Monday, January 28, 2008

Burchie and the Left Peg

So imagine if that was a male and he wore the DC United shirt, that would be Marc Burch. If I had any photoshopping skills at all I could have made it happen. But I don't, so I didn't.

In our final installment of "but most of all we support the backline" we get to talk about our favorite United defender and our favorite player, Marc Burch. As previously discussed, United had a difficult time assembling a backline in 2007 and was very fortunate to have some reserves step up big. After we went to the four man back, we had Gros fill in on the left for a few games and I believe we experimented with Vanney and Simms in that position as well. Then it happened. A trade we made with Columbus for a DCU 2008 Suppie Pick paid off. March Burch came in and started dropping left peg bombs from the back. He could switch the field and he even went forward a few times. Marc Burch was a revelation, a bright spot for DC United's width. As he continued to do damage, other teams in the MLS caught on and started to defend him more closely. His wind-up was taking too long and he started losing the ball. As a converted forward his defensive positioning was a little shaky but not terrible.

In 2008 I'm hoping for a shorter wind-up from him, more speed, and better positioning. I think these are all possibilities because he is a converted forward and can still learn the position better. If I can only get one of the three, I'll take a shortened wind-up so he can still do damage serving up balls from the back. And while I'm wishing I'll take a few more of these:

Burchie from distance.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Old Man Vanney

I hated Greg Vanney when he came to DC United. It really was nothing against him, he had just been traded for my favorite DC player, Facundo "erpfu" Erpen. I was sad to see Erpen go and disappointed that we got an old, slow guy in exchange. There were rumors of a magical left foot, that as far as I can tell must have been amputated and reattached to Marc Burch, but that is a different story. Vanney's first few games were not great and I was very critical of every mistake he made. Although I didn't want to admit it, as he got more comfortable with his teammates and the style of play he made less mistakes and his experience really started to pay off in the back. His lack of speed was always an issue and will probably always be an issue, but if he can help groom Burch and McTavish for future success I'm ok with that trade off in the short term.

I would like to keep Vanney on for another year or two if we can reduce his salary and he will take minutes as a backup, with a few starts thrown in to give the others a rest. As it stands today, he has not re-signed (or resigned for that matter) and we have not signed another central defender to take his position. Another reason I would like to have him stay on is that I think he might make a good coach in the future. Having heard him talk a few times, he is very articulate and seems to analyze the game well from an objective point of view.

4th and final installment of the Backline Chronicles: Marc Burch, how I love thee, let me count the ways.

Center Defense and Mr. McTavish

Devon McTavish and I go way back. See below for yourself:

He totally has his arm around me.

In the beginning of 2007 we had our first team backline but we had a backup shortage. Then when DC went to the 4-4-2 instead of the 3-5-2 we lacked a fourth starter. We tried Gros and we tried Simms, both of which worked ok but not great. Within our reserves we were able to find two defenders worthy of starting, one of those being Devon McTavish. His previous minutes were mostly at midfield so it may have been an partial conversion. Here's what I like about him:

1. He is quick, not necessarily fast, but quick.
2. He is often in the right place at the right time to disrupt the attack.
3. He can be brutal. I recall him "going up for a header" against one of the SuperLiga Mexican teams and not getting any ball but getting a lot of the opposing attacker. I like that. Strike some fear into opponents.
4. He puts his arm around me in pictures.

He is still green and made some mistakes but not nearly as many as the other defenders. Maybe that is because others can make up for him easier because he plays in the middle or maybe he is just that good. I recall many times where he came swooping in to deny a scoring opportunity when others had been beat. I am looking for him to become even more solid as he gets more and more minutes.

Next time: Will Vanney be back to complete our central defense duo?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Right Side and Bryan Namoff

The story told:

At the beginning of the 2007 season Bryan Namoff was solid on defense and darn near creative on offense. He was dependable at the back and gave us hope going forward. Upon realizing the value of his contributions, we sang praises to his name, in what might have been an EDA... no that has nothing to do with blood flow dysfunctions, simply an Early Display of Affection. Maybe it was our fault, maybe it was his, but either way he got hurt. The next part of the story gets a little fuzzy because I am getting old now, nearly 29, and I do not remember exactly what he hurt. Chances are pretty good he was part of the 2007 DCU Hamstring Club, but there were a couple hernias and groins last year too so it could have been anything. Whatever it was, Namoff was out a few weeks and when he came back it appeared that his level of play had dropped off a bit. Then in Chicago (which I only remember because I was there and it was FANTASTIC!) he was hurt again, although he did not miss any additional games. Throughout the rest of the season he seemed a bit slower and not nearly as willing to go forward.

The fortune telling:

I am writing off last year's drop in performance to injury. And by the way, his performance was not bad, just not as good as Namoff can be. This year I look forward to his return to form which will include going forward in the attack. DCU needs creativity in the attack. And for now I will take diversity in attack for a substitute to creativity, although I will not complain if creativity fights diversity for time in the attack. Although Namoff is not particularly fast, what speed he does have will be desperately needed on our backline. I am wishing for an increase in speed from Namoff in the offseason. I do not even know if that is a possibility, it is not like he his a high school sophomore football player still developing his skill set.

I predict Namoff will have another solid year and if he can get some rest through the arduous season he will have a great year.

Next time: Center Defense and Mr. McTavish

Monday, January 7, 2008

but most of all we support the backline

With Goff's recent news of a possible new central defender from Argentina's second division, it is time to look at what we already have to work with on the backline. Assuming DC United stays with the 4-4-2 in 2008, today our backline looks like this:

Some people also think it is important to have backups for injuries or a busy schedule. The sub situation is somewhat ugly. Last year we had McTavish/Boswell, Gros, and Simms as passable backups. This year I am not sure who I can nominate as subs because:

1. Boswell is gone, leaving McTavish as an every game starter
2. Gros is out for the year
3. B. Carroll is gone, so Simms will not be able to step back to play on the backline unless we have somebody else (Arguez) step in at defensive mid. Also, this seems like a backward way of doing things.

I guess we will have to go with Jeff Carroll and Stephen deRoux as our subs (I think deRoux played back there at some point last year). And while we got lucky by completing the already started conversion of Marc Burch, I do not think that Moose, Addlery, or Nolly (only half joking) will be so successful. As a side note, the DC roster only has one player listed as purely defense (Vanney) and two players listed as midfield/defense (Arguez and J. Carroll).

Next time: The Right Side and Bryan Namoff

*Oh and thanks to mlsnet for the pictures.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

so it turns out i'm color blind... in the bad way

thanks to RSL Ben and Fullback Files for alerting me to my apparent flying of the RSL colors. maybe subconsciously i really want to support a perennial loser. i did pick the lions to go all the way this year.

i knew i was color blind, but who knew blue and black could be so easily confused. the black and red are back, at least that's what my seeing-eye wife tells me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

it's a new year, i got a new change in gear, i swear, i can see clear now the clouds disappeared*

and we're back... Forgive us for the long break but we needed to mourn the playoff loss, complete a bachelor's degree, and celebrate the holidays. We are very excited about the 2008 season and the addition of new edgell supporters this year.

Don't forget to add our new address ( to your favorites, blog aggregators and the what not.

*thank heavens we have Wyclef to supply us with clever lyrics