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.