Well, it's not exactly the raft of updates we've come to expect from the Goffmeister, but it's an update nonetheless, so we'll run with it. Left back Mike Zaher has been let go, thus clarifying the developmental picture somewhat. More on why this is a boneheaded move by the FO after the revised lists, but without further ado, may I present . . .
The (Incomplete) Roster
2. Janicki, D
7. Jacobson, M
9. Simms, M
11. Khumalo, M/F
17. (I) N'Silu, F
2. Platter, GK - USL1 import on trial, age (27) would require a senior roster spot
3. Thorpe, GK - fighting for the #3 spot, if indeed we're keeping three keepers
4. (I) Danso, D - "signed", but Kasper says they're giving him an "opportunity to earn a spot"; center backs are needed, but is this the answer?
5. Peters, D - monster center back, small-college product, age (25) would require a senior roster spot, no pro experience
6. Veris, D - concussion hurts his chances, in a "winner-take-all" with Peters for a senior spot?
7. Miller, D/M - looking to provide flank depth on the right; developmental fodder
8. Mediate, D/M - will he be able to earn a senior roster spot as defensive cover?
9. Barklage, M/F - can he get a dev deal? no Cordeiro/Kirk/Thomspon = fighting chance
I've given up hope on the Mivdun. That ship has sailed, by all appearances, at least until summer rolls around with its gaping transfer windows and mercenary free agents looking for a quick buck. Zaher has shuffled off, stage left. While we're on Zaher . . .
Okay, I get it, Pontius provides backup at left mid for Fred, Wallace can play either left mid or left back, and Burch + Fred is our likely starting left flank. So why am I upset that we let Zaher, who seems to be excess depth, go? Frankly, I thought he brought us a lot more options than Burch. Sure, I guess Burch might be able to play at left mid as well, but what does he bring to the table beyond size, a cannon shot and nice cross (that take a dog's age to launch, and so are rendered useless against a defense that knows what to expect), and questionable defense? Pardon me for wondering if we're going to get torched down that flank this year. I wonder if maybe Zaher wanted a senior deal or nothing?
Alright, alright, enough of that. How about the battles that are going on for the final spots? Turns out that, like in so much else, MLS's definition of the roster compliance "Deadline Day" is neither a deadline nor a day. It's just sort of a vague suggestion that FO's shouldn't have too many players already on the books and should feel free to keep stringing along the trialists and vacillating on the merits of various draftees, foreign imports, Euro-rejects, and journeyman mercenaries for weeks on end.
Which leaves us the following:
(1) Three of the six questionables above are not going to make the roster. One of those will be a keeper--Platter, Thorpe, or Kocic--leaving one senior and one dev spot taken by netminders. I think Mediate's punched his golden ticket by virtue of his versatility (with reduced rosters, it'll be important to have guys who can cover multiple positions) and the incriminating photos he must have of somebody in the FO. That means one of Peters and Veris will be walking as well with just one senior spot left. Which leaves us Danso, Miller, and Barklage fighting to be the last man on the roster lifeboat. The fact that Miller has a number already means I'm just about ready to pencil him in as official. So it's Danso and Barklage in the Thunderdome.
(2) I hope none of our left sided players get hurt. Unless, of course, we're planning to have Mediate fill in at left back and Khumalo cover the left wing. Still, it seems like we've got way more depth up the right flank (Khumalo, Olsen, Quaranta, Namoff, McTavish, and likely Miller and Mediate) than the left (Burch, Fred, Pontius, Wallace).
(3) Assuming we sign either Peters or Veris as our requisite "monsterback" of prodigious physical gifts, but limited skill, and Danso as a project, that still leaves McTavish-Janicki as the starting pairing and options off the bench that aren't exactly ideal. Now maybe Janicki will carry on being decent, as he did down the stretch last year, but why-oh-why is McTavish penciled in as a starting center back? Did the FO burn the tapes from last year? If they did, did they also have their memories wiped as well? I like McTavish as versatile cover, and I think he can be a pretty good right back or defensive-minded right mid given time and some work on crossing, but a starting center back?
Color me unexcited for now. I think we've got a decent set of players, and probably have enough to challenge for a playoff spot, but I see too many holes and too little balance. I guess the best that I can come up with is that we're going to be exciting to watch. With a wealth of attacking options, a goalkeeper that likes to wander from his box, and a dearth of quality central defenders, we should regularly be featured on Goal of the Week clips--on both sides of the ball.
What do you think? Do you see gaping voids, a tilted field, and an FO in denial, or do you see young American solidarity and vigor propelling a flowering of attacking futbol from our aging Sudamericanos? If you're in the Morrissey-esque weepfest with me, who do you see walking the plank first from the FO? Or does Tommy get the early boot? Want to get even more maudlin? Which do you expect first--a stadium or an MLS Cup?
Sheesh. I think I might have missed taking my meds.