What to do with Rodney Wallace

Rodney Wallace - photo courtesy of Matt Mathai

With DC United acquiring Christian Castillo on loan last month, we’ve been left to wonder what the team will do with their incumbent left midfielder Rodney Wallace. Many have suggested that Wallace should be United’s new left back, but its hard to say if that is necessarily the best place for him. Here are the three possibilities:

Left Back – Over the past several years for DC United, the left back position has been known as one of  the weakest links on the team’s roster. You could even say that the team has lacked consistency at this position since they traded away Mike Petke in 2005. The default starter over the past three seasons has been Marc Burch, but Burch is far from a consistent, and the team has obviously not been very satisfied with his performance either, having brought in Gonzalo Martinez to attempt to fill that role in 2008, and drafting a left back out of Maryland in 2009.

That left back out of Maryland goes by the name of Rodney Wallace, but despite playing that position in college, Wallace has yet to receive much of a chance in the back line in the pros. By my recollection, he only started one match at left back during the 2009 season, and was not impressive enough to win that role. Wallace has shined on the left side of midfield, but is he ready for the additional responsibility of the left back position?

Central Midfield – When Clyde Simms was out with a hernia injury midway through the 2009 season, and then again when Simms was moved temporarily to central defense, Rodney Wallace filled in adequately at Simms’ defensive midfield position. He may not have had the same vision and positioning as Simms, but his speed and aggression was a great asset to the team. The question here is how many central midfield slots will be available in 2010. When United played in a 3-5-2 formation or in a sort of flat 4-4-2 last year, they often utilized two central midfielders. Simms was the mainstay, and will continue to be, while the other spot was typically filled by either Ben Olsen or Andrew Jacobson. With both of these players now off the roster, the team is likely to look to Danny Szetela to step up. Might there also be room though for Wallace to get into this rotation?

Left Midfield – So Christian Castillo is here. So what? With three goals and three assists from this position last year, it’s hard to argue that Wallace really deserves to lose his job. And as many have said, Castillo is far from a sure thing. So if Rodney Wallace had no problem beating out the incumbent Fred for a starting role at left wing early in 2009, who’s to say that he won’t beat out Castillo also?

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