When we began the 2011 MLS season, outside midfield was by far the deepest portion of the D.C. United roster. We all struggled with the idea of having to leave either Andy Najar, Chris Pontius, or Branko Boskovic outside of the starting lineup, and if any of them faltered, Santino Quaranta and Fred da Silva were waiting... uh... in the wings.
Where are we now?
The two starters at the beginning of the year - Najar and Pontius - are among the best wingers in the league. As they continue to develop chemistry with Charlie Davies, Josh Wolff, and now Dwayne De Rosario, United has the potential to be one of the highest scoring teams in the league.
But as much as I'd support a statute decreeing that Najar and Pontius can never miss a match, its actually probable that they won't both play every single match for the remainder of the season.
Junior Carreiro was waived by United yesterday, and while its not hard to agree with the move since Carreiro hadn't played a single minute with the first team in 2011 and failed to impressive in limited reserve action, it brings up a larger point. With Quaranta and Boskovic each recovering from long-term injuries, and Fred on his way back to Australia, what the hell are we going to do if Najar or Pontius ever have to miss a match?
The easiest answer is Brandon Barklage, a player who has been used mostly as an outside back this season. The more difficult answer is playing Stephen King, Wolff, or Blake Brettschneider out of position.
Hopefully we don't have to learn the answer. I'd be happy with Pontius and Najar holding down the wings for the next eight and 12 years respectively. But since that's probably not going to happen, the outside midfield position suddenly looks like one we'll have to address in the coming weeks.