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Capital Construction: Allsopp for 2011?

New feature explores the rebuilding of capital club D.C. United

WASHINGTON — As any frustrated local driver will tell you, the streets and roads of the Washington, D.C., region have been awash with construction and renovation crews lately.

Many long-neglected infrastructure projects deemed "shovel-ready" have received funding from TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants and other elements of the federal government’s economic recovery plan. The resulting traffic disruption invokes short-term pain, but it's a modest price for a more effective transportation network in the future.

A similar process is afoot at 2400 East Capitol Street. No, there’s precious little stimulus funding being spent on RFK Stadium, the august facility that turns 50 next year. But in the final stages of their all-time worst MLS campaign, D.C. United have already begun to evaluate their roster with an eye toward another major offseason overhaul and a fresh start in 2011.

For months, United players and coaches have reiterated that everyone’s job is on the line as the front office tries to reverse three straight years of underachievement. So for the next several weeks, this column will take a look at who’s out, who’s in and who’s on the bubble as the capital club rebuilds.

This week’s subject: Danny Allsopp

The well-traveled Australian was one of United’s featured offseason acquisitions, a striker who could lead the line and help the team finish chances more consistently.

Allsopp has been a mercurial presence, however, sometimes fading in and out of matches and failing to convert some important opportunities. Early in the season he fell out of favor under coach Curt Onalfo, who often preferred Adam Cristman up top, and grew frustrated with his limited action.

In July, president Kevin Payne acknowledged that the “jury is still out” on Allsopp but since then injuries have given the former Melbourne Victory ample opportunities in the first XI.

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“I think he’s had, as of late, plenty of playing time,” interim coach Ben Olsen said earlier this month. “He’s played a lot of games and he’s our starter right now. He’ll continue to be that guy for us.

“I think his rhythm’s better now that he is getting consistent soccer.”

Like his predecessor Luciano Emilio, Allsopp needs regular service from his teammates, something he was undoubtedly shortchanged on earlier in the year. He has since benefited from winger Andy Najar’s continued progress as well as the club’s midseason addition of creators Branko Boskevic and Pablo Hernandez.

“When you get good quality service, it makes my job a lot easier,” Allsopp said. “It takes a bit of pressure off and gives me more of a chance to make runs when I want to make them, rather than having the ball served at you when you’re not particularly ready for it.”

When in form, Allsopp offers a point of attacking reference to his teammates and a troubling physical presence to opposing defenders. But four goals in league play represents limited productivity from one of the highest-paid players on the roster, especially with United bearing down on the all-time league record for fewest goals in a season.

Compared to his prior stint in the faraway Qatari league, D.C. has provided a much more settled home for Allsopp and his young family and he would seem to favor another chance to contribute next year. But those hefty wages will likely be a sticking point and the United brass are surely waiting to see him make a strong conclusion to 2010 before committing to another year of “Aussie rules.”