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United at Crossroads?

With D.C. United in danger of missing the MLS playoffs for the second straight year and facing a big challenge to advance in the CONCACAF Champions League, chief investor Will Chang might be preparing to shake up things this winter. Remember this open letter to fans after last season? (Who's that MacFarlane guy who co-wrote it?)

Some key excerpts:

"Another repeat of last year's performance on the pitch is not an acceptable outcome. And we don't expect it again."
"Kevin [Payne] will also assist in the oversight of the team operations, provide his advice and be part of the decision-making process on player selection and other aspects of that area of our business. However, the primary responsibility and accountability will be with General Manager Dave Kasper, who will also report directly to us. Tommy [Soehn] remains the coach of the team."
"We are in a very competitive business, and we have high standards for ourselves. Our job is to ensure we achieve those standards by setting clear expectations and ensuring that we hold everyone accountable for these agreed upon goals and objectives. If these are not met to our satisfaction, we will take what ever action is necessary to achieve those goals."

Based on those statements -- and the presumption that Chang will stand by them, to some extent -- what do you think should happen this offseason if DCU does not make the playoffs and/or Champions League quarterfinals?

By Steve Goff  |  October 9, 2009; 10:35 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Soehn has to go.
He's lost the team.
Maybe they should hire a "Consultant"?

Posted by: ussccr | October 9, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

If we don't make the playoffs, Soehn is clearly gone, and Kasper needs to go too. The team is going the wrong direction and has been since we won the Shield, but lost in the playoffs to NE.

Keeping these two around is tantamount to accepting failure.

Posted by: delantero | October 9, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Coach has lost the team. In fact, some of the team is missing well and truly. It used to be that at home games all the guys were dressed and watched the game. Now we don't see guys for weeks on end. Never give an offensive team to a defensive player. Mark Simpson has done a good job. Coach's assistant looked good when he had to take over. Coach seems clueless.

Posted by: VirginiaFan | October 9, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Meaningless benchmarks (making the MLS playoffs) should have absolutely zero effect on the team's approach. A magical run to a league championship would perhaps be a different matter.

Last offseason, rebuilding from the devastation of 2007-08 began, and *some* hard lessons were put into practice. Major payroll was shed and *some* smart on-field investments were made. We did see incremental improvement in the product.

Unfortunately, some of the "win now" petulance remained, and there were more hard lessons to be learned in 2009.

Clearly a few high-dollar veteran athletes and desperation minor-league additions to the roster need to be shed, with prejudice and without hesitation. This will position the club to make major moves (on and off-field) *if and when* those opportunities arise.

Otherwise, continue the incremental rebuilding and show a little patience. Any good investment needs time to pay off.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | October 9, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

bring Richie Williams home!

Posted by: GraciasRiquelme | October 9, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

In the worst possible timing, I just returned from a trip to England to find my Season Ticket Renewal bill in the mail. My DCU seats will cost one and a half times my Man Utd tickets. There had better be some changes or this long-term season ticket holder may change her mind about renewing.

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | October 9, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Same as I said last year and 2 years ago: we are not going anywhere with this coach. RFK is no longer feared. Team chemistry is gone. Coach is not up to par for this level of game. Bring in a coach from overseas to start over from scratch. We should have grabbed Arena back when available, but missed that boat. I dont think any of the other good MLS cloaches are available, so we should look abroad. Is Bora still around?

Posted by: juanma_carr | October 9, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Curt Onalfo brought the Wizards to the playoffs two years in a row after they didn't make it two years in a row. Not many coaches can say that. Give him a real stadium (or at least RFK) and a desirable club where players want to live/play and you have the recipe for success. Tommy just doesn't seem to have much energy and fails to impress me. Onalfo has charisma and also speaks fluent Spanish - a big deal in this league, and this world, for that matter.

After you get the right coach in place, I think it's time to start looking for key players with the fitness and pace to DEFEND and attack. The days of a #10 that can't play both ways are gone in this league.

Posted by: getanewnumber10 | October 9, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

It begins at the top...
-Soehn needs to be let go (tactics haven't worked)
-As much as I love Jamie, he should retire and join the staff in some capacity.
-Jettison Emilio...he's done all right, but nothing to earn the contract he has.
-It might be time to let Gomez go as well.
We need to start fresh...I hate to say rebuilding, but there is a good core of young's time to trust them and let them run and see what happens...
-Should Benny stay, awesome, if he decides that it's time, he needs to be on the sidelines with the team.

Again, it's an opinion, but this club has too much rich history to not succeed at every level.

Posted by: United008 | October 9, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: nairbsod | October 9, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Standin' at the crossroads, risin' sun goin' down
Standin' at the crossroads baby, the risin' sun goin' down
I believe to my soul now, po' Bob is sinkin' down.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 9, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Goff,

Way to hang the "red meat" out here. Clearly a "shake up" is in order. As I commented near the beginning of the season we are "ordinary" and that hasn't changed. Also, we are not fun to watch, a bigger sin. I think Wil Chang has been struggling to decide on what he wants to do with his investment, particularly since he can't seem to make any headway on the stadium front, and that has impacted the team more than we know. For fans, it seems unfathomable that he would move the team but I think it is either that or selling it before anything radical happens on the personnel front.Pouring big money (which is what it would take to turn this team around - new coach and many new players-) into an investment that just isn't returning what it should, is just not something an investor will do forever. Think about it, we have been talking about a new stadium for nigh onto 15 years.
Its the same situation as in NE, where they just manage to hang on and also are waiting for a stadium.
I suspect that these days Mr. Chang may be thinking it is time for him to play in a different sandbox, because with league expansion, it sure isn't going to get easier finding cheap/good players.
Could be completely wrong but I sure wouldn't blame him. He is a great owner and deserves better than he is getting.

Posted by: Ruthie1 | October 9, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Really good article about Ted Leonsis and his philosophy on what it took to build a championship team. It's not about bringing in big names, but building up good, young talent from the ground up. Perhaps the leadership of DCU could take a few lessons. He certainly has done something right with the Caps.

Posted by: HarkesyRules | October 9, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Who is Jamie?

Posted by: Reignking | October 9, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse


Patience is not the answer. I suppose in 2003 you were saying the same thing about Ray Hudson. To be quite frank the team has gotten regressed since 2007. After three seasons Soehn's teams have gotten progressivley worse. There was an excuse last year because of all the injuries and high turnover, but this year you can clearly see that Soehn has issues managing this team during games and between games. He is constantly shuffling lineups, playing favorites (benching Szetela and playing Burch are examples), and makes no in game adjustments (subs or tactically) to improve play over the course of the game. How can anyone be patient with someone who is not improving the team? Also management needs to shed some payroll. Jaime should retire, Emelio should be dropped because of form, as well as Fred and Gomez. We cannot keep relying on 4 guys that take up most of the payroll and do not produce.

I would fire Soehn and hire Dave Sacharan. I would give Payne and co. one more year in the front office because of last year's draft, Jakovic's signing, and his previous track record. However I would let them know that they are on a short leash.

Also I would allow Cronin and Kocic to battle for the keeper postion. Draft a forward/striker in the mold of Zakuani. Sign a creative MF and another forward with the money saved from cutting the old regime of players (Moreno, Gomez, Fred, and Emelio). Hopefully that could be done with a DP allocation and possibly a trade(for example someone like Edson Buddle). I really think that Sacharan's conservative track record and understanding of the league would improve consistency and the defense.

Posted by: no_recess | October 9, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Even if DCU makes the playoffs and moves forward in the champions league they must do the following to be competitive next year:
1. Fire Soen;
2. Hire a coach that can bring the team together and put the players on the same page;
3. Fire any player that poses naked (especially when the team is as bad as they have been this and last year, it just shows how serious the players are taking this season, they are pathetic and have turned the beautiful game into a bunch of garbage);
4. Acquire a #10 that is below 30 years of age and can play offense and defense (perhaps use this as the DP spot);
5. Get rid of Gomez, Fred, and Emilio;
6. Seriously consider getting rid of Jamie and Olsen (as sad as it may be);
7. Use what ever draft pick we get wisely;
8. Find another defender that is as good as that Canadian;
9. Force drill after drill that creates chances on goal;
10. Fix the fitness issues.

Posted by: TheDane1 | October 9, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Oh, you mean we should replace all of our players, coaches, and staff with better ones so we never lose another game? Gee, why hasn't anyone else thought of that????

If you make moves just to make them, or you're feeling around for moves that just aren't there, or that you're just not in position to make, or to appease a whiny fan base, you end up EXACTLY where DCU is now. One step forward, 20 steps back.

Make the right moves, one at a time. Use your head, don't lose your head. It's the only way.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | October 9, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Assuming things go as expected the rest of the way, here's what I think will happen.

Soehn and Kasper will be gone.

The top-heavy part of our roster will all be gone or a couple will remain if they agree to be much lower-priced substitutions. We're paying our 5 most expensive players almost $1.5M of our $2.3 salary cap, and not one can go 90 minutes consistently. That has to change.

We have a lot of good pieces of the puzzle set. We don't need to blow up the whole team, but we do need to get younger and faster.

Posted by: mmathai1 | October 9, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

1. If DCU fails to make the MLS playoffs and the CL semis (not quarters, semis) than Soehn is gone. Quarters in CL vs. a USOC Championship--to me that's about a tossup and no MLS playoffs with a USOC championship were unacceptable last year.

2. All coaches have some players who they bring out the best in and others where it's less of a fit. Nowak and Brian Carroll--what a pair! I don't know if Emilio is simply less of a player or he and Soehn aren't a good fit. Some coaches simply don't seem to push the right buttons or use particular players in a way that builds their confidence. I'm afraid that Soehn probably falls into this category. I won't argue we're the most talented team in the league plus age and injuries have degraded our talent this year. But we're not among the bottom 3-4 in terms of talent--good lord no!

3. I'm not so quick to throw Kasper and Payne under the bus. Payne has been admirable at a lot of what he directly controls (the budget and establishment of the filming of games outside of MLS to give our scout(s) a head start, buying home advantage for USOC, trying to appeal to pride as a motivating factor, looking for ways to stockpile allocation money).

4. I think the world of Ted Leonis. But let's stop making references to him. In the NHL, you can acquire the best young player in the world. And then use the draft and your developmental system to build a great team over time. The soccer equivalent would be for DCU to sign Lionel Messi and then relying solely on draft choices and our reserve squad, build a championship team. I don't see that happening in MLS for at least another 15 years--that's how far the youth and former reserve teams need to go. The Caps model doesn't directly translate to a league where none of the world's 100 best soccer players would play here now. We can't even keep many of the best Americans (Friedel, Howard, etc.) let along sign the best promising youth talent. That's not a complaint, only a point that I cheer on the Caps but I draw the line at saying "let's have Leonsis as an owner" or "let's follow their strategy." We actually did--back when we dumped our high-priced vets for draft choices and went for Zaidie, Nellie, Lisi, Quaranta, etc.

