Monday, March 12, 2018

Layer Cake

With the usual 4-3-3 back line done, now we're going to add a new tier to the Clipboard by filling out a 3-5-2 depth chart. Despite what the formation promises, the wingbacks will be included with the central defenders in one post.

As our pool is sometimes split by having either the European-based guys unavailable on non-FIFA dates or MLS dudes caught up with important games, I'm trying to keep a balanced stable at hand for each station - may as well make the best development use of what otherwise might be an annoyance for a team prepping to play a tourney.

Let's work right to left...


DeAndre Yedlin
Eric Lichaj
Matt Polster

Jake Nerwinski

The top two spots basically pick themselves, but don't be shocked if Polster proves to be more effective than Lichaj when given license to shed some defensive responsibility. 


We're going to chart this one a little differently. Instead of ranking across the three places in the heart of defense, let's establish a sort of "hockey lines" hierarchy. If someone from the top line goes missing, the corresponding player can jump in without much of a hitch. Again, moving right to left:

Erik Palmer-Brown
Matt Miazga
John Anthony Brooks

Ike Opara
Cameron Carter-Vickers
Justen Glad

Extra pieces: Tim Parker, Tim Ream

Everyone pretty well falls into place to make two lines here, even if Palmer-Brown has more experience on the left side of defense. That shouldn't be too much of a concern. Since there's only two MLS guys in the top six, Parker is around to fill out a line-up card when the ex-pats are busy with day jobs.


Timothy Chandler
Gregory Garza
Antonee Robinson

Jorge Villafaña
Ben Sweat

And here it finally is... if there was ever a time to give Chandler another shot to become a USMNT regular, this is it. He's playing this exact position very well in the Bundesliga, and it can never hurt to keep his defensive duties lighter. Garza should be the epitome of solid in this role, while Robinson is definitely one to watch. Sweat has also become an intriguing prospect.


Tomorrow, we go revert to the 4-3-3 system to start the run through midfield.

- Greg Seltzer

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Putting Green

The salvage project on Greuther Fürth's season continues! Julian Green sank a back post gimme for the opening goal in a 2-1 win over Kaiserslautern. It was his second goal of the season, and it helped the Shamrocks tentatively move clear of the drop zone.

Don't look now, but they've own three straight and have lost just once in their last 10 league outings. And here's a very interesting stat to chew on: when Green starts as their #10, Furth are 4-1-2 and allow less than a goal a game (six conceded in seven games, with three of those coming in the lone loss). Hmm...

- Greg Seltzer

Friday, March 9, 2018

From Left Field

I gotta tell ya, this position has been the basis for so very much of my "back and forth and back over it again" in portioning out the depth charts. Names have gone in and out of this list multiple times, and how it's populated affects other places on the field. AGH, I'm just over it now. Let's do this, so I can move on already.

Jorge Villafaña
Greg Garza

Getting there:
Danilo Acosta, Antonee Robinson, Brandon Vincent
Under surveillance this season: Marco Farfan

The first thing you will notice is that we are one short of the usual three top choices for a given position. The reason for this is that, as well as he's playing, I've reluctantly decided (for now anyway) to move on from Justin Morrow. I feel for the guy, he could have been starting World Cup games this summer, but there simply are no competitive matches close enough on the calendar to justify his place. We just need to season the younger choices, and that's that.

As such, I have Villafaña penciled in slightly ahead of Garza. He's earned back the starting job at Santos, and at 28, can help bridge the gap until the kids are alright. Garza (who is 26) is probably in the same boat, but both have a two-way flank game that help this team achieve some balance as we try to grow something moving forward.

And, yes, there is a guy currently faring well in a great league as a left wingback in a 3-5-2... but we'll talk about him soon enough. As it stands, when talking about a four-man back line, I would absolutely be in favor of always having at least one of the three green youngsters in every camp from here on out. The next firm starter at this post is likely to come out of that group.

Acosta is probably the best defensively at this time, but needs work on the ball. Vincent gets forward the best, but should drill his one-v-one defending extra hours. Robinson is in the middle of these extremes, but also the one rising the fastest these days. It could be an exciting competition - especially if Farfan follows up well on a nice rookie campaign that ended too soon.

- Greg Seltzer

Pop A Corona

Been dealing with a bit of illness in the home this week, and so I've fallen behind here again. Anyhooo, Wednesday night saw Joe Corona hit a cracking opener in Club América's quarterfinal first leg rout of Tauro FC.

- Greg Seltzer

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Heart of the (Defense) Matter

I've made you all wait more than long enough for the next Clipboard position, so let's play two today. They're really a tandem set, anyway. First, the right center backs...

Matt Miazga
Justen Glad
Erik Palmer-Brown

Being monitored this season: Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman

As you will surely notice, I am mostly ready to turn the page in central defense. Miazga is having a nice season with Vitesse, and stands as the clear starter here for now. I'm very high on Glad, while EPB is fresh off his first Kortrijk start (onward and upward, hopefully).

I'm also apt to keep these two stables tight for the time being, but the new MLS season is upon us and I'm always up for being impressed (or re-impressed in the case of Zimmerman). Now, we'll slide to the left...

John Anthony Brooks*
Ike Opara
Cameron Carter-Vickers

In with a shot: Tim Parker

The starter is a big fat "duh" provided he can, ya know, get/stay healthy. I normally don't include injured folk, but since we're so far off from competitive action, I'll just hang an asterisk on him. That leaves Opara as the temporary start, because a) he plays somewhat similar to Brooks & b) I don't want to put too much on CCV too fast.

That said, I would like to see the youngster get some PT against against Paraguay and/or Ireland. I could easily see Parker's trade to the Red Bulls working out well for him in a USMNT-calls regard. 

- Greg Seltzer

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Out on my MLS limb

There's been so much going on with the new MLS season fast approaching, I probably should have waited to start the new Clipboard (which I want to give due thought) until after this weekend. Silly me. So we will get back to that on Monday. For now, it's time once again to break out some table finish, MLS Cup and award predictions.

EASTERN CONFERENCE (order of finish)

Toronto FC
Orlando City
NY Red Bulls
D.C. United
New England

WESTERN CONFERENCE (order of finish)

LA Galaxy
Sporting KC
San Jose
Real Salt Lake
FC Dallas

Now on to the awards and honors (my pick for the winner gets the asterisk)...

Toronto FC def. NYCFC

Portland def. Seattle

Toronto FC def. Portland


Sebastian Giovinco*
Ola Kamara
David Villa


Harrison Afful*
Ike Opara
Kendall Waston


Andre Blake*
Stefan Frei
Zack Steffen


Ezequiel Barco
Diego Rossi
Carlos Vela*


Tomas Hilliard-Arce*
João Moutinho
Chris Mueller


Giovani dos Santos
Sebastian Lletget
Gyasi Zardes*

Gregg Berhalter*
Carl Robinson
Greg Vanney

Andre Blake, Harrison Afful, Kendall Waston, Ike Opara, Justin Morrow, Ilie Sánchez, Sapher Taider, Sebastian Giovinco, Romain Alessandrini, Justin Meram, David Villa

Stefan Frei, Gregory van der Wiel, Alexander Callens, Justen Glad, Kemar Lawrence, Ori Rosell, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miguel Almiron, Alberth Elis, Ignacio Piatti, Ola Kamara

Zack Steffen, Matt Polster, Reto Ziegler, Leandro González Pírez, Greg Garza, Michael Bradley, Yoshimar Yotun, Cristian Roldan, Diego Valeri, Josef Martinez, Jozy Altidore

- Greg Seltzer