The Roster . . . Refined!

At long last, it seems that the pre-season pilgrimage has ended with the naming of the final 24-man roster. For your consideration . . .

1. (I) Crayton, GK
2. Wicks, GK
3. (I) Jakovic, D
4. Janicki, D
5. Namoff, D
6. Peters, D
7. Burch, D/M
8. McTavish, D/M
9. (I) Fred, M
10. Jacobson, M
11. Olsen, M
12. Simms, M
13. (I) Gomez, M/F
14. Khumalo, M/F
15. Pontius M/F
16. Quaranta, M/F
17. (I) Emilio, F
18. Moreno, F
19. (I) Doe, F
20. (I) N'Silu, F
21. (I) Kocic
22. (GA) Wallace, D/M
23. Miller, D/M
24. Barklage, M/F

Of course, that's assuming we actually sign Wicks to a senior roster deal, an assumption that I'm making based on the fact that Thorpe has been let go. You have to wonder what was wrong with Platter that we're bringing in a guy who wasn't even projected to make the LA senior roster, and who looked god-awful for them last year in limited minutes. Were the Thunder asking for a transfer fee? Did El Disco want to many pesos?

Also, I do still wonder about Khumalo. I'm assuming he has a green card, but if he doesn't, could this be a possible reason that Barklage beat out Danso (ie. no more international spots)? Given our continued demonstration of defensive frailties, it's no wonder that we brought Danso back in for a look. Maybe the developmental roster is not final yet? Regardless, such changes won't make or break our depth, so let's take our current roster and project a starting and second-team XI, at least for the beginning of the season, shall we? Starters (sticking fingers in ears and whistling while ignoring injuries) . . .


I'm not sure which side of central defense Jakovic and Janicki will occupy, but I'm pretty certain that these are your starters to begin with. The narrow diamond in midfield enables Fred and Quaranta to follow their natural inclination to drift inside and allows Gomez more offensive freedom as they cover for him defensively. The big weakness is that such a midfield requires fullbacks bombing up the flanks. Namoff can do this, though I'd like to see better crossing from him and better recovery speed, while Burch doesn't seem to me to be an ideal fit at all. He would seem to slot in better behind a traditional wide midfielder. Wallace, on the other hand? Yeah, that's a bit more to my liking, assuming the kid pans out. As for the second team . . .


Of course, there are other permutations and combinations, but with the players left over, I think this formation works best. Pontius and Khumalo are much wider and higher than in the previous formation, while Olsen and Jacobson sit deeper and try to control possession, springing attacks up the flank and delivering more direct supply to the physical forward line. The question is: will Tommy experiment and swap formations? Potentially, we've got the horses to adapt to a variety of frameworks, but I'm still not convinced that the braintrust has the tactical acumen to carry it out. We shall see.

Line-by-line assessment?

Goalkeepers - Crayton's a good starter, even if a bit eccentric. As for depth? Uh . . . fingers crossed that Kocic learns quickly?

Defense - We've got fair numbers, but much of it is unproven (Janicki, Jakovic, Peters, Wallace) or inconsistent (Burch, McTavish). The only thing we can count on is Namoff at right back. It's hard to bank on potential, and so many new pieces mean a tough couple of months spent on a steep learning curve. In other words . . . enjoy the tailgate!

Midfield - Not wide enough, but we've got quality depth assuming that Jacobson isn't another Dyachenko and Olsen can log serious minutes. Pontius could be a pleasant surprise, but he's another attack-minded mid. Where are the worker bees? Simms better stay healthy.

Forwards - We've got a lot of starting quality and some young promise in Doe and potentially Pontius. N'Silu is an x-factor. But our starters are not quick and will rely upon possession and good service from midfield. I have no doubts that the likes of Quaranta, Fred, Olsen, and Gomez can set the table, but do we have the ball-winners to ensure solid possession?

Overall - Tough to say at this point. I wonder if the team will have a split personality between the technical boys of yesteryear who want to get the ball down and control play, and the more hurly-burly, physical, "take the game to them" approach we seem to be tending towards. Potentially, a good coach would be able to blend the two effectively, but can Tommy?

Well, let's hear it. Who's in your starting XI? Are you confident in this group of players? Wonder if this is the best set of coaches to get them to the promised land? Do you think we're done "refining" or will the summer bring more changes? Is this a "rebuilding" year?


  1. Don't be surprsed to see McTavish start in the middle if the new guys still have problems getting up to speed.

    Khumalo or Ben will probably start in the opener given Santino's injury; and if his was the least severe of the three -- that means we might see Pontius start on the left and -- Josh Wicks in goal!!!

    I think you've got it right in general though. I don't want to see injuries dictate the lineup like last year; but for the first game, they probably will.

  2. I am thinking we are going to go back to a 3-5-2. It seemed to work well in the second half of the TFC game.

    We also have more depth in the midfield than in the back. Having those 5 midfielders would help clog it up a bit and having 2 CDMs will allow Gomez to do pretty much whatever he pleases.

  3. @Anonymous #1: McTavish brings his own set of issues to centerback. I'm not saying I'd be surprised to see him there, but I won't be expecting him to excel either.

    @Anonymous #2: Not that I'm advocating a return to 3-5-2 (I think we'd be stretched six ways to Sunday and have a lot of beefy centerback rotting on the pine), but out of curiosity, who do you see as the depth at holding mid?

    Simms and Olsen, obviously. Jacobson as well. Who else? Fred? Quaranta? Not really the holding types, are they? McTavish could fill in I guess, but he's better out wide, in my opinion. We've got decent wide midfield depth, but I'm not seeing it in the middle.


  4. @Fullback from Anon #2: Pretty much who you see as our depth. DC's depth numbers wide might be the same when comparing CB and CDM, but I believe there is much more quality of depth at CDM. I fear that in a 4-4-2 we are going to be playing a lot of long ball and little possession. Considering the way we turn the ball over, maybe long ball is the way to go. Who knows...

  5. It depends how we play the 4-4-2. A narrow diamond with fullbacks (natch!) bombing forward doesn't look that much different from a 3-5-2 in attack. When one fullback pushes into wide attacking areas on his flank, the other remains at home, leaving 3 at the back sliding laterally to cover the vacated flank.

    That type of 4-4-2 (4-1-2-1-2 or 4-3-1-2, aaarrgghhh numeral soup!) would value possession and be able to cover a wide defensive front, assuming good recovery speed and stamina from the fullbacks.

  6. The roster really seems to be complete, but I'm still a bit confused as to why Danso and Mediate remain with the team in NC. Why hang around with a team who has no roster spots remaining? You're right that there could be some last minute changes still.

    Please no 3-5-2!!! But I do agree with Anon #1. I have a feeling that we'll see McTavish as the preferred starter ahead of Jakovic at some point this year. Same goes for Pontius at left mid.

  7. I don't mind 3-5-2 being an option, but I don't think it should be the primary one.

  8. Your first XI is as I invision it, barring injuries of course. With Quarranta out , I agree with Anon #1 that we will see Khumalo or Olsen, and possiblly Pointus for Fred.

    My confidence with this group falls short in the back line, not because I don't think they have the ability to step up, but because at this point they are untested as a group. And I have serious concerns about Wicks while Crayton is out.

    I think there will be some refining in the eary goings, again mostly on defense, until the best combination is found. I have a suspicion that the FO is still searching for Mivdun(having only found a Midcon), and if by this summer the current CB's are struggling, we will see one.

    I wouldn't call this year a total rebuild, just an overhaul of last years attempt.