Andriy Shevchenko probably isn’t coming to D.C. United. That’s both disappointing, and a relief.
Yesterday, we told you about the rumors that legendary Ukrainian forward Andriy Shevchenko might be signing with D.C. United. Those rumors seem unlikely to be true for several reasons, five of which we will discuss below. Before that though, I want to be clear about something: if somehow the rumors are indeed true and Shevchenko is signed by United, I'll support him as much as possible.
Until that day though, the following are reasons why signing Shevchenko is a bad idea:
1. We don't need to score more goals. We need to prevent more goals.
United has scored 31 goals so far in 2012. That's tied for the best in MLS. Two of the top six leading scorers in the league play for D.C. United (Chris Pontius has seven goals and Maicon Santos has six). Or three of the top 11 if you include Dwayne De Rosario's five goals. Furthermore, United already has a high-priced international forward in Hamdi Salihi with a track record of scoring lots and lots of goals in Europe. Salihi is here on a two-year contract. He's not going anywhere. Shevchenko would be a luxury that we don't need and can't afford.
On the other hand, United has allowed 22 goals so far this season, which puts the team 13th in the league. After giving up three goals to the New York Red Bulls just two days ago, United should be looking to bolster the back line, not the front line. If we're going to sign a veteran European to a $5 Million contract, he should at least be a defender. Can we hook Glen Johnson up with some chick from Bethesda?
2. We have no guarantees that Shevchenko will be motivated to earn that salary.
Sure, he played a ridiculous game for Ukraine against Sweden last month in Euro 2012, but we can't expect the same level of motivation on a Wednesday night in Columbus or some shit. Is Shevchenko prepared for the long season full of travel? Does he understand the differences between MLS and Europe? I don't mean to question Shevchenko's morals or work ethic, but this needs to be considered, as other designated player signings should serve as warning signs. Remember when Marcelo Gallardo returned to Argentina when he got the flu? Remember when Thierry Henry moped around the field? You should, it was just a few days ago.
Okay, quick aside. Column interruption. Let's talk about Henry's attitude on Sunday for a minute. First off, Hans Backe had all of his substitutes warming up throughout both halves, all except Henry of course. Henry sat on the bench and watched, like a good captain. Backe finally went over and said something to Henry in the 62nd minute, and he started warming up. Once he got on the field, Henry spent the majority of the time shrugging at his teammates whenever they passed to anyone besides him, like a good captain. When Ryan Meara rolled the ball out to Heath Pearce, Henry shrugged emphatically. When Medhi Ballouchy passed back to Conor Lade, Henry shrugged disgustedly. When the ball boy tossed the ball to Bill Hamid for a goal kick, Henry shrugged while threatening his family. During his 21 minutes on the field, Henry only really had one decent chance, matched up 1v1 against Brandon McDonald (I think). But every other D.C. defender would have been safe to take the rest of the play off at that point, because there was absolutely no chance that Henry was going to pass the ball. Despite being well-marked and having no good angle, Henry was going to shoot no matter what. Like a good captain. Resume column.
3. We don't have the money.
Money doesn't buy happiness, but it does buy soccer players. We all expect D.C. United to have significantly more money to spend within the next few months once the widely reported ownership changes take effect, but there's still that pesky salary to deal with. This isn't Europe, guys. United has been rumored to be up against the cap already. There's no way they can fit another designated player salary under the cap. Signing a third designated player would trigger United to pay a luxury tax to all other MLS teams, so that's not a good option. It almost seems like the only way this deal could happen would be if one of the existing designated players (Branko Boskovic perhaps) was disappearing from the books this month. Listen, I'd support Shevchenko if he signs, but if the argument is Team Branko vs. Team Sheva, I'll quickly jump on board the ship of the player who has assists in three of his last four matches.
4. Shevchenko hasn't even talked to United.
Okay, this isn't really a reason why it SHOULDN'T happen, this is a reason why it WON'T happen. After the reports out of Eastern Europe surfaced yesterday that Shevchenko would be signing with United, reports out of D.C. surfaced that he wouldn't. That the two sides hadn't even discussed a deal. I don't know about you, but I trust Steven Goff of the Washington Post a whole heluva lot more than I trust some journalist I've never heard of before in Eastern Europe. Goff was the first to tell us about Gallardo, the first to tell us about Charlie Davies, the first to tell us about Eric Thohir, and he'll be the first to tell us about whatever the next huge move is for United. Shevchenko won't be it.
5. We are Olsen's Army.
Just about every significant move that Ben Olsen has made in his 1.5 year tenure as head coach has had the same feel. Each move was made to fill a specific need with a specific type of player. That would not seem to be the case here. If this move happens, it doesn't have Olsen's name written on it. It has "We have a new investor with lots of money to spend so let's buy a big name" written on it. We are Olsen's Army, and we're in first place in the Eastern Conference because of the moves that Olsen and Dave Kasper have made. I don't want anyone else influencing those moves. I want to see this thing out. I want to see Olsen's Army win a championship. Not any other team.