Ten Years Ago: The offseason to nowhere
October 31, 2006

As we stare into yet another offseason after yet another disappointing finish, we find a lot of comparisons to the situation Metro was in ten years ago. Fresh off a first-round playoff exit to hated DC United on a last-minute goal, with a World Cup-credentialed coach promising a successful rebuilding process fueled my high-price stars... Yes, it all seems way too familiar.

There are differences, however. In 1996, the World Cup coach didn't arrive until late December, and Metro finished out the season under lame duck Carlos Queiroz. But the World Cup coach was actually a World Cup winner, Carlos Alberto Parreira. Little did we know how little passion he would bring into Metro and how little success that would result in.

That offseason was spent amidst rumors of Parreira's Brazilians coming to Metro, headlined by Bebeto, Dunga, and Branco. At the end, all we got were overwhelmed Guido and overexpensive Joao Luiz, who were both quick gone and forgotten. Of course, Branco did arrive later in the season, but that's a story that we've already told numerous times on this website.

So with all the promises, Metro did not make a major signing that offseason. But they did make two vital moves, re-signing Antony De Avila to a two-year contract extension (he would be sold after 1997), and ensuring Roberto Donadoni comes back (he would return to Milan after 1997). One player who did not return was Nicola Caricola, who abruptly retired. There were also trades, as ineffectual Damian Silvera was sent to Kansas City for US national teamer Mike Sorber, and captain Peter Vermes was shipped to Colorado for draft pick Kerry Zavagnin, as Charlie Stillitano was determined to break up the Three Tenors of Meola, Vermes, and Tab Ramos.

The other big change that offseason was the color change, as Metro shifted from the black-and-white ensemble of the inaugural year to the red-and-black vertical stripes that lasted through 2005. Similar undertones are at play this coming offseason as well, as the promise of blue road jerseys looking as it will happen.

At the end, even without major acquisitions, we entered the 1997 season with a lot of hope. As much as 1996 ended on a sour note, Metro really picked it up down the stretch, and with a World Cup winner at the helm, and a full season from Donadoni and De Avila, and Tony Meola still in goal, and Giovanni Savarese picking up garbage and putting it into the net, and Sorber stabilizing the center of the midfield... Alas, it was not to be, as the 1997 team started out with three straight losses, and never recovered, missing the playoffs. Parreira was soon gone, and... Well, that's Metro history for you. There are not that many bright spots.

So as much promise as we have entering this offseason, let's not forget our history. But at the same time, let's hope that the chain of bad luck, bad acquisitions, bad coaches, and bad ownership is finally broken, and let's hope that Bruce Arena's magic touch and frequent luck brings Metro something they've been missing for all these years. Let's hope.

On that note, we end our "Ten Years Ago" series. Feel free to browse the archive and remember, those who don't remember history, are doomed to repeat it.

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