Without asking him personally, I think it's safe to guess that 2014 has been a long year for Nana Attakora, the next player up in our Season Review series. The 25 year old Canadian defender came to United via the Re-Entry Draft, where he was taken in the second round of stage two. With Bobby Boswell also coming in earlier via that same mechanism, the hope was that Attakora - having recovered from a long bout with concussion-related issues - could push Ethan White and Dejan Jakovic for time as United's other center back. Few expected him to win that positional battle, but increasing United's depth and competitiveness at center back was important.
Soon thereafter, a flurry of moves came, but despite White and Jakovic leaving Attakora was still in the same spot on the depth chart. White was packaged into a trade for Jeff Parke, while United used their first round draft pick to take Steve Birnbaum. Attakora wasn't helped by missing most of the preseason with an injury, and didn't wear a United shirt in an organized game for public viewing until mid-June's US Open Cup loss to the Rochester Rhinos.
Attakora actually played alright in that weather-delayed match, but by that point United's defensive preferences were more or less set in stone. Even with Jeff Parke injured a couple of weeks before that trip to upstate New York, Ben Olsen had chosen to carry a six-man bench at home against the Crew and went to Montreal with no other center back after Boswell and Birnbaum in uniform. Attakora did not see even a second of action in the league this season.
That's not to say that he played no part in United's success in 2014. Attakora played 90 minutes at right back in the Black-and-Red's CONCACAF Champions League win at RFK over Waterhouse FC. Still, even the CCL carried bad news: Despite Olsen using his reserves throughout the group stage for the most part, Attakora did not make the bench in United's other three games. Most significantly, Attakora didn't make the trip to Panama to face Tauro FC, a match in which United only sent 14 players and, for about 30 seconds, flirted with the idea of using MLS league pool goalkeeper Daniel Withrow as a field player after Conor Shanosky cramped up.
Despite all that, Attakora is not without his qualities. He's a great athlete, and very fast for a tall center back. He can play more than one position, and has experience in MLS, the Finnish first division, and multiple caps for the Canadian national team. There has never been a reason to doubt him in terms of his locker room presence, and at 25 he still has growing to do.
With all of that in mind, and using whatever criteria you feel is valid, we ask the question: