We're now into the second week of December (time flies, don't it?), and our still-too-soon looks at D.C. United's potential lineups for next year just keep coming. Check them all out at our StoryStream.
I think there will be some drastic changes to United's personnel group this offseason, with several big names on the way out. Perry Kitchen will head overseas, Chris Pontius won't come to an agreement with the Black-and-Red, and Davy Arnaud will retire after failing to overcome his concussion issues. But with the stadium still a couple of years away, United will continue to spend smartly, and will look within the league to find replacements. That being said, the makeup of the team for the opening game in 2016 will comprise mostly of familiar names to United supporters.
The big change I think that will occur is Ben Olsen moving to a new formation. It won't be a huge change, but a move to a 4-2-3-1 might help get his players in positions to exceed, where the 4-4-2 fell flat towards the end of 2015.
GK: Bill Hamid. With a new contract in hand, Hamid will be around for another year or two before heading overseas. If Hamid can stay healthy, he should put up Goalie of the Year numbers again, earning points for United in games when they are second best.
RB: Sean Franklin. Franklin quietly had a solid 2015, doing well getting up and down the field from his right back position. He's on the plus side of 30 now, but the former
CB: Bobby Boswell. The elder Boswell keeps his spot for another season. The first leg against the Red Bulls showed that a partnership of Opare and Birnbaum can work well, but Boswell will continue to get starts to anchor the backline. But any signs of drastic aging might see him get the hook quickly.
CB: Steve Birnbaum. Up and downs defined Birnbaum's 2015, but we saw the good side of Birnbaum towards the end of the season. Whether he works with Opare or Boswell next season, he might just work himself back into the national team picture.
LB: Taylor Kemp. Kemp gets to keep his spot for left footed delivery, but his defensive performances will continue to be scrutinized. He might need to show the most improvement amongst his teammates to keep his spot going forward.
CDM: Markus Halsti. The Finnish midfielder finally got into the side consistently when Arnaud went out with a concussion. He struggled at times, but with a new partnership in '16 will help Halsti improve his game in MLS.
CDM: Will Johnson. This is where I think United make a splash with Kitchen on the way out. Will Johnson, coming off a leg break against Toronto in 2014, only played 12 games for Portland in 2015. In a secondary role, I think he'd be willing to move on from the Timbers, and United will provide the perfect landing spot for the Canadian. How he can partner up with Halsti will be crucial to United's success in '16.
RM: Nick DeLeon. NDL came on strong at the end of the season, and he'll continue that form in 2016. The assists were there in 2015, but the goals will increase in 2016.
CAM: Chris Rolfe. Putting Rolfe here in a 4-2-3-1 accomplishes two things. One, it keeps him closer to goal. He was much better this season playing as a forward than as a midfielder. Playing him just underneath the striker keeps him there, while also keeping him within touching distance of Espindola, allowing the two to constantly combine to help create chances.
LM: Fabian Espindola. Espindola won't have many defensive responsibilities from this spot, but since he drifts out towards the left anyway, why not keep him out there anyway. There'll be fluidity within the 4-2-3-1 set up, allowing Espindola to roam around, and create the magic that he's capable of.
CF: Alvaro Saborio. Other than defensive midfield, this is the other spot I think can change for the season opener in 2016. But with a lack of better options to start the season, Saborio will be first choice for the time being.
How would the 4-2-3-1 fare with United's personnel? Who would you like to see brought in if Ben Olsen moves to this system for 2016? Let us know what you think of this look in the comments.