First off, thank you to all the readers who voted over the last seven weeks in the 34 Cake or Death polls and commented in the posts. You made this exercise worthwhile, and I think we'll have to bring it back next year - though hopefully a bit later in the year and not immediately upon the end of the regular season.
Let's start off with the most recent voting, on the technical staff. Only two of the five that we voted on would get to stay on if it were B&RU readers making the decision: head coach Ben Olsen (somewhat surprisingly) and goalkeepers coach Preston Burpo. A sizable number of commenters noted a want to fire everybody and repopulate the front office from scratch (something the ownership seems to have been doing on the non-soccer side of the business anyway), but it wasn't enough to carry the day. Here are the numbers, ordered from most cake to most death:
As you can see, Dave Kasper was far and away the least popular member of the technical staff, and Burpo, the most junior member of the coaching staff, actually fared better in our polls than anybody else.
Now to the part you're really interested in, the players. We'll start at the bottom, with the Dead, which is a shorter list than I would have thought - only eight players received a majority of votes for Death, with everybody else receiving at least 50% Cake votes. Anyway, here are your clear castoffs:
|Dwayne De Rosario
I don't think there are any real surprises on this list. Pajoy received less love than anybody else on the roster. I suppose the fact that one in nine voters wanted to keep Alam on the team could be surprising, until you realize what kind of search traffic we pull from Indonesia any time his name appears in an article. Of this list, only Nyassi apparently remains definitely on the team. Of the rest, only Woolard and Riley have any possibility of returning for 2014, as they could re-sign with the team either before or after nobody takes them in stage 2 of the Re-Entry not-a-Draft on Wednesday. Theoretically, so could Saragosa, but because the team has already announced his departure, that's very unlikely at this point.
By and large, the least popular part of our list comprises guys who will not be wearing Black-and-Red next season. So good job voters and front office alike.
The other easy part is the very top of the list, and I do so love going out of order - so that's what's next.
These are your 90+% Cake eaters. (That came out wrong.) Seeing the team MVP and a promising homegrown rookie atop the list is entirely appropriate, and the rest of this list is mostly members of the core of the team. Apart from Seaton, the list is 100% American and overhwelmingly young. This really is who we want to build around going forward.
All of which is to say there's nothing really surprising about the top of the list. Except maybe for one thing: Joe Willis, with a 95-5 split received more love than Bill Hamid and his 91-9 vote. Based on the comments in Hamid's post, at least some of that is due to the perception that Hamid will be moving on soon no matter what and that United should start planning for that. Still, Hamid - to my eye - is the far stronger 'keeper, and so I'm a bit surprised to see him below Willis in the ranking.
Now it gets more complicated. Here's the list of guys in middle on our tallies:
How we react to this part of the list strikes me as an exercise in line drawing. Nobody ever said that 50% Cake was the dividing line - it could just as easily be 55% or 67% - so this is a bit open to interpretation. We know Iapichino is already set on finding a team in his native Switzerland, so his sub-55% Cake mark is effectively out the door.
The more interesting name is directly above his. Jakovic receiving only 55% shouldn't be surprising given his drop off this year, but as of today he's still a projected starter come March 8. Moving up the list another spot, Casey Townsend received a lot of "Richmond Cake," leading me to think he wouldn't have cracked 50% if the USL-Pro partnership between United and the Richmond Kickers wasn't a thing. I would have thought the same would hold true for Taylor Kemp, who never really impressed me in his rookie campaign this year, but he managed almost a 3:1 favorability ratio.
I feel comfortable saying the readership here collectively wants to see everybody from Kemp on up back with the team this spring. So congratulations to Doyle, Neal, Korb and Dykstra on your invitations to camp. The other two names on the list, Thorrington and Shanosky, are less clear. They both received Cake votes in the low-60s, and with the signing of Davy Arnaud, many United fans have already wished JT happy trails in their minds. Shanosky similarly could be packing his bags based on his failure to break into the starting XI down the stretch this year, even as there were zero other natural CBs available for selection. Even so, both received a majority of votes for Cake, so they present a tough call.
So, what do you think about the results of our Cake or Death series? Think we were too generous with our baked treats - and is United similarly being too lenient with players who contributed to the worst regular season in MLS history? You know where to sound off.
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