All-Star Game, fixture congestion present squad selection questions

All-Star Game, fixture congestion present squad selection questions


On the morning of the All-Star Game, and near the preponderance of inter-season friendlies with European clubs, we're continuing our long march toward the Champions League once again. After missing out in the 2011-12 campaign, we've got an opportunity to make our mark once again, and if all goes well, to lift that cup come 2013.

The absence of our captain — off to represent the league in the luxury contest that is the All-Star Game — creates a bit of a conundrum. We play on Friday (Vancouver, at home), then in short order, we jet off to Costa Rica, where we'll take on Herediano in our CONCACAF Champions League group stage opener. Perhaps the boys can bring back some coffee — I hear Costa Rica's got quite a selection. Or, you know, something like that.

But moreover, I hope they bring back three points. In this continually tinkered-with system, we really do need to win three or perhaps four of our four games in order to secure our moving past the group stage. I'd create a table showing the potential results, but I think it'd get rather boring. Fact is, anybody can win right now, os let's leave it at that. We can start the in-depth analysis after the second match.

It all brings me back, though, to Kyle Beckerman's appearance in the All-Star Game. He certainly deserves the attention he's receiving. He's easily one of the best midfielders in the league, and this is seen in his statistics and in his performances. So don't get me wrong, I'm glad he'll be there. And of course I'm worried about injuries, especially after the Olave debacle (though I thought it was excellent how he charged down Wayne Rooney and won the ball cleanly and fairly after a startling sprint, I wasn't exactly happy to see him off the pitch moments after.) More, though, I'm worried about fixture congestion. Maybe, though, Kyle's All-Star team duty is a blessing in disguise.

Yordany, the Beckerman replacement, did quite well against Colorado, but we can be relatively assured that Vancouver on Friday will present more of an attacking threat. Was Kyle ever likely to play in this one? I suspect he'd be saved for the Herediano match, because this is very much what we play for. I'd suspect a few others will be rested, but given our injury conundrum, we've got some decisions to make. Well, we don't — Jason does. As always, right?

One thing seems certain: We'll see a younger squad against Vancouver, such that we can rest our headliners for the biggest match we've had in some time. As such, let's go through who I suspect may be handed starts.

  • Kwame Watson-Siriboe. This may be as much out of necessity as anything, as Olave is ever-so-slightly struggling with injury.
  • Kenny Mansally. Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran have played a lot of matches recently, and we'll need them well-rested if we're to succeed in the Champions League. The same thinking could easily apply to Terukazu Tanaka.
  • Yordany Alvarez. See above.
  • Jonny Steele Sebastian Velasquez. The Man of Steele has seen fewer minutes recently, but I'd imagine he'll start for one of Ned Grabavoy and Will Johnson. Or at least that's what I would have said before having it pointed out to me that he's suspended because of accumulation of yellow cards. As such, I suspect we'll see Sebastian Velasquez.
  • Luis Gil. Luis will almost certainly come in for Javier Morales. Javi may be recovering well and looks to have broken his injury duck, so to speak, but we won't want to tempt fate by playing him twice in quick succession.
  • Justin Braun. I suspect the kid's first appearance for us could be a start as we rest Alvaro Saborio before he scores a hatful against some fellow Costa Ricans.

Others could well be starting or not, and I won't pretend to have inside knowledge. Of course, I don't normally pretend to have such, but you know, it's the thought that counts. (That applies here, right?)

Well, then. Let's all watch the All-Star Game tonight with bated breath, hoping that our captain-in-chief survives unscathed.