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Posted at 11:23 AM ET, 01/20/2011

With MLS training camps opening, D.C. United's roster takes shape

By Steve Goff

With players reporting to Washington this week for physicals and meetings, we take a look at the D.C. United roster ahead of training camp, which begins in earnest next week. Other trialists might join the group soon. Meantime, the hunt for the elusive international goal scorer continues. The MLS roster limit has increased to 30 from 24, but clubs are not required to fill every slot.

GOALKEEPERS (4)

Bill Hamid: 20-year-old academy grad with a season of experience returns from shoulder surgery (read my feature story about his physical and mental maturation)
Steve Cronin: solid second-tier keeper acquired in Troy Perkins trade with Portland, will compete for starting job
Chase Harrison*: Virginia Tech grad was with DCU late in 2010
Joe Willis*: 6-foot-5 third-round draft pick from U of Denver

DEFENDERS (10)

Dejan Jakovic: Canadian center back in third season with DCU
Rodrigo Brasesco: Uruguayan on loan plays in middle and right
Jed Zayner: outside back made good impression late last year
Perry Kitchen: No. 3 overall draft pick from NCAA champion Akron and U.S. u-20s, brings bite to middle, also plays in midfield
Marc Burch: recovered from foot injury; left back and cover in middle
Julius James: center back made strides last season
Devon McTavish: utility veteran plays on right, provides central cover
Daniel Woolard: Outside back formerly with Chicago
Ethan White: homegrown center back from U of Maryland, U.S. U-20s
Chris Korb*: Left and right back chosen in second round from Akron

MIDFIELDERS (10)

Branko Boskovic: Designated player acquired 2010 midseason is comfortable on the left and in the middle, needs to make greater impact
Dax McCarty: Starter for MLS Cup finalist Dallas, immediate starter in middle as a two-way player, currently in U.S. national team camp
Andy Najar: 2010 MLS rookie of year can play either wing
Santino Quaranta: veteran on the left, right or up top
Clyde Simms: starting defensive midfielder in seventh season
Kurt Morsink: gritty central player started 18 matches
Stephen King: central player made 16 starts in 2010
Junior Carreiro: young reserve flank player
Conor Shanosky: homegrown prospect plays centrally
Brandon Barklage*: hoping to return from second ACL injury

FORWARDS (5)

Chris Pontius: 2009 rookie gem returning from hamstring surgery
Josh Wolff: U.S. World Cup veteran claimed in re-entry draft from K.C.
Joseph Ngwenya: claimed in re-entry draft from Houston
Abe Thompson*: U of Maryland, six years' pro experience
Blake Brettschneider*: Supplemental draft pick from South Carolina

*on trial

By Steve Goff  | January 20, 2011; 11:23 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  | Tags:  D.C. United  
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Comments

Jeff Maurer breaks down the adjectives used to describe players.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | January 20, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

A memorial to Paul the Octopus in Oberhausen, Germany.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | January 20, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

ya know, if our keeper plays well, the defense gels, the midfield is productive, and DCU finds a forward to score some goals, this could be a good season.

Posted by: Tweaked | January 20, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Someone else has asked this question also, I know: Are we sure Najar won't work as a forward?

Re. Hamid, too bad he didn't come along and do this a couple years ago -- he could have taken Emilio down in the ratty basement with him and whipped him into shape also.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | January 20, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Steve, Ngwenya hear about another striker let us know.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | January 20, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Steve, Ngwenya hear about another striker let us know.

Posted by: fallschurch1 |

----------------------------

+1 for being able to make a pun out of Ngwenya

-1 for the pun itself

wichne

Posted by: wichne | January 20, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

So if the season started tomorrow:

-----------------Hamid-------------------
Brasesco-----Kitchen----Jakovic----Burch
Najar-----McCarty----Boskovic-----Quaranta
--------Pontius------Wolff--------------

Off the bench: Simms, Nqewnya, Morsink? Oy vey.

Posted by: wanker82 | January 20, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

If this roster plays to its potential, this bunch of scrubs, retreads, and has-beens could be .500.

Wow how this club has fallen.

