>Monday Lunch: It’s Always Sunny in D.C.

Posted: November 29, 2010 in mls
Tags: , , , , , ,

>By Evan Ream
4:28 P.M.
On a Sunday.
Evan Ream: Ben Olsen to be named the head coach of D.C. United………..NICE!
Russell Jordan: No Shave November is now mandatory for D.C. United players.

This is the first of many offseason moves that I want to talk about. I know that I said that I was going to do a mock draft recap last Wednesday, so I’m sorry to disappoint our readers (once again, thanks Mom!), but let me explain. I started typing up an article on Wednesday, putting out a possible lineup for Portland with the players that they had. At forward, I had Arturo Alvarez and at center mid, I had Dax McCarty. I then proceeded to check the plethora of tweets that had occurred since I typed out the lineup, only to discover that both McCarty and Alvarez had been traded to other teams. I didn’t know if the wheeling and dealing was over (it still may not be) so I decided to wait for things to quiet down a bit before I collected my thoughts and transcribed them. Here are my thoughts on the significant moves that have happened since the offseason started (in no particular order):
Ben Olsen named Head Coach of D.C. United
D.C. United President Kevin Payne claims that he interviewed a “half dozen candidates” for the coaching job in which a more experienced candidate was expected to be hired. Olsen, just 33 years of age, was ruled out of the head coaching job just a few months ago by Payne, saying that (and I’m paraphrasing) Olsen was not experienced enough for the job and that he would one day be a good head coach, but it wasn’t his time yet. Apparently, Kevin Payne then realized that owner Will Chang doesn’t have the funds at this time to hire a big name coach AND D.C. still owes Curt Onalfo $300,000 this year and next year. After putting all of this into consideration, D.C. decided that the most fiscally responsible choice would be Olsen. What does this mean for D.C. as a club though?
Olsen has always been a fan favorite. Though he has limited coaching experience, and is now the youngest coach in league history, there is reason to believe that he can succeed. Olsen is a natural leader both on and off the field and has the pedigree of playing in the league for 12 years. Both young players and veterans will likely listen to Olsen who obviously knows how the league and D.C. works. Olsen may not be the best coach in terms of tactics, but neither did Jason Kreis four years ago when he became head coach of Real Salt Lake. All Kreis has done since then is lead RSL to three playoff berths, one MLS Cup, and becoming the first MLS team to win a CONCACAF Champions’ League group. Olsen clearly has an eye for talent (he was apparently the driving force behind the Dax McCarty trade, which I will talk about next). At the very least, D.C. can be no worse next year. They are not a complete team yet, but if they sign a few impact players such as a goal scoring forward, they could compete once again with Olsen at the helm. I like this move.
D.C. United trades Rodney Wallace and a Fourth Round Draft Pick to the Portland Timbers for Dax McCarty and allocation money

D.C. got a steal here. Rodney Wallace is a good player, but D.C. has so many left sided options that he is clearly expendable. Last year, D.C. had terrible central midfield play (Kurt Morsink is not the answer), in recording just 22 points in league play. Dax McCarty is one of MLS’ best central midfielders. A fringe USMNT player, McCarty is just 23 years old and still improving. McCarty will add much needed bite to the D.C. midfield. Despite his relatively small stature (actually very similar to Ben Olsen’s), McCarty is a great ball winner and a great distributer. With McCarty, D.C.’s midfield looks very strong entering next year with Clyde Simms, Chris Pontius, Andy Najar, Santino Quaranta, and the underperforming Branko Boskovic: all at least decent options to play. I think McCarty will flourish in this environment; he was clearly underappreciated before while in Dallas.
Real Salt Lake trade a Second Round Draft Pick to the Portland Timbers for Arturo Alvarez
This is actually my favorite move of the offseason so far. I have always wanted to see what Alvarez could do when surrounded by better players. I don’t think he really fit well at San Jose who were more workman-like, and that just isn’t Alvarez. Alvarez always needed a team that plays possession oriented soccer and takes risks in the final third and Salt Lake needed another midfielder/forward. Next year will be the year where Arturo finally realizes his full potential. With RSL’s style of play, I fully expect him to score at least 10 goals next season. That is how much I like this move.
Toronto FC trades their First Round Draft Pick (8th overall) to Vancouver Whitecaps FC for Nathan Sturgis

Toronto, this is why your fan base hates you. You trade away a comparable player (Sam Cronin) for absolutely nothing and then you give away your FIRST pick in the draft to get pretty much the same player back. Toronto have a history of dumb moves like this. I guess it’s a good move for them, but it really looks dumb after their move earlier this summer. If Toronto don’t make the playoffs in year five of their existence, they could really alienate a lot of their fans (especially if the Whitecaps do), though that is what they deserve for not signing any good, veteran, central defenders that were on the market perhaps after the World Cup. I’m talking about defenders that may or may not have played for a CONCACAF team, are around 31 years old and from Wisconsin. Toronto may in fact be the worst Canadian team next year, but I digress. I guess I like this move. I really don’t know.
Colorado Rapids trade an international roster spot for Sanna Nyassi
Sanna Nyassi > Wells Thompson, so yes, I like this move. The MLS Cup Champions got better on a day that they were supposed to get worse. I can’t wait for next year’s Rocky Mountain Cup.
Finally, I would just like to look at the two expansion team’s rosters. They both got a lot of criticism for trading away certain players, but I think we should reserve judgment until we see what kind of players they draft and international players they sign.
Portland Timbers:
Eric Brunner
Steve Cronin
Bright Dike
Jordan Graye
Jeremy Hall
David Horst
Eddie Johnson
Peter Lowry
Adam Moffat
Ryan Pore
Rodney Wallace
There are some solid players in here. They probably have more solid starters than Vancouver, but they are still missing a lot of players. Brunner, Cronin, Lowry, Moffat, and Wallace are all good starters who should play from day one, but the others are fringe players who still have to prove it. They have been talking a lot about the players they are going to sign so we must wait for that.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC:
Joe Cannon
Jay Nolly
Jay DeMerit
Wes Knight
Jonathan Leathers
Philippe Davies
Atiba Harris
Shea Salinas
John Thorrington
Jay DeMerit is the best player on either of these teams by far. Joe Cannon is the second best. Vancouver may not have too many players, but the ones they do have are all pretty good. Nolly is a solid backup keeper. Leathers can be a starting outside back in MLS, while Atiba Harris can play pretty much anywhere and be a decent player. John Thorrington is the one player that they got that convinced me that they are going to be winning now. At 31 years old, an often injured player isn’t the type you select unless you are going to try to win this season. Thorrington is a valuable and skillful player who could push Vancouver into the playoffs.
As of now, I like Vancouver’s roster slightly more, but once again, we must reserve judgment until their full rosters come out. So far the offseason has been filled with many exciting moves, here’s hoping for a few more. See you guys next week.


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