In a Jekyll and Hyde season for D.C. United, which one will show up to PPL Park Saturday?
It's hard to wrap your head around the season that D.C. United is having.
On one hand, you're looking at a team that's dead last in MLS play with just three wins and 13 total points.
On the other hand, you've got a team that just shut out Chicago on the road to get into the U.S. Open Cup final.
Essentially this season, D.C. United has more wins in the Open Cup than they do in league play.
"I think it just shows that D.C. is in good form right now now," Union manager John Hackworth told reporters at his midweek press conference. "They had a really good result last week beating Montreal, then they turned it around in a short amount of time and went to Chicago and got a great result. I think it just shows how much parity this league actually has. It's actually kind of crazy that the Open Cup final has literally the best team vs. the worst team in the league as far as the league standings right now. But that shows you how close the gap is between the two. If you look at our standings right now, we're two points from second, we're four from first, but depending on how it goes over the next 11 games we could be in a spot we don't want to be in. It just puts that much more emphasis on how close this league is and in particular how crazy this year has been for all of the teams."
It's a Jekyll and Hyde situation intertwined with a total roster overhaul that began in May.
For starters, the team jettisoned a number of foreign signings, including Raphael Augusto, Marcos Sanchez, and young designated player Rafael. The front office added young American players like Jared Jeffrey, Luis Silva, and Conor Doyle.
It's not that different from the Union's offseason strategy heading into 2013.
"I think D.C., it's similar to what we did last year, to be fair" Hackworth explained. "At least from an outsider's perspective they look like they've made the the decision to try to invest in the future and build on some young Americans. I think that's great. I think more teams in the league should be doing it. I'm proud of the fact that I think we've done a good job of that over the last year. Certainly there's a lot of motivation for those young Americans to really step up given that opportunity. You see how our guys in our locker room have done it and now I think you're seeing a little bit of how D.C. is at least reaping the rewards of some of that same philosophy."
The laundry list of moves also includes the acquisition of winger Sainey Nyassi and signing of Collin Martin to a homegrown contract. United sent defender Brandon McDonald to Real Salt Lake and also acquired Alain Rochat before selling him to Swiss side Young Boys.
D.C. United's midseason moves
May 27: Signed former New England winger Sainey Nyassi
May 31: Released midfielder Marcos Sanchez
June 6: Traded second round 2015 draft pick to Vancouver for M/D Alain Rochat
June 14: Released midfielder Raphael Augusto
June 26: Released forward Rafael
July 3: Acquired American midfielder Jared Jeffrey in waiver draft
July 9: Sent allocation money to Toronto FC for F/M Luis Silva
July 9: Signed academy product Collin Martin to a homegrown player contract
July 9: Sold M/D Alain Rochat to Young Boys for $500k
July 17: Traded defender Brandon McDonald to Real Salt Lake for draft picks
July 18: Acquired American forward Conor Doyle on loan from Derby County
What are your thoughts on this new look United bunch? Leave a message in the comments below.
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org