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D.C. United's midfield and Quaranta's role

If you're waiting for D.C. United to sign a traditional playmaker, someone to follow in the footsteps of Marco Etcheverry, Christian Gomez, Marcelo Gallardo and Gomez again, you are probably wasting your time.

Although the club remains in the market for roster help, it appears DCU is preparing to pair a two-way central midfielder with Clyde Simms in the middle of the park, an attacking influence that can go from penalty area to penalty area. (Simms has a knee injury but should return within a month.) Santino Quaranta, who has played primarily on the flanks and frontline, seems to be the top candidate.

Before you freak out about the absence of a classic No. 10 player, consider this:

"There is a lot of defensive responsibility now in this league in that position," Quaranta said when asked about the prospects of playing centrally. "I have been hearing people wanting this No. 10 guy and this perfect thing. That doesn't happen anymore. If you watch any quality teams, that is not happening. It's two guys who work, and even three. [Coach] Curt [Onalfo] thinks I can do it, and I can."

Asked about United's plans for Quaranta, Onalfo told me.....

....."He is a guy who we are going to look at in a central midfield role and wide. We know that he can do both of them, we know that he has played very well wide for this team for years, but he also has very good qualities as an attacking midfielder because he has an ability to play balls over distance, he makes good runs out of midfield, he has a good shot from the midfield and he works hard. In our league, you need guys in that spot who have all those qualities. He can also play underneath a striker if need be. He is going to be a good attacking player for us. Where? That will be determined in the next four weeks and as the season progresses based on his performances."

Quaranta's 2009 season was cut short by a foot injury that required surgery and sidelined him much of the winter. He resumed full training in Florida last week and played in a friendly against a local college team.

"I am still a little sore from scar tissue and that sort of thing after a game like that, but I don't think about it much," Quaranta said. "It's been good so far."

Onalfo has been impressed with Quaranta's work ethic and determination this preseason.

"I have known him for a long time, and he is so motivated and he is extremely fit," Onalfo said. "This is the fittest I have ever seen him. The fact that he was able to incorporate 55-60 minutes into a scrimmage after really only three days of training is impressive. Our goal with Santino is to have a consistent, healthy season, and if he can do that with the fitness and his qualities, he is going to help us tremendously."

Quaranta and Onalfo have known each other since Santino's rookie year, in 2001, when Onalfo was a DCU assistant. They were reunited a few years later when Onalfo was a national team assistant and Quaranta was called into the squad.

Said Quaranta: "Getting hurt was almost a blessing. Mentally, it really put in perspective how easy it can go because this is a tough injury. ... It was a big year for me last year. I enjoyed a lot of things that happened, and then you just want more. I don't want to be a guy that doesn't fulfill the potential that I could have. I want to experience everything. I am at a point now in my career where I have to make a move and to take that next step to be a better player in this league and see where it takes me.

"With [Onalfo] as my coach, I really feel like he believes in me as a person and as a player. It's mutual because I love him, the respect I have for him like nobody I ever played for. I enjoy being around him every day."

By Steve Goff  |  March 2, 2010; 4:09 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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Comments

Great call. No more lazy center mids.

Posted by: hacksaw | March 2, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Go, Tino.

No disrespect to him, but this won't last. It doesn't play to Tino's strengths. If, by Aug. 15, DCU hasn't signed a central midfielder, it will be the main focus of the offseason.

In other news, Team USA has added an assistant coach: Lubos Kubik. Good move.

Posted by: fischy | March 2, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

His attitude alone is very promising. Keep up the positivity Tino!
I've got faith he can plug in where he needs to be. Let's do this!

Posted by: DadRyan | March 2, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, there's no law that says United has to play with a more Latin, #10/diamond formation. They're kicking it British style with two central midfielders. And they're also kicking it "don't spend any money on designated players" style as well ;-)

Posted by: Kev29 | March 2, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I think this talk is more avoidance than revelation.