Posted by: JoeW1 | October 9, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Regardless of how the season finishes, I would like a new coach. Tommy is a perfectly serviceable manager, but so are a ton of other ex-players. We need someone special, a cut above the rest; and most importantly, attack minded.

I think the front office has done an excellent job. We have one of the top teams in the league talent wise and it's a shame we couldn't have done more with it, both this year and last. You take a long look at our roster and prior aquisitions, and there is only one or two blemishes (gomez for gallardo was a joke, but we we're never giving christian DP money and we kind of became a victim of the DP slot after losing veron).

Posted by: The_Dude_Abides1 | October 9, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Hey Chest,

Are you planning on attending a BINGO game anytime soon?

If so, bring your cell phone.

Posted by: joedoc1 | October 9, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

"It begins at the top...
-Soehn needs to be let go...."

Actually, Soehn isn't the top. If it begins at the top, then Kasper is on the line.

As for Soehn, you can be sure he will be let go. Kasper needs to show he's found a problem and that he's taking steps. I find it funny that people keep calling for Soehn's head, as if they think they're bringing pressure on the FO to do something they won't do on their own. There isn't any real possibility that DCU would bring him back.

The players are another matter. I could list a couple of players that absolutely should not be renewed (Fred and Emilio) and some that are probably a wee bit past their expiration date - but, the truth is DCU cannot just get rid of players and suddenly field a competitive team.

The last go-around, when they tried to remake the roster, they brought in people recommended by their mothers...a bunch of second-division or second-team lifers..and a clearly second-choice DP. We can talk about the need to get rid of this guy or that, but the real question is which players will DCU bring in to raise the level of the roster? Where will they find these new players? What will they offer that the the aging vets or the last crop of misfits did not? United cannot win with its current lineup -- that's for sure. I just don't have a lot of confidence in the FO to get a whole new crew of players who will win.

Posted by: fischy | October 9, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

The latest from our Insider colleague:

Posted by: joedoc1 | October 9, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty much in agreement with Matt Mathai.

This team is both poorly assembled and poorly motivated. In my mind that falls directly on Kasper and Soehn.

United has a core of 5 or 6 good young players and a couple of good veterans.

Outside of that group, including our top 5 money players, United needs to send them on their way. Two players, Jaime and Ben need to be given a gracious exit because of their terrific service to the club.

This team is too old, too slow and can't last 90 minutes. And as someone said, a meaningless benchmark like making the playoffs does not make up for the steady decline this team has shown under Soehn's leadership.

Posted by: dcufan53 | October 9, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

The process has already begun. There is talent here - not a lot, but some solid players to build on like Szetela, Pontius, Wallace, Jakovic. Assuming DCU can keep those guys and add some more quality youg talent, things will continue to improve.
There are guys who must be cut loose, as their days of admirable service to the team are in the past. This list would probably include Fred and Gomez. Olsen will have to be looked at harshly also.
Moreno, I think, is one who should stay - he can still change a game for a half hour or so.
The team must also look at a new leadership group. I mean coaching....from Soehn to Simpson to Ashton. It is not working. We all know that. But the question is who is out there as a replacement that can continue to push the franchise forward. I have no idea.
This ship is far from sunk. There is a slight list but the leaks are being patched and they are almost ready to commence full speed ops again. All is not lost but they need to keep making the hard decisions to move forward.

Posted by: marksman37 | October 9, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, joe. I had no idea one of our own was going through that. My prayers be with you. If you ever get that team together let me know. I'd be delighted to support.

Posted by: fischy | October 9, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Our problems started when Brian Carroll left us. We were always with a strong holding midfielder. If our midfield is strong it strenghtens the other two lines. In a word or two, no one is feeding our front line. Lately coach has been starting two holding mids and two wing mids. No one is feeding the fellows up front. Christian tries. Jaime tries. Coach has worn our team out. They didn't even look enthusiastic for the big jump they made for the magazine. He has had numerous guys who came and helped patch up the team. He should have kept Joe Vide. Clyde is still hurting, or plays like it. We saw him at a Freedom game and he could barely walk. The Riverhound has sucked since he first came. I am almost 70 and I think I might be able to keep up with him in a sprint. Our team got ripped apart so we could accomodate Argentine's Beckham - Gallardo. He was a lazy bum as far as I could tell, and took the team down with him. Everyone had to serve him. That is where Emilio and Fred started getting hurt. Give the guys a chance that we have on the roster. Danny S and Andrew Jacobsen were great as co-holding mids. They passed the ball up to the forwards. Clyde, Ben, Tino, and Chris P don't. I agree with the fellow who said "Bring Richie Williams home."

Posted by: VirginiaFan | October 9, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I think it's a foregone conclusion that Soehn is going to be fired. Kasper, I don't know. This year they actually brought in some good players and did well in the draft, which had been a major complaint. The problem now is hanging on to the dead wood too long.

I figure a lot of players will be let go, and there will be a lot of salary cap space to play around with. It will be tricky, though. You can't just bring in a bunch of new players and expect to win - just look at what happened last year.

Posted by: Senor_Funk | October 9, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I think Soehn is on his way out of town. And I think he'll be able to carpool with Emilio, Gomez, and Fred.

It should be an interesting off-season for United; that's a lot of roster spots/cap space to fill.

Posted by: jsm91 | October 9, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

There is no question about Soehn's fate. Bringing him back for another year last year was a colossal blunder and it should absolutely not be repeated. If he returns, I will not.

As for Kasper, I think he too needs to go. Not all of his moves have not been bad, but for every good acquisition there have been 2-3 poor ones. That's simply not good enough for the "most storied" franchise in this league.

