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A Few Minutes With Dave Kasper

D.C. United's general manager says the club.....

*Plans to participate in the Charleston Battery tournament in March.
*Is in negotiations with Honduran forward Walter Martinez and, if a deal is worked out, he would come on loan from Marathon. A final determination might take a few weeks.
*Has not offered a new contract to Colombian defender Gonzalo Martinez and will make a final decision soon whether to seek his return.
*Is in discussions with a few foreign defenders and plans to sign one.
*Will monitor oft-injured veteran Ben Olsen in preseason training and see where things stand later in camp.
*Is close to renewing a loan deal with a club in Ghana to retain forward Francis Doe.
*Has exercised the option on midfielder Joe Vide's contract and will include him on the 20-man senior roster.
*Plans to have three goalkeepers in camp (Louis Crayton, Zach Wells and James Thorpe) as well as a possible trialist and a draftee, if the club selects one Thursday.
*Has not ruled out trading the No. 6 or 7 overall picks, but is probably going to end up using both selections.
*Does not plan to bring back midfielder Rod Dyachenko, who wanted to pursue opportunities overseas.
*Midfielders Domenic Mediate and Ryan Miller will be at training camp in an effort to earn senior roster spots.
*Has been in contact with midfielder Andrew Jacobson, last year's draft pick who signed in France, but that he continues to explore European opportunities.

By Steve Goff  |  January 13, 2009; 3:29 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Next: DCU's Status and MLS Notes


Most excellent news all around

Posted by: Josh8 | January 13, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Just wondering, Goff, if you know who initiated the contact with Jacobson. Looking forward to following all these machinations. Hope we can get the defensive help that will allow Kasper to let the other Gonzalo brother go. Clearly, there isn't a position where DCU cannot do better. We need better defenders. We need a young goalie to challenge for the back-up and future starter role. We need scoring up top. And, we need a more effective midfield. Speed is lacking all around. Victor Martinez would be a welcome addition, and it's nice to see Doe back -- but, it can't stop there.

Posted by: fischy | January 13, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Steve, your recent output has more than made up for the long drought with which you left is late last month. Well done!

New York as A-Rod, we have No-Rod.

Posted by: joedoc1 | January 13, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Not sure who initiated Jacobson talks, but he can make a lot more money in the lower leagues in Europe than as an MLS prospect. That said, he has not played many competitive matches since leaving college more than a year ago and is not a bonafide pro at this point.

Posted by: Steve Goff | January 13, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

You continue to make my day, Steven :-)

Posted by: dcufan | January 13, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Great stuff, SG. Some fascinating developments, and I don't think any of this is bad news.

The fact that Gonzalo Martinez is still possibly going to be on the team next year is surprising. With Namoff and Burch re-signing, it's hard to see where Martinez would play. Even a $100K pay cut would leave him making far too much considering his (justifiable) position under Soehn as a 2nd choice defender.

I'm glad to read that we're in talks with multiple defenders, rather than putting all our eggs in one basket. It'll be interesting to see who they are. I'm not surprised that we're not looking within the league for a trade, since that doesn't appear to be a popular method with the current brain trust.

It would be a real surprise if we didn't use both of our draft picks. It seems to me that the club wants to, for once, get some promising young players in that aren't going to bolt for Europe during camp. Being in a position to draft GA players helps prevent this.

Finally, it's good to hear Mediate has recovered from his concussion problems. After Gros, you have to worry about anyone that has a lengthy ordeal with them. I wouldn't be surprised if Mediate fights his way into a spot on the roster as depth for our outside backs, depending on who we draft.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | January 13, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Let the Rod hating begin!

Now you will have to find ANOTHER player to unjustly blame the team's struggles on!

Before Rod it Perkins, or Wells, now we'll have to find a new scapegoat

Vide looks like people could gang up on easy

Posted by: BBFunnyMan | January 13, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

"Does not plan to bring back midfielder Rod Dyachenko, who wanted to pursue opportunities overseas."

Okay, folks: who seriously thinks that Dyachenko has a chance to play in Europe?

