Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Central Park Rangers - Part 1

This is the slowest Clipboard ever, but we just push on ahead. It hasn't been an airy unfurling; many hours have been destroyed in thought, switching players around and weighing opportunity costs.

As we move to midfield, let's switch things up again. I'll do each of the necessary 4-3-3 depth charts today, and then come back later with the 3-5-2 ladder. They aren't quite an identical trio of roles, so there will be some variance in the ranks.

First up, the defensive midfielders. I'd love an efficient dedicated destroyer, but can settle for a tidy gate-keeper with at least a functional transition game on the ball. Daniel Williams probably would be the starter here if he hadn't just gone to the shelf.

Geoff Cameron
Perry Kitchen
Wil Trapp

Still curious about: Scott Caldwell
Future watch: Russell Canouse, Chris Durkin, Derrick Jones, Cameron Lindley

Be forewarned: though this is effectively a youth movement, I am highly unbothered by carrying experienced cogs in the midfield ranks. In fact, one veteran making the line-up on a semi-regular basis might be a swell idea. Keeping certain oldies around can serve a great purpose, but those who remain need to be able to offer impact on the field. Considering the look of our #6 stable, having one here seems a great idea

Well, we just so happen to have one that still starts in the Prem, and nowadays typically at defensive midfield. While it's no secret that Cameron would be a good choice any given day, Kitchen deserves a fresh look. A couple years overseas seem to have done him some good. It's only two games, but he looks more in command, on and off the ball, than when he left MLS.

Kitchen-as-starter could use a little defensive help from his #8. Trapp, who is the best passer of the whole bunch, would need someone who picks rare spots to surge forward alone. If he is paired with a guy like Crew teammate Artur, who stays in good working distance whether Columbus need to steal or advance the ball, Trapp could do quite well against certain opponents.

Not sure if it matters, but I do wonder if the seemingly functional Caldwell couldn't be one of those guys who puts his best soldier foot forward in a Nats shirt. I am especially hopeful that Jones can fulfill his greatest potential. He has the tools to be a monster back there.

Next up, the ever-crowded #8 role. There are other names that I could argue deserve consideration, but we need to keep the length of these positional lists within some sort of reason.

Weston McKennie
Tyler Adams
Cristian Roldan

Get fit and we'll see you again: Kellyn Acosta
Under heavy surveillance now: Keaton Parks
Tops from those caught in a rough numbers game: Marky Delgado

The ideal would be finding room for both of the top two choices in the same line-up... but we'll get to that tomorrow. I have McKennie listed as the starter, but full disclosure, he's been flipped around with Adams several times over the last couple weeks. Both are somewhat comfortably ahead of Roldan, but if he notably improves again this season, that may no longer be the case.

Acosta needs to up his game when he comes back next month. Guys are rapidly passing him by, and he can't play like he did last season. I'm not quite sure where Parks most ideally projects just yet, so he's at least temporarily up at the #8 for safety sake. 

Finally, we have a #10 chart that may shock some...

Christian Pulisic
Sacha Kljestan

Sorely needs some PT: Emerson Hyndman
Keeping an eye out: Mikkel Diskerud

We don't even need to talk about Pulisic, even if he's in a production slump right now. Won't last. What does bear discussing is what happens when he isn't available? Or perhaps more importantly for when matches get real again, who comes on if he is forced out of a game for some reason?

Until Hyndman finds a manager that believes in him (or at least has the guts to stop throwing the usual out there when it's not working), I honestly have no youthful answer to either of those questions. There aren't that many other true candidates in the pipeline, and those are all very young.

Kljestan only needs to be a spot hand at this point, because as I said yesterday, games without Pulisic are crying out for 3-5-2 run-outs, optimally with Adams and McKennie operating as tandem two-way midfielders. Diskerud is basically an emergency break-box, for a limited time presumably, but seems back in good form.

- Greg Seltzer


UnitedDemon said...

Thank you for including Kitchen in the list, I know you had just reason for it.

I honestly feel Kitchen is talented enough to start for an elite team. He's a defensive midfielder genius, potentially.

Greg Seltzer said...

Yeah, he looks better for his time away. His efforts are more focused and assertive. I nearly made him the starter. I'm annoyed he wasn't called in this time, there is no player of his ilk in camp.

UnitedDemon said...

I think BArcelona should sign him.

And Hamid should be starting for Stoke or something, but, he'll get there.... I think.

UnitedDemon said...

Also, definitely watch for Cannouse and Durkin for DC. IF they become a starting tandem this season, we'll be in great shape.

Although Benfica went fishing for Durkin, allegedly. But I don't trust Benfica after how they treated a Freddy Adu of the same age. Although Durkin has less baggage and expectation than Freddy, and anti-American sentiment in Europe is dying every time an American scores a goal in a big league.