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DC United roster moves: Luciano Emilio and Stephen King IN, Tiyi Shipalane and Lyle Adams OUT

Luciano Emilio.  Photo via <a href=""></a>
Luciano Emilio. Photo via

DC United made several roster moves this week heading into our big showdown and the start of the Atlantic Cup this afternoon against the New York Red Bulls.

The one that's getting all the headlines is the re-acquisition of the league's 2007 MVP Luciano Emilio.  United's leading scorer in each of the past three seasons, Emilio had been in talks with the front office for much of the offseason about returning to MLS this year, but the continuous denials of Dave Kasper made many of us to give up on that thought.  Emilio rejoins the club at a time when they are struggling for goals, with only two scored in the regular season, and both coming against an expansion club.  With Chris Pontius out for a few months and Danny Allsopp yet to make an impact, bringing Lucigol in on a short term deal makes a lot of sense.

In fact, I don't see any downside to this move.  Some have complained that this reeks of desparation from the front office, and I understand that, but there's also very little risk here.  If Emilio is too slow, too selfish, and unimpressive, then he'll be out of here in July.  The only possible detriment that I see is that Emilio's presense could rob Adam Cristman of some playing time, but I feel that will work itself out on the practice field anyway.  If Cristman deserves more time, they'll give it to him.

Besides, DC is 0-4.  It can't get much worse.

I say there's a lot more potential than risk.  Soccer Insider's conversation with Emilio highlights the fact that both sides have a lot to gain from this deal.  Emilio claims that there is a Mexican Primera club interested in acquiring his services later this year.  Well I'm not sure I believe that entirely since he had us believing just a month ago that he had a deal worked out to join Philadelphia.

But the message is still clear.  Whether in the US or in Mexico, Luciano Emilio is 31 years old and he is playing for one more big contract.  Remember the 2007 Emilio?  The one that appeared hungry every time he stepped on the field?  That Emilio was playing to earn a big contract.  And he did it.  If that hungry Emilio shows up for us in 2010, he might be staying a while.

For my thoughts on Stephen King, Tiyi Shipalane, and Lyle Adams, read on.

DC announced yesterday that they traded a second round draft pick in 2011 to the Seattle Sounders for Stephen King.  Here's a guy who should immediately compete with Brandon Barklage, Andy Najar, and Kurt Morsink for playing time in central midfield.  King also raises our number of former Terrapins on the roster to an all-time high of 3.  Here's what fellow SBN soccer blogger Sounder At Heart had to say about him last year:

Stephen King: Another dynamic young (23) talent with plenty of upside left to show.  King played every midfield role for the Sounders in league play during the past season 3 of his 7 appearances were as a starter.  More importantly though was King's performance in the US Open Cup and its Qualifiers where King scored 3 Goals.  His Productivity in all competitions was 6th on the team at 0.66, and he put his shots on target more than 40% of the time.  King has the skills necessary to take advantage of the opportunities he is given and with time should develop into a solid MLS attacking midfielder.  King has the misfortune of being the only Sounders outfield player with a minus at -2 (-0.42 per 90), but is also currently under-priced at a mere 34K.  That price makes him a likely target for an expansion pick.

Of course there were also two departures to pair with these new acquisitions.  United waiving Tiyi Shipalane was a move that Chest and I somewhat expected since preseason.  His style of play is just too similar to that other South African on our roster, and as long as Boyzzz Khumalo remains a more consistent contributor, there just wasn't a spot for Ship anymore.  Since Khumalo had found his scoring touch in the preseason, it became obvious that Shipalane wasn't going to pass him on the depth chart, and as much as we'd all liked to see these two become as productive a combination as Dube, Mansally, and Nyassi, that was starting to look less and less likely.

The departure of Lyle Adams was a bit more of a surprise.  I thought he was a better overall defender than rookie Jordan Graye, but definitely offered less than Graye in getting forward, which is a trademark of fullbacks in teams led by Curt Onalfo. 

I'm left wondering if these roster moves should signal us in any way to the status of Bryan Namoff and Marc Burch.  United could have easily placed both of these players on injured reserve and delayed a decision on any other roster players.  I guess the conclusion was apparently that Adams and Shipalane were never really going to be in United's long term plans, so it makes sense to cut them now.