(Let me rephrase that: does he really have a chance to play for a first division team in one of the top 25 European leagues, or even a second division team in the top 10 leagues?)

Posted by: SSMD1 | January 13, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I STILL can't concentrate at the office today after seeing that Gourcuff goal. I mean seriously, he shattered some ankles out there.

Posted by: iammrben1 | January 13, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Dyachenko has roots in Russia and the Republic of Georgia. He could end up with a small club somewhere in Eastern Europe.

Posted by: Steve Goff | January 13, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Chest, not sure what Namoff and Burch have to do with Martinez. Burch is outside left (despite his failed play at center way too many times in '08) and Martinez is a much better center back than he is a left back (despite his play there way too often in '08). Namoff is outside right, Martinez can play there in a pinch.
I like the idea of Martinez and Janicki in the middle. I could be easily convinced to like a new guy there too, I just don't feel as poorly about Gonzo as most of y'all.
I like Miller to back up Namoff, seems like another year of reserve games could have really helped him make that jump from Mining School to the pros :-)

Good luck overseas Rod, you're a nice as hell guy, too bad it didn't work out here.

Posted by: dcufan | January 13, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

(Let me rephrase that: does he really have a chance to play for a first division team in one of the top 25 European leagues, or even a second division team in the top 10 leagues?)

Posted by: SSMD1 | January 13, 2009 3:57 PM

Seriously dude, get a life.

Hes gone....LET IT GO

Posted by: BBFunnyMan | January 13, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

So are we loaning out Doe or are we retaining him for a year from a ghanian squad? I thought we had him on a short term contract, not a loan?

Posted by: BolivianDCFan | January 13, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Unjustly? I don't think anyone blamed Rod for the teams struggles, we just pointed out that he blew.

Posted by: CHICO13 | January 13, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse


Martinez wasn't used as a center back from around early June onward. Even when the choice was between him or Burch in the middle, we saw Burch in the middle and Martinez on the left. Martinez even played wide midfield and defensive midfield rather than center back. Namoff and Pat Carroll both started as center backs with Martinez available.

Soehn simply does not see Martinez as a center back, so I think Namoff and Burch have everything to do with Martinez having few opportunities to play. Soehn is not going to use him in the middle at all, and over the last half of the season he was significantly worse as an outside back than Burch and Namoff. He seemed to lose a lot of mental sharpness as the year went on, and his decision making really became a liability. It's unfortunate, because I think his speed, determination, and courage (both in defending and with the ball) were positives.

And yes, Miller came from the Crew. He played a couple CCL games.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | January 13, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

"Does not plan to bring back midfielder Rod Dyachenko, who wanted to pursue opportunities overseas."

Hoo-Effing-Ray! I'm sick of the Inanimate Carbon Rod.

Posted by: DCUinCT | January 13, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

DC Utd should keep Martinez because he's somebody who can read the game, dribble and make something out of nothing. At least he
can play in the midfield should something happen to others who provide creativity for the attack (Moreno, Gallardo, Fred, Guerrero). It would be ideal if every player knows the game but most are just strong athletes who run around like headless chickens listening to what the coach instructs them to do.

Posted by: Charisma_Man | January 13, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I too feel the same way towards G. Martinez in that he was a damn good defender for about 2/3 of the season.

Soehn really opened up a Pandora's Box in regards to Martinez when he decided to move him out of the middle and let him roam as our left back.

While the team got an initial bump of good play, he clearly lost his zeal to defend as the season progressed (and he simply went out on his own, as told to me by McTavish at midseason - "We don't know what he's going to do") and with the injury to Peralta combined with the failed experiment of McTavish/Burch in central defense, Martinez naturally followed suit and began to put on performances that would have made Scott Vermillion proud in sucktitude.

I feel that Soehn abandoned the Peralta/Martinez central pairing way too early (and not long after moving Martinez to the outside, Peralta was essentially done for the year, outside of a few token late season appearances) as the team struggled to take shape.

I distinctly remember the team struggling more offensively at the beginning of the MLS season than at the defensive end and that Soehn simply needed to make a change to for change's sake.