I think Onalfo never intended on a big time playmaker, and is really looking for a 4-4-2 with a style similar to Sevilla, with two defensive midfielders who are decent passers and two wing players given ample attacking license. This is just to say, "who needs playmakers when you've got Santino?"

I think the idea could be effective in MLS, but find this conversation a little insulting to the intelligence.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | March 2, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Well at least Steve has let us know where we stand. And it is not good.
I wish Quaranta the best but he is a better wide mid. There is absolutely no excuse, except money, for not getting us a proven center mid.
We will be rooting for DCU, but it will be a very long season.

Posted by: lemovs1 | March 2, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

It's not that we choose either a more Latin style #10 or a British long-ball style. Pontius is never going to be a great withdrawn forward ala the best years of Jaime Moreno, who takes people on from the dribble and beats them. But Pontius can be a great withdrawn forward if he's playing in an offense that emphases runs off the ball, good thru-balls, hard work, lots of one-touch passing. And that isn't the stereotypical lower British team ball. Barcelona plays a lot of that style (especially the one-touch, thru-ball stuff). Players like Quaranta and Pontius are very well suited to play that style (runs off the ball, hard work, one-touch, smart passing).

As for the A-mid thing, we'll see. I'm open. I'm not convinced that Quaranta will be great there. But he could be a fine A-mid...or not.

Here's something to think about: we've always been one of the slowest teams in MLS. But this team (by looking at guys like Castillo and Wallace and then replacing Gomez, Emilio and Moreno) could get a lot faster. All of KC's teams had some speed. I think by moving Quaranta in the middle, it opens it up for us to put a faster player on that flank. And a team with more overall speed (say....a Wallace at left back and a Castillo at left mid) is a team that doesn't have to play a lot of long balls...you've got the team speed to push a lot of guys forward and then still get back on defense.

Posted by: JoeW1 | March 2, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse


It's not a question of whether Tino is a classic a-mid. It's simply a question of whether he can do what needs to be done.

Tino passes well and has good field vision; but his touch has degraded, he can't hold the ball under pressure, and he can't dribble out of trouble. And he's going to be paired in midfield with Clyde Simms, arguably the player on the team most panicked to have the ball at his feet?

This year's roster is not as good as last year's roster; no matter how you work the numbers, we're not *remotely* close to our Cap limits (I can't even figure out how we're over $2M, even if I add in salary escalations for existing contracts); and we're going to start Tino and Simms together in central midfield?

After 2008 and 2009, this is what we're going to get?


Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | March 2, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I was afraid this was going to happen. Like fischy, I think this is just a bad use of resources. Quaranta can do this job to a certain degree, but wouldn't we be better off with a specialist there (allowing us to use Quaranta at right midfield)?

Here's a United-specific example: Simms has been played as a center back at times when we had alternatives there. The choices could be boiled down thusly:

Option 1: Keep Simms in defensive midfield and hope to shield a fragile back line while McTavish/Burch starts for the time being.

Option 2: Move Simms to center back and hope to shield a fragile backline with Jacobson/McTavish/DiRaimondo.

In option 1, you maintain strength at one position. In option 2, both positions are weakened. We'd be doing the same thing by starting a less-than-top-notch right midfielder and playing Quaranta in a position that is not his best.

I love his attitude towards the potential change, but I think both he and the team would be better off using him at right midfield.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | March 2, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

It's clear to me that DCU is going to run the team "on the cheap" until they get something going with a stadium. Putting "Backpass" Quaranta, who is visibly slower than he was years ago, in to run the attacking midfield is not going to help this team return to elite status.

This kid would be riding the pine in just about every other MLS club, yet we are building our team around him. I almost think bribnging back Giomez would be a better idea. Note I said "almost".

Posted by: Ron16 | March 2, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

OK, so we accept Tino and Simms in the middle, Wallace on the left...who is the right sided midfielder? And who fills in any of those spots when there's a groin or hammy strain, accumlation of yellows, etc.?

