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D.C. United 2016 Countdown: 4 days - Can Markus Halsti take the next step?

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Can Markus Halsti own the central midfield this year?

Last year, Markus Halsti was D.C. United's big offseason signing, coming from Malmo and the UEFA Champions League to D.C. Unfortunately, he got hurt during the preseason and, by the team he was healthy, the Davy Arnaud-Perry Kitchen partnership was working too well to disrupt and schedule congestion kept him with the second team. When Davy Arnaud went out with a concussion, Halsti was the one tapped to step in next to Perry Kitchen.

The adjustment for both of them was harder than expected, as they were often in the same space and trying to play the same role. Now, however, Kitchen is gone and Halsti starts the year as the defensive midfielder. Can he make this role his own this season and become the conductor that makes the trains go?

This will be his year to show if he can, and he has the pedigree and the playing history to make it happen. This preseason, he has featured with both Marcelo Sarvas and Nick DeLeon, and he has brought some of the calmness that we expected when he signed. Defensively, the partnership of him and Sarvas clogged up the middle against the Philadelphia Union, forcing them to attack down the wings.

His competition for that role this year doesn't include Kitchen, but it does include a number of new faces. The aforementioned Marcelo Sarvas was brought in recently, and they look to be the starting partnership come next week; however, will they suffer the same problems as Kitchen and Halsti did, or will a preseason working together help iron those potential issues out? If not, Nick DeLeon, Julian Buescher, Paul Clowes, and Jared Jeffrey are all hungry for minutes in central midfield.

Most of you wanted Halsti back this season, and most of you thought that he didn't have the opportunity to really prove himself last year due to injuries. He has all the opportunity this year, so hopefully he can go out and make United a better team.