Payne - this is a tough one. He seems to have lost his once-golden touch. I think he can get it back but only if his heart is truly in it. He needs to be honest with himself and the team, if he's not up to the task anymore, he should voluntarily step aside.

Players - a housecleaning is badly needed. I would release every 30+ player except Olsen. Persuade/cajole Moreno to stay on as an assistant.

New manager - needs to be a stern disciplinarian and taskmaster as the 2010 edition of this team will be very young. He will need to teach these guys not just how be sound technically and play like a team, but be professional footballers first and foremost. That means no gettin' nekkid on the pitch, or any other notorious publicity stunts that call attention to a team that right now is near the bottom of a very mediocre league.

Posted by: cmjhawk86 | October 9, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Honestly making a few changes (3-4) is not gutting your roster. Emelio makes around 750K. Is he worth it? No! Fred makes around 275K. Is he worth it? No! Moreno is worth his weight in gold, but he has awful form all season needs to retire. Gomez falls in the same category as Emelio and Fred.

Soehn does not and has not ever impressed me. I can't stand the guy and I really think that this job is over his head. He has had three season and still has a losing record. I do not think that is an opinion of a whiny fan. This team has flat out stunk when he is in charge. It is an absolute embarassment not to make the playoffs two years in a row and to lose the US Open Cup to an expansion team.

So bascially getting rid of Soehn and trimming some fat from the roster makes sense. You can save around 1.5 million in cap space. We have a good nucleus with: Quaranta, Pontius, Jakovic, Namoff, Simms, and Wallace. I just think we need a play maker and a speedy forward to make things work.

Posted by: no_recess | October 9, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

At least protecting the players they want to keep won't be a problem in the expansion draft.

Posted by: seahawkdad | October 9, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Fire Soehn, new coach, Benny assistant coach.

Get a new goalie (a good one this time)

Get Two good defenders to go with Namoff and Jakovic (keep James in reserve)

Simms and Szetela in the middle

Quaranta and Wallace wings

Pontius up top, Jaime off the bench.

By anyone's standard, heads need to roll, but keep the young core.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | October 9, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm not saying anything new, but they need to get younger and faster. They don't need the high priced "name" because the fan base is strong and smart. There are good young players like Tino, Wallace, Pontius, Jackovic, and Wicks (when he's not stomping on people); just bring in more like that and maybe a veteran finisher (not Emilio).

Posted by: wmsiii | October 9, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Kaspar is not the problem. Our draft this year was great. He's historically done a great job of finding servicable players at bargain prices. And he's hit a couple home runs with big signings.

Soehn is terrible, and has been since his first year taking over.

Some of our players will have to go. And it's been mentioned several times that the higher salaried ones are not producing at a commensurate level. So that makes sense.

We'll enter the season looking for a central defender and possibly a left defender. We'll be looking for an attacking mid. And most importantly we'll be looking 1 target forward.

We'll still be starting Wicks, Jakovic, Namoff, Simms, Pontius, Wallace, and Tino and maybe Burch.

Posted by: Matte | October 9, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I meant to say "we'll enter the OFF-season looking for ...".

Anyway, the attacking mid and the forward positions are the hardest to fill in soccer. So we'll be lucky to get an effective player in one of those 2 this off-season. Probably looking at another tough year next year.

Posted by: Matte | October 9, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Can't blame this year's mess on Kasper. Not after they drafted Wallace and Pontius. The problem with DC United is coaching. Tom Soehn is simply not a very good coach. From his need to keep players in the doghouse to his lack of a consistent lineup all season, he's demonstrated that he just doesn't have what it takes. Say what you want about Peter Novak, at least he had his players ready to play 90 minutes each week.

Posted by: tundey | October 9, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Do whatever Chest is about to say.

Posted by: OWNTF | October 9, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

what year did the caps win the cup? and have they been consistant since that year? I am sure all of us don't want just another 1 hit wonder, we want to challenge for the cup every year.

Posted by: Norteno4life | October 9, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

As I have been writing since last year, Soehn's and Kasper's responsibilty is joint for the demise of this team. It didn't start this year or even last year. It goes back to late 2006 with the import of Argies Erpen and Donnet.

Ever since, Kasper and Soehn have worked as a team and made far too many terrible decisions, ranging from deciding to expose BC to the SJ expansion draft (which, by the way, was fueled by Kasper's ego since he always claimed to have "discovered" Clyde Simms and therefore moved to eliminate Clyde's competetion for a spot in the first 11 by off-loading BC) to the groups of players who have disgraced the honor of this organization and those who have worked since 1996 to build it that inlcuded Los Dos Gonzalos, Orange Julius, wing-nut Wicks who brought more embarrassment than anyone ever.

If Will splits the baby by firing Soehn and keeping Kasper, DCU will be plagued by more of the same terrible personnel decisions and no coach hired to replace the brown-shirt Soehn will be in the best position to clean this mess up.

Posted by: lgm6986 | October 9, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Time for a new coach and a generational shift. There is a lot to build on with Jakovic, Wallace, Pontius and Quaranta...not to mention Simms and Namoff.

Jaime is certainly still effective, though no longer a 90-minute player. But I cannot see DCU holding on to Emilio, Olsen, Fred or Gomez given their salaries.

Posted by: teo_68 | October 9, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Payne = part owner. Not going anywhere.

Posted by: vivzig | October 9, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

@VirginiaFan: Gallardo was injured. He was most definitely not a lazy bum. Look on YouTube for a tribute video to him that was just created. You will be shocked at the number of times he served up perfect passes on a platter only to have Emilio, Fred, Moreno, Quaranta, et al completely botch easy finishes. Trust me, the problem was not his.