Posted by: soccerman | March 2, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

No offense Mr. Rockwell, but if you can't even keep track of who's still in the team (Jacobson taken in expansion draft) how am I supposed to take anyone else's analysis seriously?;)

Posted by: DadRyan | March 2, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I am really getting concerned by the dribble being spouted by the United coaching staff.

This team is NOT as good as last years by a significant margin and I can't see how this team will even come close to the playoffs.

If you evaluate the team position by position along with the top 5 subs there are very, very few spots where this team is ahead of last years team.

This tripe about begin comfortable with what we have is ridiculous. As someone mentioned we don't have a team that can score and we don't have a defense.

Maybe its just me but that's a problem....

Posted by: dcufan531 | March 2, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Given the lack of quality play in attacking midfield over the last few years, I can't see why Tino isn't worth a try. More to Christopher's point, I would like to see us add some additional talent overall, if we have some cap room.

Posted by: greifie | March 2, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

soccerman,

I'd expect Castillo to be the starter on the left, with Wallace at left back.

Posted by: Kenobi | March 2, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

@dcufan531: re: "As someone mentioned we don't have a team that can score and we don't have a defense. "

I think the quote was, "... we don't have a team that can score and we don't have a defense; other than that we are as good as Argentina."

;-)

Posted by: Ron16 | March 2, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Egads, this is not good news. Chest, Jacbosen is gone so he's no answer. Tino has to have the worst balance in the league. I can see him getting knocked off the ball regularly in what is a much more physical position than out wide.

Why can't we just sign Frank Lampard? ;-)

Posted by: mbyrd28 | March 2, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

"This year's roster is not as good as last year's roster; no matter how you work the numbers, we're not *remotely* close to our Cap limits (I can't even figure out how we're over $2M, even if I add in salary escalations for existing contracts); and we're going to start Tino and Simms together in central midfield?

After 2008 and 2009, this is what we're going to get?


Posted by: christopher_a_metzler"

thank you

Posted by: Matte | March 2, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Irrespective of how Santino will do in the middle, the idea (Ron16's) that he would "ride the pine" on every other MLS club is laughable. He is a legitimate starter, and not just for us. As for center mid, Thomas Rongen, who has known him longest, has always said Tino's best position is forward. Playing him out wide was primarily to cover a hole, what with Benny no longer being up to the job. Central midfield is close enough to forward in my book, because (1)Tino always prefers to play BEHIND a frontrunner, and (2)he is a wonderful passer of the ball. If Moreno can be called a forward while playing more like a midfielder, why can't Tino be called a midfielder while playing like a withdrawn forward?

Posted by: b18bolo | March 2, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh, BTW, how about the mancrush Tino has on Coach Onalfo? I think he's ready to run through walls for the new guy.

Posted by: b18bolo | March 2, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I agree with most folks' concern about the direction of the team. At this point, we will begin the 2010 season with the weakest team roster since the Hudson era.

But MLS is all about parity in most seasons. If these guys stay healthy the team could be one of the mediocre teams that get into the final playoff spots. With considerably fewer games likely in 2010 (we had 8 CCC games + 6 Open Cup games last season) that could be enough for a marginal improvement in our regular season record. But it could be worse, too.

If the Front Office's primary goal for 2010 is to spend less money, this year may already be a success!

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | March 2, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Ok, so who's our right midfielder?

Shipalane/DiRaimando/Khumalo? McTavish?

Oh yeah, McTavish is our right back.

Ugh.

Posted by: benonthehill | March 2, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Sky, falling, etc. I'm more than willing to wait and see how this works out, but I love how much speed we're picking up.

