The season starts today.

And I have NO IDEA how we will do.

DC United at LA Galaxy

WHERE: Home Depot Center, Carson, CA
TIME: 3:00pm
TV: Comcast SportsNet, Telefutura
RADIO: ENGLISH – WTOP 1500AM and 820 AM; WFED 1050 AM; SPANISH – WACA 1540 AM, WZHF 1390 AM, WLXE 1600 AM

Pregame Reading:

Quick Recap on the OffSeason:

  • We booted Marcelo Gallardo out the door – Probably, this was a mutual breakup. He spent most of last year injured, and really contributed very little (not his fault, injured) except a staggering amount of dollars to the team’s expense sheet. He had an opportunity to go back to River Plate in Argentina where he started his career. The little bits I’ve seen him on FSC show he’s still got game. Just maybe not MLS game.
  • We booted the Brothers Gonzalo out the door – Not mutual. This was a “It’s not me, it’s you” breakup, even though I don’t think they were the cause of our troubles (I blame coaching and injuries… in that order). Gonzalo Martinez is, I think, back in Colombia. And Gonzalo Peralta is back in Argentina on loan, where we apparently still have his rights should we at some point decide to bring him back. Martinez had a great last few years playing central defense, so where did we put him? Outside fullback. Peralta was the only defender capable of heading a ball out of danger, but after some injuries, it seemed like the staff just didn’t like him anymore.
  • We GOT Christian Gomez back – In a trade where we gave up Honduran left mid/defender Ivan Guerrero, a DP slot, and a draft pick to get him, GK Mike Graczyk, and an international slot. I spoke about it here.
  • We got some decent draft picks – There is a lot of debate on whether or not we *should* have gotten these particular guys at those particular picks. At the end of the day, I just want them to contribute. By all appearances Andrew Jacobson (last years draft, spent a year in France) looks good, Chris Pontius looks good, Rodney Wallace looks good but raw, Brandon Barklage has a good motor (think Josh Gros), and backup goalie Milos Kocic. Time will tell if we can actually develop these guys, but lets hope they are put in a better position to succeed than our rookies last year were.
  • We signed some guys who we know nothing about – Im talking about Dejan Jakovic (D), Anthony Peters (D), and Ange N’Silu (F). Only Jakovic is a likely starter.
  • We brought back some guys who just aren’t that good – Even though he is generally pretty well regarded, I think Marc Burch is merely “OK” as an outside defender, and truly gawd-awful as a central defender. He’s back. Ryan Miller was a waste of space last year in midfield, he’s listed as a defender this year.
  • Ben Olsen is back – If he’s healthy enough to play, and play anywhere near his past levels then this is a good move. If he’s not…

It looks like we are starting with a 352 (per the BigSoccer best guess community). If we are, that benefits Christian Gomez since he’ll have two DMs behind him to take away defensive responsibilities (we shoulda done that with Gallardo, but oh well). The problem is who do we put out on the wings? Soehn’s first choice wingers are Fred and Quaranta. As wingers in a 352, you have to do a lot of running, a lot of attacking, and also a lot of defending. Fred? maybe. ‘Tino? nope. And I’m not sure we have another viable option who can actually “defend” well on the flank since we got rid of Guerrero. Unless one of the new guys like Pontius can maybe fill that role.

Other Question Marks:

Can the Defense defend? Central defense is the number one question. If the coaching staf thinks we can go back to McTavish and Burch in central defense and actually win a game, we are in for a VERY long season. Right now the starters are the unknown Jakovic and “looks pretty decent, but he was playing in a lower division” Janicki. Let’s say they do as I predict, and they play decently well. What if one of them goes down with injury? We are so screwed.

Can Moreno keep up? He’s only getting older, not younger. He can’t be a 90 min player every game anymore. He hasn’t been for several years now. But the fact of the matter is, he is our best player. If other players can take pressure off of him, and if there is a viable alternative off the bench to give him a rest, then we’ll be good. However, if we are dependant on him, and him alone for success then we are so screwed.

Can Gomez repeat his past glory? Just like Moreno, he’s only getting older and not younger. He hasn’t been a 90 min player since his second year here. The front office did the right thing before last season in trading him away. Did they do the right thing in bringing him back? Just like Moreno, if he has guys around him to take the pressure off, and if he can get a rest here and there, and hopefully he’s in better shape this season, then we’ll be good. If those requisites aren’t met, then we are screwed.

Can Emelio repeat past glory? He depends on the team around him also. He is extremely dependant on service to score goals. If he gets that service near the box, we’re good. If you see him with his back to goal trying to turn a defender at midfield, then we are screwed.

I’ve got my fingers crossed…

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