Right now, the Fire's hottest position battle is at Center Back. It was widely anticipated that opening day starters Josip Mikulic and Cory Gibbs would start once Gibbs had recovered from a hamstring injury. Instead, Carlos de los Cobos felt that Cuesta had earned a place in the lineup and started him over Mikulic.
The defense gave up two goals against Toronto, but we'll take a look at Cuesta's role in stopping the Toronto attack. After the jump, every touch and significant play by Cuesta (except passing back and forth within the back line) will be listed to evaluate whether he has earned another start.
1' Hacks the TFC striker on a standing challenge. No whistle and Anibaba controls the ball.
2' Marks his man tightly on a bouncing cross, TFC players goes for a circus turn around shot and misses high.
2' Simple pass to Anibaba with plenty of room. Anibaba hits a good through ball.
3' More passing around in back. Cuesta holds the ball too long and his attempted long ball deflects off a TFC player for a goal kick.
4' More passing around in back, eventually unloads to Anibaba who loses it.
4' Takes a quick free kick for a short square.
5' Briefly lets a TFC player past him on a through ball before recovering by giving the guy a nudge. Eventually gets in front of him with the striker's back to goal. After holding him up for a few seconds, blocks a turn-around shot.
6' Briefly holds up a TFC player at the top of the box, Attacker fouled by Paladini.
8' Beats striker to a through ball behind him, passes to Anibaba.
9' TFC goal. No obvious fault by Cuesta. Initially, he is backing up Paladini in case the TFC player dribbles past him, leaving Plata to Anibaba (who left Plata unmarked). He then tries to cover some of Plata's passing options.. He could have stepped up earlier on Plata and denied the shot, but he was also trying to cover two attackers even with him. Paladini should have been there, but he was out of the play after missing a tackle.
11' Clears a long TFC throw in.
13' Tries to hit a long switch pass in attacking half, TFC clears
16' Gets a head on an offensive corner, but misjudges it and it ricochets away from goal.
17' Gets a head to an offensive corner about 15 yards from goal, knocks it dangerously to the penalty spot. Gibbs skys the shot.
18' Collects a forward pass that gets away from a TFC player and passes forward.
19' Finds Chavez with a long ball at the top of the box.
20' Intercepts a TFC forward pass to the top of the box, tries to hit a home run to Oduro at the other end but misses.
21' Gets pass near midfield in traffic, jukes TFC player before a short pass forward.
22' Successful offside trap near midfield.
23' Steps up on attacker 40 yards out, who one touches it to the wing. Does well to chase back and combine with Anibaba to hold up the attack near the box.
24' Slide tackes away a missed clearance by Gibbs.
34' Intercepts what would have been a dangerous through pass. Dribbles from box to box beating a couple TFC midfielders before being shoulder checked off the ball, which rolls to Chavez at the top of the box.
35' Trots back to collect a bad through pass. Hits a long pass which is intercepted.
36' Anibaba gets beat on a through ball on the wing. Cuesta leaves Plata to chase the ball, gets caught in no mans land on the cross to Plata. Gibbs picks up Plata and blocks his shot.
43' Retrieves a through ball that initially got past him.
45' Chases down a long ball, fights with the attacker and eventually loses it out of bounds. Did well to not turn it over during the scrum, he was the last man.
46' Accepts a backpass from Paladini and taps it forward
47' TFC Goal. Cuesta not at fault, he was marking an attacker making a run. Gibbs could have closed down, but probably was correct to play conservatively as he was the last man.
49' Back line goes up for an offensive set piece. Ball initially cleared. Paladini chips it back in and our defenders elect to hang out in the offensive end. TFC controls and plays a long ball to Plata. Plata and Paladini fight for the ball 30 yards from goal all by themselves.
One of the problems with our crappy set pieces is that we have to rely on defenders as targets, which means that we are vulnerable on the counter when Paladini or Pause becomes the first and last line of defense.
50' Heads a goal kick to Paladini.
51' I might be delusional, but it looks like we're playing 3-5-2. Segares is nowhere near the back line when we have the ball:
63' Collects a poor TFC trap and hits square to Oduro. Oduro carries a ways and hits square to Barouch, who suffers the foul that leads to Pappa's goal.
Also noticing that Cuesta isn't getting many touches compared to the first 20-30 minutes. That's probably a good sign.
65' Tapps to Anibaba who starts the attack. I'm noticing that the passing around the back isn't very excessive.
The standard breakout when our defenders are controlling the ball is: Anibaba and Segares push up to even with the TFC forwards, leaving Cuesta and Gibbs on the back line. Paladini buzzes around the TFC forwards and Cuesta and Gibbs start the attack by making short passes to one of those three. It really looks like these guys are trying to implement the attractive soccer CDLC says he wants.
68' Takes ball from attacker and passes forward.
74' Chases down a long ball, then suffers a foul.
75' Fire goal. No involvement by Cuesta.
77' Trips a TFC player who is looking for an entry pass (to use a basketball term), no whistle and he clears.
80' Helps Anibaba on the right wing with a TFC player who shoots from long range.
84' Hits a long pass which is intercepted.
87' Dribbles past an attacker, then hits a square to Anibaba.
88' Paladini hits a poor clearance which deflects to the top of the box. Cuesta knocks it out for a throw.
My overall impression was that Cuesta did well. He only made a couple mistakes, which were minor anyway. I don't think he missed an assignment or lost his man all night. Most of the time, he was solid but unspectacular, which is exactly what you want in a defender. I think it would be best to platoon him, Gibbs and Mikulic in the two CB spots.