And while I don't think that not spending a ton on players doesn't really matter in terms of "saving money for a stadium" due to the structure of MLS, if there IS something to that theory, I've said it before and I'll say it again: if I have to trade five years of DC United mediocrity and no trophies for a positive resolution to the stadium situation (and, while I'm dreaming, something to rival RBA/HDC), I will do it in a heartbeat.

Posted by: VercengetorixII | March 2, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Why is everybody panicking about how much money the FO is spending (or not spending)? The way I see it is, they're trying to spend the available money in smarter ways. If there's nobody out there worth breaking the bank for, why not spend less money to bring in guys like Allsopp, N'Galula and Castillo and save the rest for a rainy day when a worthwhile DP candidate comes along? We haven't really seen the new guys play yet, so it's awfully hard to judge those decisions (even though I know that never stops anyone from doing so on this blog).

Posted by: Kenobi | March 2, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

With Burch down, I think we should go after Wayne Bridge. I hear he doesn't even want to be in the same country as John Terry wand wants to play in a country where no one has heard of either of them.

@dcufan -- We haven't seen Allsopp play, so I'm not prepared to say whether United is better or weaker up top. I will say he's going to have a better partner than Emilio had, with a more experienced Pontius instead of the roulette game last year.

I haven't seen Castillo in a DCU kit, but I'd bet he's an upgrade at left wing. If he's really recovered, Barklage will be an improved back-up. I think Wallace will be better at left back, and better than Burch was. Jakovic and James should be a better inside tandem than we started with last year, and better together this year than last.

Admittedly, it's hard to replace Olsen, and even Gomez. Also, if Namoff doesn't come back, that's a position DCU will struggle to fill. Still, I'm excited about seeing N'Galula grow into his potential. I'm hopeful that someone can keep Namoff's seat warm until he's healthy, and I'll keep my fingers crossed that the central midfield won't be a totally unproductive disaster.

Mostly, I'm hoping that Perkins and Hamid can keep games close. If United can hold together defensively, perhaps the offense will come. As I posted in an earlier thread, I'm expecting United to be very aggressive in the summer transfer window trying to bring in some big-name talent. Targets? The usual suspects are Seedorf, Vieira, Henry and Raul. However, I'm sure there are some surprises, with players who are more ready to come over. Maybe Cisse will get hit with a new dose of wanderlust.

Posted by: fischy | March 2, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Like soccerman, I am trying to figure out who is going to play right mid field if not Quaranta. It sounds like Pontius is going to move to forward, so that leaves who - McTavish? Khumalo? Barklage? Szetela? I'm not excited at the prospect of the first 3, and I'm not sure that's the best position for Szetela.

Posted by: Senor_Funk | March 2, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Having a No. 10 hasn’t worked too well these past two years so a switch in tactics might be just what we need. It’ll definitely be a new look and style but count me as one looking forward to the change away from one single playmaker making uber money an acting as the single playmaker. Attacking thru the middle and using our wings plus having younger players means more speed and more attaching options which leads us to be less predictable. Teams will not be able to simply jam the middle and take us out of the game.
It’s hard to say if we have the players needed to achieve this but Quaranta is definitely capable to lead the attack thru midfield/wings and defend when needed. Other players will need to step up such as Barklage, Castillo, Wallace and hopefully Szetela. Still a bit worried about our defense but with Perkins and Hamid I feel more comfortable than the past two seasons. An additional experienced defender with another striker to sharpen our attack will be helpful. One good thing about this year is that we only need to focus on MLS and US Open Cup. If the team jells together we will be dangerous.

Posted by: blip_it | March 2, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I accept that this may be the result of pre-season optimism (or even delusions), but I like the idea trying Santino in this position and I think that scoring goals won't be a huge problem for a team that lines up like this (I am also using my pre-season dose of optimism to wish away various injusy issues):

Alsopp- Pontius
Castillo - Quaranta - Simms - Szetela
Wallace - James - Jakovic - Namoff
Perkins

I am a litle more worried, particularly if Namoff's return is delayed, about stopping other people from scoring. I see some 3-3 ties in DCU's future.

