well. So, it would behoove DC to fork over some enticing money either in signing a beast from somewhere in the region, or spiriting away a veteran from some MLS team ready to move in a new direction (and veteran doesn’t mean old, either). Maybe even finding a diamond in the rough from the undrafted college ranks like they did with Boswell. Whatever, nearly a half million is a lot of enticement, and if you get lucky and find one for less, even better, then you can go out and get another one for good measure.

Bottom line is that DC is losing a tremendous talent in Gallardo and no one should be happy at his departure. He never really got a fair shake here by the soccer gods. He was breathtaking at times, but injuries prevented much else and soured many including the owners apparently which is a true shame. Now, granted there are those who will snarkily point out, DC did about the same with him in the lineup (6-7-1), or without him (5-8-3). But, that is misleading in the sense that DC was a markedly more dynamic and dangerous team with him on the field, and there were a lot more absences than his that played into DC’s abysmal record.

So, the owners are clearly showing they meant business when they voiced their displeasure about last season, and Gallardo is maybe being scapegoated a bit for that, but as long as Chang and McFarlane cutting their losses now doesn’t mean they are going to be gun shy about spending to find new players (which is an article for another day, analyzing their ownership moves), DC should end up in great shape at the end of this.

Gallardo, sadly, we hardly knew ya, but if DC comes out of this a much more balanced team in the long run, a little pain now will totally be worth it and good luck in River Plate.