Alright, so with Goff manning the Injury Status Monitor, let's have a look at some possible lineup considerations for tomorrow's match with the Dynamo and see if the tea leaves have anything to tell us, shall we? Some points for your consideration . . .
* It finally looks like we'll have Crayton between the pipes instead of Wicks. Unless, of course, Tommy is carrying some sort of grudge against him, thus explaining the continued presence of Wicks despite Crayton's assurances of his health. Question: if Wicks were not injured, would Tommy have continued to sit Crayton? I'll be interested to see what our defense looks like if we continue with three at the back. Crayton is much more of a sweeper keeper than Wicks, and I wonder if the organization might improve.
* Speaking of the defense, it looks like Janicki is ready to return, with McTavish somewhat further back on the road to recovery. Assuming we're sticking with the 3-5-2, that means we're looking at Namoff-Janicki-Jakovic across the back. Personally, I'd rather see what a Wallace-Janicki-Jakovic-Namoff back four looks like, but Tommy is nothing if not a creature of habit. Free the Fullbacks!
* Midfield is Conundrum City. McTavish, Fred, and Quaranta all say they can play, but the surrounding noises seem to indicate that they're not quite ready to go 90 minutes. Assuming you have Olsen, Moreno, and Gomez starting as well, can you risk starting another guy who probably can't go 90? Also, I don't know about you, but Quaranta and Fred don't exactly strike me as ideal fits for a 3-5-2, particularly one that's going to be absorbing some pressure down the flanks from Houston.
* Up top looks like another Moreno-Emilio pairing, though there are a couple of considerations in play here as well. If McTavish or Quaranta is ready to play at right midfield, do you maybe play Pontius in favor of Moreno and bring the later off the bench--or vice versa? Similarly, if you're going to start any of those crawling off of the treatment table, you might be safer starting as many guys that can go a full 90 as possible. Just a thought.
So, with those considerations in mind, let's talk Dynamo in a handful of quick hits.
* Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Kamara's suspension for mouthing off is over now, meaning we might see either him or Wondolowski paired with Chinger.
* Kinnear keeps things fairly compact when they're defending, meaning we'll need to work the flanks, particularly since Barrett's been looking questionable. That's not been something we do particularly well, particularly in the 3-5-2, which places more defensive responsibility on the wide midfielders. If Cameron starts again in the center of defense, we'll need to exploit his inexperience in the position.
* The Dynamo are an experienced and tough-minded team. If we get a lead (again), we can't sit back and try to contain them (again), or we'll get burned (again).
* Given their rough start to the season, I expect the Dynamo to be focused and determined to get a result. That could either lead to disaster or could play into our hands. If they're too amped up, we might be able to take advantage of their aggressiveness.
* Kinnear is suspended from being on the bench for his dismissal in the last match. That's usually not a big advantage, but Kinnear is generally pretty good at getting in refs' heads, so maybe we've got a small bonus there.
So that gives us an overview of the two sides. What do you think Tommy will do? I figure he'll stick to his guns and run out something like . . .
...which isn't necessarily bad, but makes it incumbent upon Pontius and Wallace to really get forward when they can. Fred and Quaranta may add some offense off the bench, while McTavish can help shore things up if we get a lead.
Personally (and assuming Fred, McTavish, and Quaranta are not 90-minute fit), I'd want to run out . . .
...with Moreno spelling Gomez around the 55-70 minute mark. Khumalo and Pontius give the Houston fullbacks something to think about and keep them from joining in the attack. Simms and Olsen tie up the middle. And having Gomez in the hole either forces them to (1) drop Clark deep to cover, thus somewhat removing his energy from the midfield battle, (2) creates space for Gomez to operate freely in, or (3) draws out one of the center backs, creating gaps on their back line.
Ah well, a boy can dream, can't he?
So what would you do? What's your starting lineup? Excited to see Crayton in place of Wicks? Wondering which of the wounded will (Aaarrgghh! Call the Alliteration Cops!) play (that's better!)? Have your say in the comments.