With D.C. United set to kick off their 2013 campaign Saturday in an Eastern Conference final rematch at the Houston Dynamo (8 p.m., NBCSN), here is a player-by-player breakdown of the club’s roster after a fairly quiet offseason focused on building depth:
GK Bill Hamid: Coming off a statistically superb season, the 22-year-old can truly count himself among the league’s elite if he weeds out those occasional mental lapses.
RB Chris Korb: Confident going forward and versatile enough to play either fullback spot, Korb has a golden opportunity to seize a starting spot in Year 3.
CB Brandon McDonald: Coming off a career year, McDonald can be counted on for physical play and a sturdy presence, along with some suspect passing.
CB Dejan Jakovic: With clean distribution and all of the physical tools, Jakovic could establish himself as a top MLS center back if he stays healthy for the full season.
LB Daniel Woolard: At 100 percent after suffering a concussion in August, the reliable Woolard figures to step back in at left back and also provide key cover at center back.
RM Nick DeLeon: After starting and finishing last season in strong fashion, DeLeon could hit double-digit goals and/or assists if he puts together a full campaign.
CM Marcelo Saragosa: Good locker room leader clogs passing lanes and holds his ground, allowing players around him more freedom to roam.
CM Perry Kitchen: Third-year player seems poised for a breakout season winning balls and distributing out of midfield now that he’s being paired with another holding midfielder.
LM Chris Pontius: Lethal winger is looking to build off his Best XI campaign, during which he cut in from the left flank with precision and also found success playing up top.
F Dwayne De Rosario: Once he comes back from suspension, the D.C. captain will try to show he’s the same player he was before spraining his MCL in September and once again excel in his freelance attacking role.
F Lionard Pajoy: Hardworking striker will need to find his finishing touch sooner rather than later if he wants to hold onto that starting job.
GK Joe Willis: Lanky 6-foot-5 shot-stopper last year established himself as one of the league’s top backup goalkeepers.
GK Andrew Dykstra: Third-stringer offers experienced insurance as Willis recovers from a foot injury.
CB Ethan White: After injuries derailed his 2012 season, the 22-year-old will probably hone his skills with affiliate Richmond.
RB James Riley: Veteran offers cover at both fullback positions and can be counted on to start at right back if Korb isn’t up to the task.
RB Robbie Russell: Likely playing his last season, the 33-year-old might log more minutes at center back since United are thin there but deep on the right.
LB Taylor Kemp: First-round draft choice seems poised to spend the season in Richmond.
CM John Thorrington: Injury-plagued veteran will compete with Saragosa for a starting spot if he can remain healthy.
CM Raphael Augusto: On-loan Brazilian brings something different as the club’s only true attacking central midfielder.
CM Conor Shanosky: The homegrown player likely is another year away from contributing and will spend time in Richmond.
RM Marcos Sanchez: At 23, the Panama national team starter will be key depth for a team that ended last year lacking in wide options.
RM Kyle Porter: Canada international impressed in preseason and will compete with Sanchez for minutes behind Pontius and DeLeon.
RM Syamsir Alam: Indonesian prospect is good on the ball but has room to grow defensively.
LM Lewis Neal: English utility player has earned the coaching staff’s trust by dependably filling in across the midfield and at left back.
F Rafael: The 20-year-old Brazilian designated player will push Pajoy for the starting striker role and likely will seize it before too long.
F Carlos Ruiz: Acquiring the all-time MLS great was a bold move that could pay off handsomely if “El Pescadito” rediscovers his old scoring touch.
F Casey Townsend: Chivas’ fifth-overall pick from last year came at a bargain but needs to polish his game before he’s counted on.
F Michael Seaton: Academy product at 16 years old was signed with the future in mind.