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United: Forwards

As part of the Insider's series on United personnel heading into the signing/trading/drafting period, we take a look at the forwards:

FORWARDS
Jaime Moreno: Pending a new contract, MLS's all-time leading scorer is preparing for his 15th season (14th in Washington). He will turn 36 next week, and although he doesn't have the endurance to play 90 minutes every match, Moreno has retained the ability to alter a game with a sublime pass or cleverly chipped shot. His role this year? Perhaps as an occasional starter and instrumental reserve.

Chris Pontius: After shifting positions on a seemingly weekly basis in his promising rookie season, Pontius needs to concentrate on one role. Club officials are indicating that the frontline is his best position. Pontius has the confidence and ingenuity to run at defenders and the striking power to become a 10-goal scorer.

Thabiso "Boyzzz" Khumalo: The South African wing brings pace, energy and creativity off the bench. Missed significant time last year after breaking his wrist and then acquiring a dangerous infection.

Luciano Emilio: After three years in Washington and diminishing returns, both parties felt it was time to move on. With a designated player salary nearing $800,000, Emilio was going to return only at a much-lower rate. He began exploring overseas options shortly after the season ended, and recently agreed to a six-month contract with Brazilian second-division club Rio Branco de Americana. At his best, he was among the league's most dangerous forwards with the ability to score from anywhere in the box. At his worst, he offered a poor first touch and erratic finishing. His departure frees up a large amount of salary cap space, allowing United to pursue a new top-line striker or attacking player from abroad.

Ange N'Silu: United's high hopes for the former Swiss league player faded midseason, and when injuries struck, he all but disappeared. The club did not renew his contract and has no plans to invite him to training camp.

With Emilio gone, United is in the market for a scorer, possibly from Latin America. The top college forward, Oregon State's Danny Mwanga, will be chosen first overall by Philadelphia and the next top prospect, Akron's Teal Bunbury, is likely to be gone by the time DCU selects at No. 7. Other options include Harvard's Andre Akpan, Cal's Andrew Wiedeman, Wake Forest's Zach Schilawski and Jack McInerney from the U.S. under-17 program.

By Steve Goff  |  January 13, 2010; 10:24 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Comments

Are there really no comments yet, or is the system argy-barged up again?

Anyway, I have a dream . . . a dream that settling Fred into his center role, and Pontius into one role, and Wallace into one, will transform this team . . .

Actually I'm not optimistic about Fred but in any case "shifting positions" seems like a recurring theme in Goff's ongoing personnel review.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | January 13, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

This is the most dire situation on the roster. There is no depth; the projected starters are an aging vet who may be prone to nagging injuries, and an unproven second-year player, who played mostly in the midfield last year.; and the draft offers no immediate boost.

I'm not thrilled with Akpan/Wiedeman choice. Akpan's star has been waning for several years, and Wiedeman is an unknown quantity who was virtually invisible in the Combine. McInenrney could be an exciting, but problematic pick. He's too young to be expected to contribute much in the next couple of year.s Down the road, he's probably aiming at a European contract. Not sure he'd be worth renting for a couple of productive years. Schilawski might be the best bet (his goals/minutes played is phenomenal), but he's probably a force pick at #7, and DCU would opt for a midfielder like Okugo, instead.

So, the real answer to DCU's forward problem is to find a proven scorer, presumably from South America...since that seems to be the area where DCU has the contacts to get someone good. I hope the FO has someone in the hopper.

Posted by: fischy | January 13, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

here's to hoping we can score another gem like Emilio (in his first year) from SA.

Posted by: nairbsod | January 13, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I think it's folly to expect help in the draft, especially in the first half of the season. Last year was the exception, IMHO.

Love to be pleasantly surprised.

Posted by: JkR- | January 13, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Hey what's Rod Dyachenko up to these days?

Posted by: DadRyan | January 13, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Rod is playing for the Baltimore Blast.