Again, it seemed to work as United had an unbeaten June and early July but then it all fell apart after that (not coincidentally when Soehn decided on the McT/Burch pairing) and it really was too late to reign in Martinez and he eventually found his way to the bench and didn't even get off the bench in the league's most important game of the season, the finally in Columbus.

Bottom line, Martinez can be a useful player for this team if used properly, i.e, in central defense. Once you give him the freedom to roam at either outside back slot, he's a goner and our shape suffers.

Also a factor is his ridiculous salary. Now of course, Martinez would have to take a drastic pay cut just to play with United in 09' as they have already declined to pick up his option (which would have paid him $228,000 in 09'). If United can sign him for a little more than half of that amount, then we've got something to work with, provided they can keep him disciplined.

My guess is that United will not re-sign him due mostly to his indiscipline on the field combined with his pretty decent price tag. It's just too much to gamble on especially when United already has a lot of money wrapped up in Gallardo, Emilio, Benny, Jaime and Fred.

Posted by: ARickey | January 13, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

This is a family site.... Can we watch the language?

Posted by: fischy | January 13, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"Does not plan to bring back midfielder Rod Dyachenko, who wanted to pursue opportunities overseas."

In the Indian League?

Posted by: delantero | January 13, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Martinez has 2 things Peralta did not -- speed and some deftness with the ball. However, he was just as prone to blatant fouls, and was beaten a bit too often. His forays forward produced only one or two goals (one that he scored), and I'd wager cost the team at least as many goals. I'm not sure he's worth it at half his salary from last year. I'm much happier with Namoff. If we could get another Namoff, we'd be set. Thompson has that potential I think -- but what are the chances we might also see Guerrero in that position, if we can get the midfield help?

Posted by: fischy | January 13, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

"Rod Dyachenko, who wanted to pursue opportunities overseas."

Merchant Marines? Flight Attendant?

Posted by: Kev29 | January 13, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Re: Doe

He has always been on loan to MLS

DCU is close to renewing it in order to retain him

Posted by: Steve Goff | January 13, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

i will miss g. martinez for his nhl-style body checks and generally crazy galloping up and down the left flank. i'm not sure what to make of him as a defender. i don't think anybody comes out of last year's defense looking like a champ. it was an absolute circus back there and nobody should escape criticism for that. least of all the coach. i don't think it was just a gonzalo-centric problem, really.

Posted by: stairs | January 13, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

stairs gets my vote for comment of the year -- so far.

Posted by: fischy | January 13, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for droppin' the knowledge Steve. I needed this.
Namoff isn't my favorite but, I think some continuity will be more helpful than losing him and crossing our fingers we'll pick someone up in the draft or wherever. Good to hear that they're looking at defenders overseas. Hopefully someone to really pair with Janicki. Sorry Devon....
All pretty good news.
I gotta say Doe is an animal on my brand spanking new copy of FIFA 09 on the Xbox 360. He seriously makes Emilio look 40:-)
It's kinda ironic that they call him Grandpa, no?

Posted by: DadRyan | January 13, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I always liked Martinez. If you look at it, due to the numerous injuries DC had throughout the 08' season, he was placed in many positions on the backline. I remember early in the season where they talked about moving Martinez to midfield due to his attacking threat. He is a good player if you can find him a solid position and keep him at that position throughout the season. Like everyone else is saying, I do not believe he is going to stay due to the pay-cut. If we were to let go of Martinez, we could use his salary space to bring in 2-3 younger defenders.

Goff wrote that Kasper/DCU "Is in discussions with a few foreign defenders and plans to sign one."

I wonder if DC is back in the front running for Chavez or is talking about someone else?

Posted by: AnthonyTheGreat | January 13, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Hey, funny, Colorado fans have as much respect for Gomez as DC fans have for Rod. Please take him back.... Please.....

Posted by: hacksaw | January 13, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

"After seeing its enforcer, Rod Dyachenko, leave to pursue opportunities overseas, DC United announced that it has reached a loan deal with the Washington Capitals for the services of Donald Brashear..."