Posted by: mmathai1 | October 9, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

There were two fundamental issues this year, over and above the arduous scheudle. However, other teams [e.g., Houston] have arduous schedules and work through them.

We had crippling injuries, the most important of which was to the most underrated player in the League--Brian Namoff. When he went down, our very reasonable chances to qualify in both events went with him. Second, our dependence on Fred and Emilio, two guys who don't deliver when the chips are down, has become our Achilles heel, especially when combined with injuries.

I suppose Soehn has to walk the plank, but the real failure here is the personnel issue. It goes back to a few years ago when we traded Gomez, in order to get the supposed winning South American solution. That "solution" failed. The parties responsible for that failed strategy are the ones who should be going, and that failure lies above the rank of Coach Soehn.

Posted by: bobango | October 9, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Is this really a question from you Goff?

Obviously if the team doesn't make the playoffs Soehn, Gomez, Emilio, and maybe Moreno and Olseon won't be coming back.

Among others who probably won't be wearing a DCU jersey next year (Hamburgesa, Wicks, Allen, etc.)

That may also be the case for Kasper.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | October 9, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Fire Soehn or I'm boycotting the team (sad to say but true)

Posted by: zizou1972 | October 9, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Duh, how could I forget about Fred, too? He's obviously gone.

Now that I think about it, it's pretty easily understandable why I forgot about Fred. It's because he doesn't do anything other than score a random goal and show all of us how much he loves a carpenter from the Middle East.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | October 9, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Fred, Emilio, Donnet, Filomeno, Erpen, Veron, Gallardo, Los Dos Gonzalos: they're all products of Kasper's venture know as The South American Boondoggle and Import Company. A relationship between him and an agent in BA which has its roots in a personal relationship has resulted in a colossal waste of DCU's time and money, and handsomely padded the frequent-flyer accounts of both him and Soehn.

Posted by: lgm6986 | October 9, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Send all of DCU's problems to Baltimore!

Posted by: ImWithStupid | October 9, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

anyone have an opinion on paul mariner or john spencer as the next coach?

Posted by: birdynumnum | October 9, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

The truth of the matter is that wholesale changes are in order if DCU is ever going to get back to the team that we all respected and admired (past tense is very appropriate), We need a new coach, no doubt about this one, anybody would be better than Mr Soehn, next, Jaime Moreno has to retire, you have to play 90 minutes in this league, he had a great run, time to go, maybe coach? also say goodbye to Emilio, Fred, (overrated) Gomez, Olsen, and as far as the young guys, I don't know what people see in Jakovic, he's awful, he cost DCU the first CL game and the US OPen cup final against Seattle, Clyde Simms is another, very overrated and an awful passer. Team building is the way to go, it will take a while but we have no other choice, and one final thing, if we get invited to play in CL, we should play the best players against international opposition, not the reserves, what this league needs is international results, not failure.

Posted by: aim19541 | October 9, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

United would be much better off had we hung on to Donnet and Filomeno.

United players posing nude for ESPN the magazine (back in JULY) has absolutely NOTHING to do with how the team has done, or how seriously the players take the team.

Posted by: alecw81 | October 9, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

1. It's convenient to say "can Emilio" but it's not that simple. Is he that limited as a player? Or is he the guy who showed so well when he first came from Honduras, making tremendous runs off the ball, working his butt off? Is he mediocre? Or is Soehn unable to bring out the best in him? Recall how Arena got Lassiter to become a force? That wasn't just being paired with Etcheverry that did that--Arena knew how to push the right buttons in that case.

2. I've been thinking about this and I think my first choice (if I could have anyone) as the new coach of DCU, it would be Bruce Arena. But LAG won't let him go. So my second choice would be....Richie Williams. Not attractive to a lot of people who says things like Marco or Jaime or Benny. But here's what ABMOD brings:
--real knowledge of MLS from a coach's perspective (not the same as being a player). He's got a pretty good sense of the referees, other team's tactics and coaches, evaluates other players, has seen who he could and couldn't reach.
--long-time assistant coach.
--head coach twice
--was a head coach in two really sucky situations that should have resulted in failure (replacing MoJo with a terrible team and everyone knew he was going to be replaced by Arena in a couple of months--talk about being a caretaker! and then this year where the official word is "of course he's a candidate" but already that team is talking about bringing in an Austrian GM/Director and rumors of hiring Carlos Quieroz). And yet he immediately righted the sinking ship and got respectable play. Let's face it folks, I wouldn't take more than about 5 players off of the current RedBulls roster yet they're playing better soccer than we are right now--much better soccer.
--ties to the DCU tradition and glory (not critical but it's a nice thing to have in a new coach).

Posted by: JoeW1 | October 9, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The Norwegian Football Federation announced today that our new coach wins the 2010 Coach Prize for being not Tom Soehn.

Posted by: dccal | October 9, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse


I promise it would be a spectacular disaster, rather than the slow burn we're on now.


This might end up in two parts. Apologies in advance.

I have been thinking about this letter from Chang and MacFarlane an awful lot since the loss against Chivas. I suppose we'll find out a lot about Chang this offseason, because taking that letter at face value, he will be obliged to make major changes. It's great that he's likable and interacts with the fans, but I think we'd all agree that the real test is shaking the club out of what's now a 2 1/2 year malaise.

In my personal opinion, the biggest problem with DCU right now is not our offense, or even our overall team speed. It's mental. We have had too many games in which we come out flat, and even when we play well there's always the nagging suspicion that we're just one moment of unfocused play away from ruining all of our good work to that point in the game. Peter Nowak used to bring up "mentality" in every interview, because he knew what Johan Cruyff once said was true: Soccer is a game you play with your brain. Obviously you have to have certain physical traits and skills, but ultimately it is a game about analyzing what's happening and making decisions. Everything else you can show on the field (skill, athleticism, etc) is based on making the right decision over and over again.