Posted by: ManOfLaMancha | January 13, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Wow, for such a critical position, we have uncomfortably few striker options.

Posted by: TCompton | January 13, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Hey Rod "slow mo" Dyachenko is still local! The answer to our forward depth is just 45min away! lol.

http://www.baltimoreblast.com/team/roster/index.html?player_id=24

Posted by: invncbl | January 13, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

That write up is depressing. Let' hope for a magical pickup soon. The draft isn't the answer. Chris P may be the future and Jaime is a legend but we need another scoring threat to open up the field

Posted by: tcbannon | January 13, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Maybe not quite as dire as at first glance. Quaranta provided more than a little cover at forward last year. Of course, without Quaranta OR Pontius in the midfield, we're left with Shipalane, a rehabbing Barklage or McTavish at RM. And that's assuming we don't need McT at right back if Namoff's not available.

So ok, yeah, I guess it's pretty dire.

Posted by: benonthehill | January 13, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I hope Osorio likes to play one up top...

Posted by: Reignking | January 13, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Actually, to my mind, SQ is better the further forward he goes. He tracks back and defends rather inconsistently as a middie, for me.

SQ for AM? IDK, LOL!

Posted by: JkR- | January 13, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Osorio?

Posted by: fischy | January 13, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Onalfo. Whew...I thought I was way off on that. Actually took me a few seconds to figure out the right name.

Posted by: Reignking | January 13, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Everyone here loved to crap all over Emilio (including me on occasion). Now he's gone.

OK let's see who we can find who has a prayer of scoring 40+ goals over the next 3 years.

"United is in the market for a scorer, possibly from Latin America." Franco Niell? Lucio Filomeno? Matias Donnet? Can we please get over the Latin fetish and get a scorer no matter where he hails from?

"When you represent a club, it's about values and qualities, not about passports." Arsene Wenger

Posted by: OWNTF | January 13, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I'm pretty comfortable starting Pontius and Quaranta at forward in the right scheme and the right service.

As for lack of depth--we've renounced a bunch of contracts and lost a serviceable 2-way player in the expansion draft--of course we have depth issues...b/c we have a lot of open roster spots. So to fret over depth is foolish at this point. Likewise, to look at any spot and go "we're set--no need to improve" would be foolish b/c we're a team that has missed the playoffs 2 years in a row.

That said, what I'd like to get is a finisher with speed. We've never been a fast team. Pontius and Quaranta (and especially Moreno who may see more time as an A-mid than forward) aren't speed burners. I know Khumalo is fast but he may see more time at outside mid running the flanks than uptop (unless he goes in as a late game sub to try and grab a quick counter goal against tired legs).

Posted by: JoeW1 | January 13, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I have the answer ....

Ali Curtis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Curtis

Posted by: jofij | January 13, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Everyone here loved to crap all over Emilio (including me on occasion). Now he's gone.

OK let's see who we can find who has a prayer of scoring 40+ goals over the next 3 years.

Posted by: OWNTF | January 13, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Really puts it into perspective, doesn't it? I don't think we should have hung onto him either, but there's no denying simple statistics--he was a big part of whatever success we can claim for the past few years.

Posted by: vivzig | January 13, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Also Quaranta had a serious injury to end last season, and at that time it was not clear that he would be available at the start of this season.

Posted by: OWNTF | January 13, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"United is in the market for a scorer, possibly from Latin America." Franco Niell? Lucio Filomeno? Matias Donnet? Can we please get over the Latin fetish and get a scorer no matter where he hails from?

"When you represent a club, it's about values and qualities, not about passports." Arsene Wenger

Posted by: OWNTF | January 13, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I dont think we look in Latin America because you get amazing talent. The players are cheaper and scouting is easier. Do you think we can pry away any forward thats playing in Spain, Portugal, Germany, England ect... I dont. Not to mention the best Latin forwards go across the pond too. We get what we can afford.

Posted by: francisco_11 | January 13, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Devin Barclay was a forward right? Is he going to use all his kicking eligibility at Ohio State?

