Now comes the part that every fan loves: Speculation about what the roster should look like for next year.
Who should stay? Who should go? Is there a particular type of player in mind, or perhaps even a specific player? Speculating about the 2014 roster is more difficult than usual since Andrew Hauptman removed the previous decision-makers, Javier Leon and Frank Klopas, and replaced them Frank Yallop as coach and director of soccer. Over the past six years we have become accustomed to the type of players that Klopas and Leon might bring in. Yallop is new,but with Yallop we can guess based upon his track record with San Jose - will he make huge changes, or will he use the core players from this season and add complimentary pieces? Honestly, I have not followed Yallop's career and coaching style closely enough to have any idea about his tactics or what he values in a player.
This is how I will try to speculate what the Fire's 2014 roster will look like. I'll separate the 2013 roster into players that should stay, ones that I felon the fence about, and those that should go. I will also add my reasoning for the players that I'm on the fence about and those that should go. As for the 2014 roster additions I won't give any specific names but positions I think should be upgraded or are in need of depth. Remember, I'm not an expert just a fan having some fun playing fantasy technical director and this is only my opinion. (If your opinion differs, there's this crazy feature called 'comments' just below this article, in which you can mock and ridicule my suggestions, while naturally offering your own relevatory thoughts.)
- Players to Keep: Mike Magee, Sean Johnson, Patrick Nyarko, Dilly Duka, Chris Rolfe, Yazid Atouba, Hunter Jumper, Paolo Tornaghi, Daniel Paladini, and Jeff Larentowicz.
- Walking the Fence: Gonzalo Segares- He is not getting any younger but has the experience that this team will be needing going into 2014. Jalil Anibaba- Looked out of place at times at RB but is 25 years old and still has time to develop his skill set. Quincy Amarikwa- Showed he was a good sub off the bench but he may want a starting role like Oduro. Juan Luis Anangono- Has everything a striker needs to be good but will he be? He was a Leon addition and we know how those work out. Alec Kann- 3rd string keeper but he may want to find greener pastures. Logan Pause- Unquestioned leader and captain of the team when he plays, but is 32 and not getting any faster. With Paladini and Larentowicz around, Yallop may not want to play with the 2 DM formation. Victor Pineda- Hasn't seen the field yet in 4 years as a homegrown product but he may be given a chance under Yallop's watch and is still only 20 years old. Alex- To me not starting material at the AM spot but has shown in 2013 he is a good sub off the bench. Egidio Arevalo Rios- He would cost DP money, possibly miss almost a third of the season due to the World Cup, and will be 32 as well but he is a good player with tons of experience as he showed as a rental for part of the season.
- Show ‘em the Door: Steven Kinney- Always injured and I don't know if he will ever see the field again in a Fire shirt. Bakary Soumare- Nothing against him personally but we need a better veteran presence on the backline because he made costly mistakes and his cap hit may be too much. Shaun Francis- Can you say 'panic buy?' I don't know why they brought him in especially when he uses up an international slot. Maicon Santos- He has been trying to leave since July. Corben Bone- Would you even notice if he left? Wells Thompson- definitely not the depth we need. Joel Lindpere- Kind of burned the bridge with his comments after the NY loss; he's gone. Brendan King- I almost forgot we signed him last off season. Michael Videira- Just think we can find better depth but who knows with Yallop at the helm.
"Adam, what do you think the Fire need to do in the off season to make the team competitive?" you ask. Well my list is pretty short. I have no idea what Yallop's plan is since I really didn't pay much attention to his teams. Here is what I think the Fire need to do to press for silverware that Andy has stressed is the goal of this team:
- AN ORGANIZER: I'll start with the need for a solid, experienced center back. Soumare was supposed to be that guy but unfortunately didn't work out but there is that chance he sticks around for 2014. If he doesn't they need to find one that can slot right next to Berry to add that much need stability in the back line, kind of like what Arne Friedrich provided. Otherwise our defense may be a little shaky and worse than this season.
- A CREATOR: The Fire also need to add a center mid that can create. I'm not saying to go out and get a pure center attacking mid, but maybe a center mid that can create while also going from box to box. I know they are hard to come by but maybe Yallop can find one that fits this team. I would not move Magee back to that position because you would be taking the team's leading scorer and moving him further away from goal. I just don't want to see this team resorting to long ball tactics when they could play the ball on the ground.
- ANOTHER THREAT: The other need that might make or break the season is finding another proven goal scorer. Yes we have one in Mike Magee but what happens if he picks up an injury that keeps him out for a couple months? Are Anangono or Rolfe going to pick up the slack? They could but based on 2013 I would say no. Think about it, if this team had 2 reliable goal scorers than that would open more space for all of the other attackers. If one gets injured at least we would know we have another scorer to rely on.
- SOME DEPTH: How about some more depth on the bench? We saw in 2013 that in certain positions the Fire had little to no depth. The only spots that there was significant depth was at forward and center mid. Every other position had little depth. Look at the right back position, when Anibaba wasn't in there we were using midfielders like Pause and Thompson to fill the gap. If you look at the wings we had the same problem. Maybe it was just a lack of trust with the reserves and Frank didn't want to use any of them. Maybe that's why he kept using the same 13 players week in and week out. Maybe Yallop can get more out of the reserves but if not they will have to get some depth for this team.
As always, I would love to hear your feedback. I know that not everyone is going to agree with me. With the off-season just starting, hopefully Yallop will get his people in place and start identifying talent to bring in before the season starts in March instead of waiting until the midseason transfer window.