Right now, DCU has far too many instances of either someone making the wrong decision or taking too long to make any decision. The former is pretty cut and dry; make poor decisions too consistently, and it's clear that you're just not smart enough (in soccer terms) to play at this level. This is where guys like Fred and Janicki come in. In the latter category, you have a multitude of problems: Players with low confidence in themselves or in their teammates, and a lack of will to take responsibility for what's going on in a given game. This problem tends to build on itself, and can spread quickly. Right now, it's inhibiting every player on the team bar possibly Quaranta (who, whether he plays well or poorly, is always willing to take the game on his shoulders and always seems truly hurt when we lose).

When you have a team struggling mentally, obviously your first look is to the person in charge of sharpening their mental side, and for us that's Soehn. It appears that the players are not totally committed to him or the ideas he espouses, and it also has to be said that he doesn't seem to have too many ideas on how to change it. Soehn has been slaughtered here and elsewhere for things he has no control over, and has also not gotten credit when he deserved it. However, the fact is that this year's team was more MLS-ready (more athletes, more Americans) and the results are almost exactly the same. No United head coach has been at the helm for more than 3 years, and I don't think that's about to change.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | October 9, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the information, Joe, as I had no idea. Like fischy said, my prayers and best wishes. I would also love to support this squad.

Posted by: Kosh2 | October 9, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse


I think you are under estimating team speed. Look at Seatle for instance. They have Zakuani and Montero and those two gave United fits the last time we played them. Currently the only two players we have with speed are Khumalo and Wallace. I do not think that it is a coincidence that the team's play fell of so much when Khumalo went down. Also if you recall before Jaime's back injury his speed made him unstoppable.

I really do not think it is totally up to a coach to motivate the team. Players are professional at this point and they do not need a motivational speech every five minutes. However you are right about the overall mentality of the team. You can see the lack of confidence in their posture and facial expressions.

Posted by: no_recess | October 9, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Chest, I'd argue that the results this year aren't quite the same. In theory (or from a distance) they're the same. But if you had to evaluate this year's DCU team, the summary would be:
--unable to finish games off. Didn't win when we should have. Gave up points when we shouldn't have. Thus--all the ties. We didn't get those from a failure to score or a key player being down or playing defensively. We found ways to turn 3 points into 1 point. That's a sloppiness issue and that's very much about coaching, much more than it is about talent selection.
--at a time when we really needed to play well we've instead played our worst. Let's face it, all year, even when we were hurting or in bad form, people didn't beat us at RFK. Even when we had a draw, in most cases we outplayed the opposition. Last 5 games of the season, 4 at home and there is a very good chance we lose all 5. And only Columbus is a team in fine form. And we've looked the worst we've looked all year (for consecutive games). I want a team that plays consistently good. But if a coach can get a team ready for important matches or tanks the early part of the season and international matches in order to peak at the right time (ala Nicol and NE some years), well, I don't like it but I understand the strategy. But what's been galling about this year was at the time we needed to put the pedal to the metal (instead of maintaining status quo) we have instead driven in the wrong direction. That's a very damning indictment of Soehn.

Injuries I could understand. 2 years ago, we went into the playoffs and all of our forwards were suddenly gimpy. That happens sometimes. But everyone has a few injuries each year. We're not NE (who have had no Twellman all year, and just lost Ralston and Heaps--their 2 best players in those roles). We should at least be getting draws and the occasional win at home. And we're not doing that. So I'd respectfully argue that this year is not a repeat of last year. Maybe in terms of ultimate result. But how it's played out and WHY we have ended out of the playoffs is different.

Posted by: JoeW1 | October 9, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Part two of two, I promise.

It's also hard to come up with a reasonable defense for Kasper. Yes, we did have a good draft, but let's be honest: this was a freakishly good crop of potential picks. Off the top of my head, I count 12 current starters throughout MLS that were draft picks; picking at 6 and 7, getting anything less than starters would have been a travesty. In my book, Kasper merely met the standard with our draft, rather than knocking it out of the park.

Before the season, I was against the move for Gomez because it left us reliant on too many old players. Other MLS teams lean heavily on older players, but we're talking about one guy (Schelotto or Angel), not three. Gomez himself isn't the problem; it's fitting him into a regular lineup where you have to play the other vets, too. At the time, I thought Kasper had some kind of gut feeling that Gomez had one more great season in him that would paper over these cracks. Instead, I think it's clear that he (Kasper) just lacked any better ideas.

For every good move Kasper has made, there's also been a bad one. We got Jakovic, but we're also still in need of center backs (a problem we've had since Nelsen left). James is an acceptable reserve, but he's not a starter in MLS. Bringing back Quaranta was a stroke of brilliance, but giving Emilio the DP raise has obviously not worked.

In the end, Kasper's too hit-or-miss. We may lose his connections in Latin America, but if teams like Dallas and Chivas can come up with quality guys from CONMEBOL without Kasper's help, then we should be able to do as well or better. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know who to replace him with, but from my position on the outside, it's time to make these moves.

