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D.C. United Notes and Quotes

*Goalkeeper Louis Crayton says he has fully recovered from a quadriceps injury that he suffered a few minutes into the Carolina Challenge Cup opener and is available to start in Sunday's opener at Los Angeles.

"I consider it a miracle because I should have been out for one or two weeks," he said. "But it only lasted a week and I feel great. We did an MRI and the result said I was going to be out for two weeks."

*Crayton hinted that United is leaning toward a 3-5-2 formation for the opener. Said Bryan Namoff: "Just because there are so many new faces, our ability to stay more compact defensively is better right now in that 3-5-2. During the long run, we might compare to other teams a little bit better with a 4-4-2, but at this point in time, the 3-5-2 position allows us defensively to be a little stronger."

*Fred (hamstring) says he won't play Sunday but hopes to be available for the home opener against Chicago on March 28.

*Santino Quaranta (hamstring) says he doesn't want to take any risks and, in general, hopes to be ready for the third match.

*Namoff has sore ribs, an injury suffered in Charleston, but is set to play Sunday.

Keep reading.....

*GM Dave Kasper says Mamadou "Futty" Danso is exploring USL opportunities and DCU will monitor him closely for future consideration.

*Kasper says the club is still evaluating Dominic Mediate's situation and whether they can fit him onto the senior roster. The only way for that to happen, however, is for a current player to be dropped, which seems unlikely. A resolution is expected in the coming days.

*After training, Francis Doe pulled on a Ben Olsen No. 14 USA national team jersey. "I've got to keep a hold of those," Olsen joked, "because I don't think there are going to be any more."

More later from Olsen, Quaranta and Coach Tom Soehn.....

By Steve Goff  |  March 17, 2009; 2:10 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Next: World Cup, NCAA Style (continued)


Im a big fan of Crayton. Im glad he will be in the starting 11 on Sunday. We need a leader in the back.

Posted by: AnthonyTheGreat | March 17, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks SG. Very informative.

If the choice of a 3412 is due to defensive stability, then I would guess that McTavish and Wallace or Burch will start in the wide midfield positions (making it almost a 532). It would look something like this:

------------------------- Moreno - Emilio
-------------------------------- Gomez
Burch/Wallace - Simms - Olsen/Jacobson - McTavish
--------- Jakovic/Burch - Janicki - Namoff
-------------------------------- Crayton

I don't know whether Soehn would prefer Burch playing in a position that could expose his speed or playing an unpolished rookie in Wallace from the start. I guess part of the decision would rely on whether Jakovic or Burch is the better fit on the left of the back three.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Going defensive on the wings would hurt LA's wide play (like I said in the other thread, this would leave them relying on Donovan to do everything by himself). However, it also hurts our ability to attack their flank defenders, which in my opinion are weak. On the other hand, I think most of our success offensively will come through Moreno, Gomez, and Emilio taking advantage of LA's central defense. Perhaps the idea is to essentially rule the wings out for both teams, and hope that the Magic Triangle III can do better than Donovan alone.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | March 17, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Over/under total goals is 8. I'll take the over.

Posted by: OWNTF | March 17, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

At least the front line picks itself...

I think we may see two rookies on the pitch for the start of the season.


I really hope Janicki lives up to the expectations he created at the end of last season.

No matter what, though, I want Benny Olsenon the pitch - we need that commitment out there from day one, and nobody gives it like 14.

Posted by: TheAMT | March 17, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I think the issue isn't so much going defensive on the wings. I think the issue is that Donovan is great in the open field or with space to run into, less so in tight space. So we're telling our back-3 to stay home.

I don't know if that means Jakovic starts or Janicki starts. Clearly Namoff is on the right. Normally on the left I'd put Burch. I'd rather have Burch at left back than rookie Wallace at this point. The other possibility is to play McTavish at outside mid in the 3-5-2. Not the most typical choice. But he's a hard worker, a veteran, can swap into other roles if we decide to switch formations mid-match and don't forget--he got some early goals last year when he had a chance to move up.

The other thing this probably means is Olsen playing as a holding mid. And that's good because we could always switch to a 442 on the fly with Olsen going wide and the left mid (Wallace, Burch) dropping to left back, creating a 4-man line.

The biggest negative about a lineup with Olsen, Gomez and Moreno is that means you've got 3 guys in there that you don't want to go 90 minutes.

Posted by: JoeW1 | March 17, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Is Kasper aware of the short-term injury replacement option? On BS it's been discussed whether they're hoping to hold onto Mediate as "Benny insurance."

Posted by: Dynaformer | March 17, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Any word on the rally?

Posted by: Reignking | March 17, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

The biggest negative about a lineup with Olsen, Gomez and Moreno is that means you've got 3 guys in there that you don't want to go 90 minutes.

Posted by: JoeW1 | March 17, 2009 2:51 PM

Thats a really good point and I think it leaves Olson out since Jamie and Gomez will be harder to replace.

I'd say its:

Janiki Jankovic Namoff
Simms McT
Burch Gomez Pontius
Moreno Emilio

Olson can come in at the half to provide a spark.

