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Trialists Suit Up For D.C. United Reserve League Match

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Trialists Moussa Sanogo and Keithy Simpson will be hoping to make an impression in D.C. United's year-ending practice sessions and reserve matches. If they do, they could be pushing Chris Korb, Josh Wolff, and Santino Quaranta for minutes in 2012.
Trialists Moussa Sanogo and Keithy Simpson will be hoping to make an impression in D.C. United's year-ending practice sessions and reserve matches. If they do, they could be pushing Chris Korb, Josh Wolff, and Santino Quaranta for minutes in 2012.

Before you start here, do yourself a favor and read Alex O's first-person report on the game. Beyond being informative, he's right: Reserve matches are a good experience for fans, and they're free.

DC United's 2011 season is essentially over, but there are some final touches to be taken care of. Thanks to various cancellations due to weather and a surplus of injured players, United had to reschedule two Reserve League matches for November 10th and November 15th. The first one, a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls, saw DC call on the standard mix of bench players, guys recovering from lengthy injuries, and at least one Academy player (this time, it was defender Patrick Foss).

I wasn't at the game, so I can't offer any analysis. However, I did immediately take note of the presence of two unfamiliar names that came off the bench: The dude that came on for Austin Da Luz after 63 minutes, and the other dude who took over at left back for Foss nine minutes later. The season may be over for all intents and purposes, but building a team for the future is a job that never ends.

So who are these guys anyway?

I've got to admit that, upon reading the name "Sonogo" on the bench for United, I immediately thought of Boubacar Sanogo. My next thought was "no way, he's still playing in a big league, right?" Sure enough, the player in question was unfortunately not that Sanogo - he'd undoubtedly be a Designated Player if he came to MLS - nor was it any Sonogo.

Instead, it's Moussa Sanogo, a 28 year old attacker originally from Cote d'Ivoire. Sanogo's current club situation is a bit confusing; his Wikipedia page says he's with Belgian 3rd division side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise (once the club of DC washout David Habarugira), but the club's website does not list him on their current roster. That, and the general MLS trend of pursuing players that can be signed for free, makes me tend to believe TransferMarkt, which lists him as a free agent.

I'm not necessarily put off by Sanogo's last club being potentially at such a low level because of the rest of his resume. He scored 27 goals in 67 appearances for KSK Beveren in Belgium's top division, got a contract in the Israeli top division, and also appears to have been a useful player for RAEC Mons in a season that got them promoted up from the Belgian 2nd division.

Thatt's not the resume of a superstar, but plenty of MLS players have succeeded with a less promising history. The red flag to me was that he was apparently out of soccer for the 2007-2008 European season. Whether that was due to an injury, retirement (it did come after his time in Israel came to an early end; maybe he was disillusioned?), or something else, I have no idea. What I do know is that he has scored at a decent rate as a forward, and that's something we need. Remember, there's a very real chance at the moment that Ben Olsen could have to choose between playing without a target man on opening day next season (meaning Dwayne De Rosario and Josh Wolff) or giving a start to the still-raw Blake Brettschneider.

The other player is 21 year old Jamaican defender Keithy Simpson. At 19, Simpson spent a season on loan with the Vancouver Whitecaps Residency squad, which is usually a powerhouse in the PDL. He has also featured for Jamaica's under-17 and under-20 national teams, and now currently plies his trade for Tivoli Gardens in the Jamaican league after a season with fellow domestic side Portmore United. Interestingly, those two clubs are currently tied for first 9 games into the season.

If that name sounds familiar, it's because that's the club that supplied former United trialists Eric Vernan and Adrian Reid after this past summer's Gold Cup. They say that if something happens three times you can start calling it a pattern; it's probably safe to say that Portmore is DC's best contact in the Caribbean. I'm also bringing Vernan and Reid up to keep them in everyone's mind. They might not have been signed after their initial trials, but after some players are inevitably let go, they are probably the kind of guys you can expect to see mentioned during the preseason

Back to Simpson: He replaced Foss at left back, a position that has been a problem for United since the departure of Brandon Prideaux. I'm not sure if Simpson is even a natural left back - the link in the next paragraph indicates that he played center back for Jamaica's u20s - but there's no harm in trying to find a young defender in his country's youth national team program. He is also a regular - if not a sure starter - for Tivoli, as seen in match reports for the club's last three games.

A little Google digging unearthed this piece from last year, which seems to indicate that Simpson is an ambitious player. Simpson had a trial - along with current Houston Dynamo midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson - at Valencia in Spain, and also went for trials in Bolivia. From his quotes in the piece, it would seem that Simpson likely fits into the "hard man" category, which could be a good thing (if he's just tough enough for MLS) or a bad thing (if he's a red card magnet).