In a coach, we need someone who preaches responsibility and focus. Hold off on the "defenders can't coach attacking soccer" stuff; it's both utter nonsense and missing the point. Before we start talking about tactical approaches, we need to talk about the mental side of things. Players that make too many mistakes need to be held accountable, as do players who pass the buck too often. The players need to see a leader at training who practices what he preaches; they need to see someone who is willing to put his hand up and say that we lost because we weren't adequately prepared by him. Nowak and Arena did that. Both are obviously very different characters, but in this regard they were very similar. There was a clear standard to be met, and those not meeting it would not play. Guys like Wicks, James, Burch, and Fred would not get regular games under either of those coaches, while I also have a hunch that both of them would have a better feel for the up-and-down emotions of Emilio.

We need some intensity, some ambition to be truly great, and above all we need people in charge who will not accept what has been accepted at DC United for too long now. The bar has to be raised.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | October 9, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

To keep:
-Olsen (as a coach; he doesn't provide too much as a player anymore)
-The new keeper from the academy whose name currently escapes me

To dispose of immediately:

On the fence:
-Gomez (he would need to take a MUCH lower salary)

To acquire immediately:
-A legitimate number one keeper for the PRESENT, not the future like Hamid or Kocic.
-A left back. Burch just isn't cutting it, and simply does not possess a right foot. Every time he touches the ball, I pay special attention to which foot he uses, and I have NEVER seen him so much as graze the ball with his right. It's like he has a phobia of it.
-A consistent backup to Namoff and the central defenders (because I assume we are all in agreement that James and Jak should start in a 4-4-2 next year?)
-A striker who can SCORE. Shipalane has showed potential in the run of play and I hope we keep him, but he hasn't demonstrated a scorers touch yet. The only two guys on the team who can score almost on whim are Moreno and Gomez, both of whom may retire in favor of receiving social security in a year's time. Emilio is done in MLS, and Quaranta and Pontius are far better suited as wingers.
-A younger Ben Olsen. Simms is a great possession/holding/defensive midfielder, but he doesn't disrupt the flow of the other team's game like Bennie does. Maybe if Olsen is a coach next season, he can help develop Simms to be that kind of guy.

Basically, we're a mess. Remember that stretch back in, like, June, where we were 1st in the East and has visions of making it back to the MLS Cup? We were a team built for now AND the future, we told ourselves. We wouldn't need a massive overhaul for another 5 season or so!


Posted by: kdiff813 | October 9, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

This is all irregardless, at the end of the day. It is what it is. Ya know?


Posted by: joedoc1 | October 9, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse


Team speed is all well and good, but Seattle is only an isolated example. Let's not forget that NY was getting all kinds of hype for building a track team at the beginning of this season under Osorio. What was wrong? Their collective soccer IQ was shockingly low, and all that speed went nowhere. Seattle's players aren't just fast; they think fast. They appear faster than they actually are because they get to the right places earlier than their opponents.

Let me put it this way: Being physically slow won't stop you from being a good player. Being mentally slow will.

In my mind, addressing team speed before addressing the lack of focus and dodging responsibility that can be found throughout the team would be putting the cart before the horse.


I agree that we've reached these results in a different fashion, but in my opinion the biggest reasons are the same. Both teams lack focus at critical moments, both teams got worse as the season wore on (though the 2008 edition did have enough fight to make a go of it in the last 2 games, which I suppose could still happen here too), and both teams lack enough players willing to step up and be accounted for.

When the same major problems pop up 2 years running, and the end result is the same, the details matter a little less. A lot of the details are symptoms rather than the disorder. We don't finish teams off because we don't have the right mental approach. Last year, we had Martinez essentially going rogue for 90 minutes because he didn't trust his coach or teammates to get things right. With a proper mentality instilled, neither of those very different problems happen.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | October 9, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse



Did you miss that day in English class when they taught English?

Posted by: lgm6986 | October 9, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

i was calling for kasper and soehn to be fired two years ago -- if someone had listened to me then, we'd be well on the way to rebuilding -- in the process, you lost me as a fan -- now, I'm just an occasional poster --- I'll wait for the rebuilding to take place and if we regain our lost form I might return as a fan --- till then, consider me the lurker

Posted by: bestmick1 | October 9, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"Coaches who can outline plays on a black board are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate."

Vince Lombardi

Step #1: New coach. Then new coach makes personnel decisions. No sacred cows. He will get players he wants for his style of play, or determine a style of play built around the players he wants to keep.

I think, based on Schmid and Arena, that we should be looking at someone chubby. But not a crackhead commie chubby like Maradona. Chubby, but sober and stable.

Posted by: OWNTF | October 9, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

This is all irregardless, at the end of the day. It is what it is. Ya know?


If you ask me, it's all Straight Cash Homey.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | October 9, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse



Did you miss that day in English class when they taught English?

Posted by: lgm6986 | October 9, 2009 3:47 PM

Nah, he's just over-egging the pudding.

Posted by: BlackandRedRedDevil | October 9, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse



Did you miss that day in English class when they taught English?

Posted by: lgm6986 | October 9, 2009 3:47 PM

Yo no hablo Ingles.

Actually, "irregardless" is a running joke among Insiders. That said, even though I missed English, I do speak good words.

Posted by: joedoc1 | October 9, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

There's a guy that keeps coming to my mind who I think Chest Rockwell has described perfectly. He's a guy who has always done well at the "mental" aspect of soccer, who isn't afraid to hold himself accountable. And he's a guy who could certainly motivate a team and lead by example. The players would love to play for him, yet he would also be able to push the players much harder than Soehn.

Ben Olsen for head coach.

Posted by: DCUMD | October 9, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

I was just thinking though that whoever the next head coach is, we better have him in place soon. The PU expansion draft is 11/25 and I want our new HC deciding which players to protect, not Soehn.

Posted by: DCUMD | October 9, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

I was just thinking though that whoever the next head coach is, we better have him in place soon. The PU expansion draft is 11/25 and I want our new HC deciding which players to protect, not Soehn.

