For just a moment, we'll take a step away from the unrelenting horror that is DC United's 2010 season and look towards the inevitable rumors that will spring up as the club makes some attempt at much-needed improvements.
The first rumor to come out has been that DC is interested in Marlon Harewood, a 30 year old striker whose contract with Aston Villa ended at the close of this past season. Harewood had been loaned out to Newcastle, who are coming back up after a year in the Championship. Harewood has spent the vast majority of his career in the Premier League and the Championship, though he did spent a few months as a teenager on loan to Finnish club Haka. His best years were at West Ham, where he scored 45 league goals from 2003-2006 (including a 14 goal season in the Premier League).
Want more info? Maybe an opinion on the whole thing? It's beyond the jump.If DC's going to sign Harewood (who hasn't played since before the winter transfer window due to a broken foot suffered while training with Villa), it's not going to happen easily. The target man is said to have many suitors, including Galatasaray, Burnley, and Sheffield United. However, the name that most commonly pops up is that of the newly-crowned Turkish champions, Bursaspor. What can Bursaspor offer that United can't? Well, Champions League soccer, mainly. It's hard to argue with that.
Before things even get that far, though, United would have to tender an offer. According to Craig Stouffer, that would likely mean a designated player salary. Apparently it takes Europeans longer than you'd think to learn that MLS is not the NASL; the notion that any old player can walk into a multi-million dollar deal is harder to kill than one would think. There's no other explanation for no-name players in Europe expecting to make more over here than they would in Europe. This is a perfect example: Harewood is only 30, but his best years appear to be in the past. He did play fairly well for Newcastle during the first half of this past season, but this was in the Championship, a league of roughly the same quality as MLS. Does that sound like a player whose MLS wage is closer to Beckham than Birchall? I didn't think so.
My guess is that Harewood would do fairly well in MLS. He's 6'1" and rather powerfully built. I'd expect him to be an improvement over any of our current strikers. However, I don't think the improvement would be worth neglecting other improvements, and using a DP deal on him would be yet another example of the team's apparent disregard of central midfield. Frankly, I think offering Harewood anything beyond a larger non-DP salary would be ludicrous, especially in the context of this team having bigger issues than our strikers. You could put Edson Buddle up top for us right now, and he wouldn't be scoring goals because the supply of chances is so sporadic and so poor.
I'm glad to hear that United is interested in pursuing in-demand foreign players. There had been lots of talk that Will Chang would abandon signing any expensive players until he found more investors and made progress on the stadium front. Pursuing Harewood, even if he and his agent are under the nonsensical impression that a good Championship striker equals millions of MLS dollars, signifies that the club is willing to pursue bigger names than waiver-wire castoffs (as was done in the preseason).
I have strong doubts about whether our pursuit of Harewood will work out, but it's nice to know that our front office may be willing to spend a little bit to improve the squad. Obviously there's no one silver bullet that will fix this vastly flawed team, but we can't realistically expect Chad Ashton and Dave Kasper to unearth 5 or 6 guys like Fredy Montero, Javier Morales, or Joel Lindpere. They'll need to find a couple guys that fit those players' profiles (good young player on his way up, Latin genius who can't make it in a top Euro league for whatever reason, and good Euro veteran from a smaller league), but we'll probably need to find one elite talent to push the team forward and to renew the interest of the non-hardcore fan. It would be great if said elite talent can be had for less than a DP deal (a la Christian Gomez in 2004), but we have to accept the fact that Gomez was an exception, not a rule.