Wow, so here we are just a couple weeks past the MLS Cup Final and already so much has changed. I think after our performance in this past season, it was to be at least moderately expected. It’s not often you miss the playoffs and opt to keep everything the same. I’m just not sure we expected the absolute roster implosion that we’ve seen thus far. Let’s recap our losses, counting rumors, thus far:
- John Thorrington - Expansion draft by Vancouver Whitecaps.
- Peter Lowry - Expansion draft by Portland Timbers.
- Collins John - Released.
- Krzysztof Krol - Loan expired, released.
- C.J. Brown - Retired.
- Brian McBride - Retired.
- Wilman Conde - Searching for work elsewhere. (not definitely gone yet)
- Freddie Ljungberg - Entertaining offers elsewhere (not definitely gone yet)
More on these players after the jump.That’s a loss of 8 players if Charlie Corr's article saying Ljungberg and Conde are 'exiting'. Thorrington barely saw the pitch last season due to injury, and I think given his injury issues we’re okay with letting him go. We have some young talent waiting to come up the ranks in midfield like Corben Bone, Baggio Husidic, and Victor Pineda. We also had Peter Lowry though, who I felt near the end of the season was starting to really shine. Guess we can cross watching him blossom off our list of awesome things to do next year. I feel the bigger problem is losing so many veterans in the same year.
McBride, Thorrington, Brown and Freddie all provided a veteran presence. More importantly, we lost a lot of offensive veterans. Sure, we still have Pause, but he’s not exactly who you look for leadership on the attack. We have a young midfield now, without a true defining leader that can put their stamp on the game every night. If you were to build our typical formation (if you could call any formation typical for us last season, with the constant changes) of 4-4-1-1 or perhaps 4-1-4-1, it’d look rather young. You have to imagine a backline of Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Dasan Robinson, Steven Kinney and Gonzalo Segares, which is actually pretty good. Then you’d have Logan Pause sitting in front of them. After that you have Marco Pappa and Patrick Nyarko out wide. That leaves us with the option of Husidic, Bone, or maybe Nery Castillo in the middle and Calen Carr in the forward position.
Let’s assume for now that Castillo isn’t fit, and thus doesn’t make the starting eleven. I’d love to assume otherwise, but I’ll wait till he proves it. That leaves you with Bone or Husidic in your #10 spot with a combined total of 2153 minutes played in MLS across their careers. To put that in perspective, Freddie played more minutes last season than those two have gathered on the pitch together. I think they’re both potentially great players, but there just isn’t a lot of experience there in facilitating the attack.
That leaves us with Calen Carr up top currently. I’m not a huge fan of the lone striker, and I’m even less of a fan when that lone striker isn’t a target man. Carr seemed to do alright here and there with Freddie facilitating, but Freddie may not be here next year. Plus Carr often came in late as a sub, and his fresh legs gave defenders fits. In games he started up top by himself, he didn’t seem nearly as effective. You lose that ability to push the ball upfield to a player that can hold the ball to let the midfield catch up and get forward. I think Carr deserves a true strike partner.
The most worrisome part for me is that we’ve said a lot of goodbyes, but haven’t said hello to anyone yet. There hasn’t even been a rumor about us going after anyone. The offseason is still incredibly young, but we have a lot of needs to be filled. We’re shallow at almost every position currently. We have Ristic that can fill in at a variety of places, or maybe even become an everyday player. After that though, our bench looks quite lacking. We have a lot of questions that need answers, and for my money, I feel we need more fire power up top. This past season we suffered through a four game drought of goals, and never seemed to be consistent. Now we lack depth and strength. I know Chicago is a city that prides itself on defense, but I think our defense is at least passable. FC Dallas may have proven that you can draw the majority of your games and still be successful, but I’d personally like to see some goals.