Dejan Jakovic

Moving Dejan Jakovic is the right move for D.C. United

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Signs of “something better” keep appearing around RFK Stadium. Clearly, that’s a low bar considering the historically dreadful season just seen for D.C. United, which was truly woeful across all areas of the field.

But the offseason moves so far all seem to make sense. Clearly, what “makes sense” for D.C. United wouldn’t be what “makes sense” for all clubs. The best example there is Eddie Johnson’s signing. United is so desperate for some quality near opposition goal that it was worth a flier on a guy who doesn’t have a great reputation in the locker room.

That might be a risky move elsewhere; it’s not exactly a master stroke for United, but it does seem rather sensible.

Now, here’s a move that would make sense for any club: jettisoning a high-salaried defender who really isn’t a very good defender.

Canadian international Dejan Jakovic is off to Japan, apparently. Good luck to the man!

Thing is, he didn’t make sense around RFK. If you pay $300K for a defender in MLS, his name had better be Omar Gonzalez or Jamison Olave or perhaps Jose Goncalves. Otherwise, that’s like paying $10 for a beer at the stadium – it’s bad value.

The entire back line is being rebuilt at RFK. Sean Franklin, Nana Attakora and Bobby Boswell have been brought in to join Ethan White. While Franklin and Boswell are not cheap, they are better defenders than Jakovic. Again, it’s about value. And now there’s a little more of it along the back line at RFK.

New York’s Tim Cahill out another 3-4 weeks

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Tim Cahill will miss 3-4 weeks after being felled by yet another bad challenge, and there are two points to make on Monday’s revleation.

First is the ongoing, maddening inability to protect MLS attackers. So long as the hard men of MLS believe they have a reasonable shot at getting away with dangerous and reckless tackles, they are incentivized to try them. In this case, D.C. United defender Dejan Jakovic crunches Cahill near goal.

Referee Juan Guzman, inexplicably, saw no foul here. His poor choice was bailed out when Loyd Sam found goal with a cross or a shot or something in between that sneaked past United ‘keeper Bill Hamid, but Red Bulls manager Mike Petke is clearly upset that a bad foul was left unpunished.

Here’s what he probably most upset about:

Cahill is likely to miss at least three matches, one against an Eastern Conference rival, Houston, and two matches at home against struggling teams – the very sort of clubs the Red Bulls must beat to be taken seriously as the regular season finish line approaches. (The full Red Bulls schedule is here.)

Thierry Henry scores the showy goals around Red Bull Arena, and he gets far more pub. But Cahill is probably just as important in the big picture for Petke’s team. In fact, the Australian international’s eight goals this year top Henry’s total by one.

His two-way work is vital, especially considering Henry’s relative lack of the same, and it will be sorely missed.

Digging into the D.C. United situation … and wondering about Dave Kasper’s role in the failures

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Coaches lose their jobs all the time, and most “get it.” They may not like it, there may have been mitigating circumstances and there may be blame to share … but at the end of the day they are in a “results business,” and they understand being accountable for the bottom line.

When the Ws and the Ls land in unlovely and improper proportions, the manager gets kicked to the curb.

Then again, I’m looking at D.C. United and wondering why the accountability doesn’t seem to migrate upward, into the front office, over manager Ben Olsen’s head? Because D.C. United has been mostly down in the dumps for a long, long time. Only, the accountability factor doesn’t seem to be in effect for GM Dave Kasper, the architect of this failed roster.

This is from Kasper’s bio page:  “Dave Kasper joined D.C. United in 2002 and has been instrumental in building a deep, young, and very talented roster at D.C. United that will reap benefits in the long-term.”

That sound like the team you see today at RFK Stadium, the one dead last in our weekly rankings, speeding toward a league record for offensive ineptitude?

The team’s significant offensive off-season signings were Marcos Sanchez, an aging Carlos Ruiz and Brazilian young designated player Rafael – and all have been pretty dismal failures. They have combined for one goal and no assists. Throw in Rafael Augusto, signed late last year, and that total increases to … no, wait … it doesn’t increase one bit. Still, one goal and no assists.

