Eight days till D.C. United: What to make of Davy Arnaud?

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Just over one week until D.C. United kicks off the 2014 season at RFK Stadium against the Columbus Crew. Today we turn our attention to MLS veteran - and seemingly captain-wherever-he-goes - Davy Arnaud.

Davy Arnaud was the first offseason acquisition made when the 2013 MLS season finally came to an end. At the time, United fans were, by and large, underwhelmed. Arnaud is never going to be the sexiest name on a roster, but his acquisition was a signal of what was to come from the front office this winter: the focus would be on proven MLS starters and, to some extent, on versatility. Arnaud fits the bill perfectly.

He's been a fulltime starter for the last decade, for the Kansas City Wizards/Sporting Kansas City through the 2011 season and for the expansion Montreal Impact after that point. He's been captain of whatever team he's been on since the start of the 2010 season. He can play basically anywhere in midfield and has a knack for supremely well timed runs forward when the defense is least expecting it. He's even got a goal for the USMNT under his belt (in the 2009 Gold Cup). If it were 2011 or 2012, he'd be exactly the kind of guy you'd expect to see join that original version of Olsen's Army.

But it's 2014, and Arnaud is 33. What's more, despite his versatility he might not be a fulltime starter for Ben Olsen's revamped side this year - though that might depend more on Chris Pontius than on Davy. He's looked his best in Black-and-Red playing on the right side of midfield in a 4-1-3-2, playing as the more reserved outside midfielder, opposite Nick DeLeon, and pinching in to combine with the central duo of Perry Kitchen and Luis Silva while allowing fullback Sean Franklin to overlap into the attack.

Personally, I think it's pretty likely that, if he stays healthy (as he's done throughout his career), Arnaud will be able to keep his spot in the XI even after Pontius returns. Swapping Arnaud's industry and defensive work for Pontius' attacking ability could put too much pressure on Kitchen and the back four and result in possession numbers much lower than we'd like to see. And anyway, I'm still convinced that Partyboy maps better as a forward in the current (apparent) tactical setup.

If the offseason makeover had stopped with Arnaud, it would have been a failing of massive proportions, given everything the front office had at its disposal. Thankfully it didn't, as has been well documented. But Arnaud was still that first piece, and even if he's only got a couple years left in the tank, for now he still rightfully fits into Benny's plans.

But what do you make of Arnaud? Where do you see him fitting into the lineup once (if) everybody is healthy? Let us know in the comments.

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