Ignoring the burning wreckage: part 1
Here's what I'm taking away from D.C. United's 2010 season: Andy Najar looks like the real deal, and Jaime Moreno retired as the MLS all-time leading scorer.
All other memories from this season are getting the Stalin treatment. Juan Manuel Pena has been mentally airbrushed into water and sky. A large flag now stands where Carey Talley once was, and it defends about as well (cheap shot...sorry). Danny Allsopp has been mentally banished to the same island where Trotsky spent his last days, and possibly the only thing keeping him from being actually banished to that island is the fact that I doubt D.C. United would be willing to pay his air fare.
So, let's focus on the future. Now is a good time for that: as I write, it's election day, and Vincent Grey's ability to avoid being caught with a dead woman or a live boy between the Democratic primary and today means that he will surely become the D.C. Mayor (interesting note: you can be caught with a live woman, and be caught doing hard drugs with said woman, and still be elected mayor of D.C.). It's not yet clear where Grey stands on the D.C. United stadium issue, but since United's prospects of getting a stadium under Fenty were effectively zero, there's nowhere to go but up.
"Nowhere to go but up." Pretty much describes the general state of D.C. United right now. And it definitely describes the goalkeeper pool, which I'll focus on today. In later posts I'll break down the defense, midfield, strikers, and -- if I'm not too depressed by then -- the front office.
Troy Perkins 2010 grade: C
It's good to have a crappy job when you're young. It's a great motivator. I worked at Wendy's during high school, and I only had to grill so many Baconators and scrub so many toilets (not necessarily in that order) for me to figure out that I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life. When Troy Perkins became United's starting goalkeeper, he was working part-time at a sporting goods store. He was young, he was hungry...and he was good. He eventually seized the starting goalkeeper spot, earned a nice contract in Norway, and got into the national team picture. Then he returned to United this season, and...well, he wasn't that great. He wasn't terrible, and he played better toward the end of the year, but he really underwhelmed. Something was missing. Did he need the motivating factor that he had during his first stint with United?
If that's the case, then I have good news: the Supercuts near my house is hiring. Shampoo boy, $6.15 an hour. Come on, Troy...take it. I'm in there all the time, I know them -- I could hook you up. You've got the qualifications: you're good with your hands, and you clearly appreciate the aesthetic value of an economical haircut. And sure, the place smells like burnt hair, and some of the customers are real knob jobs (I'm in there all the time), but it could be the motivating factor you need.
In all seriousness, I don't think that motivation was Troy's problem this year. The circumstantial evidence suggests that maybe it was, but that doesn't really mesh with the personality and work habits that we've come to associate with Troy. And he didn't play like an unmotivated player; if anything, he was too aggressive at times. There doesn't always need to be a reason for these things. I think United will bring him back (they don't really have a choice), and I think he'll right the ship. And if he doesn't, then there will be a kid waiting in the wings to take his job (both in soccer and at Supercuts).
Bill Hamid 2010 grade: Incomplete
Bill Hamid was born in late 1990. Feel old yet? He was born after the fall of the Berlin Wall...feel old now? He probably doesn't remember not having e-mail, and Smashing Pumpkins have been past their prime for as long as he's been listening to music. I think I'll drive my Rascal to Old Country Buffet now.
Troy Perkins didn't just lose the starting goalkeeper job this year; it's partly that Bill Hamid took it from him. Hamid obviously has the physical tools to be a dominant 'keeper, and he flasher some serious skill at several points throughout the year. But sporadic playing time and eventually a shoulder injury kept us from being able to track his progress over a long period of time. I liked a lot of what I saw, but I feel like the sample size was too small to make a sound assessment.
There's no question that Hamid is coming back in 2011, and there are a million and one reasons to be optimistic about his future. Assuming his shoulder is healed, he'll challenge for the starting spot again. Maybe I'm naive, but I actually feel pretty good about United's goalkeeping situation going into 2011.
Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Team: the third 'keeper2010 grade: Absent
How weird is it that in MLS you can get a "pool 'keeper" to fill out your roster? United didn't have a third 'keeper at the end of 2010 -- they were just calling Randstad and getting whatever part-time grad student they sent over for $11 an hour. Do you think Mike Shanahan could go for an NFL pool running back right about now? "Hey, Coach Shanahan, tough break about Ryan Torain, but we can have Maurice Clarett over there in an hour as long as long as he can get someone to cover his shift at Sbarro."
Seriously, United should really get someone to fill this spot next year. This is a great slot for a flyer on a player with a high upside. Remember: Bill Hamid was United's third 'keeper not too long ago.
Ahead in part 2: the back line. Funny story: Jed Zayner, who was acquired mid-season and finished the year with two broken ankles, was voted United's top defender of 2010. So that should be a fun breakdown.
| November 3, 2010; 9:23 AM ET
Categories: Jeff Maurer, United | Tags: Jeff Maurer, United
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