We're spending the first month or so of the D.C. United offseason grading each player on the roster with an approval rating. A vote for APPROVE means you were satisfied with the player's performance and want to see him back in D.C. next season. A vote for DISAPPROVE means you want United to move on without him. There is no middle ground, so please leave salary and contract implications out of your decision.
There was a noticeable change in competency in the D.C. United back line when Brandon McDonald joined the team at the beginning of July. After a 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union while he was just getting his feet wet, and tossing out the 3-3 draw with Toronto FC which we never count because it was played using a different set of rules from other soccer matches, United gave up only three goals in eight games with McDonald in the lineup through mid-September.
McDonald added a veteran presence to the D.C. back line that had been missing previously for the past several years. And he's only 25. Yeah, that still surprises me too. He's only 25. McDonald is strong and good in the air, but like some of his fellow defenders, is ocassionally prone to a slight loss of focus. He also scored one goal for United, although in a losing effort against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
One of McDonald's best traits is that he seems to have a calming, mistake-preventing influence on Dejan Jakovic. The shame though is that the pair only played five matches together. I think we're all looking forward to seeing what happens when that number increases in 2012.