Posted by: assocfoot | March 2, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Kenobi -- we're worried about the team not spending up to the cap (heck, not even spending up to $2M) because the roster sucks *right now*. Speaking only for myself, mind you, but I didn't enjoy the outcome of 2008 or 2009. I'd like to think we're at least on the road to put those years behind us, that 2010 would at least be a rebuilding year. Now it looks like 2010 will be a repeat of the last two, and we have to hope that *2011* will be a rebuilding year, since we've apparently decided not to rebuild this year.


Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | March 2, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Ron16:

Quaranta would sit the bench on most MLS teams? Have you seen most MLS teams?

DadRyan and mbyrd28:

It's an example from last year. Simms played center back a couple of times then, and it was a bad move. Jacobson happened to be one of the people used in defensive midfield when we made such a move. What I'm saying is that Quaranta playing centrally is another, similar move.

I am, if anything, far too aware as to who is and is not on the team.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | March 2, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

For some reason(s) this offseason doesn't have me excited about the prospects of the upcoming season as years past.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | March 2, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Szetela, for all his problems, is a better box-to-box midfielder than Tino will ever be. We need some one in the mold of Patrick Viera, Roy Keane or Cesc Fabregas. Obviously not their skill level because we wouldn't be able to afford them, but someone in that mold.

Posted by: owendylan | March 2, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Tino riding the pine at almost every other club in MLS!?!
You godda be fuggin' kiddin' me Ron.

Posted by: DadRyan | March 2, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

christopher_a_metzler:

Fair enough. The last two years were miserable, and there's not a lot of reason for optimism. There haven't been any big-name signings to wow the fans. Nobody (including me) was blown away by Curt Onalfo as the choice for head coach. However, have you ever had a boss who you just knew was in over his head? I have, and it's a pretty miserable experience. When management finally figures that out and a new guy is brought in, you get a renewed level of excitement about your job. I'd expect to see that from the players this year—different approach, different attitude. There at least seems to be some method to the madness this year, unlike Soehn's haphazard approach. It seems to me that a different approach to everything (roster moves, coaching, tactics, training) will benefit United in the long run. Call me an eternal optimist, but I have a feeling this season will be a pleasant suprise.

Posted by: Kenobi | March 2, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

"With [Onalfo] as my coach, I really feel like he believes in me as a person and as a player. It's mutual because I love him, the respect I have for him like nobody I ever played for. I enjoy being around him every day."
=============================

I think some of y'all are missing a larger point. Q certainly doesn't mince words when he's not feeling the belief, as he showed last year. So I don't take this as BS to shine up to the new coach.

If Onalfo can instill this feeling in 22 MLS caliber players -- I don't care who they are, or what scheme they play in (well, except Blackburn's)-- they will do well and they'll be fun to watch.

So I choose to believe, in Q and in O and in DCU.

"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

Posted by: OWNTF | March 2, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Ha, Ha, I figured as much Chest. Especially with all the discussion of such things over here:
http://www.blackandredunited.com/

Posted by: DadRyan | March 2, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Empty bucket

Posted by: scott47a | March 2, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you Kenobi. I'm actually optimistic too and think United will surprise this year. At least in MLS, low talent can be replaced with high athleticism and work rate. This year I see a lot more athleticism and size on United than in previous years and I think United is still building its core group of players. After that group is completed, then I think management will find the 1-2 players who can be true difference makers in MLS. As we have seen in previous years with New England and Houston, more talent does not equal success and often times good coaching and hard work can make up for low skill levels.

Posted by: Unitedfury | March 2, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

OWNTF:

That is a very good point. If the players are willing to go through hell for Onalfo, their teammates, and the shirt, tactics become less of an issue. Soehn never really inspired the team, other than possibly on our visits to Chicago (where we seemed to always deliver a performance high on desire to win the battle of wills, as well as get the little things right).

