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Szetela looking for fresh start

Danny Szetela ( 

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Danny Szetela could have kept on chasing the European dream, but he had spent enough time on the bench to know that he needed a complete change of scenery.

That desire for a fresh start, and the chance for regular playing time led Szetela to come back to MLS, where he has joined D.C. United.

"There were some other opportunities in Europe but with me not playing for so long I felt like I needed to come back home get some of my confidence back," Szetela told SBI on Wednesday. "I want to get back to playing the way I know I can and I feel like D.C. is the perfect place for that to happen."

Szetela has endured a rough time in Europe since leaving MLS. He signed with Racing Santander, but never played a league match before being loaned to Brescia after a half season. Though he didn't play much in his first half season with Brescia, he was enjoying the new club and his time in Italy. He worked his way into a starting role, only to see Brescia manager Serse Cosmi fired less than two months into the season. He never played again for Brescia as he endured a series of groin injuries and never did figure into the plans of new coach Nedo Sonetti, who would eventually be fired by Brescia as well, late in the 2008/2009 season.

With his loan at Brescia ended, and his contract with Racing Santander expired, Szetela had the option of either pursuing other possibilities in Europe or returning to MLS. With the possibility existing that he could land with D.C. United if he signed with MLS, Szetela jumped at the chance. When FC Dallas passed on the chance to draft him in the MLS Allocation Draft, D.C. United stepped up and acquired a player who the club once targeted back when Peter Nowak was the team's head coach.

"D.C.'s a team that I've seen a lot growing up and they've always played some of the best soccer in the league," Szetela said. "They've always liked to play, they keep the ball on the ground, not just kicking it up. That's how I like to play.

"You look at the guys they have, players like Christian Gomez and Jaime (Moreno), it's a good team and I think I can fit in here."

When asked about other possible MLS destinations, Szetela acknowledged that he would have been open to a return to Columbus Crew, or a move to New York, but believes D.C. United is a perfect environment to recapture the form that helped him star for the U.S. Under-20 national team in the 2007 Under-20 World Cup. Form that helped him earn three senior national team caps.

"It's important for me to come back home to America and get my confidence back and get back to playing," Szetela said. "I don't see my time in Europe as me not making it because I did play well enough to play before Brescia changed their coach.

"Now I'm looking to get back to that level and keep getting better," Szetela said. "If I do that I know I'll have another chance to back to Europe."

Szetela isn't just thinking about a potential return to Europe. He also still has national team aspirations, having earned his last cap in the U.S. national team's 2-1 World Cup qualifying loss to Trinidad & Tobago oon Oct. 15, 2008.

"That's the ultimate and being able to play for my country is one of the highlights of my career," Szetela said. "I know I can't get back there unless I'm playing games so that's another reason for me to come back here and fight for a place."

Playing time isn't going to come easy on a stacked D.C. United team, but learning from a veteran like Ben Olsen, and playing in multiple competitions like the CONCACAF Champions League and U.S. Open Cup should give Szetela opportunities to play and show the form that once made him one of the top young American prospects in the national team system not too long ago.


  1. I think Szetela is an exiting player. He should fit in well. More quality for us vs Madrid. Simms is good, def not the best touch in DC(I’d love to see more of those 30 yard cannons hit net) but he’s great for chopping up opposing attacks. Several players will probably see less time with Szetela there. The black n red are looking more like a squad that could actually play well in all these tounaments.

  2. Danny and Robbie Rogers were good friends on the Crew. Seems to be a replay of the Rogers situation where he returned from Hereenveen. I hope this turns out as well for Danny.

  3. Love this signing, and fighting for a spot won’t be a problem. DC has been burned in the past by overextending the team in multiple competitions and I think this year they’re learning how to properly rotate and use young players. I have a feeling Szetela will be a key contributor by season’s end.

    Aquaman – the whole pack it up and return to MLS and look for another chance in Europe was done once before – Landon Donovan. Of course he’s an odd case, because he did try to go back and failed, though he did so at a much higher level than practically any other American would try. This will prove beneficial for the US team not this World Cup but in 2014. And I’m happy Szetela is not coming back to MLS a shell of his former self, like Beasley may and Convey did.

  4. I wonder what the Hunts got for passing on Danny. They can’t be waiting on Beasley since we have a Lm already in Dave Vandenberg as well as Brek Shea lining up there some games.

    This has to be the usual back room dealings that carry certain players to certain teams.

  5. Good young player that seems to have the right attitude. Sounds like a smart move – go to a great organization like DC (instead of a team that fires it’s coach every year 🙂

    Good move for DC – you can never have too much depth in this league. Good American talent is hard to come by, I don’t know why anyone would pass on him…

    I think he’ll find a starting role in DC…

  6. I think he needs to keep whoever is helping to make these decisions around him. This is a good call. A lot of times on these boards we suggest that people just need to pack it up, come home and they’ll probably get another chance at Europe. Szetela is the first I can remember who has actually done this. I remember some time last year, under his old coach at Brescia, he was playing in games and scoring goals. I don’t doubt he’ll get another shot at Europe if he just gets some minutes for DC.

  7. good to see he is ready and excited about playing here. Bradly has shown that he is willing to call up MLS starters over euro bench players so this is the place for him.

    about Adu; don’t think he is giving up because he is not a starter at 20. just think of it like he is in college and still training. if he is not seeing consistant time with club and country by 22-24 then we can talk but now let him play with the reserves.

  8. Kevin: while I agree that all three of the Moreno-Olsen-gomez trinity will be left unprotected, we should remember who the person making the picks is. Nowak knows well how much those players have meant to dcu. If one of them wants to keep playing, nowak will take him. I expect him to take something from each of the eastern conference teams, he knows who he needs to beat, after all.