Posted by: benonthehill | January 13, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

if the midfield is problematic, the front line is a disaster. And sadly the most obvious improvement would be to remove one of the few remaining forwards -- Moreno.
DCU should try to draft as well as possible, but finding a scorer that way is a very long shot.
Pontius needs to focus on one position, but forward may be his best, but he is a much better defensive player than Quaranta and therefore a better choice for outside right.
With the players available DCU is looking at playing either Fred or Gomez as a withdrawn striker behind either Pontius or Quaranta -- wow -- the best thing that one could hope for is the first pick in next year's draft.

Posted by: Jphubba | January 13, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Hey isn't Burch a converted forward!? Wallace can play LB, Castillo LM....

Posted by: DadRyan | January 13, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Payne, Kasper, etc. still have alot of work to do.

Time to chop, chop, boys.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | January 13, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

"United is in the market for a scorer, possibly from Latin America" - Goff


"A" top scorer? Ummm...I would hope United is going for at least two, maybe three, that can come in and start immediately.

Posted by: Atlanta4MLS | January 13, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Marc Burch=the answer ;)

Posted by: BurchFan4 | January 13, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

1) Trade Burch & Khumalo to NY for the #2 pick and snatch Tchani with it, so as to keep Fred out wide
2) Move SQ & CP to full time forwards
3) Find a worthy DP to finalize attack
4) Sprinkle healing salts on Namoff's head

Posted by: beergorila | January 13, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

beergorrila: I hope 1 was a joke- no team in their right mind would take that trade.

JoeW1: We need Quaranta on the right to run at defenders and curl crosses into Pontius' head. Unless you think Fred is ready to take that job?

Personally, I really want McInerney. I just think he's going to start contributing sooner than expected, and neither Wiedeman or Akpan is that good. We're surely looking for a foreign striker anyway, but (as DC is slowly learning) the best MLS teams are built on a core of American talent. (See what happened when we lost Carroll, Boswell, Perkins). Jakovic, Pontius, Quaranta, Wallace, and McInerney could age to become a power house.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | January 13, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Yikes, I thought soccer had some weird team names...right now, in basketball, Real Madrid is playing Armani Jeans Milano.

It must be hard to run the court in jeans.

Posted by: Reignking | January 13, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Twitter funny:

"Insider in car on I-95 en route to Philly for MLS draft, just passed by BMW driven by Ben Olsen"

Posted by: JkR- | January 13, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

@UnitedDemon -- Ives writes that the DC brain trust was definitely focusing on McInerney. I guess they're trying to figure out if he's ready and worth the #7 pick. Big questions. I'd also be a little concerned about his desire to play abroad. On the other hand, Perkins' move couldn't have been predicted, so it may be pointless to try and predict or worry about such stuff.

Posted by: fischy | January 13, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

@JkR -- I guess Benny really is slowing down. Good thing he retired.

Posted by: fischy | January 13, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Distracted driving kills, put the toys away and drive your car already ladies.

Posted by: DadRyan | January 13, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Just noticed that the Dyachenko bio on the Baltimore Blast site lists his hometown as Washington, DC. Hmmm....

Posted by: b18bolo | January 13, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Goff could well be tweeting from the passenger seat, fellow Insiders.

There's no mention of the 'Insider Prius' for example...

Posted by: JkR- | January 13, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I don't like Fred in the midfield because his defense consists of fouling and he is a turnover machine.

Yes, he had the yips last year when trying to score, but still, how about this:

Fred and Pontius as forwards, Quaranta as the number 10 (if you must insist on having a diamond midfield), and a new fancy two-way player holding down the right side?

Posted by: DCUCurmudgeon | January 13, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

As weak as Fred was last year in the midfield, he was as his absolute worst when he was in front of the net. I lost count of how many sitters he missed. Striker might be his worst position right now.

Posted by: fischy | January 13, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I see that sarcasm is lost on SBI, fischy...I'd post there, but it doesn't work here.

