Dejan Jakovic might have some tough competition this season at center back if rumored D.C. United target Emiliano Dudar turns out to be the real deal.
Steve Goff at the Washington Post has returned from his winter break with the first real D.C. United transfer rumor since Robbie Russell was signed. 30 year old Argentine center back Emiliano Dudar, currently playing for BSC Young Boys in the Swiss Super league, is being linked with a possible transfer to United.
Goff's source is Swiss newspaper Berner Zeitung's report. Here's the relevant text, translated via Google Translate:
The Young Boys start this morning with the preparation for the second round. The time of the artificial turf at the Stade de Suisse is one of the past - and in general there should be some changes. Emiliano Dudar (probably to Washington in the USA) and Hassan Lingani (Israel? Cyprus?) Are still on the lookout for new employers.
Dudar has played top-flight soccer in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Venezuela, and Switzerland, including at big clubs like Velez Sarsfield, Independiente, and Vasco da Gama. The optimist will say "Those are good clubs, and those leagues are mostly better than or equal to MLS," while the pessimist will note that Dudar has played with 8 clubs since 2005, and that top center backs generally don't follow the Luciano Emilio-style mercenary career path.
For what it's worth, Young Boys are currently sitting in 3rd place with the Swiss league at the halfway mark. However, Dudar has not played a game in any competition this season for them. During his career there, Dudar has 48 league appearances, in which he's scored 2 goals, notched 5 assists, while being booked 13 times and getting 2 red cards (one straight, one a second yellow). He also has 6 Europa League appearances, scoring once and being booked twice.
In terms of making big headlines, Dudar was unfortunately in a terrifying clash of heads in 2010 that required a trip straight to the hospital, where doctors placed him in a medically-induced coma for a day. Given the severity of the injury, the timing, and the managerial change that occurred in the meantime, it may not be entirely Dudar's fault that he fell out of favor.
Read on for more on the big question: Where would he fit in with DC?
A move for Dudar would give United four true center backs, something discussed on B&RU recently. With Dejan Jakovic's troublesome hamstrings - not to mention the likely call-ups he'll get from Canada during World Cup qualifying this summer - and Ethan White's possible involvement with the Olympic team, we probably needed to sign someone to prevent another season of shuffling the entire back four from week to week. Defenses thrive on stability, and it's much better to plug one player in than move Player A to a new position and then add Player B to cover for Player A's move.
Given Dudar's reputation and experience, however, it would seem fair to hope that he can be even more than our other center back. I'm not saying he should come in and immediately dominate the league, but at the very least I'd like to see a guy with recent Europa League experience - as well as experience at a club that challenges for honors in Switzerland - pushing the talented but inconsistent Jakovic for playing time. Yes, it would leave Ben Olsen with an important decision to make every week, but it's much better to have that situation than to pick the same lineup every time because you only have 10 (or less) good field players.
Taken as a group, recent MLS signings from Swiss clubs have done a respectable job. Eric Hassli is a star with the Vancouver Whitecaps, supplying goals, swagger, and drama in equal measure. Alain Rochat has also done well for Vancouver at left back (as well as center back and a couple appearances at defensive midfield) without making as much noise. Davide Chiumiento has been inconsistent, but that is at least partially down to the Whitecaps never coming up with a way to fit him into their formation; when he's used properly and is fully engaged, Chiumiento is among MLS's most skillful, daring players.
In DC, we've seen some less successful acquisitions from Switzerland. Carlos Varela actually looked like a good player that would have fit in well, but at 34 and facing a fight for playing time with Andy Najar and Chris Pontius on the wings, there was little point in a return in 2011 for us or for him. Ange N'Silu, meanwhile, became forgotten almost as soon as he signed with United back in 2009 (note: N'Silu was coming off a great season in the Swiss 3rd division, which is not exactly the same kind of resume as the other four players mentioned).
EDIT: In the comments below, Brendanukkah correctly notes that I forgot adventurous goalkeeper Louis Crayton, who provided as big a personality as Hassli does today without providing anywhere near the quality in terms of, you know, playing soccer. His tenure in the DC goal aged me horribly.
If Dudar can be closer to Vancouver's trio - or even just a younger Varela - this would be a reasonable move. Any defense that gives up 52 goals needs reinforcements in starting roles as well as better depth to press the first-choice players into higher quality performances.
If he ends up being yet another failed international signing, well...at least with McDonald, Jakovic, and White ahead of him, we won't have to see him much. What I'm trying to say is that I really don't want to be sick of the Swiss, but I will if this ends up going wrong. One thing we won't be able to do is blame this one on Dave Kasper, as our scouting in Europe this offseason was done by Olsen. That, by itself, should be cause for some amount of guarded optimism.