(MORE: Ben Olsen’s complaints ring hollow)

That one goal, by the way, was from Rafael, an ostensibly promising signing that worked out so well the club the club released him last week. United didn’t help itself here by breathlessly hyping the anonymous 20-year-old as a “major signing.”

Speaking of failed attackers around RFK, should we talk one more time about Lionard Pajoy? Or Hamdi Salihi? Or Branko Boskovic? Perhaps former club president Kevin Payne had bigger paw prints on those major boo-boos, but again, the accountability thing.

The back line at RFK is a big bag of average or worse. Canadian international Dejan Jakovic is passable as a second center back, one who can be serviceable when paired with an A-list central defender. But to go into the season with Jakovic and Brandon McDonald as your starting center backs? Someone needs to be accountable for that one.

Everyone loves Bill Hamid’s big saves. But he’s still young and he still makes mistakes. How many points might have been saved over the last three years with an older, wiser hand in goal, one that allowed Hamid to apprentice and come along slower?

source: Getty Images

We could go on. Suffice to say, up and down the lineup, there’s just is not enough to like. A big run late last year provided some false promise. But that was after Dwayne De Rosario was hurt and the team reshaped into a bunch of grinders who could do the business with 1-0 wins. Once De Rosario got back into the lineup, a year older, that identity was lost.

Isn’t that a GM’s job to see that? Isn’t it Kasper’s job to look at the roster and understand how many Ws can realistically be squeezed out of that bad boy? Shouldn’t someone be accountable?

Here’s what I see happening sooner or later: Olsen (pictured at right) will lose his job. A 2-12-3 record is likely to get worse in about 30 hours when United visits Seattle, and eventually the mark will just be too ugly to stomach.

And if Olsen does lose his job, we’ll be left with a huge mystery – because we still won’t know if Olsen is a good coach. What a shame that will be.

Unless he was making the major personnel decisions, then Olsen was saddled with a team that never had much of a chance at real success.

D.C. United cannot catch a break

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Fresh of a huge win – one that might not ordinarily reach “huge” status, but does in season gone sideways, where measures of success must surely be recalibrated – there are fresh concerns to deal with.

Foremost is the concussion injury to Chris Pontius, who will apparently miss Saturday’s home match with Toronto FC. Defenders Ethan White and James Riley are also out. Defender Dejan Jakovic and midfielder Kyle Porter are questionable, all as reported by The Washington Post’s Steven Goff.

Jakovic, a starting center back, would be the most significant loss. We could debate the impact of missing Pontius, a talented midfielder-forward who is having a wickedly tough go of it this season.

Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup win was good and bad news. The “good” was achieving some relief from the lack of success; the team is still riding that 12-game winless streak.  And Dwayne De Rosario’s breakout, a hat trick in the club’s 3-1 win over Philadelphia, propelling the team into the tournament quarterfinals, will put a smile on every La Bara Brava man and woman.

But even that come with this bit of temperance: “De Ro” is 35, and you have to wonder how quickly he’ll recover, how much he will have for Saturday’s critical contest against Toronto. Same for the rest of the club; Toronto will come in far more fresh, playing in its first match in 14 days.

Keystone cops for D.C. United defense; watch this goal

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First, we told you that D.C. United needed a Jack McInerney. The young U.S. striker just keeps scoring, doing so again early on Sunday in Washington, D.C.

D.C. United is in trouble. Big trouble. Down at the break, 3-1.

Of course, what Ben Olsen’s team also needs is for his defenders not to freakin’ run into each other!

Things are going from bad to worse around RFK Stadium. While the offense has been nothing short of awful, the Black and Red defense hasn’t been too bad. Check that – had not been too bad.

Watch the goal below, McInerney’s fifth this year (and his first of two Sunday, good enough to share the league lead.) It’s just Benny Hill skit back there – that is a series of wobbles and mayhem and fellows falling down.

It starts with United center back Dejan Jakovic, unhurried or unchallenged, giving away a ball in midfield. Brandon McDonald is way too slow about getting even with his fellow defenders, which leaves McInerney in free on Conor Casey’s wise, early through ball.

When Jakovic and McDonald catch up to McInerney … they run into one another.

The young Union striker calmly places his shot past ‘keeper Bill Hamid for the first of two early Union goals.

Here ‘’tis! Turn and look away D.C. United fans.

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