D.C. United Notes: Club emphasizes youth movement; Rochat on way out; and more

Luis Silva

Photo by ISIphotos.com

By THOMAS FLOYD

WASHINGTON — D.C. United have been busy on the personnel front lately, to say the least. As the club debuted the trio of Luis Silva, Jared Jeffrey and Collin Martin at training Wednesday, coach Ben Olsen didn’t hesitate to explain the emerging philosophy.

“We want to continue building our base of quality young Americans,” Olsen said. “We’re always going to have our foreigners on this team, and they’re always going to help us. But we’re in a situation now where I think we need to build a base over the next year or two and really make sure we don’t have dips like we’ve had up to this point.”

Those “dips” would be the slew of losses the club has suffered this season en route to a 2-13-4 mark just a year after advancing within one game of hosting the MLS Cup.

After releasing Panamanian midfielder Marcos Sanchez and Brazilian attackers Raphael Augusto and Rafael, the club has revamped its youthful depth contingent by acquiring Jeffrey through the waiver draft last week, trading for Silva from Toronto FC on Tuesday, and signing academy product Collin Martin on Wednesday.

The acquisition of Martin, who forfeited his final three years of eligibility at Wake Forest after leading the team in assists this past fall, re-emphasizes the importance of D.C.’s youth academy, which has already produced the likes of Andy Najar, Bill Hamid and Ethan White.

“We’ve always invested in our academy,” Olsen said. “The talent that has come through there has helped us on the field in first-team games, and we’re looking to continue to have guys graduate.”

Here are some more notes from RFK Stadium on Wednesday:

ROCHAT SET TO JOIN YOUNG BOYS

United are at a delicate stage in negotiations to finalize the transfer of defender Alain Rochat to Swiss club BSC Young Boys, a source with knowledge of the situation said.

D.C. had been looking to extend Rochat, who was acquired from the Vancouver Whitecaps in early June and has one year left on his contract. But after ripping his trade experience as “terrible” and not “human” last month, Rochat informed the club of his preference to move back to Switzerland with his wife and four children — if not during this transfer window, then when his current deal expires.

It was Young Boys who approached United and made the club an offer it couldn’t refuse, the source said, noting D.C. preferred the transfer fee over the prospect of only having Rochat for one more season.

SILVA ADDS CREATIVITY

With just eight goals scored in 19 matches, D.C. United have by far the least-potent attacking force in MLS. Enter Silva, who compiled five goals and seven assists in 44 games as a creative presence for Toronto over the past season and a half.

“He brings a vision that a lot of our guys don’t have right now,” Olsen said. “Maybe that will help us in the offensive end with our lack of productivity.”

While Silva said that “in Toronto they played me a little bit everywhere,” including on the flank and as a withdrawn forward, he made clear he feels attacking midfielder is his best position.

Considering United have had few issues maintaining possession but typically lack that killer ball in the final third, Silva hopes he can be the right piece to get that attack clicking.

“I’ve been watching a lot of D.C. football,” Silva said. “I know how they play, their style. They like to keep the ball, and I think I’ll fit in perfect.”

MARTIN MAKES THE JUMP

With preseason preparations for his sophomore campaign at Wake Forest nearing, Martin two weeks ago began contemplating his future. He recognized D.C. was entering a bit of a rebuilding phase, and the possibility of a homegrown deal with the club became more tempting.

“I thought it was a good time for me,” Martin said. “Since last week, I knew that I really wanted to do this and started to talk about it more seriously, numbers-wise and how I fit in.”

Olsen said Martin isn’t MLS-ready at the moment, and the player conceded he physically still has a long way to go. But mentally, Martin feels prepared to contribute, whether it’s as a central midfielder, a winger or a withdrawn forward.

“I just know that no matter what,” Martin said, “as long as I work hard and play well and show that I can improve, then there might be a spot.”

While Olsen said a loan to D.C.’s affiliate, the third-tier Richmond Kickers, is a “consideration” for Martin, he noted that club is late in its season and enjoying a good rhythm.

When it comes to United’s friendly at RFK Stadium on Friday against Chivas Guadalajara, however, Olsen isn’t hesitating.

“I want to get him in right away,” Olsen said. “I’ve got no problem putting the kid in there. He’s turned pro.”

