Chris Rolfe was D.C. United's best field player in 2015, and it wasn't really particularly close. The headbanded one (well, sadly, the formerly headbanded one) scored 10 goals and assisted on 4 more last season, and the year ended with nearly every reader of B&RU calling for his return in 2016.
So the question this preseason isn't whether, but how he fits into Ben Olsen's plans. The question is made more difficult by the fact that he has yet to appear through two preseason games. Which means we'll look at last season and extrapolate forward. Science!
Rolfe was at his best in Olsen's 442 when he played as a forward. He certainly can play on the wing, but the just-turned 33-year-old's best days were alongside another striker, and that's where he'll play if los Captalinos keep that system for the new season.
But what happens if Benny & Co. move to a new system that doesn't have room for two central forwards? Rolfe isn't at his best on the outside, especially when there's defensive work that goes along with it. Absolutely, he can play out there, but his best and highest use for United is as an atracker first and last.
There are plenty of folks who can see Rolfe as a #10, but I'm not sure I'm with them. He's more of a finisher than a chance-creator, and his danger comes from his movement more than his creativity with the ball at his feet (though he's no slouch there). All of which makes me think that his place would be on the wing, most likely displacing one of Patrick Nyarko or Lamar Neagle.
That's not the real question, though. That would be whether Rolfe is better enough as a second forward than on the outside that it would be worth tailoring the formation to his skill set by keeping some version of a two-forward setup no matter what else happens. And it's a much tougher question, to be honest.
So, let's have it out in the comments. We know Rolfe needs to be on the field for United as often as possible in 2016, but where will it be, and will the answer to that dictate United's formation?