How’d 2013 Treat ‘Em: 3-24-7 (W-L-T), 22 gf, 59 ga; 10th in the East, last in the world…
Badly. Like crack-whore badly. To call it a parade of horrors doesn’t do it justice. DC United broke just about all the wrong records in 2013; they discovered a state beyond incredulity. A personal fascination with decay and collapse prompted me to watch them a couple times, but decency compelled me to turn away before too long (the utterly shitty soccer hardly encouraged the effort). I’m certain that someone, somewhere – perhaps even someone not named Ben Olsen – will point to DC’s U.S. Open Cup title to suggest that things weren’t all bad. But, in all seriousness, that’s like walking into the hospital with a severed hand to show them the really great manicure.
Exciting Additions! – Davy Arnaud, Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Eddie Johnson, Fabian Espindola, Jeff Parke, Christian Fernandez
Tricky Departures… – Dwayne DeRosario, James Riley
Quality Parts: Boswell, Nick DeLeon, Espindola, Franklin, Johnson, Perry Kitchen
It Gets Better If They Come Good: Davy Arnaud, Nana Attakora, Conor Doyle, Fernandez, Bill Hamid, Jared Jeffrey, Chris Pontius (injury-free?)
What I’d Expect Based on the Above:
It. Has. To. Get. Better. That it would take just four wins, or scoring 23 goals over 34 games, gets at the smallness of the task. To their credit, DC went several steps better: they brought in enough good, league-proven players that nothing short of an ACTUAL curse should see this team double their number of wins at a minimum. That they didn’t lose much – i.e. they kept their good parts, even the injury-prone ones – gives hope that DC might rise to something lofty as respectability. In all honesty, I’d go farther: because I can’t think of the last time I saw a team build so intently for the present, this is a project that bears watching. Players like Franklin and Espindola have enough proven quality that, provided some other things go right (see: a healthy Pontius and an in-form DeLeon; a less self-absorbed EJ), this bunch is very much in it for the unpredictable East. Even a guy like Davy Arnaud, who has fallen off a little in spite of the manic drive, gives them a good locker-room guy. Are they playoff ready? I’ve heard people temper any optimism with caveats about the time it takes for teams to gel, but DC picked the best players possible to massage that problem. So, no, I wouldn’t put the playoffs beyond them…though I am ready to hop off that bandwagon the second it starts burning.
2014 Season Opener: v. Columbus, March 8