A recent article by MLS writer Sam Stejskal mentions that CDLC is looking at changing the lineup tomorrow night vs. Houston. Specifically, it mentions that Jalil Anibaba may get a rest in place of Dasan Robinson. Keep in mind that Cory Gibbs is questionable/doubtful for the game, and if he can't go, it looks like Yamith Cuesta will get the start. It also appears that Mike Videira may sit in favor of either Daniel Paladini or Baggio Husidic. Follow me after the break for some quick thoughts on these lineup changes...
First, I think it may be good to give Jalil a game off. Being a rookie, and playing pretty much every minute so far this season, I think a break would be good for him. I was also a proponent of a break for Sean Johnson, which has happened. I know a lot of people were thinking that benching Sean would be a knee-jerk reaction, but he's young and has plenty of time to learn and grow, and I think he will be better for it. However, I don't think Dasan has played very well at all in most of the appearances he has made. If they are going to sit Jalil, fine, but don't play someone else in his place that may even weaken the squad further. Call me crazy, but Dasan has underperformed somewhat thus far in my opinion. The Fire are really missing the ability to slot Steven Kinney in at RB, get well soon.
One other thing to keep in mind is that Josip Mikulic is back now. Jalil has played a lot better alongside Josip than without him. Most people think it will be a fight between Kinney and Jalil for the right back spot. Although I know the formation wouldn't necessarily work with our current backline, I would like to see Jalil slide to a central defending role rather than playing on the right. I think he might do even better as a center back, rather than the right full back position he is playing now. Plus, he played more of a central defender role in college, so maybe some of the growing pains he is experiencing is not only from adjusting to a new league, but also a slightly different position. I think a back line consisting of Kinney, Mikulic, Anibaba, and Gibbs/Sega could be pretty good down the line, at least in a 4-4-2. A line of Anibaba, Mikulic, and Kinney/Sega in a 3-5-2 would also be interesting if implementable. Gonzalo does complicate things because he is sometimes pushed up into a midfield role, but he also needs to be in the plans when talking about a back line depending on what formation we are playing.
As for Cuesta, I would like to see what he can do for a full 90 minutes. We have gotten to see him on and off, but he should get a pretty good test tomorrow if he gets the call to start in place of Gibbs, which I think is likely. It would be a good test for our back line, which hasn't really had a set starting rotation thus far due to some injuries. It could also be bad because our guys need regular playing time next to each other and that hasn't happened consistently. Some people have suggested this is the biggest culprit of Sean's early season struggles. It's hard to disagree. No matter who starts, our defense has been porous and we have been giving up way too many goals. That needs to stop now.
I think the most interesting change for tomorrow is who will replace Videira. Mike has been serviceable overall thus far this season in my estimation, but, like Logan Pause, he is definitely a defensive midfielder. Which is not a bad thing, but in writing my Benny Feilhaber/allocation piece, I thought to myself many times how Benny could help the Fire. Yes, I know defense is where we need the most help right now, which is funny because 2 months ago we all would have said forward was our weakest position. Benny is a creative midfielder who can link up with forwards, create chances, and attack. Even though we didn't get him, if we had a true attacking midfielder playing out of Videira or Pause's position, that could really ignite our offense in my opinion. With Videira and Pause, we don't have that. Since Logan is our captain and a good, steady player, he is staying put, so we have to look at Videira if we are going to talk about inserting an attacking mid.
I like Baggio Husidic a lot, and he scored 5 goals for us last year, so he is at least a threat that other opposing teams have to worry about when he is on the pitch, vs. not having to worry about that with Videira. Obviosuly, the more guys we have attack-wise that concern the other team, the more it opens up space for other players like Chaves, Puerari, Nyarko, and Pappa. However, I am going to say that I want to see Daniel Paladini in a starting role tomorrow night.
To me, Paladini is a dangerous midfielder that is creative and can score. He had 7 goals and 5 assists last year for the Carolina Rail Hawks in 34 appearances. While these may not be Messi-like numbers, I would easily take the same from him this year, and I am pretty sure everyone that reads this site would too. It's another attacking player the opposing team has to focus on and the more of those you have, the better. I watched some of Daniel's highlight clips when we signed him, and I must say I was impressed. I really want to see how he does when given a starting role. Hopefully if he gets the call tomorrow, he can help us get back on the winning track against the Dynamo. We definitely could use a deep midfielder that can play good balls up to the wingers and forwards to set up attacks.