When D.C. United was in the midst of their Top 20 Players in 20 years campaign, there were bound to be some questionable choices, both omissions and inclusions, as is the case with fan-driven campaigns. So Jason, Donald and me decided to get together and add some folks and drop some others, with the goal of having a better 20 than the one that folks came to.
In: Bryan Namoff
Replaces: Carlos Llamosa
I think Namoff is one of the best defenders not just DC United has seen, but Major League Soccer as a whole. He had excellent stats and was a force on the back line for the Black & Red for a decade, defending some of the best and most creative attackers to come through this league. He probably would've played 2-3 more years for us had concussion symptoms not ended his career prematurely. He's probably the easiest addition to the 20, with all due respect to Llamosa.
I had this one too, and while maybe known for other reasons to some fans these days for the concussions which forced his premature retirement at 31, that shouldn't take away from the fact that you could write his name into the right side of the field on a starting lineup for a decade, in fact his 195 games played with the team are the third most in team history, and the second most for a guy who played his entire career with the club (of course, Ben Olsen is the first), and was part of the 2004 Cup-winning squad. If we're going to praise a guy for service to the club after the Mount Rushmore of players like Marco and Jaime, Namoff should be first and foremost on this list.
In: Roy Lassiter
Replaces: Santino Quaranta
Tied for ninth on MLS' list of all-time leading goal scorers, Lassiter led the team in goals scored in the regular season and playoffs, and led the team in goals scored on the historic 1999 team, and this was a team with Jaime Moreno and Marco Etcheverry on it. The fact that he was out of the league by 2003 shouldn't be held against him, as his place amongst team (and League) goal scorers is certainly film. Now I like Tino, and the way Tino left and came back to, the club is something that goes beyond boxcar numbers. But he never emerged as a solid contributor in his first tour with the team, and his production was diminished in his second tour, stipulation on the 2010 team aside. I get why he's there, in that there's some inverse to familiarity with Lassiter, for example, but still.
I love Tino. Tino was a fantastic player for us in his time with the team. But, how do you not leave off one of the most prolific scorers in league history? He kept that rep here in DC, and I think that he gets the nod in favor of Tino in my Top 20.
In: Perry Kitchen
Replaces: Clyde Simms
This one may be a bit more controversial. Clyde Simms was a great player and is an even better human being. He is one of the greats in my mind. However, I think in Perry Kitchen we have seen one of the 20 greatest players to wear the badge. He was a mainstay in the lineup from the time he arrived here in DC, first on defense and then eventually at his main position of defensive midfielder. Kitchen had better stats in fewer games played and while I think Clyde was excellent, he narrowly gets the bump from the 20 in favor of Kitchen.
I'm with Donald here (unlike on the subject of Carlos Llamosa, who richly deserves his spot on this list in my book). Kitchen has nearly as many games as Simms in a DC shirt - he'll pass him this season if he has a change of heart and signs a new contract - and has scored more goals, been more of a presence defensively, and been a better player on the ball. Simms was a very good player for United and an even better person, but Kitchen clearly exceeds him as a soccer player.
In: Earnie Stewart
Replaces: Santino Quaranta
This is another situation where a well-liked player has taken a spot that should probably go to someone who was, purely in soccer terms, the better player. It pains me as a Marylander to vote to bump Tino off the list, but Stewart is one of the best attacking players in USMNT history. Granted, most of that history happened before he wore United's uniform, but he was still excellent for 2 seasons here.
In 2003, he dutifully toiled on what was an utter mess of a team, bringing professionalism, calm, and good decision-making even as Ray Hudson used him in 6 different positions (including defensive midfield!). In 2004, Stewart settled into one role, and he played it very well. His numbers weren't great, but his job with United that season was to sacrifice, to be intelligent, and to be an excellent leader on a team that needed it. I would argue that Stewart was nearly as important to that MLS Cup team as Jaime Moreno or Ryan Nelsen were.
So...anyone missing? Anyone else should be added/dropped?