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United's (Almost) All-American Lineup

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Stephen King is one of several Americans to earn a regular starting role for D.C. United
Stephen King is one of several Americans to earn a regular starting role for D.C. United

I noticed something when looking around at the different players on the field in D.C. United’s loss to the Columbus Crew on Saturday night: the extreme lack of foreigners in our starting lineup.

Of the eleven starters, eight are Americans. And of the three foreign players, all are from CONCACAF nations.

Gone are the days when we had a "magic triangle" consisting of two Bolivians and a Salvadoran dominating the league. We no longer have an Argentinian playmaker setting up a Brazilian striker. Nor do we have the all South American central defensive pairing of los Gonzalos.

United made a name for themselves in this league by recruiting foreign talent. They were the first in MLS to do it, and they won quite a few championships because of it. It’s a formula that’s now been copied (or at least attempted) by many other teams across the league, with varying degrees of success.

So is United’s (Almost) All-American lineup a result of a departure from that philosophy? No, not really. The team hasn’t given up on finding foreign talent. But our big acquisitions this offseason haven’t really been that big. Danny Allsopp has been relegated to a reserve role. Cristian Castillo has been released.

Or maybe, on the other hand, it’s just a factor of our American players outperforming the foreigners. Adam Cristman has apparently moved ahead of Allsopp, Luciano Emilio, and Jaime Moreno on the forward depth chart. And our best option at central midfield? Stephen King. And that’s a position that has always (ALWAYS!) been occupied by a South American on this squad.

The lone foreigners in the regular starting lineup are Dejan Jakovic, Julius James, and Andy Najar. A Canadian, a Jamaican, and a Honduran. All countries within the CONCACAF region.

Hey I’ve got no problem with nationalism. It’s good to see so many Americans getting a shot, and it’s actually probably good for team chemistry too. But is this strategy really working? Or perhaps a bigger question: Is United’s lack of foreigners a contributing factor to our losing record?