In a month where Fabian Espindola, Luis Silva, and Eddie Johnson combined to make one appearance, D.C. United quite clearly needed someone else to step up and produce on the attacking end. However, a compelling case could be made that United's needs are just as acute at the back, where the stakes were even higher than normal due to the lack of firepower. The loss of Espindola and Silva also put more of the creative burden on the midfield. In other words, players all over the field had the opportunity to get more attention and praise than they would with a full-strength team.
In the end, our staff has landed on Jairo Arrieta as B&RU's player of the month for March. It's a great outcome for the Costa Rican newcomer, who was both left unprotected by the Columbus Crew in the expansion draft and then traded away by Orlando City. Arrieta's arrival was seen as something of a short-term fix while United was short up front, but he has seized the opportunity with both hands. Ben Olsen started Arrieta in all four of United's March fixtures and was rewarded with goals against LD Alajuelense and against the Montreal Impact.
Arrieta's goalscoring - he had half of United's four goals in March - swayed the voters that selected him:
There are a couple players who deserve consideration, but in the end my vote is for Jairo Arrieta. He has proven to be a guy up front that has the speed and the creativity to make something happen on the offensive end. He also has the moxie to assert his presence on the field, taking no stuff from the other team while remaining in control. He had 2 goals in March (vs. Alajuelense in CCL and vs. Montreal 3/7) and he's held it down in Espindola's absence.
Adam M Taylor
Jairo Arrieta has hit the ground running for the Black-and-Red, scoring two goals early in the month to give us the faintest glimmer of hope in the ConcaChamps and to provide the game winner in United's MLS opener. He fell off later in the month - let us not discuss the display at Red Bull Arena - but his providing the finishing touch and some notion of creativity while Fabian Espindola and Luis Silva are out puts him on top of the list for March.
He might be an easy choice since he scored half of United's goals in March. But the diminutive Costa Rican has come into the side and done exactly what Olsen has asked off him. He plays as the outlet up and top, and he's done a good job of getting his teammates involved. He may seem like a busy body at times, and Lionard Pajoy is jealous of how many times Arrieta has been caught offside so far, but he couldn't have had a better start to his time with United. The two goals he provided are just the cherry on the top.
This was a pretty simple choice to me. With Fabian Espindola suspended and Luis Silva injured, Arrieta offered offensive depth and did what he was supposed to: score goals. Sure, it wasn't enough to advance in CONCACAF, and sure, he didn't score against the Red Bulls, but in his short time with United so far, he's shown to be a useful player to have available to step in--and step up.
Of the seven votes that came in, Arrieta beat the entire field. He also received one person's runner-up vote (which we'll be using for tie-breaking purposes). Three other players received votes:
Ryan Keefer (voting for Chris Rolfe)
On a team without its most dangerous weapon in Fabian Espindola and two complementary pieces in Luis Silva and Eddie Johnson, Chris Rolfe has done his best to serve as a creative hub for D.C. United, assisting on the team's first goal of the year, and attempting to facilitate chances in his other two games. When Espindola, Silva and (hopefully) Johnson return, Rolfe's involvement in the offense will be all the more effective.
Ben Bromley (voting for Davy Arnaud)
My player of the month is Davy Arnaud, continuing where he left off last year in central midfield. He has had two hockey assists in D.C. United's two home games, and he has re-found his angry terrier mentality that served him so well last season after losing it against Alajuelense. For someone who many of us expected to be replaced as soon as possible, he has been key to the early season success.
Yours truly ChestRockwell (voting for Nick DeLeon)
Looking back over the four games, we've seen DeLeon play pretty well against LDA (including a cross that caused enough chaos that an ensuing rebound turned into Arrieta's opener), acceptably against Montreal, and he produced a wonderful assist on this past weekend's game-winner from Chris Pontius. Even in United's one bad performance, he was the only field player who met his normal standard. DeLeon has been the most consistent player for United thus far in 2015, and he's come up with some big plays to boot.
We'll be keeping tabs on the results of each month's vote, and they'll be used to crown B&RU's player of the year in December. In the meantime, let us know in the comments: Who would you have voted for? Who didn't get enough love this month?