Posted by: laur84 | March 17, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse


I don't think Soehn will ever field a back three where players aren't given very conservative instructions. That's why I think Janicki and Jakovic are more likely to start (at CB and LCB, respectively). That's also why I think we'll have more defensive wide players. When Donovan drops off looking for space, someone from the back three can trail him (compressing that space) knowing that a capable defender should be slotting back in his place. The way to contain Donovan will be through everyone in the back three and all non-Gomez midfielders combining to leave him suffocated.

I don't want to come off endorsing Wallace as a starter over Burch, but in this formation, Wallace's athleticism might trump Burch's experience in that left midfield/left wingback role. It's at least worth a thought. If Burch is out there, I see Arena telling Franklin to come forward as often as possible, since that's a mismatch in terms of speed. However, with Wallace, Klein surely will like his chances to out-think him. It might just be a personal preference; for me, wide midfield in any sort of 352 demands great athletes.

The comments from Namoff, combined with Soehn's precarious position, tell me that we're going to see a conservative approach to our early road games. When I say that, I don't just mean conservative for us (we tend to be more loose than most teams); I mean conservative for anyone in MLS. I doubt Soehn will lose a wink of sleep if we take two ugly, boring 0-0 draws from LA and our next road opponent, RSL.

As for subs, I don't buy Moreno as a guy that needs to come off. Obviously his minutes need to be watched, but I think away, with injured starters, he doesn't come out. He's always been good at conserving energy up front, so I don't think he'll run out of gas in individual games. It's not like Gomez, who has always been a 60 minute player, or Olsen with his ankles. We know those two are only rarely going to play 90 minutes (in Olsen's case, that might be reduced to only the most crucial games, if at all). I predict we'll see Moreno rested for whole games in the summer, but early on I doubt Soehn will bring him off by choice.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | March 17, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Any word on the rally?

Posted by: Reignking | March 17, 2009 3:24 PM

Prepare to cringe...

Would-be 'P.G.' United Fans Rally in Annapolis

Posted by: Kev29 | March 17, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget about Boyzzzzz. In reading the transcript from Saturday's game with Charleston, Kyle indicated that he was having a very productive game. I wouldn't be surprised to see him racking up some minutes while Tino recovers.

Posted by: Jaywag86 | March 17, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I've got…


I'm waiting for United to cut Wicks in favor of signing Mediate as soon as they make sure that Crayton is healthy and that Kocic is qualified as a back up.

Posted by: DCUMD | March 17, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Umm, our defense is a sieve and we're going to play a back 3? Really? With a newcomer in the lone central defender role?

Posted by: Kev29 | March 17, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Burch on the right??? Pontius starting?

Posted by: Reignking | March 17, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

The 3 back line up often means 5 are focused on defending (2 holding mids), and the outside backs seldom get forward. It can be a strong defensive formation with the right guys. It can free up the outside mids to do all the wing play.

It doesn't work if it's uncoordinated and uncomfortable.

"Which will it be" is the early season question.

Posted by: JkR- | March 17, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

After seeing these lineups, maybe I do need to add LD to my fantasy teams.

Posted by: Reignking | March 17, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

The idea of playing three in the back only means that we'll have two additional central midfielders tracking back to assist in defense. Think of the formation more like:


I like that Doe was sporting the USA/Olsen shirt... it makes me wonder whether the Czech fan I traded jerseys with at the World Cup wears his USA/Olsen jersey.

Posted by: TCompton | March 17, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Any word on the rally?

Posted by: Reignking | March 17, 2009 3:24 PM

Prepare to cringe...

Would-be 'P.G.' United Fans Rally in Annapolis

Posted by: Kev29 | March 17, 2009 3:29 PM

I didn't see WJLA there. I did see WRC doing a stand-up shoot from inside the House Rotunda. Unfortunately, most of the fans had already left. The bill wasn't even going to be coming up for discussion for 2 hours, so the Barra loaded their crew back on the bus.

There was a smallish, but spirited turnout. A rally, then a boisterous march through the center of town up to the House entrance. We showed -- and we showed ourselves inside, as the Delegates showed up for the committee meeting. Victor and KP posed with fans. Would have preferred to see more -- I'm guessing we were about 30 people, at most -- but it was a good event. Probably more than the Delegates are used to seeing for most committee events.

Posted by: fischy | March 17, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

60 people? I guess it's possible. Seems on the high side, but I didn't do a head count.

Posted by: fischy | March 17, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

did any opposition show up to counter our cause?

Posted by: Jaywag86 | March 17, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

My hat is off to you and the rest of the crew fischy. I wanted to go, but feared it would have been way too long of an adventure to drag my daughter along for. Still wearing a DCU shirt all day in solidarity:-) Thanks for doing what you can people!
I wouldn't say I'm a *fan* of moving the team to PG but if it's where we gotta be to keep the club in the area, I'll deal.

Posted by: DadRyan | March 17, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I was there as well. 60 sounds about right. I saw one reporter trying to count as we marched, it must've been WJLA. I didn't see any opposition but I overheard one team representative saying they were there. I thought it went well. I know there were quite a few people impressed with us. In fact, many were eager to state as much as we stood inside the rotunda. Cross your fingers everyone.

