16 February 2006

The Pre-Season Job Center: Midfield

Five top spots up for grabs, and I think midfield is where we may see some of the most transformation. Dema Kovalenko is gone, which means the RM position is wide open to be won. On the left, Josh Gros had an acceptable 2005 starting at LM, but has not yet secured the job for this year. Gomez, Carroll, and Olsen seem to be a solid triangle in the middle, but what comes next? Let's take a look

The Incumbents:

  1. CAM: Christian Gomez (2005 regular season: 31 games played / 30 games started / 2419 minutes / 11 goals / 9 assists)
  2. LM: Josh Gros (30/29/2563/4/4)
  3. RM: Open [Dema Kovalenko]
  4. CM: Ben Olsen (23/22/1874/2/4)
  5. CM: Brian Carroll (32/30/2567/1/3)

The Challengers:

  1. LM: Freddy Adu, John Wilson
  2. CAM: Freddy Adu, Nick Van Sicklen, Rod Dyachenko, Santino Quaranta
  3. RM: Justin Moose, Santino Quaranta, Nick Van Sicklen
  4. CM: Shawn Kuykendall, Clyde Simms, Stephen DeRoux, Jeff Carroll.

Analysis: The heart of the midfield starting order seems secure: Christian Gomez will miss the opener serving his red card suspension, but probably had the slot secure. Olsen and Carroll, provided that national team duty doesn't interfere (and I don't think it will), should serve well in the middle.

The departure of Dema Kovalenko opens the right midfield slot to competition. Justin Moose was drafted at least in part to fill this position, but I wouldn't be surprised if Santino Quaranta got the first couple of starts. Moose will get some reserve time, and then could challenge around midseason for the starting job.

The left midfield situation would seem to be more stable, given that Josh Gros and John Wilson both played the position and are returning. Gros certainly would seem to have the edge, and a nice raise to go with an everyday starting role. Yet my gut tells me that Freddy Adu may well get his share of minutes here, and more than an occasional start. Freddy has spoken about playing on the left in USMNT camp, and Bruce clearly indicated that he had to work on his defense to succeed in that postion. Add the occasional Bruce and Piotr phone call, and one gets the feeling that LM could be up for grabs.

As an added wrinkle, Gomez has not gone the full 90 for most of his time here, and Freddy was the typical sub. But if Freddy and Gomez both start the game, and Piotr wants to make a strict CAM for CAM sub, then suddenly the depth chart at CAM becomes very interesting for whomever can grab the #3 position. The battle here could be between third-round draft pick Rod Dyachenko and reserve player Nick Van Sicklen. Winning that battle could result in more than just a few token minutes.

As for the Central midfield position, both Carroll and Olsen are well established. Yet injuries are not unknown to Ben Olsen, so a strong battle between Shawn Kuykendall and Clyde Simms (with potenital dark horse Stephen deRoux) could have practical first team implications in determining the depth at CM.

John Wilson seems to be on the outside looking in, but given that he can be used at left back as well, I wouldn't be surprised to see him on an expanded bench. Jeff Carroll I can't see as much beyond a reserve player this year, and Stephen deRoux may also have to look at the backline for advancement.


  1. Opening Day Starters: LM-Gros, CAM-Adu (Gomez CHI red card), RM-Quaranta, CM-Olsen, Carroll.
  2. Rotation Starters: Adu for Gros, Moose for Quaranta.
  3. Bench Order: LM - Adu, Wilson. CAM - Adu, Dyachenko, Van Sicklen. CM - Simms, Kuykendall. RM - Moose