In one sense, you could probably nominate almost every player on the team for the Donnety Award, which is presented to the most disappointing player on the team. For those who don't remember, the award is named for Matias Donnet, the Argentinian star midfielder who had played previously at Boca Juniors and Venezia before coming to D.C. in 2006 with loads of potential. But he would play in only eight matches, score only one goal, and leave in disgrace before the end of the season. Former winners of this award include Christian Castillo, Danny Szetela, Zach Wells, Jose Carvallo, and Hamdi Salihi.
I am sticking closer to the literal career arch of Matias Donnet, for whom the award is named, and keeping my focus on players who were so bad that they didn't even survive to the end of this season. But, for good measure, I will add a fifth candidate only because he was the highest paid player and captain on a team that finished as one of the worst in league history. Without further ado, the nominees:
1. Rafael: Branded wrongly from the start, when the team teased his signing as a "major announcement," Rafael Gladiador was more of a development project. However, his designated player status, even though he was a cheaper young designated player, quickly led to people asking why he wasn't playing. Despite one fabulous goal against the Columbus Crew, Rafael was never able to be consistently on the field; buried on the bench behind United's strike force luminaries, he was released in June and went back to Bahia (the now-former team of Freddy Adu).
2. Brandon McDonald: Brandon McDonald was the spine of the defensive corps last season, having become the player that many thought he could be. And during the 2012 season, he was getting legitimate buzz as a darkhorse candidate to be called into the U.S. Men's National Team. However, he and the rest of D.C. United's back line completely melted down this season, both in their on the field play and off the field as well. The low point for BMac was his first half against the Columbus Crew, in which he was directly responsible for three goals and was benched at half-time. He never recovered his form and was traded to Real Salt Lake midseason.
3. Raphael Augusto: The legend of Raphael Augusto was made in the 2012 playoffs, when he made his season debut against the Houston Dynamo, playing well in limited minutes and being taken out by Andre Hainault in what should have been a goal or a red card. This season, he was supposed to set up and be the box-to-box midfielder next to Perry Kitchen, a sort of a hybrid between Kitchen and Branko Boskovic. He got five starts this season, in seven total appearances, but was never able to put his mark on the game like he did against Houston. In June, he was released to return to Fluminense.
4. Dwayne De Rosario: The captain set the tone for D.C. United's entire season when he headbutted Danny Cruz in the preseason finale, leading him to be suspended for the first two regular season games by the MLS
Star Chamber Disciplinary Committee. In addition to being the captain, he was the highest paid player on the team and a designated player, living up to none of those designations. And rather than trying to renegotiate his contract, United just let him go at the end of the season. However, his play in the US Open Cup did lead to a trophy this season, so I'm willing to be lenient on him; you might not be so agreeable.
5. Marcos Sanchez: Marcos Sanchez is both a disappointment on the face of things and a more systemic disappointment in the way that D.C. United scouts Central American players. He is another in the line of small, technical midfielders who cannot prosper in the more physical MLS, and D.C. United has had plenty of those players. He made six starts for the team before he was released for international duty and asked not to come back, playing poorly defensively in all of them and being unable to get into the attack.
Like I said, there were mountains of disappointment to go around this season. If you have others who you think deserve to be mentioned, let us know in the comments.