D.C. United’s new star player … who?

D.C. United could use, among other things, an attacking midfielder. As Black and Red United points out, the current options don’t really fit the role. Jaime Moreno was never really the best player for that spot, and he doesn’t have the legs for it these days. Teen phenom Andy Najar’s too green. Santino Quaranta is better elsewhere on the field, as is Clyde Simms.

Here’s the question: Does D.C. United need an attacking midfielder so badly that they should use one of the budget-busting Designated Player slots on a guy who won’t see any extra tickets outside Washington’s Montenegrin community?

(I’m assuming there is a Montenegrin community here — we have a community for every other country in the world. Then I’m assuming the Montenegrin community could name anyone on Montenegro’s national team, especially someone who appears not to be the captain. I shouldn’t rely on Wikipedia for such information, but I’m not relying on FIFA, either. Or UEFA, which followed MLS in expunging the “history” section when it revamped its Web site.)

Does D.C. United need an attacking midfielder so badly that they’ll use that DP slot on a guy who couldn’t get much playing time at Paris Saint-Germain five years ago and has been toiling in the obscurity of the Austrian Bundesliga since then?

So while it may be too early to cast doubt on the abilities of one Branko Bošković, D.C. United’s new attacking midfielder, it’s not too early to wonder if such a signing is what the league had in mind with the DP rule. It’s the “Beckham rule,” designed to bring well-known players who might lift the quality of play and, not incidentally, lift TV ratings and sell a few tickets. Beckham does that. Cuauhtemoc Blanco does that. Juan Pablo Angel’s impact is harder to measure, but he had enough of a name to make a few people take notice.

Also, there’s no harm in using the DP slot to retain or reclaim an American who might have designs on Europe, at least the lesser European leagues. Granted, United doesn’t have an American player on the roster who could fill a DP slot, though Najar might be worth it in a couple of years if he keeps up his rapid progress.

If Bošković had come in as a discovery player making $200K, few would’ve thought to question it. But the new guy might face a bit of pressure if he’s the big-deal United signing while clubs to the north, geographically and in the standings, are talking about Thierry Henry or Robert Pires.

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2 Responses to D.C. United’s new star player … who?

  1. Thanks for the link Beau.

    As for the question at hand, I am personally fine with United using a DP slot (WaPo supersub Paul Tenorio says it’s a DP without the massive amount of payment beyond the MLS-covered cap hit). Two reasons:

    1. I’m a United fan, and I’m desperate for a winner. This is the position we are currently worst at. It had to be addressed with a quality player, and Boskovic has the resume of a quality player.
    2. In the DC sports market, there are three things that get people to buy tickets: Being the Redskins, having a player that makes your team the “big event,” and being a winner.

    United can’t be the Redskins, so that’s out. Possibility #2 is probably out of the question as long as DC is playing at RFK. That leaves us having to look behind door #3 if we want attendances up above 17K (not the 15K or so that have been coming in this year).

    Boskovic doesn’t have to be a transcendent star to be a success. However, he does have to be very good. Ultimately, the question of whether this was a good idea will be entirely down to how Boskovic plays and how he fits into the locker room.

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