MLS First Kick 2013 Countdown: 16 days - How many games will Casey Townsend play in 2013?

Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

As the 2013 MLS season approaches, we're counting down the days to March 2 and running the proverbial rule over each player on D.C. United's roster. Today's subject: newly-acquired forward and University of Maryland product Casey Townsend.

Today, for the first time in this countdown, we come to a number that's been assigned to a new face. And that face will be familiar to many D.C. United fans, as it belongs to University of Maryland alum and 2012 MLS SuperDraft fifth overall pick Casey Townsend, who will be wearing No. 16 for the Black-and-Red this year. I had expected Townsend to wear the No. 14 shirt, as he did at UMd and for Chivas USA last year, but I guess he wouldn't agree in advance to making his last action in a United shirt - at some undetermined point in the future - earning a red card by throwing a ball at a referee in the style of both Ben Olsen and Andy Najar.

So No. 16 he shall be. But our topic for today is how often he'll see the field for United this year. Townsend is a worker (which we know Ben Olsen values), and he strikes me as a good finisher. But with the system United play, there's really only room for one "traditional" forward in the formation, the other spot on the front line going to somebody who can defend as a midfielder and provide more creativity in the middle, namely Dwayne De Rosario. Heading into First Kick, unless we see or hear otherwise, Townsend looks to be no higher than a battle for second on the center forward depth chart, behind Lionard Pajoy and roughly even with Rafael.

I don't think he's likely to be assigned to Richmond, but I also wonder how many games Townsend will play this season. He appeared in 17 last year for the Goats, contributing one goal - but don't hold the low tally against him; the Rojiblancos scored a league-worst 24 goals, and that Robin Fraser side couldn't convert a chance if it had walked up and introduced itself. Without an injury or two to the front line, Townsend looks like a second half sub and spot starter in 2013. I cold see him coming on for one of our deeper midfielders when we're chasing a goal late in the game or spelling Pajoy and Rafael. I think 17 games - just under half the games once Open Cup is accounted for - is a reasonable over/under for Townsend; if Pajoy or Rafael tear things up, he could see less time, or he could see more if he heats up and starts scoring in bunches.

Your turn, readers - what's your take? Think 17 games is a good target for the Michigan native?

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