Posted by: Reignking | January 13, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

"Fred and Pontius as forwards, Quaranta as the number 10 "

Yikes what an absolutely depressing prospect.

Posted by: Ron16 | January 13, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Olsen just got a new VW last year. Did he trade it in with the Cash-For-Clunkers program?

Posted by: 9Nine9 | January 13, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh no...another that didn't get it...

Posted by: Reignking | January 13, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Marc Burch=the answer ;)

LMAO!

Posted by: Ivanovich84 | January 13, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Reading take the lead in ET against Liverpool...

Posted by: Reignking | January 13, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Barcelona still need two goals with 45 left; they started their regular roster in the CdR return leg today.

Posted by: Reignking | January 13, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

"Fred and Pontius as forwards, Quaranta as the number 10 "
Yikes what an absolutely depressing prospect.
Posted by: Ron16
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
That's not sooooo depressing. All 3 have proven they CAN be brilliant. Depth is an obvious concern.

Look, the bottom line is that we are in REBUILD MODE. We can't just buy a new team like Manchester City did. It shouldn't suprise anybody if we suck again next year.

Posted by: 9Nine9 | January 13, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Liverpool... out! Wow

Setanta host said it's the first time in 51 years that Manchester United and Liverpool are both out after their 3rd round matches.

Posted by: Kev29 | January 13, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Xavi w/ a goal -- 29 left. Agg tied but Sevilla ahead on away goals.

Posted by: Reignking | January 13, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I dont think we look in Latin America because you get amazing talent. The players are cheaper and scouting is easier. Do you think we can pry away any forward thats playing in Spain, Portugal, Germany, England ect... I dont. Not to mention the best Latin forwards go across the pond too. We get what we can afford.

Posted by: francisco_11 | January 13, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Actually the announcers of the Barca game on Sunday were commenting that Henry appears to be contemplating a move and has expressed interest in playing in the US. Maybe not a chance in hell, but its fun to imagine. He could slap in a few goals for DC.

Posted by: phurt60 | January 13, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

The Henry rumor is a regular one. But, it won't be DC. If he comes, it's almost 100% certain to be NY (will require a 2nd DP, but MLS will be happy to oblige to get Henry, warts and all). There were early stories that he was friendly with Paul Allen and slated for Seattle, but I'd bet on NY, if it happens.

Posted by: fischy | January 13, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Most, but not all, posters seem to be omitting our new Salvadoran signing, Castillo, from the offense. He may line up more as a left mid than a forward but I expect as much firepower from him as I do from Pontius and Quaranta.

Not that any of those guys are likely to score 41 goals over the next 3 seasons. Or that Jaime will miraculously start getting younger.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | January 13, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Barca out of the CdR.

Posted by: Reignking | January 13, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

the best MLS teams are built on a core of American talent. (See what happened when we lost Carroll, Boswell, Perkins). Jakovic, Pontius, Quaranta, Wallace, and McInerney could age to become a power house.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | January 13, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Interesting. Jakovic is in fact Canadian though (Serbian born).

Posted by: vivzig | January 13, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

1) Trade Burch & Khumalo to NY for the #2 pick and snatch Tchani with it, so as to keep Fred out wide

On what planet do you think management, even management as bad as NYRB, would accept a trade our crap for something someone wants - a chance to get a good, cheap player who can make an immediate imact, and keep making an impact for years? I LOVE trade proposals. Here's one that might work: Burch and Khumalo to the Baltimore Blast for Rocket Rod D.

Posted by: rcdwriting | January 13, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

the best MLS teams are built on a core of American talent.
Posted by: UnitedDemon

*******************************************
The original United team was built around Marco Etcheverry (Bolivia) and Diaz Arce (Salvador).

Really, it doesn't matter where they're from. They could be from Mars but when they wear Black and Red they are from DC.

I'll go back to OWNTF's apt use of Arsene Wenger's quote.

