Monday, May 07, 2012

Opening Arguments: Roster Questions

Kansas City has played 9 games so far this season, going 7-2.  That means that there have been 99 starts for different players so far in the season.  Of the 99 starts for Kansas City this year, 96 of them have gone to the same 11 guys.  One start for each for Teal Bunbury, Paulo Nagamura, and Michael Harrington make up the difference.

As a whole, there's really been not a lot to complain about when it's come to the lineup, up until a few weeks ago.  Before playing Portland, KC was 7-0 and seemed to be cruising.  A two game stretch against Portland and Montreal has started to change that a little bit among fans.  Especially after the loss to the expansion Impact, where the offense looked anemic. Many fans would even tell you that it was starting before that, in the team's 3-1 win over Vancouver.  The team didn't look extremely well in that game either.  The question is, is it time for KC to make some changes to the lineup?  Maybe try to switch things up and force teams to change the way they address KC. 

That leads to another thought though.  While KC has been winning it makes some sense to continue playing the same lineup, but some changes have to happen to keep guys sharp.  Looking at it that way combined with the lack of substitutes, you have to wonder about the depth that we've heard about.  Down two goals against Montreal, KC left a sub on the bench even though a change in lineup could possibly have provided a spark.  The team hasn't looked as sharp as they did early on in the season.  You can argue that it's the league really starting to get into form, while KC basically kept the exact same team.  But part of me thinks that KC's style of play is really wearing some of these guys out quickly.  And we haven't even gotten to the really draining part of the summer.  So the first question this week is whether Kansas City needs to start doing a bit of squad rotating so that they don't burn out the guys that have been getting the majority of the minutes so early in the season? 

There is another question that this discussion brings up though.  We're approaching the 1/3rd mark of the season, and with the way the roster and lineup has played out now, where does improvements need to be made?  I still stand by one of my assessments from this preseason.  I don't like our center back depth.  Aurelien Collin is going to pick up a fourth and fifth yellow card some time this season.  When he does, that means either dropping Julio Cesar back and plugging Paulo Nagamura in the midfield, or putting Lawrence Olum into the middle of defense.  Niether option is ideal, moving Cesar means that we lose Collin's bit in defense, and Cesar's work in the midfield.  With Olum we get a bigger drop off from Collin.  I've been unimpressed in Olum's performance in the reserve games I've seen and his minimal minutes in league play.  Getting a center back with a little more MLS experience to back up Collin and Matt Besler, that allows Cesar to stay in midfield is something KC needs.

On the offensive end of the field, improvements could still be made.  In the past two losses, KC has taken 38 shots, only 6 of those have been on goal (16%), and none of those have gone in.  KC needs a guy who can finish more regularly.  A guy that will take and finish the chances that he gets.  A guy that does better than putting 16% of his shots on goal.  This is something that has plagued KC since even before this recent lull.  KC is second in the league in shots with 151 (behind DC at 160 and they've played 2 more games), but are 7th in the league in shots on goal with only 45.  That's just under 30% of shots going on goal.  The team is also 6th in the league in goals.  For the number of shots they're getting, they should be higher.  Getting a guy who will do that is another thing to put on the wish list.  Maybe the potential Spanish DP, who from what I'd heard was a forward will be back on this summer and KC can get a forward who will finish had a higher ratio.  That's not to say I don't like our current forward, I do, I just think we need one who is an out and out finisher and I'm not sure that fits any of our forward line.

So what do you think?  Remember, some of the comments and Tweets will be posted at the end of this week.


Alan Schrader said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Schrader said...

One start for each for Teal Bunbury, PAULO NAGAMURA, and Michael Harrington make up the difference.

maxq said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. Lack of depth is the fundamental problem with this team. Hurts our ability to strategize before and during games, not to mention the fatigue issue. I would rather see us sign depth in any area of the field than sign a DP-level player.

However, as long as we're talking about DPs, I think the loss of Omar Bravo hurts more than we would have admitted during the offseason. Convey hasn't been bad, but we miss Bravo's cold-blooded finishing.

Mathew said...

Definitely think depth is an issue, however, I would rather approach improving depth by adding a high caliber DP-level player or two, which would then move a starter or two to the bench/spot starter level.

Biggest weakness in our side that I see is a lack of creativity in the midfield/wings. Love our midfield of Zusi/Espinoza/Cesar, however, none are what I'd call creative playmakers.

I'd prefer to sign a high level creative midfielder, which would send one of our 3 starting mids to the bench, which would create ability to rotate starting midfield on week to week basis a lot more. Also consider advantage of bringing someone like Espinoza off the bench around 65th min. mark. Would love to see him in role of super sub.

Think creative mid would also fix our on goal %. Believe our problem lies more in the fact that we're taking a lot of low percentage shots, rather than lack of clinical finishing (though that also does need work). Creative mid will make better runs that will help our other players get in better spots on the field to take a higher percentage shot than we currently are.

h said...

Actually, I think our depth is fine. But PV needs to rotate some players in and out from time to time.

And even rotate some responsibilities. For example, how about giving Kamara a go a center forward when neither CJ or Teal are really doing anything.

This leads to my point -- as a team we need to be able to change tactics during a match. If our "usual" press up, force turnovers, and make the other team pay isn't working we have to find a way to possess the ball, pull the defense out, and make that final pass to score.

Sometimes we look like we are doing the Arsenal thing where we are trying to find that perfect pass for that beautiful goal. Don't try perfection, just play. And take the shot or make the pass instead of dribbling sooooo much.

hartley said...

Hey, does anyone know why the home team had to wear split color kits instead of Montreal wearing their all dark blue kits? It seems the league always has KC switch their kits to accommodate the other team -- no matter who is home and who is away.

If the Impact wear their home kits and KC wears their home kits, you can easily tell which team is which.

RyanHetu said...

The only hard thing about pulling a DP in during the summer is theat it takes some time to acclimate with the club and style of play in mls. However, I'd love to see this happen and for them to be carried over to next season.

I agree with all of the above on subbing and depth. We could use a cb, winger/finishing forward (bravo esc..(bravo is/was a cf/st who can play on the wing)) and creative center mid.

Please and thank you sporting. Also please give Saad or Dwyer a shot!!

Nathan W Martin said...

The team has been a two-trick pony thus far. The field tilts drastically towards whichever side Kei Kamara is: where the best result is a set piece for our most consistent threat, the center back.

In the middle of the field, Roger Espinoza's destruction creates more offensive danger than Graham Zusi's creativity. That's a problem.

Also, I'd like to see at least 2 offensive substitutions available on the bench. (Jacob Peterson doesn't count in my book).

A forward that can finish with his feet will definitely be on the summer wishlist. If Zusi doesn't show that he can beat the first man on the dribble and open up the defense then Marinelli 3.0 is possible.

Dan said...

Dwyer doesn't count Nathan?

Nathan W Martin said...

Dwyer (or Saad) would count if Vermes trusted him enough to put him in a game that the team is down 2.

The substitutes bench has generally been Bunbury, Peterson, Sassano, Nagamura, Harrington, and Olum.

Anonymous said...

Wow, here we are still on top of the east and after the first bump the crap is starting to fly. We out shot Montreal by a wide margin and bounced one off the post. With some finishing drills and a reminder that protection of the ball is paramount, we are right back on track. Watch the game again and we can see a few poor passing ecisions that probably cost us the game. We are OK. Go Sporting...we still believe that we will win!