17 Days till D.C. United: What to do with Conor Shanosky?

USA TODAY Sports

Last year, we learned that he's a center back through and through, but 2014 looks like Conor Shanosky's last chance to prove he belongs at the MLS level.

He was the third homegrown player in the history of D.C. United, following in the footsteps of undeniable success stories like Bill Hamid and Andy Najar. Unfortunately, the story of Conor Shanosky is less clearcut. He signed a homegrown contract straight out of high school and began training with the first team, splitting time between defensive midfield and central defense. He went out and impressed on loan with the NASL Ft. Lauderdale Strikers and followed it up with good performances last year with United's USL PRO affiliates, the Richmond Kickers. But he's proven less impressive in his brief stints on the field for MLS matches.

At age 22, it might seem premature to ask whether this season could be make-or-break for the Potomac Falls, Va. native, but it will be his third full year as a professional, and circumstances might make it so. He's no higher than fourth on Ben Olsen's center back depth chart, certainly trailing starters Bobby Boswell and Jeff Parke and also appears to be behind rookie (who is almost a year older than Shanosky) Steve Birnbaum. He could even slip to fifth when Nana Attakora returns from injury or even lower still if we account for somebody like Sean Franklin who might be able to play the position in a pinch.

At the end of last season, when the Black-and-Red had nothing left to play for and zero healthy natural center backs, Shanosky couldn't make it closer to the field than the substitutes bench, even with Ben Olsen's youth push. Even on the worst team in the league. But readers here voted by 62% to 38% that Conor should come back for 2014 - though the commenters in that post seemed to go the other direction.

With the fans split on his future and the coach seemingly not confident in his ability to contribute, perhaps it's not so premature to ask whether this will be Shanosky's last chance to break through to the first team here in D.C. But that's our question, boys and girls: Will 2014 be Shanosky's last stand? Have it out in the comments.

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