In the third installment of our MSR series, we discuss the trades that United has made since the end of last season. Besides the Gomez move, there were two other fairly significant trades for the team, and I think I actually come out opposed to the popular opinion on both of them. Maybe this can generate an argument or two in the comments?
1. When Christian Gomez first departed from DC, I suggested that his stats might actually improve with him in Colorado, just because he wouldn't have a predator like Emilio and an expert free kick taker like Moreno. But with 3 goals and 6 assists right now, it doesn't look like Gomez will get to his standard 10 and 10 that he averaged in DC, but then again, neither will Gallardo. We received Colorado's Designated Player slot in the trade for Gomez, and it's difficult to gauge how much that DP slot really has helped us. Because that slot just served to increase Emilio's salary. Maybe it was the increased salary that caused Emilio to step up his game from earlier in the year, or maybe he was just moving out of his slump anyway.
2. My sense is that most DC United fans would take back the trade of Bobby Boswell for Zach Wells if they could. I disagree. But you have to consider several things first. One is that Boswell wanted out of DC after he was benched by Soehn for the majority of the regular season. Secondly, Troy Perkins was already on his way out. Third, an attempted trade for Joe Cannon had already fallen through. And most importantly, if DC had not made this trade, our starting goalkeeper this year might have been *gasp* Jose Carvallo! As I said when it happened, this trade is not necessarily a loss for DC, but it sure was a win for Houston! They gave up a backup keeper and they got a former defender of the year, who this year has stepped up his level of play to be much more consistent. As for Wells, he's certainly improved since his first game in a United uniform. I think he can now be considered a legitimate starting keeper in MLS, but not exactly above average. My complaint is that the team didn't try harder to procure a veteran once Perkins was gone. With 2 new players starting in defense, it would have been nice to have a consistent keeper with the experience to lead a backline. Pat Onstad and Kevin Hartman were both left exposed by their teams in the expansion draft, and would have both been much more solid than Wells has been.
3. My sense is that most DC United fans are still in favor of the trade of Greg Vanney for Quavas Kirk. I disagree. Just like the Wells/Boswell trade, for me this all comes back to consistency, experience, and leadership in the defense. Vanney's play has certainly deteriorated, as we've seen in LA this year, but I for one would still enjoy having him as a backup to los Gonzalos and McTavish. He would have seen more playing time this year than Kirk has. If Perkins was still around, then I wouldn't mind this trade as much, but Vanney departing means just too much change to the defense for one season. Quavas Kirk is on the total opposite side of his career. Still young and "unrefined", but with a lot of potential that hasn't yet been realized in the DC United uniform. Here's my main question: How long does the Generation Adidas tag apply to Kirk? It's fine having him on the bench this year because as a GA player, he doesn't count against the salary cap, and only takes up a developmental roster spot. But if that tag expires next year, do you really think he'll stay on the team? I don't see him taking a $17,700 developmental roster spot, so the only options will be to put him on the senior roster, or cut him. He just doesn't play enough to deserve a senior spot. So now if you look at this trade as having Vanney for only the 2008 season or Kirk for only the 2008 season, which would you prefer?
4. Two more less significant trades saw United acquire Craig Thompson and Mike Zaher from Houston and Toronto respectively. Both players give us some depth in positions that we really need it right now. In a normal season without as many injuries as we've had lately, neither of these guys would be getting much time with the first team. But with Quaranta and Mediate injured, and McTavish permanently stuck in defense, Thompson has proven to be a useful utility man on the right flank. Already with one assist in Superliga action, the Miner has been fairly productive, but like some of our other midfielders, he needs to learn how to not lose the ball. Zaher plays mostly as a left back, and I guess there's a possibility he could start tonight in place of the suspended Martinez. Zaher's fast and hard-working with a lot of potential from what I've seen, and he could in the future be a regular option for DC, but unless he can earn some more playing time, it might be tough for him to keep his job next year.
I'm going to a party tonight, so I probably won't get to write a review of the KC match until tomorrow, and I'll also add part 4 of the MSR sometime in the next few days to summarize where the team now stands in position to make a playoff run.