WIWFC(IJ) Part II - The Case for the Defense

Following on from yesterday's navel-gazing look at the initial WIWFC series, let's continue with something more current and a little less rambling. In particular, I want to focus on the defense--in this case including not only the back four, but the keeper and the d-mid/anchorman role as well. So let's get started, shall we?

I don't think I'll have many arguments when I label this a problem spot. Wells was originally touted as a horizontal move from Troy Perkins, and Carvallo was seen as a real challenger for playing time--someone to push the starter, and not just another Nolly. I'm sure most of us have been disappointed on both fronts, and it looks like the United brass agree.

We've been shopping for help, be it foreign trialists or the rumors of sounding out RSL for Seitz' services. Either way, both of those options smack more of "project" than they do of "solution". For better or worse, I think we're stuck with Wells. Is there any valuable piece of this team that you'd sacrifice in trade to bring in a more reliable, veteran netminder to start?

The Back Line
In Martinez and Namoff, I'm pretty certain that we've got the best pair of fullbacks in the league. The boys in the middle are a bit more of a worry. I can live with Peralta and McTavish as starters, though I'm mildly disappointed with how Peralta has turned out, and I think of McTavish more as a utility guy than an out-and-out center back.

The big problem is depth. This is where Jeff Curtin's retirement hurts. He was a big centerback with MLS experience. What are our backup options now? Rookies and converted midfielders. When Mediate is our first choice replacement for injuries or suspensions, that's trouble. Pat Carroll showed some promise in the Open Cup match, but is he ready for MLS? And does Burch end up in net next? He's gone from forward to winger to fullback, and now he's playing at center back in the Open Cup?

Defensive Midfield
Clyde Simms has continued to grow. His positioning and passing are improving, and he's added the thunderbolt from distance to his game. I don't have any qualms about the starter--again, it's the depth that becomes an issue.

I've already said in the opening post for this series that MLS roster restrictions make it impossible to be strong and maintain solid depth at every position. D-mid is one of those spots where we're in trouble if Simms goes down. Stratford has some playing time, but he's more of a passer than a destroyer, and we need some heavy lumber to cover for Gallardo. You can pull McTavish or Namoff from the defense, but then who covers for them? Getting Olsen back might be one solution, but how much ground can he cover on gimpy ankles?

So all is not rosy in Defense-land. We've got a pretty good assortment of starters. Though upgrades at centerback and in goal would be ideal, you'd have to be doing some serious roster voodoo to accomplish the ideal given the restrictions the league imposes.

What I think might be more probable would be making some moves for depth. Carvallo getting pushed to a month-to-month contract makes it plain that the FO is looking to make a move in the keeper department. As far as the backs go, I'd either like to see us pick up a journeyman centerback as cover, or give Pat Carroll a chance to get some league minutes. From all accounts, he played fairly well at both right back and in the middle in the Open Cup match. If he can be reasonable cover for both positions, that would go a long way to addressing my concerns about what the inevitable injuries and suspensions do to our lineup, particularly with multiple competitions coming over the horizon.

Added to the Shopping List:
(1) A new keeper. Starter or with the quality to really push the starter.
(2) One more back with size. Whether he comes from
our own ranks (Carroll, possibly Burch if he can handle the middle in MLS) or through trade/acquisition is still up in the air.

Next up, we'll move on to an area where things have been much prettier as of late. The defense may not be pitching shutouts, but the attack is scoring
in droves to make up for that lack. So is this a case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", or do we look to fine-tune the purring engine? In the meantime, what do you think of the defensive situation? What's on your "Christmas in July", summer transfer window shopping list?


  1. Don't forget about Jeff Carroll. He's supposed to be recovered eventually this year, and should be Simms' chief backup when he returns, and may even get a chance in defense too. Dane Murphy is another option for both of those positions, but he's probably not much closer to ready than Pat.

  2. Even when he gets back into training, how long is it going to take the Middling Carroll to get game fit? Also, I'm not terribly comfortable making bets on somebody I've seen precious little of. That's not his fault--it's Soehn/Nowak's tendency to provide only the most sparing minutes for the young guys. Soehn's started to buck the trend a bit this year, so I'm hoping more of the kids get blooded soon.

    I was hoping you'd show up in the comments to share the dirt on the reserves, Shatz. I'm not factoring them in much because I haven't had a chance to see what they can do, but I appreciate having an informed perspective hanging around the joint.