Managing expectations will be hard this year for D.C. United fans. Harder than it's been the past several years. Our collective optimism has shot up through the roof in recent days, particularly with the minor progress on the stadium search and the elimination of our fear that Dwayne De Rosario's contract situation will somehow ruin the team's chances in 2012.
But our expectations must be managed none the less. This is D.C. after all. Experienced D.C. sports fans know that expectations only lead to sorrow.
We also have high expectations for our new striker Hamdi Salihi, who practiced with the team and was introduced to the media for the first time on Monday. He arrives in D.C. with an astounding strike rate on his resume, and with plenty of other talented attackers to feed him the ball in good spots, as noted by United General Manager Dave Kasper in this story by Thomas Floyd of the Washington Times.
"He thinks like a goal-scorer," general manager Dave Kasper said of Salihi. "We have a lot of attacking pieces who can provide service for him. De Ro, as we know, pulls off many different types of plays. We certainly expect Hamdi to be in spots and make connections with him."
But Salihi is no sure thing. There are no guarantees that he'll be more like 2007 Luciano Emilio than 2010 Luciano Emilio. Even Ben Olsen is warning us that Salihi is "not 90 minutes fit right now."
Two other players also spoke to Floyd about what Salihi can add to the picture, while also reminding us of the challenges that come with adjusting to a new league.
"You can see his movement and you can see he knows the game," De Rosario said. "It’s going to take time. It’s a different league, different mindset, different country, different language. … Our job is just to make him as comfortable as possible so he can play his game."
"Any time you’re a foreigner going to a new place, it takes a little bit to get your feet wet," said forward Josh Wolff, an American who spent two seasons in Germany. "Certainly he’s got to get acquainted with us and us with him. But you look at his goal-scoring record and see some of the highlights, and there certainly is some real quality in and around the box."
With United traveling down the coast this week in hopes of securing its third straight Carolina Challenge Cup, Salihi won't have to wait long for the opportunity to learn how to fit in with his teammates.
After all, Mar. 10 is just 17 days away. And whether you like it or not, we're expecting greatness.