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D.C. United on the right track with Hamdi Salihi choice

Jan 18, 2013, 3:16 PM EDT

Salihi head shot

Washington Post reporter Steven Goff has all the nitty-gritty today on the news that DP striker Hamdi Salihi is not in preseason camp and will not return to the club.

Long story short: The highly priced Albanian striker signed on with D.C. United less than year ago. United officials tried desperately to tell us this was a big deal and that Salihi was big part of the scoring solution at RFK. (A lot of us were quite underwhelmed with the signing, said so publicly, and had to go a few rounds with voices around RFK as a result. But that’s another story.)

Salihi started slowly and then, well, managed to slow down a little more. With just 6 goals in 22 games, he clearly was not DP striker material. Now United seems wisely intent on severing ties.

Now, for the “Long story very, very short:” United made a mistake. Today, they are copping to blunder and starting to repair the roster and salary cap damage. That’s it in a nutshell.

This really looks like an important step for United, where fans have an increasing body of evidence that things are moving the right direction and that daylight has finally broken through the darker days.

Teams make mistakes. All teams. It happens. Show me a club that hasn’t stumbled here and there on a personnel choice and I’ll show you a real life, walking, talking Sponge Bob Squarepants. See my point here? Those things don’t exist.

So a critical element of long-term club success is to acknowledge the boo-boos, cut those losses lickety-split, do so as economically as possible and then move happily on. The alternative is to allow hubris, ego and a stubborn desire to be “right” about someone to rule your choices – and then watch as bad things fall your way as the result.

Kris Boyd and Portland? Same deal.

Why keep a mistake around? Managers feel pressure to play the pricey “star,” but the players aren’t stupid. They know the deal. They quickly spot the teammate not getting the job done. What daily practice field incentive can really exist if lesser talented figures, or laggards who aren’t dong the hustle and cover work or aren’t performing the tasks emphasized during daily sessions keep getting the benefit of the doubt … and the minutes?

Fans can see the product, too. If someone not passing muster keeps playing, they lose faith.  And rightfully so, because something has gone wrong along the chain of personnel command.

Besides, in the end, it all gets rolled into the long-term Win-Loss record.

So good on D.C. United, who have some options now in how they untangle themselves from the poorly conceived Salihi deal.

Better to untangle now, however, than to be dragged to the bottom.

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