Posted by: croftonpost | March 17, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

60 people? But how many live in Prince George's Co.? :-)

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 17, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

So did you two hug it out in the rotunda?;-)

Posted by: DadRyan | March 17, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

We may differ in opinion sometimes but we are United in cause! Vamos United!

Posted by: croftonpost | March 17, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse


Back threes are not automatically less defensive. That's why I'm referring to our left-sided defender by "LCB" (left-center back) rather than as a left back. We should be playing it with 3 central defenders, not 1. If Namoff, for example, makes more than one or two runs forward, he's doing something wrong.

That's also why I'm looking at McTavish on the right and Burch or Wallace on the left, rather than Khumalo or Pontius (neither of whom are suited to the role of outside midfield in a 352; the positional demands are much different from a 442). I believe you're going to see a much more defensive posture than we're used to from DCU, even though we've technically reduced the number of defenders.


Your outlook is an interesting counterpoint to mine, considering Donovan is central and by far their most dangerous player. However, if the emphasis is on both central midfielders often jumping in as extra defenders, then I think McTavish has to join Simms in the middle. Olsen having to spend a good chunk of time posing as a center back seems like a poor use of his talents. That's why I'm leaning more towards having defensive wide players who can drop off (with the back three staying home, this leaves very little space to run through).

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | March 17, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I know there are stories this week about the projected productivity loss resulting from the men's NCAA basketball tournament, but I'm experiencing a loss of productivity of my own from monitoring the gamecast of the Arsenal-Hull City FA Cup match:

Come on, you Tigers! :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | March 17, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I suppose Wallace could be intriguing as an old school wingback - but McTavish? I like 3-5-2, but I think it's a bit antiquated for managers these days. I could see Soehn essentially playing 4-3-1-2 on Sunday. So I live your line-up in theory, but don't see it in practice.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 17, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"like" rather than "live"

I'm ready for a Guinness :-)

Posted by: Kev29 | March 17, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

How did old man Barmby score against Arsenal???

Posted by: AnthonyTheGreat | March 17, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

It wouldn't surprise me if Arsenal are tanking this match - now that they have real ambition in the Champions League - and a place for next season's. Poor old FA Cup, ain't what it used to be.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 17, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse


I hear you on the Guinness.

It's not necessarily what I would do (in the other thread, I was saying how I'd prefer a 442 given our personnel), but with Namoff and Crayton both hinting at a 352 of some kind and the improved performance against TFC in Charleston, I think this is the best bet given the formation.

McTavish isn't necessarily the prototype due to his speed, but he's tough, smart enough, a good tackler, and a hard worker. I think being a wingback might actually be his best position.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | March 17, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Hahnemann got another start today...

Posted by: Reignking | March 17, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

And keeping a clean sheet (latest) at Doncaster...

Posted by: Kev29 | March 17, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Nevermind those thoughts on the FA Cup - Arsenal dismissing my cynicism! Wenger will be pleased if/when they avoid a replay.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 17, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Ah well. Hull made a brave show of it the first 70 minutes or so, but couldn't hang on. Final: Arsenal 2, Hull 1.

Posted by: Juan-John | March 17, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Jozy to Levante?

Posted by: Reignking | March 17, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

LA may be more decimated than even creaky old DC.

In addition to Beckham's obvious absence, forwards Edson Buddle and Alan Gordon are trying to overcome injury to play. The backline may consist of Uncle Tony Sanneh and his young nephews: Terps Omar Gonzalez (next to him in central D) and AJ De la Garza (left fullback) and "veteran" 2nd year man Sean Franklin on the right. 1st choice Jamaican keeper Donovan Ricketts is out and should be replaced by A-League vet Josh Saunders.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | March 17, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

I am beginning to tire of stadium opponents who complain that supporters don't live in PG County. As a Montgomery County resident (I probably live closer to Exit 1, I-270 than I-1270Exit 1) any economic growth elsewhere in the state, including PG County, benefits me. This is particularly true given the present economic situation. If the stadium will help provide the growth that the independent study says it will, then I can only urge my state Senator and Delegates to support it.

Posted by: Curious99 | March 17, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Interesting story on NPR tonight on Glendale, AZ. The focus of the story is that Glendale is doing relatively well -- revenues down 10%, compared with 30% or 40% for Tempe and Phoenix -- largely because the small community invested in building big-time sports facilities. And, required the teams to develop the areas around the stadiums into sports and hotel entertainment districts. Kinda what DCU was begging to do at Poplar Point.

The argument was that sports and sports revenue is pretty-much recession-proof.

Posted by: fischy | March 17, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Those who complain about DCU's supporters not living in Prince George's Co are just missing a point that slaps them in the face. If you live near the stadium, you will not spend lots of money in restaurants/bars on game day compared to those who drive/Metro in.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 17, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse


And apparently Chivas is even worse, with 7 guys out and Abel Xavier on trial.

I'll repeat that last part: Abel Xavier. On trial.

It's worth noting that this is the same Chivas team that will be starting Ante Jazic, who was in and out of LA's back four last season. Take a moment to let that sink in.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | March 17, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

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