Vamos. March 2nd. Can’t wait.
Normally with a playoff team, you would not expect extensive turnover in the part of the field that usually supplies goals. However, DC United has bucked the trend and (almost) completely overhauled its strike force for the 2013 season.
Last season, Albanian Hamdi Salihi was brought in to score the goals that the previous “solution”, Charlie Davies, was unable to. That didn’t exactly work out, as Ben Olsen decided that a forward should be more concerned with defense and harassing defenders passing out of the back than finishing (see: Lionard Pajoy).
As an aside, I don’t like watching Lionard Pajoy play soccer. It’s sort of my bone that I won’t stop chewing on. You won’t convince me otherwise.
As Salihi attempts to find greener pastures on the continent, United has brought in some new faces to fill the net.
Anyone who will tell you they know a lot about what Rafael can do is either a liar or a intense watcher of the Brazilian league and its bottom dwellers. What we can tell for sure is that he has scored 10 goals in 36 appearances for Bahia, who currently sit 15th out of 20 teams. We can also tell you that he is classified as “Young Designated Player”, which is a thing that I had never heard of until he was signed. What that means is that only $150k out the players salary will count against the salary cap, and that he’s making about as much as Brad Evans, Diego Chara, and a bunch of other non top tier players.
Ben Olsen remarked at the time of Raphael’s signing that “we aren’t looking for any other number 9″, which is true both symbolically and literally as Rafael has taken Salihi’s jersey number. With that said, you can expect to see Rafael getting a lot of time on the field this year, hopefully occupying the heart locket Olsen wears that previously had a picture of Pajoy in it.
Prediction: It is a rare occasion where a young player comes into MLS in their first year, and lights the league up. We just don’t know enough about him to make an informed opinion. I will wager that coming from the fringes of a lower level Brazilian team does not put you in the best position to light up MLS. I’ll gladly be wrong, but I can see this move being disappointing.
7 goals, 27 appearances
Signed from DC United’s academy, Seaton looks to be a “one for the future” type of signing, similar to Conor Shanosky, who spent all of last year on loan with the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, of the NASL (2nd division). Seaton has represented Jamaica at the U-17 level, but is still eligible to play for the United States as he has dual citizenship. There’s a long way to go until we have to think about that, and Seaton seems like a prime candidate to spend the season in Richmond, getting some experience playing against men in a professional setting.
Prediction: If we see Seaton in RFK, something has probably gone very wrong. Hopefully, Seaton gets some seasoning in Richmond this season, and is in a position to help the team next year.
No appearances for DC United, 4 goals in 16 appearances in Richmond
Its a rare opportunity to profit from institutional racism, but DC United may have done that on Friday. Chivas USA are in the process of trading all non hispanic players from their roster at cut rate prices, and DC United gave them a pallet of Modelo and a 2nd round pick for Townsend. Townsend, who only scored 1 goal last year, is rated highly around the league and was seen to be a steal for DC. He scored 43 goals in 85 appearances at Maryland, home of Sasho Cirovski, occasional United color commentator. At a $77k salary, Townsend fits the role of reserve forward perfectly, and is a sizable upgrade over Long Tan, who was let go following Townsend’s acquisition.
Prediction: I think that Townsend recaptures some of the magic he lost in Los Angeles, and is a solid contributor for DC United. To be fair, not many people scored for Chivas last year, so he was in good/bad company.
5 goals in 17 appearances
When you’re driving down the highway, minding your own business, cruising at the speed of traffic, would you expect to be pulled over? You would not. Tonight, a referee just pulled us over for going 1 mph over the speed limit.
Mark Geiger will say he was following the rules. He was. But in soccer, and in life, being consistent is much more important than being strictly right. Well, unless you’re just a jerk. Or a cop.
Salihi did indeed encroach in the penalty area on De Rosario’s first penalty, but so did Sheanon Williams. As Kyle Martino tweeted, if De Ro had missed that, would Geiger have forced a retake? We’ll never know, but we’ll always know what we think about that.
The red card for Boskovic was another one of those, “Well he DID extend an arm at another player, so…” situations. He CAN give a red there. Should he? No. A yellow is sufficient.
Dudar’s red card was just stupid. He has disappointed consistently this season, and I am hoping that his contract for next year is not guaranteed. His style of play is just not a fit with the team, and his not being in the lineup is not a major problem. What IS a problem is what his absence does to the rest of the lineup.
Jakovic will slide back in the middle (THANKS BE TO BABY JESUS), but that means we get treated to round 2 of the Mike Chabala show. The first episode wasn’t very good, so I don’t think we need to see the second one so soon. Also, Ethan White becomes the only option of the bench in case of injury. We just got really thin, really fast.
In summary, Mark Geiger will probably sleep just fine tonight. He will consult his trusty dogeared rule book, read aloud from its text, and enjoy the smell of his own flatulence. You can be “right” and very wrong all at the same time, and we saw it tonight.
(Edit: I’ll bet he’s related to Matt Geiger, who is burned into my brain as sucking at basketball. Fixed, and thanks)
It has been no secret, I have been in favor of the signing of Branko Boskovic, and have been one of the leading advocates of his inclusion in the starting lineup. I have finally seen the light, and believe that Boskovic is not a fit for United’s style of play, and will be moved on in July when his contract expires.
When Boskovic arrived, no DCU fan had any idea about him, aside from poorly edited Youtube clips and press releases. Those videos showed a poaching midfielder, and a motivated attacking player; aka exactly what DC was missing at the time. The player that arrived in DC was not that player. I have seen a player who I would liken to a less skilled Andrea Pirlo; a deep lying playmaker, looking to play reverse balls and diagonal balls to the wingers. He does not take the initative to attack center backs and drive toward the goal to create his own shots. This may be the result of a crisis in confidence, but the team cannot afford to run Boskovic out on the field until he regains his drive. The current form of Boskovic is like throwing a square tire on a Mustang. He destroys the shape of the midfield, and does not provide the attacking drive that De Rosario brings to the team.
This is not an indictment of Boskovic as a player. I think he will be able to go back to Austria, work his way into form, and excel once again. I just think that his time here is nearing an end, and it will go down as another misidentification of talent by the front office under the Designated Player rule.
The jury is still out on Hamdi Salihi, but some reserve games would do him good, and the MLS Reserve League is too much of a joke to serve the purpose that it provides everywhere else in the world. Hopefully, I won’t have to write this post for the Albanian in the summer. But if I do, I already have the alliterative headline ready… “Arrivederci Albanian Asset”. Needs some work.