The best laid plans? DC United's offseason rebuild paying immediate dividends
WASHINGTON – For a very long time, D.C. United schemed and plotted and prepped for the 2013 offseason, knowing they had to rebuild drastically following a three-win campaign.
And so, in a span of eight days, United have added six players – most notably USMNT striker Eddie Johnson – and completely changed the look of the roster. Don’t think, though, that this was a quick process.
“It all happened overnight, but it was really five weeks of being in the war room every day and going over all of our options,” said United general manager Dave Kasper. “Looking at what we need and how it fits into the salary cap.
“I told these guys then that the gun fight is coming soon. The showdown is coming and we’re going to be prepared for it.”
They sure were. Kicking things off with a trade for 12-year MLS veteran Davy Arnaud, Kasper then acquired more veterans in defenders Bobby Boswell and Sean Franklin via Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft, then made the big splash by acquiring Johnson before snagging Fabian Espindola and Nana Attakora in Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft.
“We’re deeper, we’re more athletic and we’re more soccer savvy,” Kasper said. “We’re going to be a lot more dangerous up top and we’ve added experience at the back. We’ve really addressed those needs.”
And the shuffling isn’t over yet as United have the top pick in January’s SuperDraft as well as the top slot in the allocation rankings.
“Now our strategy has turned to, ‘Let’s get some MLS-proven players,’” Kasper said. “I feel we’re very balanced now with veteran players and younger players.”
Midway through last season, United made an effort to bring in young, American talent as Conor Doyle (who recently signed with the club on permanent loan), Luis Silva and Jared Jeffrey all joined the mix. Now, with players like Arnaud and Boswell (who spent the first three years of his career in D.C.), Kasper is hoping he’s solidified the veteran presence in the locker room.
“Davy’s a 10-out-of-10 character guy. He’s a captain wherever he goes,” Kasper said. “He’s an intense competitor and he’s going to make the younger guys better and demand every day that they take their craft seriously.”
Kasper said coach Ben Olsen will decide who will captain the club during the preseason, but Arnaud is as likely a candidate as any.
“I think they’re doing a lot by adding some really good pieces to the team,” Arnaud said. “When you look on paper, it’s exciting. The young guys have played in a lot of games. With good teams, I think you have to have a good mix of veterans and a good group of young guys who are hungry and who are obviously good players.”