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | March 2, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't know where all these doubters are coming from on Tino. I think he is just as good as Beckerman or Kljestan, who keep getting called up to MNT, and perform well for their MLS teams. I can't wait for Santino to come out fast, fit, and the next DC United player with the heart of a lion.

Posted by: SeanWG | March 2, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

JoeW1 and Ron16 (and others): Quaranta's skills support the idea that he can take over the playmaking role. It's all about patience and confidence.

Joel_Lane: "too many games" is excuse making. I suppose we will see, but DCU played tons of games on limited rosters a decade ago and still won.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | March 2, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

@christopher_a_metzler

How can you say this isn't already a rebuilding year and we aren't on the road to putting those years behind us? Gomez, Emilio, Fred and Benny are GONE. United is definitely rebuilding with a long term view in mind - we're younger and faster across the board than we've been in years. The team identified the core of young talent that we could build around and jettisoned the dead weight... I mean that's HOW you rebuild a team and I think they're doing a good job so far.

Your complaints of not "rebuilding" seem rooted in the fact that we're not strong everywhere yet, but a rebuilding year is by definition a work in progress. You want the team to push up against the cap, go out and get some players from South America who maybe can start right away? That's what we did 2007-2009, which you so adamantly (and rightly) want to get away from. Those players are usually in their late 20s, in a few years we'd find ourselves in the same situation as 08-09.

They're not going to get big money guys just for the sake of getting big money guys. I think management has clearly learned from the past few years and they're being circumspect in rebuilding this team. I applaud this direction.

Posted by: spidergoose | March 2, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I choose to believe, in Q and in O and in DCU!

Me too.

Posted by: Truckr | March 2, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about the whole idea that in this league you need a two way player to control MF. I think players like Schelleto have been highly effective in that role, but I do not think that DeRossario (check spelling) is a classic number 10. However he has been effective throughout his career as an offensive minded CMF that plays somewhat withdrawn from the forwards. I think Tino can do the same. The real issue is if this team has the right personnel to play a 4-4-2 with two CMF and not the classic diamond shape of DCU in the past. I think we do have two to three solid players for that role: Quaranta, Simms, and Szetela, but we may need more depth. N'Galula is a bit of an unknown and Barklage should be able to play there as well. Hopefully Allsop and Pontius will have a good strike rate for this lineup to work. The one question I have is who will lineup at RMF if lets say Simms and Quaranta start? I think maybe it will become a competition between Khumalo, Szetela, and Barklage.

Posted by: no_recess | March 2, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Rob the Goose -- we *are* younger and faster, yes; but mainly that's just because we lost older and slower players. We haven't effectively replaced them. Contrary to what you wrote, "jettisoning the dead weight" alone isn't how you rebuild a team; you've also got to bring in new talent. That's where we've fallen short. Last year sucked, and this year's roster isn't an improvement over last year's. It's not enough to lose players that aren't in your future; you have to bring some talent in, too.

Of the field players, who's gone: Emilio, Olsen, Gomez, Fred

Of the field players, who's come in: Castillo, Allsopp

Where we are with respect to the cap: $1.8M, ~$600k short of the new cap limit.

You're absolutely right that spending that money on a couple of high-priced South American fliers would be a dubious choice. I agree with you. But it's a false dichotomy to pose that as the only other way to proceed; we're not constrained only to doing that or doing nothing. Is there really *nobody* on the entire planet available for less than, say, $175k that's better than, say, Khumalo? *Really*?

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | March 2, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Bad move. Tino's experiment at CAM will be over by mid-season, killed by mediocrity, too much wringing his hands through his hair gel, and getting flustered with teammates.

Here's to hoping he proves me wrong.

Posted by: delantero | March 2, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

"I'd expect Castillo to be the starter on the left, with Wallace at left back."

