Tuesday, March 9, 2010

BRTD: Random Thoughts Following a Meaningless Scrimmage

Since I last wrote, I have endured a 21-hour drive home from Florida with a fabulous sinus infection I blame on the woman sitting next to me on the plane ride down - the one with the filthy wet cough. In seat 21E. You know who you are.

The weather seems nicer up here, although it's about the same. 55 degrees with piles of melting snow beckoning in spring creates optimism. 60 degrees and palm trees swaying in 30 mph winds only served to mock my efforts for a week of winter escape. Home now, antibiotics procured, and awaiting the arrival of my Season Ticket package (Section 130 shoutout!), I've decided to subject TVN readers to another edition of "Better Red Than Dead."

If we learned anything from today's 4-0 win down in the Sunshine State against the USASA-affiliated Fort Lauderdale Rebels, it's that our second string, playing for 45 minutes, is more fit than a team of amateurs who only made three substitutions in the game and finally succumbed. Today's match has also prompted these random ramblings from your humble author:

We got a glimpse of Backe's thinking into this team as it currently stands. Hall at RB, Lindpere over at ML, and Robinson, on trial, taking over at central mid.

Garcia got another look backing up Richards, but a brief look, as he was subbed for Tchani in the 70th minute. Garcia is the most questionable guy in camp right now. He could be saved by the Chirgadze injury, as he's one who would likely agree to a developmental deal.

Has Agudelo started every game since he began practicing with the team? I realize that Kandji has had a paper cut or whatever keeping him out, but I wonder what Backe's depth chart is at forward. Is Kandji #2, or Agudelo (not that Agudelo has a contract or anything)?  I think, at least to start the season, that Nationally Ranked Conor Chinn may have earned a spot on the bench, too. JPA, Agudelo, Kandji, Woly, Chinn. With Richards able to slide up top if really necessary. That seems about right to me.

Defense has been emphasized since the early days of spring, and it has shown. With a back four that, on paper, looks to need modification, we have given up only two goals in eight pre-season matches - one each to Strømsgodset IF and CSKA Moscow. Even allowing for the fact that two of our opponents were clearly inferior, it still a good sign. Has Backe settled on Ream and Petke at center back? It sure seems that way to me.

And then there's right back... I'd love to get a quote from Backe regarding his decision to cut Carlos Johnson. Was the coaching staff simply too optimistic about the health of Chris Albright, or did Backe see, or not see, other things about Johnson that led to his decision to cut the Costa Rican loose without any other option at the position? I didn't love Johnson, but we are currently in the position of having to move today's surprise scorer Luke Sassano (pictured above) or Jeremy Hall to right back.  If there's a bright side to this, it is that Hall will see more playing time, because he sure seems to be getting crowded out of left midfield.

Not Red-Bull Related: MLS' only representative in the CONCACAF Champions' League Quarterfinals, the in pre-season form Columbus Crew, takes on a mid-season form Toluca of the FMF tonight. Besides still getting into shape and form, Columbus will also be without Schelotto and Hedjuk due to yellow card accumulation. This is a rare time that BRTD will root for Columbus, solely because I want to see MLS represent.

State of the Roster Update:

When I wrote on the state of the roster last week, I said there were one development slot and two senior slots open on our roster. If we assume that Albright, Goldthwaite, and Chirgadze all start the year on IR, this gives us two dev. slots and four senior slots. Fighting for these spots are: Tim Ream, Irving Garcia, Conor Chinn, Juan Agudelo (well he's not really fighting for a spot - he's been given an offer and things currently rest with whether MLS will give him the deal he seeks), Caleb Patterson-Sewell, Greg Sutton, and Carl Robinson. Coach Backe also mentioned a candidate for central midfield that would not require a trial, but who is currently under contract. Until identified, he will be referred as Mystery CM. If we add the possibility of a Mystery DR, that's 9 players and 6 slots. Once a goalkeeper takes one of these spots, it leaves 7 players and 5 slots, 2 of which are developmental slots. How do you think it will break down? Will there be any more members of the current roster cut? Will Agudelo get signed, and if so will it be a GA (developmental) deal or a senior contract? Will our entire draft class make the roster? Let us know what you think!
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