We are just over five weeks away from the start of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying and several things have changed since we last pulled up my depth chart. These have all been for a 4-3-3 set, but since Klinsi looks like settling on a 4-2-3-1, we'll just call that close enough and proceed as normal.
Those in blue moved up from last time, those in black held position, the reds slipped and the green men switched positions:
#1 - GK
This doesn't mean we've seen the last of Bill Hamid or Sean Johnson; just a standard veteran lean after a tough Olympic qualifying tourney for the youngsters.
#2 - RB
Chandler effectively is the back-up at each spot on the right for me, but we'll list him later with the hope that he's not even needed at right back during early qualifying. Parkhurst won't work as a center back next to fellow (relative) shorty Cherundolo and he's improved his up-the-flank game in Denmark, so he slides over here.
#3 - RCB
Gooch is back for Sporting and he has a month to get on point, so this position should be business as planned. And yes, that is a Marshall sighting; he's in form and knows the CONCACAF drill. That and his ball movement skills put him in ahead of George John.
#4 - LCB
Ream's recent play puts him above Whitbread, who seems to have suddenly fallen out of favor. Norwich City have dropped three straight with 11 goals leaked, so let's just assume it's temporary.
#5 - LB
To answer your obvious question: I do not mind switching Lichaj to the left side of defense because his game is not dependent on crossing. He prefers to sprint at the area or shoot from distance, so moving him across doesn't cost anything. If he continues performing well defensively in EPL play, he will be in to start here. Castillo has cooled off a bit recently, hence the shift 'n' drop.
#6 - DM
The injury to Daniel Williams opens a place and the RSL midfielder has opened the new season from the top shelf. When pushed to shove, however, the reality is Bradley (who is backed by more experience at the #8) can easily be shifted back a midfield place if Edu struggles or becomes unavailable for some reason.
#7 - RW
The Chandler shift is not set in stone, but as he's now back on the wing for Der Club, it just seemed the proper thing to do with Gatt still awaiting his first cap (and left out of Olympic qualifying).
#8 - CM
Stuart Holden leaves the list. Combined with Jones' seeming insistence on yellow cards and passing inconsistency, it felt necessary to move Kljestan to this role. It's his day job at Anderlecht.... and did I mention that Jones can't go 90 minutes without getting in trouble with the law?
#9 - F
Anybody still whining about Altidore being the striker needs a slap. Buddle ticks enough of the boxes to be the understudy. To be honest, I'm still not sure where to put Gomez in this system. The reality is his inclusion probably occurs in dire circumstance, which means he could be our 3-3-4 desperation forward... or push Dempsey to left wing... or be the bullpen catcher. Ugh, I just don't know what to do with him. There's always one of these guys, no matter what formation we're in. That's soccer life, even before we talk about a couple of MLS forwards who look eager to steal his place here.
#10 - AM
Pretty straightforward, no? Three it-happening-makers, over and out.
#11 - LW
Jose Francisco Torres
Beasley could shake this tree early in qualifying and a few youngsters could do the same by the end. But for now, I'm standing pat here.
Just missing out: Chris Wondolowski, DaMarcus Beasley, Perry Kitchen, George John, Kenny Cooper, Joe Corona, Joseph Gyau, Chris Pontius, Steve Beitashour
- Greg Seltzer