Wales and Everton center back Ashley Williams is the latest player from the UK linked to a move to D.C. United. Williams, once a teammate of Wayne Rooney, is currently on loan with Stoke City. Before that, Williams was at Swansea City, who famously have D.C. owners Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan involved in their ownership group. Along with D.C., New York City FC, Huddersfield Town and Aston Villa are named as potential suitors.
So we see how this part could maybe be realistic, right? OK, here are a few reasons why it isn’t:
- Williams turns 35 in August. If he came over to D.C. during the summer (when his contract ends), he would be the oldest signing by Dave Kasper in awhile. By comparison, Marcelo Sarvas was 34 when he came to D.C. from the Colorado Rapids.
- D.C. presently doesn’t need a center back. Before Sunday’s game with Minnesota United FC, D.C. had given up the second fewest goals in the East (9) over 9 games. Only Atlanta United FC and the New York Red Bulls have done better, albeit in 8 games. Steven Birnbaum and Fredric Brillant have looked good, and rookie homegrown Donovan Pines has held his own and that of some others (looking at you, Kei Kamara and Gyasi Zardes).
- Of the last three rumors that I’ve tracked, all three (this one; a recent one on another former teammate from Rooney’s Manchester United days, Antonio Valencia; and Bolton Wanderers defender Mark Beevers), have all come from the UK outlet The Sun. I'm not saying there isn’t any circumstantial case to be made for one or all of them, but that, particularly given the general sensationalist nature of the Brit press, the case for any of these rumors is just that: circumstantial. For example, in asking a team source about the Valencia rumor, I was told at the time that it was “made up.”
So yeah, stuff like this doesn’t appear to be going away for D.C. fans. And part of that is Rooney; the guy brings a surreal amount of attention to his on-field work and thus, stories like this will continue. They will not recede per se; just since Rooney’s arrival alone, Luciano Acosta has garnered interest from Paris St. Germain, Fenerbahce and Manchester United, and homegrown player Chris Durkin has gotten nibbles from Benfica and Bayer Leverkusen. For that matter, Audi Field has had some strange names attached to it, with players like Fernando Torres and Mario Balotelli holding meetings with Black-and-Red execs. Heck, I’ve personally heard Juan Mata’s name at one (albeit very distant) point.
Speaking from personal experience, I just want to reiterate the need for vigilance and pragmatism in these stories. I've been tracking rumors related to D.C. players for awhile (Nemanja Vidic, Gabriel Torres and Jaime Penedo are some of the ones that come to mind), and I’m aware of how surreal and crazy this ground is. But when these names didn’t come, guys like Lucho, Lucas Rodriguez and Leonardo Jara did, and for the most part we’re better for it.
All we can ask of one another is be pragmatic and skeptical, and we’ll all get through this together.