JEFFREY RELISHING OPPORTUNITY

A part of German side Mainz’s reserve squad for the past three years, Jeffrey signed up with MLS two weeks ago and waited for his fate to be decided. Then the phone rang.

“I just got a call saying, ‘Hey, you’re going to D.C. Get ready,’” Jeffrey said. ”D.C. United obviously is historically one of the greatest organizations in MLS. It’s a privilege to wear the crest and be here. It seems like a really good group, and I’m looking forward to kind of being here for a while and developing with them.”

Most comfortable as a holding midfielder, Jeffrey adds depth at a position where D.C. United have auditioned myriad players next to Perry Kitchen — Jeffrey’s former teammate with the U.S. under-23 national team.

When it comes to acclimating to a new group, Jeffrey has found that existing relationship invaluable.

“It’s so nice, it’s so crucial,” Jeffrey said. “Previously I’ve been in Europe and you just go in there blind, not knowing anybody, not knowing the language. Not only Perry, but a lot of the guys have been so welcoming so far.”

——

What do you think of D.C. United’s personnel moves? Are Silva, Jeffrey and Martin good additions? Will Rochat’s departure be a tough blow?

Share you thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- D.C. United. Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to D.C. United Notes: Club emphasizes youth movement; Rochat on way out; and more

  1. SanFran415 says:

    When in doubt–blow up the team and claim you’re infusing youth. Cover for a blown second half of the season.

    • Eurosnob says:

      You may have a point, but getting Silva for next to nothing was a very good move.

    • Josh D says:

      We did this two seasons ago it seems. Even last year we lauded our “youth” approach. Then Benny piled on veteran after veteran, injury prone player after injury prone player.

      I like acquiring youth. Especially exciting youth. But a guy like Silva is going to have a tough time under Benny’s work first, create second system. We’ve already seen our fair share of creative players go the way side.

      I’d love to see an article about just how many players Benny has acquired vs. how many of those he has let go in his two and a half years. We seem to be a revolving door of international players.

    • ed - houston says:

      Hey, it worked for Nowack and then Hacksworth.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Stick a fork in them. On down to Silva this is replicating the strategies of teams like Toronto that really went nowhere when they went “young.”

      Simply, no substitute for quality. You can cut overpaid and underperforming veterans but if you don’t bring in someone else, you’re the Houston Astros.

  2. slowleftarm says:

    I hate DC United as much as the next guy but Alain Rochat is a crybaby and the sooner we get a clown like him out of MLS the better.

    • Frank says:

      Kind of like Donovan?

    • DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

      Whatever his problems with the way the transfer went, he was nothing but class and full on effort on the field. Vancouver were crazy to trade this guy. Reportedly nothing but class in the locker room as well.

      This DC Fan wishes Bon Voyage, and thanks for your short but sweet service to the club. I will remain a fan, and probably root for Young Boys in Europa League now. Well as long as they aren’t playing any teams with Americans that is.

    • jake says:

      He seemed fine and no one at DC had a bad thing to say about him. Maybe he was a problem in Vancouver.

      • fischy says:

        His teammates and fans in Vancouver also liked him. So far, we’ve seen no such testimonials on behalf of “Slowleftarm.”

        • loosek says:

          Agreed. Rochat was an outstanding player in his short stint at DCU. VERY quality. It’s a real shame to lose one of the few bright spots of the season, but I wish him all the best. Switzerland has gotta be a lot nicer than DC in the summer…

  3. Emilie says:

    To slowleftarm:
    crybaby? do you know my husband, do you know me?
    who are you to judge people you don’t even know?
    we do not like the way the trade has been done, we find an other solution, that’s it. Nothing to comment about.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Who am I to judge people? I’m a fan of the game and I have opinions, that’s who I am. That’s why a big crybaby like Rochat can earn a living playing football, because there’s fans like the people on this site. And trades happen in American sports so maybe Rochat should have realized that instead of crying about it after the fact.

      • Emilie says:

        We are not happy so we are leaving, that seems logical.
        We are not crying, we find a better solution for us.
        Insulting people is not a real fan attitude.
        We love fans, we need them, not the insults about personality.
        Saying someone is a clown without knowing him is not part of my education.

        • Soro says:

          Emilie,

          Tous les fans ici a Vancouver vous souhaite un bon retour a Suisse. Felicitations pour la naissance de votre nouveau bebe!

