To get everyone ready for Atlanta United's much anticipated return, we spoke with Black and Red United's Ben Bromley to get his take on D.C. United's new look team, Bobby Boswell, and whether or not Atlanta finally beats them.
DSS: D.C. United were by far the most active club in the transfer window. Out of all the moves they made, what was the most surprising to you?
BRU: The most surprising to me is the most obvious choice: that they were willing to pay a transfer fee of over $3M to secure the services of Paul Arriola. But in reality, all of their moves in this transfer window, except for the loan deal to get Bruno Miranda, are a new era for the team. Players like Zoltan Stieber and Russell Canouse, while available on free transfers, have salary demands that would have put them out of reach in years past. But with the continued influxes of targeted allocation money and the new stadium allowing the team to open the purse strings, the team has started to make significant investments.
This is the time where we can really evaluate the player evaluation skills of Dave Kasper and Ben Olsen. So far, one game for Canouse and two for Arriola, they both look like they could be successes.
DSS: Atlanta United just picked up Bobby Boswell. What can the MLS veteran bring to a club and what was his role for D.C the first half of this season?
BRU: Bobby Boswell has long been a stalwart of D.C. United, but he started this year on the bench. Ben Olsen wanted to move to a style of play that built out of the back and played the ball on the ground; Bobby Boswell is the exact opposite of that, so Olsen tried to convert fullback Sean Franklin into a center back for his passing abilities. It did not work, and Boswell found himself back on the field a couple months later. However, not only has Boswell lost a step physically (and he was never fast to begin with), he has made some errors mentally that he never used to do. It is definitely possible that those will correct themselves with a new venue, however.
Boswell is a classic center back, in that he will win the ball in the air and punt it long. I still think he's got the smarts to be an effective roleplayer, but I wouldn't want him starting long-term for my team.
DSS: So, is this the match Atlanta finally beats D.C.?
BRU: I mean, all of them so far should have been, but they haven't. D.C. United has had some weird alchemical power over Atlanta United this year, and so while they should beat D.C. it would not surprise me if they didn't. D.C. United will also be without Steve Birnbaum, who is being evaluated for a concussion, so it will likely be Jalen Robinson who steps into his place. D.C. United also has significantly more talent on the team now than previously, so it will be interesting to see if that can balance out the presence of Josef Martinez.