* Milos Kocic still has yet to latch on with another team after being released in pre-season, which is a little shocking because he's not too shabby.Looking at this list makes me realize just how drastic the roster surgery I engaged in has been. I'm thinking that when I conclude this first "challenge" I should go back and attempt to do the season with a more "real-life" roster.
* Ange N'Silu is also as yet unattached, though he has a lower division French team sniffing around.
* Ty Shipalane hasn't been picked up, which doesn't surprise me as he's terrible (and, for some reason, a central midfielder) in the game.
* Marc Burch has found his level with Real Maryland, where he joins the two younger Carroll brothers. He's getting middling ratings and has one goal and one assist in thirteen appearances.
* Josh Wicks hasn't latched on anywhere, but is getting serious interest from German lower-division outfits, presumably because he holds a German passport by virtue of being born there.
* Lawson Vaughn has picked up a handful of cup and substitute appearances for a terrible Houston side, with little to show for his efforts.
* Luciano Emilio is having modest success in KC, where he's netted five times and tacked on two assists in fifteen appearances. Given how well Camara's been playing, and that Camara pulls about a fifth of Emilio's salary, I'm hardly broken up about this. It also looks like he's worried that they're lining up a replacement for him and wants to leave the club.
* Christian Gomez has made a handful of appearances since being traded to KC and seems to be settling well, notching a goal, an assist, and a man of the match award. He and Conrad seem to get on pretty well.
* Ely Allen hasn't been picked up and nobody is showing any interest.
* Greg Janicki recently landed with Montreal and has laid on one assist in the three matches he's played for them.
* Avery John is still unattached, but is getting some looks from the German lower divisions.
* Julius James was only dropped recently and has yet to land anywhere.
And now for a look at the league. First, the table thus far...
Team stats, where you'll note our offensive success, but lack of anything resembling an effective defense...
And league player stats, where Henri Camara's importance (and Dema's temper issues ;-) becomes evident...
As far as the team goes, our leaders thus far are...
Goals: Camara (14), Moreno (6), Jacobson/Quaranta (3)The lowest ratings go to: Myers (6.65), Jakovic (6.71), Vavá (6.71)
Assists: Camara (8), Rogers (6), Quaranta (4)
Average Rating: Camara (7.41), Jacobson (7.33), Rogers (7.14)
Myers and Vavá don't worry me because they've only had a couple of appearances each, generally as subs, and have just joined the team. Jakovic is a bigger worry. He generally gets above average ratings, but the problem is that he's had a few really wretched outings as well that have dragged his average down.
The upshot? I'm going to give Mendes a solid run in the team and see if a spell on the bench does anything for Jakovic's consistency. I've got some time before the transfer window closes, so if Mendes is similarly lame, I'm going to have to do a bit more shopping. The question then will be, does Jakovic make way, or does Fred?
Let's break down the team.
Up top, our best quartet is Camara as the lone striker, Rogers on the left wing, Quaranta on the right, and Moreno sitting in the #10 role. I'm a little disappointed that Lopez hasn't contributed as much as I thought he would, though this is probably down more to Camara and Rogers conspiring to keep him out of the starting eleven. Pontius has shown signs up top and on the right wing, but again we have the problem with limited appearances. Vavá will probably supplant Moreno in the #10 spot as the season wears on.
And that brings us to Fred. His contract is running out at the end of the season, he hasn't been playing particularly well, a handful of Brazilian teams are showing interest, and I'm leaning towards a combination of Lopez and Wallace for cover on the left wing. I'm most likely going to entertain offers for his services if any are forthcoming.
In the holding roles, I'm pretty comfortable with my depth and eager to see what impact Sosa brings to the table alongside Szetela in a deep playmaking role. Simms, Olsen, and Jacobson provide solid cover, with Olsen also able to do spot duty in attacking midfield as well.
At the back, I've still got some questions, as I alluded to above. Namoff has been steady, if unspectacular, on the right, meaning that McTavish hasn't seen much time as his understudy. Boswell has been solid in the middle, as has Mendes in limited minutes. You've already heard about my troubles with Jakovic, and the left is still a little up in the air.
Wallace has been picking up the most minutes there, though his numbers aren't great, and he seems more comfortable in midfield. Myers may have the bigger upside. Habarugira is a mystery. He can play pretty much anywhere at the back and in midfield, though my coaches say he's best as a center back. Which is worrying because he's terrible in the air and isn't a great marker or tackler. He's played well the handful of times he's featured, and I expect the late-summer congestion will give him a chance to shine.
Keeper is a bit of a mixed bag. I've announced that Shuttleworth can go on loan, and a dozen PDL and USL2 sides are interested, but nobody's made a move yet. Gonzalez, having long term potential at 26, was penciled in as the starter, and has been reasonable, if not great. A couple of really awful outings led me to bench him in favor of the more experienced Cavallero, he of the 35 caps for Argentina to match his 35 years of age, and he's been a steadier hand. I'm not entirely satisfied in this department, but it's not enough to prompt a summer spending spree. That doesn't mean I won't keep an eye open though.
Looking at the contract situation, I made some moves to extend contracts, signing Olsen to a one year extension at half the wages he was making (he claims "love for the club," and who am I to doubt him?), locking in McTavish on a long-term deal for the current chump change he's pulling, extending Quaranta's contract through 2012 and giving him a bigger raise than he was asking for, and handing Namoff a one-year extension at a slightly lower salary.
That leaves Shuttleworth (3rd string keeper) and DiRaimondo (on loan in Richmond) expiring on the Dev roster, along with the injured and base-pay pulling Khumalo on the senior. We also have a quartet of highly paid guys that I'm not quite ready to commit to long-term. Moreno will probably get a new deal at a reduced rate, though at 35, he's a risk. I'm going to watch how he handles the rest of the season. Lopez is almost as old, and I'll be employing the same policy. Fred is teetering on the brink of a transfer, so we probably won't need to worry about renegotiating his contract. Finally, Simms has been a solid contributor, but he's asking for Moreno-type money, and I'm not even sure he'll continue to be a starter, so I'm going to keep an eye on his situation and consider a trade if he won't settle for the money I feel he's worth.
Let's close with the friendly I scheduled in advance of the All Star game...
(F) San Luis: (W 2-1) We came out looking to control possession but found ourselves under increasing pressure from their counters, finally resulting in a goal for them after some sloppy defensive play in the middle. I went a bit longer without making changes, but we weren't creating anything, so I let slip the dogs of war...with immediate results. Quaranta hit a gorgeous ball from his own half that split the defense and just skipped past the last defender in the rain. Camara charged onto it, had a heavy first touch, and the keeper, a San Luis defender, and Camara all collided and went down in a heap. The ball rolled free and Camara bounced up to equalize. Minutes later, Quaranta ended one of his many first half runs with a wicked cross that resulted in an own goal, though Camara was lurking to put it home if the defender hadn't made contact first. After that we settled down and played possession, making wholesale changes on the hour mark. They had a couple of half-chances, but we had a handful of good ones, only for Camara to be wasteful or Lopez to be too tentative. Late in the match...
Story of Fred's life, eh? Time to put him on the transfer block?
Think I'm making a mess of this? Grab a copy of Football Manager 2010and have a go yourself. Then write it up and post it to your own blog or send me a copy and I might post it here on FBF...