In case you haven’t heard, Nico Gaitán is out for a few games with a hamstring injury. The Argentine playmaker has been essential to the recent success of the club, and he was key to the six-point week the Fire just had.
So what are the Fire to do now? There are five midfielders currently not in the starting eleven that are vying for his spot this weekend. (Bastian Schweinsteiger is also out with a yellow card accumulation suspension.)
Let’s take a look at what our best options might be.
Bronico is the obvious choice to replace Gaitán. He’s already done it once last week when he had to come off. He’s also the only player on this list to have any experience this year playing midfield for anything close to full minutes. He’s also scored a banger of a goal, and has the closest skill set the team is looking for.
I still want to see more from him though. Other than the goal, he hasn’t impressed me more than Mo Adams this season. He still has some hot headed moments and is probably the most likely player on this list to be sent off. His tackles are sometimes late and undisciplined, and his passing is hot and cold.
My personal favorite player on this list. Mo Adams has a skill set that no other player on the list has, he can shut down opposing playmakers single handedly. His marking ability from box to box is excellent. He also plays hard, but controlled and is good at cleaning up turnovers and passing mistakes.
The reason he’s not number one on the list is that he is not a terribly creative player. He can’t create the way Nico can, nor is his passing ability that great. In order for Adams to come into the lineup. But more on that later in the post.
Gutjahr has played all of his minutes this year at left back. However, while in the Fire’s academy, he played midfield, and is reportedly pretty good at it. Playing him in the midfield would be reward for doing such a good job being thrown into the fire (no pun intended) after Jorge Corrales’ red card.
The downside is that he has been playing primarily as a defender, and I’m not sure how much training he has in the midfield. It may well be a disaster putting him out there cold.
This would be bold move. He’s showed some skill in his short time on the pitch this year, but he has only played a little more than a half cumulatively. The thing he has going for him is that they’re playing San Jose, and while not as bad as previous years, they’re still not all that great. It may be a good time to give him some minutes.
He only has 36 minutes in three appearances, and hasn’t done anything of note. The only time he’ll see the pitch is late in the second half.
No Direct Replacement
There is one other option than just a straight swap: play a 4-4-2.
I know that’s not what everyone wants to hear, but hear me out. You’re on the road, you’re out your most influential player, and you have got to get some points. A 4-4-2 with Dax and Adams is a good lineup for that.
I am aware that Djordje on the wing is an odd choice. But against the Quakes, I’d rather have Sapong be higher up the pitch then out on the wing. Having him up top gives the Fire the ability to play balls in over the top to break their back line. And Mihailovic cutting inside makes it easier to create space for Corrales to get forward where he is best used.
Personally, I think they’re going to stick Bronico in the lineup, and push Djordje Mihailovic up the field.
But what do you think? Let us know in the comments what your perfected lineup to compensate for Nico’s absence is.