Looks like it's going to be a glorious day for picnics celebrating the 4th here in central PA. The rain has been coming down since early morning and doesn't look like letting up anytime soon. But fear not! Despite being 80 miles or so from the Back-Cave, I've got internet access, so it's time to start the mid-season roster analysis series.
In the spirit of continuity, I'm going to dredge up the ghost of posts past and reference the "What I Want For Christmas" posts that I ran way back in the Decembrish offseason. So, in this first installment of "What I Want For Christmas (In July)"--hereafter known as WIWFC(IJ)--we'll take a look back at what I was looking for in the way of upgrades in the last installment of WIWFC. Please remember that this post was prior to our Latin Invasion and the Gallardo DP signing. In fact, we were just fresh off the disappointment (or relief in some corners) of missing out on Veron. Did we get any of what I was looking for? Bits and pieces, I'd say.
WIWFC - The Final Reckoning
1. True Winger with Pace
Down an Olsen, but up a Quaranta. Quaranta brings the tricksy, but not the pace, and he isn't a natural winger either. I still think he's a natural fit for the Jaime-style forward, which would help us out with #3 below. In the meantime, we've got some youngsters coming up in Cordeiro and Kirk, both of whom need to work on their ball control before they become viable options for the first team.
Verdict? This isn't a particularly high need on my radar anymore. I think we've got more pressing issues, and given roster restrictions in MLS, we're relatively well covered here.
2. Stud Center Back
Bits and pieces again. Peralta is physically imposing, but I'm not really sold on him--too many mistakes and too much pump-and-dump distribution. Martinez fits the bill, but he's proven much more effective for us out wide. Verdict? While I wouldn't hesitate to trade in Peralta on a more steady, better-passing option at the back, I think he'd be pretty servicable if the man between the sticks behind him did a better job of communicating with the boys at the back. (see #4 below)
3. 2nd/3rd Striking Option
Moreno has been playing really well for us, but he's also piling up the minutes on aging legs--a recipe for disaster from seasons past. Niell was a bust and is gone, Doe hasn't had much chance to prove himself yet (though he does provide the sorely lacking speed we need to stretch defenses), and the reserves don't look like providing any options soon.
Verdict? I think that Doe can do a decent job for us off the bench, given a chance to settle into regular time with the team after returning from his travels to Africa. Also, as stated above, I think that Quaranta can fill Jaime's shoes quite well if we have the wide players available that let us push him into a more natural role as a withdrawn forward.
4. Challenger for Wells
Given the FO's recent moves, I think that we've seen their cards already when it comes to this one. We've been entertaining trialists and have pushed Carvallo to a month-to-month contract.
Verdict? More than a challenger, I think we might actually need somebody that can push Wells to the pine.
5. Replacement Engine
Do we really need a Josh Gros chugging up and down the wing anymore? Given how the nature of our wide play has shifted with Gallardo playing deeper than Gomez, it looks like our wide midfielders need to be more technical, passing midfielders than the bust-a-gut style.
Verdict? We're all about sport bikes and superior handling on the wings now, rather than the big muscle engine, so this particular upgrade has nearly fallen off the radar altogether.
So that about sums up how well the FO has addressed my off-season concerns. Frankly, a lot of what we need has changed from December, and I would have been surprised if it hadn't. In Part II of this series we'll take the discussion forward by examining the current stituation starting, as is fitting given the name of this blog, at the back.