D.C. United released Thabiso Khumalo today in a move that surprised many, but is really just another chapter in the continuing story of United making a concerted effort to turn over the roster and get younger.
Khumalo may only be 29, but he represents another piece of the old guard. In a period that's already seen the departures of two former MVPs and the iconic face of the franchise, I guess this makes sense as the next logical move.
Khumalo had reached his peak as an MLS player. His natural role was as a reserve winger with good speed, moderate creativity, but not enough tactical awareness, precision passing skills, or finishing ability to be a starter.The emergence of Pablo Hernandez as our top setup man actually dropped Khumalo one step lower on the winger depth chart. Why? Because Santino Quaranta, Chris Pontius, and Andy Najar are all now competing for two outside midfield positions. Khumalo was only ever likely to make the bench going forward when one of those three is injured.
It's no secret that Khumalo's departure is a signal to the eminent signing of 18-year old attacking midfielder Junior Carreiro. Goff said in the print edition this morning that a decision of Carreiro was expected this week, and Caulfield even alluded to it on dcunited.com. And while we don't really expect Carreiro to be much of a contributor in 2010, he offers more long-term potential than Boyzzz.
This move also marks the end of the Soehn era strategy of signing players away from the USL. Greg Janicki, Tiyi Shipalane, and Thabiso Khumalo all being released means that United doesn't have any former USL players on their roster anymore. They only have Kurt Morsink, who SHOULD be in the USL.
We wish Boyzzz the best. He did have some positive performances for United, ending his MLS career with one goal and three assists. He was at his best when coming on late in a match to use his speed as a weapon against tired defenders. But as the team tries to get better by adding new talent and moving away from the losing culture of the past 2.5 seasons, this move is sounding like it was more and more necessary.