Posted by: Ron16 | January 20, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

It's not hard to believe this is an improvement over last year's camp roster at about the same stage. We'll just have to see whether the rest of the league made strides as well and how much United caught up. But it was a 2-team expansion year, so that has to help a bit.

And I'm assuming this means the end of the line for Barry Rice.

Posted by: benonthehill | January 20, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Simms starts, SQ subs, for me. Bosko to the left.

Simms (if he plays as well and as reliably as he did from 2006-2009, and is healthy**) allows Dax and Bosko to attack more.

Think I might put Najar up front, perhaps withdrawn, with Ngwenya. Pontius needs to play his way back into the first 11. Let the rest fight it out for RM...


**Has this become a big IF?

Posted by: JkR- | January 20, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I hear the RFK wildlife are also in preseason training. Sprints from the stadium to the river and back.

Posted by: Pedalada | January 20, 2011 12:27 PM | Report abuse

The pun made my day. Thanks Falls Church. If the defense gels and our keeping is solid I see a lot of 0-0 draws and 0-1 losses. I like the idea of Najar up top. That guy is our best finisher.

Posted by: mbyrd28 | January 20, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

@Ron16,

"Has-beens"?

Th LA Galaxy Adult Activity Club plays in MLS too. They only get younger as players retire.

Bruce was incredulous when Don Garber turned down his attempts to claim Thomas Dooley as a groomed replacement for Berhalter in the Re-Entry draft. He dealt Cobi Jones to the Cosmos in hopes that Tab Ramos and John Harkes would come west. And with the retirement of Eddie Lewis and Chris Klein, the Players Union said that Eddie Pope was not available in the re-entry draft and Earnie Stewart has yet to be reached for comment. And it's rumored that in the summer he will make a move for either Kasey Keller or Brad Friedel.

Where's Steve Sampson?

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | January 20, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Steve, that was a very well crafted piece on Hamid.

Thanks.

Now if only The Post webmasters would put it up as the linked story on the United & Soccer page, replacing your draft story.

Posted by: seahawkdad | January 20, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

@Ron16 That's just false. "Has-Beens" in no way describes this team - if you insist on being negative, it'd be more accurate to call them "Never-Was-es" since we've got the youngest team in the league and only have 2 players over the age of 30.

It's a young, unproven roster with a young, unproven head coach. If half the team adopts the drive and commitment of Bill Hamid right now, they'll absolutely make the playoffs and might even make it interesting.

The one thing that still does worry me is forward. There's no one at forward right now in the vein of an Emilio or a Moreno (or a Ching, or a Cummings, or a Saborio) who I feel 100% comfortable making the go-to guy. Fill that hole and I'm excited to see what this team has to offer.

Posted by: VercengetorixII | January 20, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Pontius - healthy now or still a project?

Posted by: 22206no1 | January 20, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

My guess for a starting lineup is
Cronin
Brasesco Kitchen James Jakovic
Najar Simms McCarty Boskovic
Ngwenya Wolff

Primary reserves are
Hamid, Zayner, Quaranta, and Pontius

Solid back line, but limited offense.

I would not be surprised by opening day that Burch and McTavish are cut i.e. their salaries are out of line to their potential contribution.

I am one of those, who do not see with this set of players, how DC United is going to be able to score many goals. FO needs to sign a top line forward/AM that distribute the ball and a forward that can score goals

Posted by: lgsrtraub | January 20, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I'd argue we won't play a 4-4-2. Instead look for a 3-5-2 or a 3-5-1-1. Plus I see Cronin starting over Hamid. Hamid's coming off surgery, and Cronin was at least competent when he was here last. Oh, and with Pontius coming back from sugery too, I'm not expecting him to start.

Cronin
James Kitchen Jakovic
Najar Simms Dax Bosko Q
Ngwenya Wolff

So, what's the over-under on how long before we resign Jaime?

Posted by: Matte | January 20, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

DCU will go with a 4 back system, right? So many questions ensue! How will 8 CM fit into the equation? Boskovic on the left? Quaranta up top practicing to replace Gano? Maybe even a 4-5-1? Uggh. I need answers

Posted by: TenoriosLaptop | January 20, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Why aren't we bringing in a player like Brandon Manzonelli for a look? He's a free agent and I'm sure NE doesn't have rights to him anymore since it's been 2 yrs since they didn't extend his contract.