Posted by: noptov | January 13, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse


I think you've pretty much nailed what went wrong with Martinez. The idea to put him out wide gave us more flank speed, but once the injuries took hold our attack slowed, Peralta was out, and Martinez apparently decided he had carte blanche. It would have been good to switch back to the Martinez-Peralta pairing once the goals started, but then Peralta went down and I think Soehn didn't trust Martinez in the middle without another Spanish speaker (it seemed throughout the season that Peralta's command of English was a lot better than that of Martinez).

If McTavish's comment to you is indicative of what was going on behind the scenes, I'm not sure how we can bring Martinez back at any price. On any team, on any level, having a defender who doesn't care about the tactical plan is going to be a disaster. Regardless of what lead to it, the fact that Martinez's teammates could no longer rely on him to stick to the plan means a) that he had to be benched, and b) there was a leadership void within the squad. Moreno is a great lead-by-example type, but he's not the kind of guy to put someone in their place. Olsen's absence in that regard was probably a huge factor. If the rest of the team couldn't count on Martinez because he was ignoring Soehn's tactics, someone should have been there to let him have it.


I'm not sure if I'd like to see Guerrero as a regular defender for us. I seem to recall him struggling a bit in Chicago and in San Jose in a similar role (with the Quakes, he was kept out of the left back slot by Eric Denton, which speaks volumes). He's ideally suited as a left midfielder in a 352, but for our largely finesse midfield his fight and work rate are a good fit. After losing Olsen and Gros, our only wide midfielder with any real bite was Quaranta (I don't count Fred and his unfortunate habit of clipping people, since giving away fouls is not really what we need). Barring a really impressive acquisition or draft pick, I think Guerrero will only play in the back after in-game adjustments when we're desperate for a goal.

As for Martinez's impact on the offense, I think he played his part in more than a couple goals simply by throwing the opponent off balance. However, over the course of the season, he was involved in a ton of goals against through being out of position, giving up set pieces needlessly, and holding people onside (he did that at least 3 times that I can remember).

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | January 13, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Martinez had not played left back since his days in Italy almost a decade ago. Not only that he is right footed and as an outside back played on the right not left side. Martinez played LB cause Burch completely was sucking big time and Martinez was the answer for 2/3 of the season.

Martinez came to DC to play as a CB like he was doing in Millonarios, quite well I may add as they reached the semi-finals in Sud-Americana. Martinez played almost the most minutes behind Simms until he was benched, the guy was burnt, he's 33 which makes him old for an outside back. I think if he would have been left at CB last year he would have thrived. Thanks Tommy, now we will never know.

But who would have played LB?

Posted by: francisco_11 | January 13, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks goodness we signed Namoff. The only other defenders we have signed are the ones who can't play defense.

I'm encouraged that Goff says that the FO is as worried about the defense as we are. Let's see who we sign at CB and who we draft to bring along.

Posted by: Towson_Tiger | January 13, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

68 days to United's first game!

I'll give Martinez this much, he was entertaining last year. I enjoyed watching him, in large part, because of he combined good touch/ control with unpredictability. I'll be curious to see how the defense does without him.

Posted by: Curious99 | January 13, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

*Does not plan to bring back midfielder Rod Dyachenko, who wanted to pursue opportunities overseas.

My heart is broken...not. So, if Rod leaves the USA/Canada, will he ever be allowed back in? Because if his passport situation is still FUBAR, let me chip in the first $5 for a flight to any "-stan" on the map.



Posted by: jayrockers | January 13, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Now you will have to find ANOTHER player to unjustly blame the team's struggles on!

Before Rod it Perkins, or Wells, now we'll have to find a new scapegoat

Posted by: BBFunnyMan | January 13, 2009 3:55 PM

Oh! Ye of short memory. Hast thou forgotten the legend that was Davis Stokes? It was always David Stokes.



Posted by: jayrockers | January 13, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Hmm... Why don't I remember seeing all this love for Martinez during the season?

I'm with Chest on this. If Burch, McTavish, Namoff, and Pat Carroll were all used as center backs ahead of Martinez for 80% of the season, it's probably because Martinez performed very poorly in that role during training. For me, he is the more expendable of the two Gonzalos.

