DC United 2009: The club that can’t stop failing

So, DC United misses the playoffs for the second-consecutive season. Am I surprised? Not really, it’s been clear from fairly early on that this team was practically built to swoon down the stretch and swoon it did – winning only two of its last seven matches. That said, missing out on the playoffs on a comedy handball by a festering sore of a player (Fred) in stoppage time was an especially emphatic way of doing it.

In a way, I am almost glad they’ve missed out. Not that I cheer for DC to lose, because I don’t. But because making the playoffs would only have delayed the truly important task of rebuilding this team and hiring a new coach.

Finally this season is over. Why do I say finally? Simple, because regardless of pollyannas will tell you about the club’s improvement on the Champions League or reaching the Open Cup Final, the reality is that United, on and off the field, is a club mired in mediocrity and/or outright failure. This season has sucked from top to bottom.

Of course, as with everything relating to Untied right now, this goes back to the new stadium project. The pursuit for a new stadium, the single most important focus of the United front office, has been wallowed in miserable failure for months now. Yet again, we’ve gone into a long period of radio silence from everyone (club, public jurisdictions, etc.) regarding the stadium project. As I have said over and over again, I remain very very pessimistic on this team’s ability to do what it takes to get a new stadium built in the DC area. Like everyone, I am hoping that Chang is just trying to play a long game here and wait out the recession before pushing for the stadium again.

The problem is, I haven’t heard that tact out of the management. What I have heard is that “Ohhh, we’re talking all right. We’re doing a lot of talking. We just can’t tell you what we’re talking about or who we’re talking to.” Meanwhile, even more worrying, we’re not hearing any leaks from the people United is allegedly talking to. I call bullshit. Either start going public about what’s going on or say that nothing is happening at all. Because right now, the “we can’t tell you” answer has ceased to be credible.

So while management was silent on the stadium front, they were also silent in terms of dealing with the management situation on the personnel side. Let’s make it clear, Tom Soehn had no business staying as United’s coach after the US Open Cup final disaster. They held on to him because “United doesn’t fire coaches midseason.” Well, right now United doesn’t win silverware either. A well-made hire made after a Soehn hiring could have absolutely seen this team make the playoffs and saved us the embarrassment of missing the playoffs again. Soehn has proven over and over again that he does not know how to consistently motivate and organize teams to perform consistently. This could’ve been remedied, it wasn’t, and now we’ve missed the playoffs…again. Well done, boys.

So with Soehn gone and Richie Williams the odds on favorite to replace him, there is an opportunity afoot to rebuild this team. Here’s the problem, GM Kevin Payne (when not screwing up stadium deals) and Technical Director Dave Kasper haven’t shown any ability to evaluate new signings, especially foreign ones. United lost out on Veron and since then has repeatedly swung and missed when it came to bringing in players who actually improve the squad. I’ll grant that Jakovic actually looks like a halfway useful player, but here’s just a partial list of signings who just weren’t nearly good enough – Wells, Crayton, Gonzalo 1, Gonzalo 2, Gallardo (good enough, but completely disinterested), Janicki, DiRimando, N’Silu, Szetela, Niell, Fred, Gomez the 2nd time, Dyachenko the 2nd time, and on and on and on. No matter how much United fans may love them for wearing our shirt, that list is composed of a combination of bums, stiffs, and malcontents who quite simply haven’t performed.

Right now, as little faith as I have in management, I fully expect to find out that Gomez, Moreno, Emilio, and Fred have had some kind of mysterious option pick up by the club and are now signed for the next six years. I hope that’s not the case. Ideally, I’d give Moreno a parade and a key to the city as he retires, give Gomez a shake of the hand and a solid thanks as he plies his trade elsewhere, boot Fred ass back to Australia where clearly they appreciate his deft skill at giving the ball away and take Emilio over to the FBI to have them test new forms of interrogation on him. I think one test for every game where he quit after about 30 minutes sounds about right.

Seriously though, if those guys do return, at even close to their current salaries, then United management will have failed yet again.

Coming on the heels of the last two seasons here in Washington, I expect nothing else.

Let’s see if United can prove me wrong. I certainly hope so.

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14 thoughts on “DC United 2009: The club that can’t stop failing

  1. Management is really incompetent, I remember an online Q&A with Payne back in June/July where he clearly said that United will give news about the stadium status in early fall. Well it’s the end of October now and nobody has heard anything.