  9. JoeW:

    While I agree with you mostly, Freddy Adu is 20 years old! He has a LONG career ahead of him! He’s younger than most rookies who we are talking about (Pontius, Cronin and the likes who people feel are good enough for the Nats). His train has not even entered the station yet, but he is anxious to get on it, and that is the problem. Don’t write him out of the NT picture forever. He’s VERY young, and we all forget this because he’s been around for 6 years (similar to Santino Quaranta, who is only 24, but has been around for 8 years).

  10. Danny should be coming off a fine season and showing his national team potential at this Gold Cup. It’s a shame things haven’t worked out that way.

    As a DC United fan, I’m really pleased. What a lucky break. DCU kinda lives a charmed life… what a difference with other DC area teams…

    Anyway, HM, I don’t look at things that way. Danny had some tough breaks. It happens. It’s like minor league baseball; guys have to perservere and take their chances well when given the opportunity. The bigger problem is there aren’t enough players abroad, so the disappointments become magnified. That’s changing slowly.

  11. I agree with Richard’s comment–most European kids (and African kids and Brasilian kids) don’t make it in Europe. It’s a factory with cut-throat competition. Here’s something to consider: Robbie Rogers didn’t make it in Europe–the first go-around. Brad Friedel didn’t make it (bounced around a bunch of teams before he finally got a chance to start for more than a year). Besides, Szetela gets that if he doesn’t play then he’s not going to have a chance for the NT.

    I agree that unless Szetela is a locker-room cancer, going to DCU is good for him and good for DCU. The team plays best in a 3-5-2. Szetela is a fine holding mid and Olsen (first choice there) can’t play 90 and can’t play every game–and that’s when he’s healthy. With DCU he won’t be expected to be a savior or carry the team. But on a team that plays nearly everyone on the roster (N’Silu, Khumalo and Barklage all got starting opportunities), he’ll play as a reserve and if he works hard he’ll get chances to start as well. And that’s all he’s really asking for.

    It’s probably unrealistic at this point but one could hope that he enters the CM mix for the NT for 2010. He and Bradley could ideally (assuming Szetela became the kind of player he was envisioned to be) be quite the pair–two terriers in midfield who fight for balls and play passing lanes well but can both surge forward and contribute offensively in ways that Edu or Clark or Jones don’t. And I say that acknowledging that Szetela train for the NT in 2010 has probably already left the station and that sound you just heard was a warning to Mr. Adu that his train is leaving soon (probably by mid-fall 2009 if he’s not playing regularly with a club).

  12. I watched Danny in U21 World Cup. He impressed me there, and have been following his career since. I think he is a ‘sleeper’ and if plays to potential, could be another candidate for 2010 pool. Let’s hope so!

  13. Most European kids don’t make it in Europe. It’s the nature of the system (just like only a tiny percentage of all minor league baseball players manage to get more than a cup of coffee in MLB).

  14. Honestly, I’m a bit tired of our young players going to Europe and being unable to adapt and find themselves playing on a regular basis. It speaks of our lack of development in soccer and in life maturity in general…

  15. MLS is too rough for Freddy. He would do better in a South American league.

    Posted by: United fury |

    I haven’t seen a ton of SA games, but I would never characterize them as “not rough.”

  16. northzax, I wouldn’t count on United losing anyone significant in the draft. Here’s what I figure:

    Either Olsen, Gomez, or Moreno (or more than one) retires. Regardless, United doesn’t protect any of them because they are old and have bloated salaries, so why would Philly take them?

    Wallace is Generation Adidas, and therefore he is safe and we do not not need to use a spot on him.

    We get rid of Emilio who is FAR too expensive for his production rate (or lack thereof), and probably Fred too. And their contracts are up anyway, so we wouldn’t have to protect them even if we DO re-sign them.

    We keep:
    2. Namoff
    3. Jakovic
    4. Quaranta
    5. Pontius
    6. Simms
    7. Szetela
    8. Kocic
    9. Burch

    And then the final two spots can be wildcard based on quality of play for the rest of the season. But the point is, we should be absolutely fine this offseason. Philly won’t be taking any important contributors from us. They’re all either protected or too risky for a brand new franchise. This team is loaded and built for the future, and I am very excited about our prospects!

  17. also, another reason this is a good spot for Danny is that he doesn’t need to be the savior of the season. Heck, he doesn’t even need to start right away (although he probably will next week in the Open Cup, you figure) there’s not a lot of pressure on him to come in and carry the team. in Dallas, he’d be looked at at the solution to their offensive woes (heck, at home in NJ he’d be under even more pressure to turn the team around. at RFK he’s just one of the Young Turks.

    and DC Josh, the team has said they don’t have his transfer certificate yet, so he won’t be in the 18 against the Rapids. I expect to see him in person at the SoccerPlex, however.

  18. DAnny, I figure they’ll all be exposed to Philly in the fall. DCU has enough games to come (a minimum of 10 through the end of August, as many as 13 if they advance in the Open Cup and CCL and a total of 21 by October 1st if they advance in both. that’s 21 matches in 16 weeks, with some older players who can’t really go 90 for two consecutive league matches (Olsen, Moreno, Fred, Emilio, John) so the team will need all the slots it can get.

  19. Maybe it’s time for D.C. to look to move one of their MF for a pick or two. They’ll never ship Olsen off, but why not try to ship Gomez off again? Sure, he’s good, but Colorado overpaid, why not someone else?

  20. This makes DC even more interesting to watch. In front of the three defenders, nearly every player can play multiple positions. Soehn has been confusing opposing teams by switching Quaranta, Fred, Olsen, Pontius, Gomez, and Wallace on the fly. Now he’s got another player who can play nearly anywhere on the field.


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