Daniel Woolard is the sole occupant of the biggest hole in United's lineup
D.C. United has already made more moves than I would have expected this offseason. The team has filled more of its needs than we thought they would. United has signed a shiny new designated player to score goals and fill the void left by Charlie Davies, acquired depth throughout the midfield to replace Santino Quaranta and Clyde Simms, and added two new potential starters to the back line.
Hamdi Salihi may be even better than Davies. Nick DeLeon, Danny Cruz, Marcelo Saragosa, and a healthy Branko Boskovic are almost definitely better than Quaranta and Simms. And Robbie Russell and Emiliano Dudar will add size, experience, and toughness to our defense. But the 2012 offseason doesn't quite yet seem complete.
That's because there's one hugely conspicuous hole that still exists on our roster. It happens to be at the position that has been the team's biggest hole for the last decade. That hole got even bigger this year.
In a conversation with Steve Goff last week, Ben Olsen noted that Daniel Woolard was "Maybe our best defender last year." We disagree. And to suggest that he may have been United's best defender is somewhat revisionist, considering that Olsen himself replaced Woolard in the starting lineup with Marc Burch when the left back struggled. Which was fairly often.
With all the other upgrades that happened this offseason, fans would have likely been satisfied to maintain some semblance of the status quo. Woolard with Burch behind him wasn't quite acceptable, but it would do. Woolard with a healthy Jed Zayner behind him would've been alright too.
But Woolard and Woolard alone? The guy who is already the lowest quality of United's 11 starters has no viable depth behind him?
The results of United's recent preseason matches isn't concerning. What's concerning is that a guest player was backing up Woolard at left back on Saturday against Sporting Kansas City. Not a trialist, a guest player. Not an undrafted rookie, or a USL standout, or a young stud from elsewhere in CONCACAF, or an Academy player who might be ready for the next step. We're talking about a 30-year old retiree.
Olsen has spoke (in the same Goff story) about Chris Korb pushing both Russell and Woolard for playing time, but we've yet to see him on the left, either in preseason games so far in 2012 or in the 2011 regular season. If Korb is a viable option at left back, why have we never seen him play there?
Throughout the rest of the roster, United has made some great moves. They may have improved more than any other MLS team so far this offseason (besides probably the LA Galaxy, which is damn scary). But that one remaining gaping hole might be a pretty big problem more often than we'd like to think.
Is Ben Olsen done assembling the 2012 D.C. United roster? Should he be?