Going into the 2011 off-season it seemed FCD had left themselves a few holes to fill. Some spots, like backup center back, weren’t of urgent need, while others, like striker, were, and are, at the top of the list.
Over the next couple days we’ll look at a few of these questions to try and decide whether they have, or have not, been addressed.
Question #1: Central Midfield (aka the Dax McCarty question)
Perhaps the biggest individual player loss of the winter for FCD was the loss of Dax McCarty in the expansion draft. Or so it would seem. McCarty was a key cog in midfield, linking play from the back line to Ferreira and the offense. McCarty had a terrific season, made it into the US senior side, and his loss leaves a gaping hole in the starting lineup and roster. FCD must do something about filling the spot.
It would be silly, however, to think FCD was caught off guard in leaving McCarty exposed. FCD knew the draft was coming and protected the player they felt had more long term value and potential: Eric Alexander.
As much as I like McCarty’s game, and I really think the kid can really play, I think we all know he was never one of Hyndman’s boys. Occasionally at conflict, and never really 100% a Hyndman fan, the relationship between McCarty and coach was, in my view, cordial and respectful but not much more.
To Hyndman I think McCarty was always a bit of a tweener, didn’t have a lot of size, wasn't a wonderful defender, and could be a little injury prone. Part of the valuation that led to his departure is McCarty’s cap cost. McCarty’s significantly larger contract ($165,000) is likely to go up now he’s in the US pool and playing well. His probable rising cost is a legit concern in a cap tight league, at least relative to Alexander’s $40,000 (Though Alexander should be getting a raise I would think).
Just a week or so ago, FCD Technical Director Barry Gorman said everything was in place for the acquisition of a European midfielder FCD was lining up about a month before. We should see something on him soon according to Gorman. The speed with which FCD moved on this signing tells us FCD more than likely was looking for someone well before they lost McCarty. That alone for me is quite telling. Is said midfielder the linked Ricardo Villar who once played for Barry Gorman? We don’t know yet.
In addition to this hypothetical European, FCD picked Bobby Warshaw, a holding mid and/or center back out of Stanford. A holding midfielder helps in the Dax McCarty spot because his presence should free Eric Alexander, a player Hyndman clearly really likes, from backing up Daniel Hernandez. Can Alexander win and hold down McCarty’s spot? Possible… only time will tell. I wouldn’t be to upset to see Alexander start the year in that spot.
Unfortunately at this point we don’t know if either of these moves will solve the McCarty problem and we might not know until well into the season. Perhaps not even till the end of 2011.
So check back… um, well I’m not sure when.
MLS Cup 2011 time maybe.