Let's start at the top, shall we? Emilio and Moreno are front line MLS strikers, even if the former doesn't provide consistent effort or results, and the later is increasingly slowed by age and injury and sometimes seems a touch too patient for a more energetic attack. Pontius and Quaranta are both hybrid midfielder/forwards at the moment, but look to be an intriguing successor pairing to Emilio and Moreno. That said, they're needed in midfield as well, either as starters or as cover, leaving the bustling but largely ineffective Khumalo and the not-so-bustling and even less effective N'Silu as depth.
On the flanks, we have Wallace and Quaranta as the current starters, with the likes of Pontius, Fred, McTavish, Khumalo, and possibly even DiRaimondo as potential depth. That's an awful lot of cover for the right, but the left is worth considering. At a reasonable cap hit, I wouldn't mind having Fred as depth on the left, but he's pulling over $200k. That's an awful lot for a backup, though perhaps his providing cover for Gomez in the playmaker role mitigates that somewhat (not too much, but somewhat).
The holding roles are currently filled by Simms and Olsen, with McTavish, Jacobson, and potentially DiRaimondo and Pontius as available cover. That's reasonable, but not ideal, and I'm not going to quit harping about having a bit more steel and precision passing in these roles. Likewise, Olsen's battered body can't keep him on the pitch consistently.
At playmaker, Gomez seems to be returning to something like the quality we expect, but he too is operating on 30-something legs. Fred provides decent cover and danger in spurts, and Quaranta can be slotted in here as well assuming we have some cover for the right flank. Barklage would have been nice to have as cover for the flanks and at playmaker, but I think we're in decent enough shape here despite his season-ending injury.
The back is where we find the most glaring hole. At keeper, we've settled on Wicks as the starter and Kocic as his understudy. Not great, but not terrible either. The pleasantly surprising Jakovic in the middle with Janicki as cover works for me, as does, to a somewhat lesser extent, Namoff on the right with McTavish as cover. The left, however, gives us Burch to start and John as his backup. Frankly, I don't believe John belongs on an MLS roster, and Burch is cover, at best, for the left back and left midfield spots.
The departures of Peters and Crayton free up two senior roster spots as well as an international spot (leaving us one to three international spots potentially unfilled--I'm unsure of who has green cards). Barklage going on the IR gives us a developmental spot as well. I suppose I could speculate about how much cap space we have available, but frankly, I'd be firing blanks at ghosts, so we'll just assume that we can't bring in a truly big money signing, but have enough space to add either one reasonably highly compensated, Crayton-level ($175k) player or two journeyman to good ($80-100k) senior players. And, of course, we've got the $15-20k worth of Dev Dollars to throw at some gullible (or ambitious and not risk-averse) youngster.
Fill 'Er Up!
So what's a front office to do? The rumors are swirling about the possible addition of Szetela, and the defensive depth problem appears to be a target as well, given the trialists we're bring in. Shockingly, those would probably meet my two primary targets for the summer transfer window. The third target would be subject to what's available. Rather than rambling and hedging, let's put the cards on the table, shall we? We've got three spots. What do we do with them?
- Senior roster (possible international) #1: The biggest hole in the roster at the moment is a solid left defender. Burch is young and still has some promise, but he's not a natural defender. He does provide solid cover for left back and left midfield, but I think he's the weakest link in the defense as a starter. John hasn't done anything to convince me that he's not a spent force. Looking around MLS, I don't see anybody on the trading block that meets our needs which means we need to look abroad. The trialists mentioned above seem to indicate that the FO is addressing this.
- Senior roster (possible international) #2: Let's face it, if we qualify for the Champions' League proper, we're going to have a real mess in September/October between the CCL campaign and a backalley knife-fight in the tight Eastern Conference. Olsen might be available for half of these games if his ankles hold out. Simms can log major minutes and doesn't have a history of injuries, but we all saw how gassed he was at the end of last season. And if we're relying on Jacobson and McTavish as our depth here, I think we end up punting the CCL and focus on making the playoffs. I've never been a fan of Szetela's behavior, but if he's learned a little humility struggling in Spain and Italy, and is hungry to prove himself, he'd be a huge upgrade to our depth in holding midfield and on the right flank. Otherwise, we need to find another d-mid from somewhere to provide minutes in place of Simms. Jacobson is decent cover for Olsen, but I'm not sold on McTavish for Simms.
- Developmental roster: Here's the "best option available" selection. I'm nervous only carrying two keepers, so If we could keep one of those two big kids from the academy from jumping on the Euro-boat, that would be my first choice. Other possible options? Pretty much anywhere on the pitch, though you've got to be looking at low-skill, big effort position for developmental players, so I'd think left midfield, d-mid, or flank defender (right-sided if the left gets addressed with a senior spot) could all be spots you'd look to fill if the right situation presented itself.
Any arguments with their logic (and mine)?