Another one of the nice things about finishing last in the league is that you earn a high ranking on the MLS Allocation List. The MLS Allocation system allows for the lowest ranked teams to have the opportunity to sign U.S. National Team players who wish to return to MLS. For D.C. United, their unfortunate luck means that they started this season third in the Allocation rankings behind the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers.
But since both expansion clubs have now selected someone via the Allocation system, United is now at the top of the list., and must already be excited with thoughts of which Yanks Abroad might be returning home soon. Yes, its possible that the forward signing we've all been waiting for might not be a foreign player afterall.
The Allocation system hasn't gone so well for United the past few years. After missing out on Kasey Keller and Bobby Convey in 2009, United wound up with Danny Szetela, who started exactly one match with the team, and is currently out of the game. Last year, United traded up in the Allocation order to select Troy Perkins. You all know how that story goes. Neither of United's last two Allocation selections lasted with the club for a full calendar year.
Will the same hold true this year? United has already missed out on two players expected to be huge contributors for their respective clubs in Jay DeMerit (Vancouver) and Kenny Cooper (Portland). Can you imagine how great we'd be feeling right now if there was only one expansion team this year and we had Cooper already inked?
No time to think about What Ifs though. Here's a look at a few Americans playing overseas who may wish to return home this year, and could therefore be the next member of D.C. United.
DaMarcus Beasley - The 28-year old midfielder scored two goals in six starts for Rangers of the Scottish Premier League last season, but has made just four appearances off the bench for Hannover 96 in the German Bundesliga this season. Beasley might not be ready to return to the States yet, and wouldn't be the preferred player for United since he plays one of the few positions where we're already stacked.
Charlie Davies - The promising 24-year old striker has yet to play a first team match with Sochaux of Ligue 1 yet this season. I might be grasping at straws here, but I could see a situation in which Davies, still struggling to fully recover from the injuries suffered in a car accident in October 2009, decides to come home to MLS. Just please Charlie, stay off the GW Parkway.
Benny Feilhaber - After failing to make any impact with Hamburger SV or Derby County earlier in his career, Feilhaber finally excelled in 21 starts with AGF Aarhus last season, also scoring a hat trick in the Danish Cup last September. Unfortunately for Feilhaber, Aarhus was relegated last season, and could look to move some of its more talented players.
Brad Friedel or Marcus Hahnemann- Here are two veteran goalkeepers who may decide to finish their careers in MLS. Friedel is 39 and remains the unquestioned starter at Aston Villa. Hahnemann is 38 and has been splitting time in goal this season at Wolverhampton with Wayne Hennessey.
Eddie Johnson - Of all the USMNT players who could potentially sign with MLS this season, Johnson might be the player United fans might most prefer. He's only 26 and has had his share of ups and downs in his career, but Johnson could dominate MLS and be the 10-goal scorer we've all been looking for. Johnson scored three goals in two starts when on loan to Aris Saloniki in Greece last season, but has only started one game for Fulham (10 total appearances) this season.
And for those interested, the current Allocation List for 2011, following the DeMerit and Cooper deals, is as follows:
1. D.C. United
2. Chivas USA
3. Philadelphia Union
4. New England Revolution
5. Houston Dynamo
6. Toronto FC
7. Chicago Fire
8. Sporting Kansas City
9. Seattle Sounders FC
10. Columbus Crew
11. New York Red Bulls
12. Real Salt Lake
13. San Jose Earthquakes
14. Los Angeles Galaxy
15. FC Dallas
16. Colorado Rapids
17. Vancouver Whitecaps
18. Portland Timbers