Do The Soehn Selection Shuffle!

As a prelude to my preview for tomorrow's match against Dallas, I thought I'd take a moment to ponder the relative merits of squad rotation and what Tommy might do given the May fixture pileup. "What fixture pileup?" I hear you ask. Witness...
  • Saturday, 5/2 - FC Dallas (H)
  • Wednesday, 5/6 - KC Wizards (A)
  • Saturday, 5/9 - Toronto FC (H)
  • Wednesday, 5/13 - Possible Open Cup v. Red Bulls
  • Saturday, 5/16 - Chivas USA (A)
  • Wednesday, 5/20 - Possible Open Cup v. Red Bulls
  • Saturday, 5/23 - RSL (H)
  • Saturday, 5/30 - NE Revs (A)
This could turn out to be quite a taxing stretch, not only because of the number of matches, but because of the travel as well. So how does Tommy play it?

Approach #1: Don't Break Up The Band!
The confidence has to be high right now after two consecutive results yanked from the jaws of defeat. So why mess with a good thing? Keep playing the guys that are getting you results, blending in the pine dwellers when exhaustion or injury begin to take their toll.

Approach #2: Time And Class Will Tell
Don't look too far ahead. Approach each match afresh and pick your best possible eleven from among those fit enough to start. This is a subtle variation on Approach #1, with the distinction being illustrated nicely by the following example: Pontius/Quaranta would be trotted out for #1, while Moreno/Gomez would be the likely selection for #2.

Approach #3: Rotation, Rotation, Rotation!
Look, it's fairly obvious that some of the guys on the north side of 30 aren't going to be participating in every match. So ration their minutes, and the minutes of some of those (Namoff, Jakovic, Simms, Wallace, Pontius, Emilio) who have been logging significant miles in the early months, thus keeping them strong and fresh as we head into the brutal MLS summer. As a bonus, some of the guys who need minutes can pick them up, and the staff can make a judgement about who isn't going to cut the mustard in MLS and where we need to shore things up in the summer transfer window.

Approach #4: The Nowak
Admittedly, Tommy seems to have learned his lesson, but I thought I'd include his mentor's tactic for the sake of completeness. Put out the most talented eleven and run their sorry carcasses into the ground. Trust youngsters? Why?

Approach #5: Pick Your Targets
Similar to the rotation approach but with the added condition of prioritizing certain matches that you want to have the best possible eleven fit for. But what would be the priorities? League over Cup? In conference over out of conference? Home over away?

In the end, I think that I would favor something between #1 and #5. Despite our being defending champions, I don't think a cup defense is high on the FO's checklist. So we prioritize league matches. But I think that's about as far as you go. Given that the Parity Police make sure that you can't take any league matches lightly, I think you have to go into each match with a core group that is playing well together. That doesn't mean you can't swap players in and out to keep legs fresh and get the scrubs and the unfit some minutes, but it does mean that you want the majority of the team you run out to be consistent.

So how would I approach the Dallas match? Ah, not quite yet, Grasshopper! The match preview will be up either tonight or tomorrow. But in the meantime, have your say in the comments below. Any other approaches to the May fixtures? Which of my five would you favor? Who do you want to see play against Dallas?

1 comment:

  1. I wouold use a blend of #1, #2, and #5. Certainly #5 to prioritize between league and cup play. #2 to use your example of Gomez. He was just starting to get back into his game before his injury. Only missing one game, I'd like to see him pick up where he left off. #1 in the case of Quarranta. He has picked up his game increasingly more in his last two appearances. He is starting to get hot. If anyone on this team has the potential to catch fire and elevate this team, I think he could be the one."The Pheonix"