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Looking at D.C. United’s personnel direction ahead

Nov 23, 2012, 11:25 AM EDT

Kevin Payne

One of the interesting items to come from Steven Goff’s ranging post-season Washington Post interview with D.C. United president Kevin Payne were thoughts on the club’s overarching personnel philosophies going forward.

Essentially, teams can go one of three ways when it comes to high-level signings:

There’s the Galaxy and Red Bull way, practiced to lesser extend by a couple of other clubs. That means going after pricey types whose value on the field is matched to some extent by value in sales and marketing.

There’s the “buy low, sell high” approach. Obviously, it’s tricky; so many clubs would like to perfect this practice but there are just too many moving parts.

And then there’s the most frugal model where, where it’s just about trying to build the best roster without spending much money.

Sounds like United, a club that might once have joined the name clubs in pursuit of bigger stars, will be a buy-sell club for now.

Here’ what Payne told Goff about player philosophies under new ownership:

The league is beginning to put more emphasis on younger, very talented players — potential DPs. Everyone appreciates the value of David Beckham or Robbie Keane to the commercial enterprise of the league, in particular, but we also want to explore whether there are opportunities to invest in appreciating assets — players who are going to increase in value in the time they are here.

“We have a young group and a young coaching staff. Some of these [potential big-name DPs] are very difficult to manage. They are big personalities. They become somewhat outsized in certain instances. They are accustomed to certain levels of treatment. Right now, at least, we are not sure we want to go down that road. There is nothing written in stone, but given the age of our team, the quality of our young players, and the age of our coaching staff, we think it may make more sense for us to look at players who are more peers of the players we have than are 10 years older.”

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with that. I know that some MLS fans don’t want to think of their league as a “stepping stone” association. But for now, in all honesty, that’s not a bad place for MLS to be.

  1. pensfan603 - Nov 24, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    I personally disagree with us being a stepping stone as a good thing, and i really dont see how you can say it is. You are suppose to be a league that is trying to go you have markets that you can attack why woul dyou try to be a steping stone. You look at why the mls has grow in recent years vs before when it would remain at the same tv ratings, attendance as always. Its because of big names like beckham and Keene playing well. We need the MLS to be a destination for big soccer names. Also I believe DC head coach Ben Olsen said that he is looking to bring in a Big name striker this offseason so…
    My personal philosophy on all of this is that yes its good to have large DP, and yes its good to have young players but you need a mix, you want to have rising mls stars that can step in but you need to have the big names. Something like La, with Villareal.
    Also with teams like LA, and New York who do buy big names it really would hurt a market if all you cared about was being a stepping stone. I also dont mind the stepping stone, best example Houston but you have to have some big names and you have to stay competitive and a good team.

    • danielofthedale - Nov 24, 2012 at 1:35 PM

      No league that is out of Europe will be anything other than stepping stone. Europe is where the Champions League is and it is and always will be the best club competition in the world, so the best players will always want to go there.

      The MLS should just focus on slow growth and in a couple of decades if they are as good as the Mexican, Brazilian, and Argentine leagues we should thank our lucky stars. But the league will just never be as good as the EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, or Seri A since we don’t have the tradition and they will be able to match the money.

      The Beckham model is not good for long term growth. Bringing in 30+ year old stars on the down side of their playing days will not really grow the league. They stick around for a few seasons and then they are gone. No lasting impact on the fan base around the city.

      The Freddy Montero model is a much better one. You find a really talented youngster from North America, South America, Africa, or Asia and bringing them to your team. Unless they become a real top tier player you can keep them in the league for decade or longer. He could be the face of team, the fans can embrace them as part a real part of the team and city and not just a rent a player. And if you focus on younger players then the league will better in a few years since they will only get better as opposed to bringing in older players who are only going to get worse as time goes one. That means the league as whole gets better and you can bringing in better players and keep players more easily.

  2. footballer4ever - Nov 24, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    danielifthedale said:
    ” But the league will just never be as good as the EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, or Seri A since we don’t have the tradition and they will be able to match the money”

    Let’s be real here, European football clubs may have the tradition, but without money to have the great players then those clubs go downhill. Having said that, never say never. If all the soccer fans in the US, including the snobby ones, were to support the league, then enough money would be available to compete for thre quality/star players out there.

    We don’t dream or want to be the best or only league in the world, but be part of the best leagues and football clubs in the world as it’s known for : World Football, not US football or NFL.

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