You can't tell me he's worst than our academy players?

Posted by: Charisma_Man | January 20, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and I'm calling this now. Brasesco is the Christian Castillo of this off-season. I've never seen him play, but judging from the youtube that we got of him at his intro (which were presumably highlights), the guy is slow and stabs at the ball WAY too much. He's gonna get torched when/if he plays.

Posted by: Matte | January 20, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I could see a 4-2-3-1:

Hamid
Brascesco, Kitchen, Jakovic, Burch
Simms, Dax
Najar, Boskovic, Pontius
Wolff

Bringing in Quaranta, Ngwenya, and one more midfielder depending on need (Shanosky, King, or Junior).

Posted by: VercengetorixII | January 20, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Hamid

Brasesco-----Jakovic-------Burch

Najar-McCarty-Simms-Boskovic-Quaranta

Pontius--Ngwenya

Posted by: timmy6 | January 20, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

This may be crazy but I believe we should try to trade Jackovic for some sort of talent at striker. Let White and Kitchen play together and learn the trade. Since all signs point to this roster leading to an average year, I'll be a hell of a lot more excited to see us just build on our youth. (The only argument against this is if Kitchen can play RB. I am already in the boat that our loan will be a bust -what facts do I have none, but its the internet so its okay to state whatever you want with no facts.)

Let Hamid, Kitchen, White, Shanosky, and Najar learn the trade. Hell, I have been against this so far but maybe trading Simms for some attacking talent also might not be the worst idea either. All I am saying is I'll be a much happier fan if we finish .500 but I got to see a bunch of youngsters, mainly USMNT hopefuls, groomed into talent. Also, that actually looks like a spine of a team in the all pan out. If I see a bunch of "has beens" fail, I'll be bored by the time the Gold Cup starts.

Posted by: grubbsbl | January 20, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I would go with:

----------Hamid
?---Kitchen---White---Korb**
-----Shanosky----McCarty
Najar---------------------Quaranta*
-------Pontious
-----------Ngwenya*

Obviously, if Kitchen can play RB. I would keep Jackovic and play Kitchen there.

* Hopefully we can get someone better.
**After watching Akron many times this year, I believe this kid may be a major steal in the draft. But if we could get a more proven player I would obviously take it.

Posted by: grubbsbl | January 20, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

That's 29 players, including trialists...we can carry up to 30. But, 10 defenders is about 2 too many, even with Kitchen - and maybe McTavish - being able to also play in the midfield. We need a little more attack in the midfield and a "proven" striker under the age of 30.

Posted by: soccerman | January 20, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

The biggest hole in this lineup is the same one it's been the last 3 or 4 years – who's gonna score the goals? Based on previous seasons, it's not entirely inconceivable that this entire crop of forwards could end up injured at the same time. At this point, if I were running this team, I'd be putting together whatever package of players that's necessary to convince the Rapids to give up Omar Cummings.

Posted by: Kenobi | January 20, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I think McCarty is going to have a breakthrough season, he seems like he is just waiting for more responsibility.

I see a lot of fullback possibilities, but Zaynor is the only person I'd call a starter.

Is is sad that I think Abe Thompson might be the closest thing to a scorer we have, and he's on trial?

Posted by: UnitedDemon1 | January 20, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe all the people who are putting Boskovic at left midfield. Bah!

Look, he plays that role for Montenegro b/c his team is full of A-mids. Even Montenegro's first choice strikers are central mids with their clubs. It's out of necesity, not choice. If he plays at outside mid than that's a waste and we need to deal him. He doesn't have the workrate and speed you'd want as an outside mid. And let's be brutally honest: Dax McCarty is not an A-mid. He might be a good 2-way holding mid ala Ben Olsen. But he's not an A-mid. So to put Boskovic out wide is to say that we're either going to go with two defensive mids in the middle and play for 1-0 wins. Or it means we have TWO holes to fill: A-mid and a finisher.

I agree Boskovic is likely to see some minutes on the left but they'll be situational...when we want to clog the middle. Or our outside mids don't need to track back to defend.

We really need to get a finisher by the end of camp. While this team is far better (depth and talent) than last year's, it's still a team that will struggle for goals. We'll have much better possession than last year and create a lot of chances. But right now, there is no-one on this team I'd expect to score 10 goals. Maybe Wolff (with good service).