  2. As much as I hate to say it, I won’t feel that aggrieved if DC United started to look elsewhere for stadium funding. The way local jurisdictions have fumbled and bumbled is enought to turn any reasonable owner off a local deal. Its a shame the District paid out a cool 400 million to put an abortion of a baseball team in town.

  3. While I agree with the vast majority of this post, I don’t/can’t blame the management with respect to the stadium issue.

    Remember, DC, VA, and MD are the same folks who jerked the Redskins (READ: By far the most popular sports franchise ever in DC) around so much and for so long that JKC had to build that concrete crap-hole in Largo, ahem, Raljohn. Do you really think a MLS team, even as popular as DC United, would fare nearly as well? I didn’t either.

    Front Office Issues, gotcha; Terrible personnel decisions, you betcha; Bad Coach, couldn’t agree more; Stadium Problems, see the DC City Council for that one.

  4. MARKETING DEPARTMENT SUCKS ASS! They had interns walking around the Stadium asking latinos if they were from “El Salvador”. If they said yes, they got a gift certificate. If they said no, the interns walk away.

    I’m Latino, but I’m not from El Salvador. I could have easily started a law suit but didn’t, and talked a few friends into NOT going forward with one because we don’t need any SOCCER SHAME in this country.

    Don’t even get me started with the Latino Festival this year. The DC Head office is an example of a poorly run Sports Franchise.

  5. Regarding Soehn, I like him. But the dude was too raw. I’ve been impressed with his subs, and alterations. But the issue is that he put himself into situations he shouldn’t have. His lack of Motivation, or “chilled” approach is not a leadership traite. The guy is Raw and I truely believe he’ll make a fine coach one day, just not now.

    Hope fully DC is done with hiring 1st timers. I want experienced coaches.

  6. Aaron writes: missing out on the playoffs on a comedy handball by a festering sore of a player (Fred) in stoppage time was an especially emphatic way of doing it.

    Given the many valid things one could gripe about re: Fred, this seems the silliest I’ve ever seen. Fred gave up a PK on a ball that, in absence of contact, was on an expressway into the goal. The only difference at all between what happened — they scored on a PK — and what would have happened if he hadn’t handled the ball — they score normally — was his red card. That’s it. That’s all.

    Not that I think for a second that Fred thought it out; but if he had, I’d call it a cynical but arguably good play. The total chance of several possible positive outcomes — the handball being missed by the ref, Lopez’ missing the PK, or Cronin stopping the PK — was a heck of a lot higher than the chance that we’d get a winner in the last minute and a half after we let the ball go in.

  7. And if you believe that DC United somehow has more influence in the area than the Redskins, you’re completely delusional.

    I don’t believe the local governments are the ONLY ones at fault, but they (especially the DC Council) are a huge part of the problem.

  8. this

    Aaron, there is little more tiresome than an aggrieved person with the internet at their disposal

    I wonder how you cannot expect, in a league with such a low and strict salary cap, to not occasionally regress to the mean. You know what DC proved to be? Average. Median number of pts this season in MLS? 40. DC United points? 40. A team with 40 points made the playoffs, two did not. Now I think DC had enough talent to be above average, but I’m a DC fan. Regardless, the fall to average is not that great. Three more wins and a tie – 4 results in 30 games – and you’re talking Supporter’s Shield

  9. I thought you had a point on the Payne article, but this was a buttload of words to say nothing. First, uniteo is right–DC United is an MLS team like every other MLS team. Second, there’s no logical reason to link DC’s on-field performance to the stadium issue other than “these are two things that happened.” Third, how the hell is a team that fires a coach mid-season going to turn around and immediately make this great hire mid-season? And even if he was good why would you think he’d turn the team around that fast?

    A whole lot of blah blah blah expressed in an annoying tone.

  10. I think what hurt United in this season a lot was too many ties; only NY, SJ and KC have won less games that DCU. True, DCU did not lose all that many games but in this world a draw is a half defeat, not a half win, and that did not help.

  11. I agree with Omid Namazi for coach. I remember him playing for the Diplomats back in late 80’s . Hell of a competitor, and it seems like he’s had success in coaching in a few different places. I would give someone like that a shot and think out of the box, rather than going with Old Boys Network.

  12. what dc united need to do instead of giving random usl players contract give there academy a look and sign one or two how can give them same contract and still develope as a player since he will only be 17 or 18 years old they have many talented players and some of those latinos players they have that are from el salvador could bring many fans to the stadium…they need a new coach where he will look at his youth teams and use the home grown players…I hope they do that and build a team around youth and have some expierenced players back to help them grow

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