Posted by: DCUMD | January 13, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Martinez was good in the middle, IMO, and would have stayed there had Burch been more reliable on the left. Burch has improved, and Zaher looks to be a good backup, so if Gonzalo stays it should only be in the middle - but not at his big salary. Pride won't allow him to take a substantial pay cut, so he'll depart and we will have to trust Janicki, McT (not his best position), draftees, and perhaps the annual foreign Man of Mystery.

Posted by: b18bolo | January 13, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

"Does not plan to bring back midfielder Rod Dyachenko, who wanted to pursue opportunities overseas."

His uncle owns a fishing boat in the Arctic, perhaps?

*15 yard penalty for piling on gladly accepted*

Posted by: Cerealman | January 14, 2009 12:31 AM | Report abuse

I don't think it matters who they sign. They already blew thier signings and realeases by keeping the coach, he is absolute mud. Which really disappoints because I am sick of DC United being average at best. Only Thomas Rongen is worse than Soehn, maybe they will add Rongen as an assistant so they can strive to suck on a greater level. Boo to you Kasper... Boo

Posted by: Dipssince78 | January 14, 2009 1:27 AM | Report abuse


That's not quite what I meant. What I was saying was that Soehn perceived Martinez as an outside back. Training didn't really enter into it that much, in my mind. Soehn moved him wide as an experiment, liked what he saw, and that was that for awhile. Once things went south, I think Martinez's erratic play ruled him out from a central berth, since one would tend to prefer higher levels of consistency in center backs. You can't really play a guy that is doing whatever he wants as a center back (then again, you can't really play someone doing that anywhere, but I suppose with our other defenders even someone totally unpredictable can't be ruled out).

I also think that francisco_11's point about him being worn out is at least somewhat involved here. Martinez logged a ton of minutes, and his style of play involved a lot of running and a lot of physical challenges. It's a tough way to play. For a 33 year old, playing his style and traveling the distances required last year, it was asking an awful lot to be used so often. However, that's even more justification for not bringing him back. He's not going to change his way of playing, and barring a horrible embarrassment in the CCL qualifiers, we're looking at 40+ games once again.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | January 14, 2009 1:51 AM | Report abuse

If francisco 11 is right -- if Martinez was played out of position, I owe him almost a season's worth of apologies. His only way of defending on the outside seemed to be to throw the hockey-style hip checks stairs commented on.

Perhaps, he would do better in the center, or at right back. I'm sure Tommy put him on the outside because he had better ball skills, and more speed, even at 33, than the rest of the back line, except for Namoff. With that thought in mind, if DCU could find someone else reliable to play left back, I might be willing to give Martinez another chance on the right side, or at CB.

Posted by: fischy | January 14, 2009 2:53 AM | Report abuse

Does not plan to bring back midfielder Rod Dyachenko, who wanted to pursue opportunities overseas.

What will all those fans with their own customized Dyachenko DCU jerseys do now?

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | January 14, 2009 3:35 AM | Report abuse

My view is that if we play 4 defenders, 2 of them have to have guns to be able to take turns on an ocassional attack.
I've liked Milton Reyes, Martinez, and John Wilson for this reason. It's part of the game. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But when it doesn't work and costs us a goal, it's not because the defender went forward. It's because the d-Mid and other defenders couldn't get the job done alone. It's a team effort, and team culpability. Blaming the wing defender is like shooting the messenger.

Posted by: dsheon | January 14, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Should be interesting to see how those three midfielders stack up in training... Olsen with a bum ankle, Mediate with a bruised brain, and unproven Miller...

Posted by: Dynaformer | January 14, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"Does not plan to bring back midfielder Rod Dyachenko, who wanted to pursue opportunities overseas."

Celebrate good times,come on! (Let's celebrate)
Celebrate good times, come on! (Let's celebrate)

"Dyachenko has roots in Russia and the Republic of Georgia. He could end up with a small club somewhere in Eastern Europe."

If by small club you mean a nightclub; that's the only way that statement makes sense.

Posted by: redskinsux | January 15, 2009 3:14 AM | Report abuse

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