        • fan of football says:

          Emilie,
          Wonderful that you have brought some kindness and reason to this comment in a respectful manner – I think people sometimes forget that there are real people on the other end of the internet tube and post ridiculous things.
          I have 2 young boys and if my employer came in tomorrow and told me I’m moving halfway across the continent, I wouldn’t be happy either. I would do whatever possible to find a better situation for all of us. Your trials make complete sense to me, family is important. Good luck to you and your family.

        • Eurosnob says:

          Emilie, you can ignore the troll – he hates DCU and everyone associated with the club. Most DCU supporters wish Alain and his family all the best with the new club. He handled things professionally on and off the field during his short stay here.

        • fischy says:

          Emilie —

          You must understand that some people think they have license to say the most ignorant, offensive things they can imagine, on the internet, because they’re not using their real names. They are the ones who behave like juvenile, immature adolescent boys. Also, some people are complete jerks when they are away from the computers, as well. Hard to know which type “slowleftarm” is — the jerk on the internet, or the jerk all the time. It doesn’t matter because he doesn’t matter.

          We in D.C. appreciate your husband’s obvious commitment on the pitch. We are sorry to see him go, but wish the both of you: bon voyage e bon chance.

          Perhaps you could give the baby a name with the initials “D. C”?

      • Ramon says:

        He wasn’t a cry baby. He was a man who cares more about his family than some game. I’m a DCU fan and I find it sad that he left, but that’s his prerogative. I wish him the best!

        • divers suck says:

          Rochat is, indeed, a crybaby! Trades/transfers go with the territory in any sport….His vitriol of terrible and not human is uncalled for!…Good riddance and enjoy Switzerland!

          • jay nt says:

            are you familiar with how transfers work outside of MLS?

            even north american players dislike the trades here…for someone who grew up and played overseas it is completely illogical

            this is not to say that rochat was completely unaware of the process…but reading about it, or seeing a teammate go through it is NOT the same as the harsh reality when it happens to you

            and thats not even accounting for the feelings and needs of his kids and wife

          • JoeW says:

            Totally wrong. Trades are rare in Europe and South America. Besides, Vancouver owed Rochat more than this treatment. With the club since their first year, a solid veteran, kids in school and a wife about to give birth and with no warning on consulting the player, he’s traded to a foreign country (yes, different health care–that matters if your wife just gave birth, different driver’s license policies, different taxes, from a country where even in Vancouver you see signs in French to a location where French language is probably a distant 5th or 6th in terms of DC area languages). Rochat was a pro with DCU, gave his all on the field and in the locker room. But like any player (and family), they looked at what they felt was the best situation for them and decided they wanted a return to Europe. Too bad for DCU but that’s within Rochat’s purogative. Now…if he’d refused to report or only half-stepped on the field and been a cancer in the locker room, maybe someone would have excuse to call him a crybaby. But he was none of those things. He behaved with class as a player for DCU on the field and in the locker room and the players said they were sorry to see him go.

      • jake says:

        His wife was weeks away from giving birth and he got shipped all the way across the country. Can’t really blame him for not liking that. I imagine she didn’t like it at all. Blame him for being a family man if you must unless you know something all of us don’t. From your posts, it doesn’t sound like you do.

        • Eurosnob says:

          Actually, he was not just shipped “accross the country” – he was shipped to a different country (from Canada to the US). :-)

      • jay nt says:

        wow

        the beauty and ugliness of the internet in back-to-back posts

        @slowleftarm

        in case you are unaware, you have just (inadvertantly?) had a conversation with the wife of mr. rochat

        you’re entitled to your opinion in the matter…but, shame on you for lacking the decency to refrain from name-calling

        perhaps you would say it to his or her face
        or perhaps you’re emboldened by the anonymous nature of the internet

        whatever your reasoning: its NOT a good look

      • curmudgeon says:

        Well, you’re right about one thing: there’s nothing stopping people from forming opinions of others.

        For example, nearly everyone here has now formed one particular opinion about you.

    • jay nt says:

      @ mrs. rochat

      congratulations on the new addition to your family!

      thanks for trying to connect with us (and please forgive some the insensitive people who have attacked your families’ decision)

      i’m a huge fan of DC and I was happy to have your husband play with the club, however, i completely understand and respect his choice to move back to CH

      switzerland is an awesome place to live

      hopefully the move is relatively stress-free and i wish you and your kids the best

      peace

    • Remy says:

      Emilie,
      Sorry there are people who make comments like that. It is very insensitive. I don’t know you or your husband but I am sure you both had good reasons to move back to your country. Best of luck and I sincerely wish your experience would have been better in the US.