Posted by: JoeW1 | January 20, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I can see

Hamid
Zaynor----Jakovic---Kitchen----Burch
-------------Simms------------------
Najar----Branko---Dax------Santino
--------------Wolf-------------------

Posted by: wmsiii | January 20, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

If the defense gels.....

Posted by: mbyrd28 | January 20, 2011 12:36 PM

------------------------------------------------------------

Styling tips from Tino? Couldn't hurt -- maybe the best thing he has going.

Posted by: fischy | January 20, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Great article on Hamid! Wow, what a transformation. I hope his renewal is matched by a renewal of DCU.

Junk in, Junk out...glad he saw the light.

Posted by: DCB23 | January 20, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Where's Barry Rice? Last I heard he was being invited back on trial. That would round out to the full 30, but with an awful lot of trialists, and one too many goalies. I could see the team going forward with 28 or 29 slots, if they're intending to add players in the summer window, but anything less than that would be ridiculous.

DCU is now #1 in the allocation list, so the team could reserve a slot there -- no sense losing the cap space if all the contracts become guaranteed earlier (what's the current date for that?). The team should continue to look internationally for a real scorer -- possibly even a DP.

Assuming the team will cut loose one of the goalies, at least one defender and one of the forward trialists, the team really needs to find at least one other real player to come in for the whole reason. Ideally, the team would bring in at least one striker. If Kitchen stays in the defense, the midfield is looking a little uncertain, too -- what with the youngster Shanosky and Barklage returning form his second ACL tear. Depending on where Kitchen plays, the team really should bring in either one more midfielder or one more defender.

Posted by: fischy | January 20, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

*whole season -- not whole reason

Posted by: fischy | January 20, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Nice double-meaning to "ratty RFK Stadium", Goff...

Posted by: Reignking | January 20, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Please don't criticize Ron16 for being negative. It's like criticizing the night for being dark.

Posted by: dccal | January 20, 2011 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Opening Day

Hamid
Brascesco, Jakovic, James, Zaynor
Dax
Najar, Boskovic, Pontius
Ngwene Wolff

Posted by: RRP1 | January 20, 2011 7:16 PM | Report abuse

What happened to Wallace? Did we trade him?

Posted by: dcalize | January 20, 2011 9:12 PM | Report abuse

dcalize, Wallace was sent to Portland for Dax McCarty(who'd been selected by Portland in the expansion draft).

Maybe it doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot, but there is an interesting article about players mixing up the jersey numbers. Interestingly enough, no one is talking about Stephen King who by the articles account has been working his butt off in the offseason and will be dawning the #7 shirt this season.... Looks like Boskovic will be ending the confusion of him and Quaranta by changing to the #8 shirt.

Linky
http://www.dcunited.com/news/2011/01/numbers-game

Posted by: DadRyan | January 20, 2011 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Did someone say "Where's Wallace?" ??!?!?!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrSy9r0-lMg

Posted by: edgeonyou | January 20, 2011 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Ron16, you haven't got a clue. Have you followed DCU at all this offseason? While this is not yet a Supporters Shield club, any reasonable observer must conclude that DCU has gotten more talented while also getting younger this winter.

There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for improvement in 2011.

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | January 20, 2011 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Last year at this time the f/o was telling us that Santino is ready to be a #10.

Now this year, I'm not sure who the starting 4 on the backline will be, but they will be better than last year. And if we could trade Burch and McTavish and a draft pick for a proven goal scorer, we'd have a chance at making the playoffs.

Posted by: dsheon1 | January 20, 2011 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Perry Kitchen will quickly show value in playing a central defensive midfield position for DCU. He will clean-up behind whomever DCU have in a central Mid-field position & more importantly he can / will go forward and join the attack. DCU fans will love Kitchen.
Put Korb on pitch ASAP - let him man mark & dig in on defense.
Let's change the culture/mind-set of this team right away w/new blood.

Brascesco, Jakovic, Zaynor?? No, I don't think so... Najar, Dax, Kitchen, Korb, Pontius', Hamid yes - let's start to build around a core of young guys...

