Monday, October 31, 2011

Unanswered Questions

I am a frequent visitor of Steve Goff's "Soccer Insider" on the Washington Post. It is great to see regular coverage of D.C. United in a local paper with national circulation, but I fail to understand how soccer fans in the region should be satisfied with what continues to be low-quality writing and analysis of a sport of major professional and amateur significance in the area.

Last week Goff published an interview with DCU's Kevin Payne in two parts. The fact that the interview took place and that it was disseminated is fantastic, a boon to any United supporter. But the substance of the interview is remarkable. If there were betting lines for such things, no sportsbook would take any action on Goff harping on Charlie Davies and working in a reference to Davies' recently-filed civil suit (an action that has clearly offended Goff's strong moral sensibilities).

But let's spend a moment on what President Payne actually said, substantively:
“We need another center back. We have Ethan [White], Dejan, Brandon [McDonald] but I feel strongly we need to have another natural center back. It’s fine to know that Daniel Woolard, in a real pinch, can play there, but I don’t think you want to start guys like [Woolard and Marc Burch] as center backs. They’re good left backs."
Another center back? That would seem to be an interesting comment. I seem to remember that United had a center back under contract -- a guy that many United supporters thought was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal 2010 campaign.

When Julius James was unceremoniously cut at the beginning of this season, Goff explained:
James played a lot of minutes on a terrible team and wasn't very good. They shopped him around. No one was interested in relinquishing anyone or anything. He might get picked up at some point.
So it would seem noteworthy that the same guy who "wasn't very good" started 31 of 34 games for a team that finished three spots higher in the eastern conference, made the playoffs, and gave up 15% less goals for the season (52 for DCU and 44 for Columbus).

Nevertheless, the front office's decision to cast away a competent (and inexpensive) centerback does not merit mention in response to the team president's lamentation of a lack of depth at the same position?

That gives away the game. Goff doesn't seem to be terribly interested in soccer as an actual athletic competition and, yet, for whatever reason ... this is apparently the best we get.

I vacillate on whether this is a fair characterization of someone I read fairly often. But the day that the U.S. Women's National Team released the roster called in for the November 19th friendly against Sweden, Goff (appropriately) posted a note about the WPS's termination of majicJack FC, running Dan Borislow's response stressing his own purported commitment to the national team. The piece, however, failed to even mention that Georgetown's Ingrid Wells formally received a call in to join the country's best female soccer players. Not a mention.

We get it Steve, women's professional soccer is in trouble. It could fail and you've got no qualms about piling on. But not even a hat tip to an incredible achievement by one of the best women's collegiate soccer players to have ever graced this region?