Up to this point in the still-young MLS season, we've been treated - if that's the word - to a number of surprises, among them a winless Houston, a rampaging Columbus, a suddenly dangerous Toronto and a lackluster Chivas.
In most of those cases, one preseason prognosticator or another foresaw what's happening,with the exception of Toronto, but they cheated by waiting until after the season started to do their off season retooling.
But there's one team whose results to this point have been, if not poor, then decidedly mediocre and certainly not up to the standards that management and fans alike expect and, indeed, demand:
Of course I'm talking about District of Columbia.
In my preseason review (or whatever it was) I said that one of the toughest things in all of sport is to take a team that has just fallen short, agonizingly so, the previous year or two and tear it all down. The natural impulse is to juist tinker around the edges, maybe add some depth, upgrade a position or two but basically leave it alone.
DC chose instead to blow the thing up, and most observers were in awe of the job Payne and Co. did and predicted big things from the black and red this season. Many people confidently predicted a return trip to MLS Cup in 2008.
But as PAT WALSH OBSERVES AT GOAL.COM too many of the moves have turned up wanting.
The big gamble, the one that really made us all take notice, was dealing Christian Gomez in favor of Marcelo Gallardo. How many other GM's have the kind of stones a move like that requires? People were astounded, but this kind of thing always works out for DC and everyone was sure it would turn out to be a stroke of genius.
So far though, and we have to stress that it's still early, the guy has looked very average. Certainly nothing like $1.5 million DC is shelling out.
I guess though the thing to bear in mind is that whenever you make a bunch of moves and take a bunch of chances some of them just aren't going to pan out, even if you're Kevin Payne.
And as Walsh notes, the team braintrust appears to be working overtime to try and turn it around. Because one thing we know for sure is that they're not likely to stand around watching what should be, at worst, a solid contender wallow around in last place in the East.
I'd look for some changes sooner rather than later.