The MLS transfer window closed today without even a whimper from D.C. United. While the Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes were each busy adding high-priced foreign forwards to their squads, United elected to stand strong with its current roster.
Even though United shifted from rebuilding to assembling a playoff team within a matter of a few months, their roster strategy never really changed. It always involved acquiring established American (or Canadian talent) rather than taking a chance on any players from overseas. The only foreign acquisition this season was Rodrigo Brasesco, and he's been gone since late Spring.
But is this strategy really sustainable?
No matter how good Dave Kasper has gotten at trading nothing for something, United probably can't live off homegrown signings, draft picks, and the occassional minor league addition forever. Not in a league where the runaway leaders for the Supporters Shield can go out and sign Robbie Keane on a whim.
D.C. United is going to have to make some tough decisions about their roster management in the coming months. In fact, I think they may have made one tough decision already.
If we assume that the rules for the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft to select players for the Montreal Impact are the same as the rules for last year's draft, then every team with at least four international players have to protect at least three of them. Teams with fewer than three international players can leave only one of them exposed. D.C. United has only two international players on its roster - Dejan Jakovic and Branko Boskovic. (Note that Dwayne De Rosario has a green card.) WIth Boskovic still unlikely to return in 2011, and possibly on his way out of MLS for good, he's an easy choice to leave exposed. But if not for the team's decision to cut Junior Carreiro earlier this season, United would have had three international players on the roster. And would have had to protect two of them.
Its a bit ironic, because back in November, we counted Carreiro as lucky to earn a spot on the protected list.
United will have some difficult decisions to make this November, no doubt. But at least one them is a bit easier without Carreiro around.