Q: Canadians Dwayne De Rosario and Dejan Jakovic will miss Sunday’s match due to international call-ups. Since both players are current Goat-of-The-Month candidates, it sounds like addition by subtraction.
AT: With Jakovic's current form, which is to say lack of form, his promotion to his national team definitely represents a bearable loss for most United fans. With his taking the blame for so many of our recent goals against and with Ethan White potentially fit again and Conor Shanosky returning from his loan spell with the USL Pro regular season champion Richmond Kickers, there's a decent chance Dejan could have been benched in this game anyway.
As for DeRo, he's still an important part of the attack - in fact, we nominated him for Player of the Month in addition to his Goat nod. But his forced absence will provide a convenient opportunity to see what a Dwayne-less D.C. United looks like, and that will be important going forward since DeRo is now 35 and only has so long left in his time with the Black-and-Red.
Q:According to the stats on MLS*, D.C. United hasn’t scored an unassisted goal this season in league play (i.e. 16 goals, 16 assists). Is this a product of a system or the players? (*I’m dubious; Dwayne De Rosario scored a recent goal that look pretty unassisted to me.)
AT:To be clear, some of those assists are secondary (or "hockey") assists - the pass that led to the pass that led to the goal. Or else somebody got to pad their stats by "assisting" on a penalty kick goal or two.
(Editors Note: (sarcastic clapping) Way to go there, Matt. Way to go..
I think the high ratio is primarily a product of the system, and that's not necessarily good in this instance. It means we aren't getting a lot of the classic unassisted goals - dispossessing an opponent deep in their own half and beating the keeper 1v1 or being in position to put in the rebound after a save. Earlier in the year, this had to do with United's inability to create any danger or goals whatsoever, but more recently it has to do with the "double false 9" forward pairing of DeRo and Luis Silva, which has resulted in lots of long-range shots but relatively little creativity inside the opponent's 18-yard box.
The bright side is the fact that we're getting so many secondary assists, though, which means that our passing movements - when we score - have some purpose and coordination to them; there are times when players are looking and thinking a pass or two ahead. This is especially true since Silva joined the team from Toronto. Now we just need more of that kind of quick thinking and a whole lot more of those elusive scoring moves to get us over that embarrassing mark of 16 goals from 26 games.
Q: Kevin Payne is out as GM of Toronto FC who’ve stated Payne’s replacement must be a salary "capologist". Do you have a reaction to this news? What’s the feeling about salary cap regarding the current D.C. United roster?
AT:When KP was down here in the District, the conventional understanding of United's front office was that Payne set the direction and did most of the GM-type functions, but Dave Kasper was the guy who knew the ins and outs of the various MLS salary mechanisms and could make damn near anything work under the cap. With their split last winter, neither has done a particularly good job of stepping into the void created by the other. Judging by TFC's statements, Payne had trouble navigating the salary cap and its many exceptions, while back at RFK Stadium, Kasper has had issues evaluating talent and negotiating appropriate salaries for a few different players.
The result was that an inordinate percentage of United's roster budget was dedicated to the worst-performing central defense in the league, as both Brandon McDonald and Dejan Jakovic were guaranteed a combined $575,000 this year. B-Mac was traded to RSL, but a portion of his salary for this year remains on United's books, and now that known Jakovic fanboy Kevin Payne is out at BMO Field, there appears to be few options for beneficial trades that involve the Canadian international. The rest of United's cap looks pretty good, though; DeRo is the only Designated Player on the roster, and the sales of Andy Najar last winter and Alain Rochat this summer should have provided lots of allocation money for Kasper & Co. to throw around. For next year, that pile of Monopoly money will only be added to when D.C. finish last in the league (Thank you, parity police!) and might be bigger still if United can pull the upset in the USOC Final in Salt Lake on October 1.
Our thanks again to Adam and the other folks over at the Black and Red United family. For our answers to their question, go ahead and hit them up!