2011 D.C. United Preview: Bolstered Attack Should Help DCU Make the Playoffs

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2011 D.C. United Preview: Bolstered Attack Should Help DCU Make the Playoffs
Ned Dishman/Getty Images

Position in 2010: 16th Overall, 8th in Eastern Conference

Key Additions: Charlie Davies, Dax McCarty, Perry Kitchen, Joseph Ngwenya, Josh Wolff

Key Losses: Danny Allsopp, Julius James, Jaime Moreno, Troy Perkins

Outlook: People have been treating the United's underachieving over the past three years as something rather unprecedented. In fact, the club had a bit of a swoon following their "golden era" from 1996–99.

The club recycled through coaches hoping to find the right blend. Pitor Nowak managed to do that in 2004 and give the club their first Cup title since 1999.

Subsequently, the second golden era came, with a run to the CONCACAF semifinals, two consecutive Supporters Shields and another U.S. Open Cup title.

Since then, the United hit a tack in the road and have crashed in disastrous fashion.

Ben Olsen has to overhaul this club, and the management has shown an intensifying gutting of the squad.

The club has removed many international faces and brought in a core group of players who have proven themselves in MLS: Dax McCarty, Joseph Ngwenya and Josh Wolff.

Perhaps the most ambitious addition has to be Charlie Davies, who joined the club on a one-year loan deal from FC Sochuax. 

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Add the rising of Blake Brettschneider to the mix, as well as the return of Chris Pontius, and the United now bolster a menacing mix of attacking power.

If all gels right, this young talent could be poised to have one of the deepest and strongest offenses in the entire league.

The questions remain in the backline, which still looks somewhat frail. For the most part, not a whole lot has changed, other than the arrival of Uruguayan defender Rodrigo Brasesco.

He joins the club on loan from Montevideo, as well as recent prospect Perry Kitchen, who was the club's third overall pick in the SuperDraft this past January.

Prediction: 10th Overall, 4th in Eastern Conference

Even with a humbled fan base, the United will not dwell in the cellar at all this season. In fact, they'll spend a majority of their 2011 campaign as a fringe team, having a compelling race against clubs like the Whitecaps and Union for the final playoff spots.

It's going to be close, but thanks to MLS expanding its playoff size from eight to 10 teams, the United will sneak in at the last minute, and grab a final playoff spot.

However, in spite of the new-found tradition of weaker wild-card teams going on to win MLS Cup altogether, do not expect the young, inexperienced United to get past the play-in round.

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