What did our beloved Claret and Cobalt do the evening of March, 10th? They did what they trained for. They did what they most wanted. They did what they are capable of. They “came to score” (The Aggrolites).
After last week's thought experiment — "What would we do with a significantly weakened midfield?" I asked — let's embark on another one. This one's a bit closer to home: What would we do without Espindola and Saborio?
It's close to home because that's Tuesday, potentially. As I reported over on RSL Soapbox, we may well be without Espindola, and we already know we'll be without Saborio. It's a little frustrating.
OK, I lied. It's a lot frustrating. Hugely. This leaves us with three strike options: Paulo Jr., Emiliano Bonfigli, and Justin Braun. There are three reasons, to my mind, why this is hugely problematic.
1. Paulo Jr. is our most in-form striker aside from those two vital pieces we're missing. I guess this isn't really a problematic part, is it? He could struggle against Herediano's more bulky defenders, but his speed in transition could be the difference-maker. That said, we haven't really seen that from him as we need to — so we'll be hoping for some of that. His channel movement, too, will be key.
2. Emiliano Bonfigli has looked lost nearly every time he's been on the pitch with the first team. His movement is erratic — his runs just don't end where they need to be, and that makes it incredibly difficult for those around him to feed him the ball.
3. Justin Braun has been nursing some injuries and has had trouble finding a look in. If his on-the-ball work is what's holding him back, Jason Kreis may just have to overlook that for a day. Bonfigli may be better on the ball, but he's had severe problems actually getting on the ball in the first place.
My preferred pairing, then, is obvious: Braun and Paulo. You get the little-big dynamic, the hold-up and runner combination — that's essential. Yeah, I know Bonfigli's hardly short, but he's sort of a twig.
How about alternate options? What if we didn't have any strikers available? My options, as follows.
1. Strikerless formation. Yeah, we'd be accused of being indirect and Barcelona-esque, but we'd basically need our midfielders constantly running into the box. With a side that includes Javier Morales, Luis Gil, Sebastian Velasquez, and David Viana, it could work. Would it be something I could see Jason Kreis doing? Well, no. Not really.
2. Gil and Mansally up top. We've seen Luis Gil play up top before — the dog days of summer alongside Jean Alexandre as a central striker — and I guess it would work in a pinch. Kenny Mansally's fast and skillful, and he's played up top before. That sounds like it might have a little bit of promise. This seems more probable.
3. Olave up top. You know you'd like to see it.