Joe Willis

MLS half-day trade window roundup: Very busy day as Timbers, KC extremely active

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There was a decent amount of movement between MLS clubs during Monday’s abbreviated trade window, not all of it trade-related.

And it’s important to note that the trades may not all have hit the news yet, as the deadline for trades to be completed was 1pm ET. They could be announced afterwards, and the trade window reopens after Wednesday’s expansion draft for Orlando City and New York City.

[ MLS: New match ball | On Landon ]

Portland sent Michael Harrington to Colorado for allocation money, then turned around and sent allocation money to Real Salt Lake for Nat Borchers. The well-liked bearded Borchers, 33, started 32 of 32 games for RSL this season, while the 28-year-old Harrington made 21 starts for the Timbers.

Portland picked up four more players, adding Ghanaian goalkeeper Adam Larsen Kwarasay and Colombia right winger Dairon Asprilla to go with an official purchase of Alvas Powell from his Jamaican club. They also picked up Brazilian defender Jeanderson Salvador Pereira from Santa Rita.

Kwarasay is an eyebrow-raiser, having 21 caps for Ghana and coming from strong Norwegian side Stromsgodset.

Sporting KC went nuts, dealing for Bernardo Anor from Columbus and sending Aurelien Colin and CJ Sapong packing to Orlando City and Philadelphia, respectively.

Columbus has sent defender Josh Williams to New York City FC for allocation money. The 6-foot-2 Cleveland State product saw his playing time dip dramatically under Gregg Berhalter, going from 27 to 14 games played. NYCFC also picked up an international roster slot for 2015 and 2016 from DC United for allocation money.

Philly sent the rights of Amobi Okugo to Orlando City as well. He’s been expected to leave for Europe but could be tempted to stay and play with Collin and Kaka. Orlando is not acting like its just a rights move, and also picked up international roster slots from DC for 2015 and 2016 for allocation money.

DC United picked up defender Andrew Driver and a fourth-round pick in 2016 from Houston in exchange for goalkeeper Joe Willis and defender Samuel Inkoom. The Tally Hall deal is also now official.

Elsewhere, Philadelphia decided to part ways with bruising 33-year-old forward Conor Casey.

Has there been a goalkeeper change at DC United?

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Joe Willis started tonight in goal as D.C. United collected its third win of the season. In August. Yuk.

But never mind that for now; we’ve been hammering the poor old, awful Black and Red all year.

For now, let’s stick to what’s interesting, and what is working well around RFK. We already told you about Luis Silva, and how his arrival in a swell trade from Toronto is paying big dividends, as it did in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Montreal.

But are we seeing a change in goal at RFK? Maybe … but it’s a little early to say for certain. Here are the facts:

Bill Hamid has been D.C. United’s starter for three seasons, and his ongoing string of invitations into U.S. national team camp (although generally in apprentice roles) makes the future around United’s No. 1 appear consisently sunny. He does make some swell saves, but his decision making can be unreliable, and he has allowed some softies this year, too.

(MORE: United snaps winning streak with win over Montreal)

Backup ‘keeper Joe Willis has generally been solid. United manager Ben Olsen has already said that Willis will be in goal during the team’s important U.S. Open Cup semifinal Wednesday. Scratch that “important” and make it “absolutely critical,” because United is way too far behind in the MLS playoff chase, so the Open Cup represents United’s only chance of salvaging something from this little lost puppy dog of a season.

Hamid has been the Open Cup goalkeeper, so maybe we cannot read too much into that. Then again, listen to what Olsen said after Saturday’s match about playing Willis over Hamid, who was back from Gold Cup duty in plenty of time and was on the substitute’s bench during the win over Montreal.

“Joe [Willis] got us into the Open Cup semifinals and I’m going to play him on Wednesday – I’ll tell you right now,” Olsen said. “It has nothing to do against Bill [Hamid] and the faith that we have in him. I wanted to get Joe one more game going into Wednesday. And I thought he had a pretty good game.”

Ben Olsen makes wholesale changes for United

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(Updated, 11:20 p.m. ET: Long story short, better effort but same result in a 2-1 loss. More later on the blog …)

D.C. United manager Ben Olsen clearly knows that something has to change around a team that cannot arrest the downward spiral.

Olsen’s team has lost six in a row, a club record. That includes an absolutely embarrassing 4-0 pounding at home Wednesday to MLS Cup runner-up Houston.

So the league’s youngest manager has responded with five lineup changes for tonight’s match against league-leading FC Dallas, including a couple of real talkers.

Goalkeeper Joe Willis, center back Ethan White and forward Casey Townsend will get their first starts of 2013 for United. Willis replaces U.S. under-23 international Bill Hamid, who has given up some bad goals this year – but who has also made some brilliant stops and hasn’t gotten a lot of help lately.

Willis looked great as Willis’ early season replacement last year during an injury for the Black and Red’s No. 1.

As for that “help” that Hamid has missed recently, White replaces the struggling Brandon McDonald. James Riley replaces Daniel Woolard in a shakeup along the outside in the back.

Nick DeLeon gets his first start since recovering from injury, replacing Marcos Sanchez on the outside of United’s midfield.

At striker, where United simply cannot find an answer in 2013, recent Richmond Kickers call-up Townsend is the next to audition for the position.

By the way, Chris Pontius is not on the trip; Olsen had hoped to get the former fast-riser, whose 2013 struggles have been part of the bigger problem around RFK, back into the rotation this week. Clearly, that won’t happen now.

D.C. United goalkeeper Joe Willis had educated guess on Kenny Cooper’s penalty re-take

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One of the many remarkable elements of a truly remarkable two-game series between New York and D.C. United punctuated the entire swirl of chaos and rancor around New York’s second half penalty kick.

United goalkeeper Bill Hamid took down Kenny Cooper, was shown red and then had to leave the critical PK rejection efforts up to backup Joe Willis. Cooper nailed the first attempt at his spot shot … but a small unit of Red Bulls had crept in prematurely. Referee Mark Geiger correctly ordered the retake and …

Willis did his part in the historic series, guessing and diving to his left to turn away Cooper’s re-kick.

Or, was it such a “guess?” Willis had some inkling what was going to happen. Last year, Cooper had to re-take a spot shot for Portland. He went the other way – and United goalkeeper coach Pat Onstad remembered as much.

We had a similar situation last year [against Cooper]. He went one side, got called back and he went the other side. I was lucky Pat reminded me of that before the game and I was lucky that I made the save.”

Well, lucky, yes. But that also falls under “diligent preparation.” I mean, reminding the backup goalkeeper of a potential situation that was almost certain not to develop? Yes, mark that down as being professional and doggedly thorough.