Projecting DCU's Opening Day Starters
I see that we are getting ready for the new season. Commenter Matt asked if I had a sense of Nowak's starters for opening day. I do, although I can imagine more fluidity in the line-ups we see this year as opposed to last. MLSNet takes a shot at the Starting XI for DC United, noting Rimando's injury. It's not a bad guess, but it does assume that Nowak will be in his traditional 3-5-2. Based on the preseason, I'm fairly convinced that Nowak will be incorporating a 4-4-2 into his plans. Yes, I once wrote that DC could change its area code to 442, and Nowak still wouldn't leave his beloved three man back line. I was wrong. I think DCU will open at home in a 4-4-2, and here's who I think will be on the pitch:
Goalkeeper Troy Perkins. Nick Rimando's foot injury has opened the door. Unlike his caretaker role in 2004, Perkins has a legitimate shot to win a continued starting role out of this situation. While I think Rimando will come back and get his share of the starts, I can also see Perkins and Rimando battling for starts well into July before a typical starter is decided.
Defensive Backs Josh Gros, Bobby Boswell, Facundo Erpen, and Brandon Prideaux. Left back is my one big question mark for the opening day start. Josh Gros may alternate with John Wilson until Brian Namoff returns, at which point a fit Namoff would probably become the everyday starter. The back-line for DC is interesting, and from what I can tell, it shifts between 4 and 3 people, with Prideaux acting more like a wingback frequently in the Charleston game. It should be interesting to watch. Pay special attention to the interplay between Erpen and Boswell. How well to they interact in the center of the defense?
Midfielders Adu, Olsen, Carroll, Gomez I think the Adu and Gomez experiment will continue for at least two or three weeks. What's more, I think it is already showing improvement. Gomez in the Number 10 role and Adu on the left have played well together the last few games, although perhaps not spectacularly. The right side of the midfield is a question (we may see more Josh Gros usage here as well, as well as Justin Moose.). Clyde Simms has performed well and moved himself up to the defensive mid alternate choice after Carroll and Olsen.Oops! Forgot Gomez was suspended for the opener, a few months after I took someone else to task to forgetting the same. Embarassing, to say the least. So for the opener, I think Adu moves to the #10 spot, and throw Gros on the pitch. Karl has a pretty good take in the comments below, so read those as well.
Forwards Moreno and Filomeno. Jamie Moreno looks to be in good form this preseason, and his chemistry with Christian Gomez is nothing to sniff at. Lucio Filomeno is starting partially because of potential, as well as the injuries to Quaranta and Eskandarian. Jamil Walker remains a second half impact sub. The questions are whether Moreno can remain strong all season given his advancing age, and whether Filomeno can move from "decent" to "great" as a striker. So far, he hasn't shown the killer edge, and may well be challenged by a rapidly improving Eskandarian by late May or early June.
That's how I see it if Nowak continues working with the 4-4-2, based on his lineups from Getafe through Charleston. If you think I missed something, feel free to correct me.