G

Posted by: Zipfutbol | January 20, 2011 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Perry Kitchen will quickly show value in playing a central defensive midfield position for DCU. He will clean-up behind whomever DCU have in a central Mid-field position & more importantly he can / will go forward and join the attack. DCU fans will love Kitchen.
Put Korb on pitch ASAP - let him man mark & dig in on defense.
Let's change the culture/mind-set of this team right away w/new blood.

Brascesco, Jakovic, Zaynor?? No, I don't think so... Najar, Dax, Kitchen, Korb, Pontius', Hamid yes - let's start to build around a core of young guys...

G

Posted by: Zipfutbol | January 20, 2011 11:57 PM | Report abuse

@JoeW1
I can't believe all the people who are putting Boskovic at left midfield. Bah!

Coudn't agree more. Outsiders in MLS have to run. The one thing about MLS players in general and American players in particular is that they can run. How would you like to be Burch, or Kolb, or whoever we put at left back and see Boskovic defending the MF in front of you. Boskovic is more likely to pull out a pack of cigarettes, light up on the touch line, and wait for a defender to get the ball back to the offense than chase down a Corey Ashe, a Dean Richards, or any midfielder not named Beckham.

How much game planning would it take for a team to look at a left side of a defense manned by Boskovic and Burch to figure out how they were going to attack DCU - again, and again, and again?

The thought of Boskovic and Burch "defending" just makes me wonder how long it takes before Hamid goes all Josh Wicks on the pair of them?

Posted by: rcdwriting | January 21, 2011 5:48 AM | Report abuse

@Zipfutbol,

Anybody else we should grab from UofA who can help turn DCU into Barcelona? Maybe a kid who taped Perry Kitchen's ankles last year to run our training staff? A '10 grad who's an LA on Capitol Hill now who can work miracles as DC Council liaison, maybe?

Posted by: benonthehill | January 21, 2011 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I think, given our midfield depth, and the dearth of quality up top, I think we should use a 4-3-3 formation this year. This is a lineup I'd like to see given the current roster:

Wolff/Ngwenya/???
Tino/Pontius Najar
BB
Simms Dax
Jed/Korb Jakovic Kitchen Brasesco
Hamid/Cronin

Next year, I would think Shanosky and White would hopefully be integrated into the lineup more and Bosko will be gone - maybe Simms, too. Our defensive depth and d-mid depth will be strengths to build on and the main needs will continue to be an improved A-mid and proven goal scorer.

Posted by: JaimeSegundo | January 21, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I think, given our midfield depth, and the dearth of quality up top, I think we should use a 4-3-3 formation this year. This is a lineup I'd like to see given the current roster:

Wolff/Ngwenya/???
Tino/Pontius Najar
BB
Simms Dax
Jed/Korb Jakovic Kitchen Brasesco
Hamid/Cronin

Next year, I would think Shanosky and White would hopefully be integrated into the lineup more and Bosko will be gone - maybe Simms, too. Our defensive depth and d-mid depth will be strengths to build on and the main needs will continue to be an improved A-mid and proven goal scorer.

Posted by: JaimeSegundo | January 21, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Glad to hear about Bill Hamid taking this more seriously, now hopefully the young homegrown players can develop quickly and join Hamid, Najar, and the rest of the D.C. veterans to make a run at the MLS playoffs.

RETURN TO MLS GLORY!

Posted by: cwimmer77 | January 21, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Any ideas on which "international goal scorers" DCU might try to get?

Posted by: MNKicker | January 21, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Romario.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | January 21, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Once you get past top 4, maybe 5 (Simms on a good day), DCU is struggling in the midfield! I get the "gritty" Morsink but that's pretty one dimensional. He needs to contribute more in controlling the middle third and in helping on the O.

Posted by: lovinliberty | January 21, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Wolff. Has-been. Quatranta. Has-been. Boscovic. Has-been. To name three just off the ntop of my head.

Of course, they are not all has-beens. There are plenty of young guys. And almost all of them are scrubs.

I don't know what some of you guys have been smoking. Last year's team was the Titanic, so far all we have gotten in terms of roster moves is rearranged deck chairs.

Posted by: Ron16 | January 21, 2011 10:13 PM | Report abuse

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