      Bon courage!

    • slowleftarm says:

      Look, in the event this is actually Mrs. Rochat as many seem to believe, and not a troll, I stand by my comments. Your husband gets paid more than most people to play soccer and part of doing so in this country is the possibility you might get traded. So instead of crying like a little baby and acting like it’s the most horrible thing in the world, he should’ve done his job instead of whining.

    • Leo says:

      Best of luck to you and your family. Didn’t get to see much of your husband on the pitch (I live down in Florida, not much fanfare about Vancouver down here) but he sounds like an asset that should have been valued more highly in MLS.

  4. DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

    I wonder what we could get from Young Boys for Pajoy?

  5. Geo says:

    Why does Pajoy continue to start over Townsend? Townsend deserves a shot up top with Pontius

    • Ramon says:

      You’re right. I question Benny’s judgement sometimes, see Boskovic.

      • fischy says:

        I do question Benny’s judgement frequently. The one thing I’ll say in his defense on this particular question is that Pajoy has scored for United — he has a G/90 mins of 0.18 — whereas Towsend’s # is a big, fat 0.0

    • loosek says:

      Townsend has had PLENTY of chances to play. He’s just not that good.

  6. CosmosV says:

    Another reason MLS needs to start to conform to normal soccer rules and soccer transfers. Constantly getting rid of players to fix your cap or to move money around to get another player does not make for happy players and doesn’t send the right kind of message to players thinking about MLS as an option.

  7. DC Josh says:

    It’s a shame about Rochat, he was real quality on the field, but family comes first. As a new father myself, I can appreciate where he is coming from — being sent far away from family is torturous. I wish the best for him.

  8. AngelofLA says:

    I just want to put this up there. Anyone please tell me, doesn’t Silva look like a young Ronaldo the (The phenomenon) in this picture?

  9. Kimberly Orr says:

    Rochat came in played hard. Of course he was upset. I think DC fans have nothing but respect and wish we could have held on to him. Good luck to him and his family!

  10. Mitch says:

    I’m with Rochat on this. I’m okay with him being pissed off that he has to move 3000 miles from a place he was settled into. He’s still human. Even if you know it could happen, you don’t want it to. Especially in the middle of a season. He has the right to think it’s “terrible.”

  11. Emilie says:

    Hi everyone,

    I want to say that we have nothing against DC. We were ready to move and this offer from Bern arrived. That was a sign for us after the last stressful and emotional weeks: it is time to go home!

    We had a wonderful experience in North America. We wanted to live these adventure with our kids to teach them to be open to different cultures. We met amazing people and we will never forget.

    Thank you Whitecaps fan for the support and the kindness shown to us.
    Thank you DC fans for the warm welcome. We will be back one day for holidays to visit your city.

    Bye Canada, Bye America, Hello Switzerland!

    Emilie Rochat

    • Nate Dollars says:

      +1

      we enjoyed having alain on our team for the brief time we did. good luck and best wishes to your and your family!

    • DCUnitedWillRiseAgain says:

      Au revoir, Bon Voyage! Merci Beaucoup! OK, my french knowledge is now officially tapped.

    • JoeW says:

      Emilie,
      First, congratulations on the new addition to your family. I hope everyone is healthy and you’re getting as much sleep as you can.
      Second, thank you for taking the time to post in this thread. When players or family take the time to share their perspective, it makes for a much richer conversation.
      Third, Alain played very well for DCU. I wish he could have stayed. But I completely understand the desire to put family first (as he should). I wish him, you, and your family all the best.

  12. JoeW says:

    As to the primarily article that started this thread (DCU Youth Movement), while I like the new additions, this needs to be put into perspective. KC is a GREAT example of a US youth movement with guys like Zusi, Bunbury, Besler, and Sapong–all not only young and Americans but pretty talented players. Before I can get really excited about the DCU youth movement, some of these guys need to step up (or some of the existing young Americans on the roster like Hamid, Pontius, or Kitchen need to make the NT on a regular basis). Otherwise it’s just a series of cheap and partially local signings that go on to a roster with a lack of attacking talent and finishing ability.