I like what this pairing represents: overlapping, attacking runs from the back from a defender with enough youth and speed to be dangerous and GET BACK to defend. I think Castillo will make Wallace more dangerous because he will give, go and make runs with him. I would like to see a similar pairing on the right. Move Clyde Simms to back right and push Khumalo in front of him. With speed on the flanks, Quaranta in the attacking mid slot works. He can float left or right at times and allow Castillo or Khumalo to make central runs.

I would pair Jakovic and Szetela in the defensive mid-roles, in part because Jakovic is very good on the ball.

Namoff and James could then anchor the central defense, and I think this pairing of athleticism and experience has some potential.

Allsopp can poach and Pontius can be an aerial target from crosses. Jaime in off the bench to give us a shot when we need it, or when we want to possess the ball late in games with a lead.

We could keep an eye open for a right back counterpart to Wallace in case Clyde can't make the transition. Or maybe Barklage could make a Chris Albright-type career move to right back.

If you are going to move away from the Diablo/Gomez-style of play, you might as well move all the way. What DCU could fashion is not unlike what the USMNT has done since the departure of Claudio Reyna.

Posted by: rcdwriting | March 2, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Well I guess I view the choice as more "go out and get possible impact players for right now and fill the cap" or "do our homework, figure out exactly the guys we want and have the flexibility to get them this summer." If we go into the season with all those holes maybe-filled, we don't have the ability to make the changes necessary in August to finish the season strong.

As it is, I think they have made pretty good choices in replacing the guys who are gone. Perkins is a huge upgrade. We'll see how Castillo does, but I think it's safe to say that at this point that Fred will likely be an addition by subtraction right off the bat. Haven't seen what Alsopp will do. There's a good chance Pontius year 2 will be a better starting forward than Moreno year 14. Olsen is tough to replace. Namoff, god forbid, would be tough to replace. I think Szetela can be a quality player. In my view, we have a good core to move forward with.

I don't think you can underestimate what bringing Troy back will do for this club's defense as a whole. We can work on the goalscoring bit from there.

Posted by: spidergoose | March 2, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Empty bucket

Posted by: scott47a

BTW, I just LOVE your signature on Big Soccer these days buddy boy. It's kind like you having my name on the back of your puke green jersey IMHO. LOL.

Posted by: DadRyan | March 2, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm. Let's see. Maybe I'm too hard on "Backpass" Quaranta. He started out with DC United as a teenager, made some noise, then fizzled, and we traded him to LA for a partial allocation and a ham sandwich.

He then had a stellar stint with LA, so much so that they traded him to the awesome New York Red Bulls for a fourth round pick in the prestigious MLS draft, and a stick of gum.

He achieved such incredible superstardom in New York, he reportedly turned down offers from Pele himself to fast-track Brazilian citizenship and take over as the #10 shirt for their national team. Oh wait, none of that happened. He was actually *waived* by the Red Bulls.

And, since he has been back with DCU, he has made a lot of pretty backpasses, 2 or 3 goals a season. Whoop-de-do.

OK, fine, whatever, build the team around him. We can't do any worse than last season. Well, not *much* worse, anyway.

Posted by: Ron16 | March 3, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Okay, fine - Tino in the center. Then who's on the right? Sztela...no, he's in the center, too, since Simms is hurt. I guess you could put Pontius there and play Moreno and Alsop up top, but I thought the idea was to play Pontius at striker more this year (since that is his best position). Khumalo? Has it come to that - Khumalo is a first-choice starter? This roster is missing a piece.

Posted by: jsm91 | March 3, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Q does not the ingredients to play central MF, i'd rather see Jaime Moreno take that position if a player cannot be found. As for Szetela, lots of talent, but when it comes to crunch time, where is it. Reminds me of players that shine in practice, but fail to deliver on the pitch. Perhaps he needs TLC from the coach to boost his confidence. Based on the current roster moves, sad to say, DC looks mediocre on paper.

Posted by: juke2 | March 3, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

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