Posted by: DCUMD | October 9, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

This is absolutely critical. And if Kasper is also destined for the plank, then the new TD ought to be on board by then as well.

Bottom line - the search for heir-apparents should already be quietly underway.

Posted by: cmjhawk86 | October 9, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Soehn appears as though he puts names in a hat. He makes a habit of subbing guys out early which makes you wonder why they started in the first place. The team plays inconsistently and without any coherent plan. He had one good season with a team Novak made.

Kasper gutted a good team. The defense is a shadow of what it was three seasons ago. After last seasons dismal performance he brings back players he traded away that are now two years older.

The people in charge have no plan, at least no good one. Kasper and Soehn should go. They had two chances after they ruined a winning formula. The players have to take their share of the blame, but Soehn and Kasper made poor choices that they need to answer for.

I used to travel 3-4 hours to go see the games. Now I hardly watch the games on TV. The quality of play is poor and it looks as though there are 11 people on the field that have never played together before.

Some if all of the over 30's need to go. Moreno and Olsen may have one season left in them, but they can't keep making the money they are making. Between the two of them they take up nearly $400K, if memory serves. Gomez and Emilio need to go. I can see Emilio staying if he was willing to take a huge pay cut, but otherwise there is no reason to keep him. It's one thing to play older players like Chelsea does, but it's another when they don't produce and play every other game.

DC needs new management, coaching, and players.

Posted by: bighungry | October 9, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Soehn is an insecure, untrusting person who manages his team consistent with those qualities. Kasper is similar with the additional attribute of being dishonest. The two deserve each other and they deserve an identical fate: discharge from the once-proud and respected team that they have destroyed. Soehn will likely land with Nowak or even Bradley. Kasper should land where he belongs: at Koons Ford - used car division.

Posted by: mightymax | October 9, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the thoughts guys.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | October 9, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

I do not remember who said it, but someone mentioned getting rid of Burch. I agree. He has cost us at least 6 points over the season because of his lackluster effort. Also his free kicks are overrated. I think Wallace played LB very well when he had the chance.

Posted by: no_recess | October 9, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Honestly DC isn't making the playoffs and/or advance to the next round for CCL. DC is simply not good enough... DC isn't potent! No D, weak mid-field, horrible strikers and not to mention bad coaching. To be honest I think DC is getting held back. Someones ego is hurting DC... Is simple. A clean out is rally needed in DC... Where's those scouts who found Etcheverry, Diaz Arce, Pope, Agoos, Moreno, Williams, Harkes, Olsen... even Adu... DC's future isn't certain nor clear. But one thing is for sure... A ending here can be something new somewhere else...

Posted by: rigs88 | October 10, 2009 4:11 AM | Report abuse

It's the management who chooses the players to put on the roster, figures how to get a stadium built, and has ultimate responsibility for the success - or failure - of the team.

Payne, Kasper, and Soehn must all be let go. If Payne has an ownership interest and for some reason has in his agreement that he must stay employed by the team, have him clean the stadium post-game until he gets a stadium deal done. But for god's sake, keep him the hell away from player selection, development and management.

Move Jaime into Kasper's role, move Ben into Soehn's role, and bring in a new GM who is Chang's guy and will report to him truthfully and treat players with respect.
Not sure who that is, but I would hope Chang has an idea.

Posted by: dsheon1 | October 10, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

The following was posted today in the BBC Football gossip column:

"John Barnes was sacked as Tranmere manager after chairman Peter Johnson had a change of heart: Johnson met Barnes on Thursday and told him he would be carrying on, only to dispense of the former England midfielder's services after being besieged by angry supporters at a fans' forum that evening."

Does Chang read this blog? We can't know what he may have said to Soehn recently, but this certainly is a forum of angry fans -- justifiably angry fans.

If Kasper doesn't fire Soehn sooner rather than later, Chang should fire them both.

Posted by: runningcloud | October 10, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Goff,

Way to hang the "red meat" out here. Clearly a "shake up" is in order. As I commented near the beginning of the season we are "ordinary" and that hasn't changed. Also, we are not fun to watch, a bigger sin. I think Will Chang has been struggling to decide on what he wants to do with his investment, particularly since he can't seem to make any headway on the stadium front, and that has impacted the team more than we know. For fans, it seems unfathomable that he would move the team but I think it is either that or selling it before anything radical happens on the personnel front. Pouring big money (which is what it would take to turn this team around - new coach and many new players-) into an investment that just isn't returning what it should, is just not something an investor will do forever . . . I suspect that these days Mr. Chang may be thinking it is time for him to play in a different sandbox . . . Could be completely wrong but I sure wouldn't blame him. He is a great owner and deserves better than he is getting.

Posted by: Ruthie1 | October 9, 2009 11:20

By and large, I agree with this post. I think that both Kasper and Soehn are going to face the consequences for the failure of this year's team to produce on the pitch; possibly, Payne is going to get it too. If Payne goes, I would be desperately concerned for the future of the club in this area because Payne has been in charge of the stadium project. If he goes, that would be a sign to me that Uncle Will has given up on working a deal for a new stadium in the District or in one of the close-in suburbs. Even if Payne stays, my guess is that, if nothing solid develops on the stadium front, we've got just one year (maybe, two years at most) left at RFK before the team is moved.

Posted by: Stevenho | October 10, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

The latest from our Insider colleague:

Try and stay strong. My thoughts and prayers, too.

I don't think anyone is quite ready to take your blog spot yet. Fischy and Chest are ok, but not worth DP money yet.

Posted by: wordup1 | October 10, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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