Since last we delved into the messy business of roster refinement, United has decamped to Florida, brought in a new batch of trialists, and seen their backup goalkeeper go walkabout. There is still no news of what will be done to address the Gallardo-sized hole in the midfield and on the wage bill. So where do we stand now? (updates in bold red)
The (Incomplete) Roster
2. Janicki, D
4. (I) Roger, D
9. Jacobson, M
11. Simms, M
2. (I?) Kocic, GK - negotiating, Wells' walkout opens potential for senior roster deal
3. Thorpe, GK - fighting for the #3 spot?
4. Wells, GK - future uncertain, possibly retiring from the game
5. Adams, D - still wandering around Europe
6. (I) Gonzalo Martinez, D - option not picked up; almost certainly gone
7. Veris, D - big center back on trial
11. De Jong, M - Dutch teenager on trial, no word on what midfield spot he plays
Confirmation of Walter Martinez' short-term move to Alaves in Spain removes him from the list. Trialists (Atieno, De Jong, Bush) have been added, and Olsen and Wells have swapped lists for now. There are two major points that I get from looking at the lists.
(1) With only two senior roster spots to fill, I can't see a playmaking midfielder being added (read as: no Gomez--at least not as things currently stand). While we could perhaps get by with only one goalkeeper on the senior roster, I think it's likely that Kocic is going to get a senior deal. Interest from a big club in Europe, the FO's high rating of him, and Wells soul-searching hiatus all combine to make such a deal more likely. That takes care of one of the available senior spots. The other? The central defense is still thin. You've got to think that the second senior roster spot will have to be filled with a center back to provide size and competition for Janicki, Roger, and utility-man McTavish. Veris is the front-runner right now, but only by virtue of his considerable size and lack of competition. Will there be any challengers?
(2) I can't help but wonder about trades and the potential for some of the current roster to be dropped entirely. Let's look at where we're loaded.
- Left fullback - Roger, Burch, Guerrero, Wallace, Zaher. Ostensibly, we've brought in Roger to play in the center, and Guerrero has played more in the midfield for us (and will continue to if Fred moves inside or to the right), though he plays internationally as an attacking wingback. Wallace is probably not going to step in right away, but Zaher showed promise in limited appearances last year, particularly getting forward. I wonder about Burch. He's a reasonably solid player, but his defensive positioning and molasses attacking movements make him vulnerable to the up-and-coming young guns. And exactly how many left backs do we need? If Zaher accepts a developmental deal, I wonder about Burch's future. Trade bait?
- Holding/Defensive midfield - Olsen, Vide, Simms, Jacobson. Much depends upon how United is going to play this year. If we go with two holding central midfielders, then the current roster probably suffices. However, if we're only going to play one in the holding role, somebody might get the bullet, though it would be hard to do so without knowing how much Olsen can give you this year.