Reading Friendly Tea Leaves

This isn't quite a Roster Reset post, but it does make use of the current list, so I encourage you to read the latest if you're not caught up already.

So we're scoring some goals against big-time opposition in pre-season. Letting in a couple as well, but hell, it's in Mexico, right? Anyway, glancing over the lineups, we can make a few assumptions and guesses, as well as raise a few questions, about the current state of the roster. I imagine we lined up something like this...

...though the second half probably saw DiRaimondo sit deep next to Wasson with Khumalo and Shipalane advanced on the wings. Likewise, I wouldn't have been shocked if Castillo-Quaranta-Barklage played in front of a dedicated destroyer (Morsink) in a 4-1-3-2 in the first half, but we'll need to see video evidence of how the team is playing before I make that call. So, what talking points do we draw from this?

(1) Assuming a healthy, motivated Szetela is a starter (or at least challenging for a starting spot) on this team, where does he fit in? Given that Simms/Morsink will probably go at d-mid, and all signs point to Tino in attacking midfield, I think he probably gets shuffled out to the right, though he'd be an option in the middle if Tino goes down.

(2) Barklage is high on the depth chart. Injuries are going to happen. With Barklage able to slot in pretty much anywhere in midfield, and Onalfo's starting of him here suggesting that he's one of the first off the bench, I think he's made the team. The question is, does he do so on the senior or developmental roster? Given that he started over Shipalane (who currently holds a senior roster spot), you'd expect he'd be making the jump up, perhaps at Shipalane's expense.

(3) McTavish seems to have the edge over Vaughn as cover for Namoff, given that he played with the first team. I can't really see us carrying three right backs on the senior roster, though that assumes Namoff returns and McTavish isn't the first option off the bench in central defense (which he is on the current roster of signed players...sigh).

(4) Woolard getting the call at left back could just be the staff getting a look at him in action so they can make the call on whether he continues in camp over Graye/Adams, or it could be a signal that none of the other fullback options are making a solid case. At 25, he's still eligible for Dev Dollars, but at this point in his career, he may (rightly) be looking for a better wage.

(5) Pena jumping right in with the first team indicates to me that this is a serious trial and not just a courtesy, and that he's been relatively sharp in training. Has the Mivdun finally arrived?

(6) I wonder why Hamid didn't get any time. I'm guessing Perkins playing the whole match was to get him better integrated with his defenders (he hasn't had the time with them in game action that Hamid has thus far in the pre-season).

So where does that leave the roster?

Burch will be on the inactive list to start the season, allowing the signing of Pena or Taylor (or Arzu if we can't agree to terms or are not impressed by the other two). The rest is really going to depend upon who is willing to take Dev Dollars. I would expect that Barklage would be bumped to the senior roster, displacing Vaughn or Shipalane. If we can grab Woolard on Dev Dollars at the back, I expect he'll edge out Adams and Graye.

With one of Wasson or DiRaimondo taking a Dev spot as midfield depth (assuming Wasson will settle for the Dev roster and Barklage makes the jump), that leaves one (if Woolard signs) or two spots available that Rice, Graye, and Adams are fighting over (assuming Najar is targeted for a mid-year GenAd signing, a la Hamid last summer). Hard to say who has the edge there.



  1. I saw Graye play a number of times at UNC the past two years and he didn't look up to MLS-level play. He definitely has potential - particularly attacking out of the back - but I don't see him starting or even as a number 2 fullback.

    Also, I only remember seeing him play on the right, though people seem to be assuming he's a left-sided player.

    I'm about as amateur as they come in the soccer commentary world, though, so take everything I say with a grain -- or ten -- of salt.

  2. Great post. I think you are for the most part spot-on.

    Does this mean Allsop is not a starter?

    If Graye doesn't make the team, our draft was even more of a waste than we already thought.

  3. Allsopp is mostly going to be a starter, just not last night he wasn't...

  4. @Andy
    When the likes of Bretos and Miles pose as "professionals," it would be a foolish man who doubts an "amateur." ;-)

    Thanks for sharing. What little I saw of him in the College Cup confirms what you've said. Of course, I'm working with an even smaller sample set seen through the lens of TV, so even more grains of salt are required. Fingers crossed for a late-bloomer if he does indeed make the team.


    I think we'll see Moreno and Allsop rotating in the starting role alongside Pontius depending upon game situation and fitness/form, but that's just a guess.

    We've had, what, one good draft in recent memory (last year)? The 2010 Superdraft was just business as usual... or you could look at it that we picked up a reliable starting goalkeeper (by trading our first-rounder + extras for Troy Perkins), thus filling one of our biggest weaknesses from last year. Are you a glass half-full or half-empty kind of guy? ;-)