"When you represent a club, it's about values and qualities, not about passports." Arsene Wenger


Posted by: 9Nine9 | January 13, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

9Nine9: You're of course correct. However, you'll note that we've been using the same strategy, and many other clubs have passed us by.

Who? Houston, built on American players. New England, at their peak, Twellman, Noonan, and Ralston. Columbus recently, Rogers, Marshall, tough role players like Carroll.

United has suffered because American players, base line, are getting better. Poachers from South America have all but gone out of business. Time we took note.

vizvig: Yeah, forgot for a second. But still good foundation from North America.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | January 13, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

@fischy

In case you have forgotten, NYRB already have a 2nd DP spot waiting to be filled.

Posted by: SonicDeathMonkey | January 13, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

@UnitedDemon

No argument. Foriegn stars can be hit or miss. The best teams are built by grooming young talent and mixing them with a couple of star veterans.

It could take a couple of years before Pontius and Hamid are ready to win us another the cup; and by then Pontius will be ready to try Europe.

Don't really have the answers. I guess I like to point out the shortcommings of other opinions. ;)

Posted by: 9Nine9 | January 13, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Everyone here loved to crap all over Emilio (including me on occasion). Now he's gone.

OK let's see who we can find who has a prayer of scoring 40+ goals over the next 3 years.

Posted by: OWNTF | January 13, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Really puts it into perspective, doesn't it? I don't think we should have hung onto him either, but there's no denying simple statistics--he was a big part of whatever success we can claim for the past few years.

Posted by: vivzig | January 13, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but Tony Meola, Chris Griffn and any Sumatran Lar Gibbon would have scored 50+ goals with the same service he received in the box.

Posted by: united100 | January 13, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

OWNTF:

I do agree that we need to sign guys that are good, no matter where they're from. I'm guessing the reason we're always going back to CONMEBOL is a) value of players (as opposed to Europeans) and b) a better network of contacts.

As for filling in Emilio's lost goals, I again have to say that it's more about the team getting those goals than any one guy. If Party Boy scores over 15 this year, that would be awesome. However, if he only gets 10 or 11 and those other 4-5 goals are picked up by Quaranta, Castillo, Moreno, and our hopefully-soon-arriving playmaker, it's still 15 goals. Pontius will give the offense more opportunities and more ways to attack than Emilio did, and that should lead to more goals for the support players.

francisco11:

That's more or less where we are. The guys we could get from Europe are going to be old (and old players are, almost always, pretty slow). This is why I never get too frustrated about us going to Argentina/Brazil so often. There are good players there. The problem I have is that we've made some bad moves (Niell, especially, stands out as a totally ill-conceived signing).

***

Pontius - I've been all about putting him up front going way back into last season. Will he score as often as Emilio? Probably not. However, his size, movement, work rate, and skill on the ball will open up so much more than Emilio ever did. Pontius shouldn't be targeting a 15 goal season; he should be looking for a 10 goals, 10 assists type of year. I'm excited about seeing him up front full time.

Moreno - I think we can find a way to use Moreno in a similar fashion to how Columbus uses Schelotto. It would appear that Schelotto is fitter (probably helps that he never had multiple back surgeries), but the it's the same idea. Basically, let Moreno be the brains and our young guns can be the legs. That said, he won't start all the time and we will have to be able to function without him.

Khumalo - We can't rely on Khumalo as a starter, but as a sub he's not bad. He's energetic, fast, and puts himself in good positions. His finishing is a problem, but he's adequate as a depth option.

What we need here is another depth player (perhaps we can draft someone like Weideman or Akpan) that is capable, and a starter that will be looking at a high-ish salary. The good thing is that we don't need to necessarily look for a particular type of player. Pontius can be the withdrawn forward, and he can lead the line. We just need to find the best forward we can afford.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | January 13, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Fred and our #1 draft pick for Perkins. Hope we sign someone to score goals now that we're w/o Fred/Emilio.

Posted by: boda-united | January 13, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

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