MLS Midseason Report: Team Needs
As we enter the second half of the Major League Soccer season just about every team has serious concerns. That’s what happens when you have a single entity structure and a salary cap. Unlike the English Premiership 3/4 of the results do not seem pre-ordained. Each team must use the opening of the transfer window on Tuesday to its advantage. Let’s rundown each of the clubs perceived needs.
Mauricio Castro has been alright on the left side of midfield but if the Revs can find another left sided attacking midfielder that would nice. Otherwise the team looks solid and primed for another run at the MLS Cup if they can regain their health.
A legitimate speedy striker to finish what Guille Barros Schelotto begins. We hear talk of Carlos Ruiz, but is he really an answer? I suggest Jeff Cunningham the onetime Crew great who still has a year or two left of football but seems to have issues in Toronto.
The Red and Black have survived with Clyde Simms at holding midfield. If they can find an affordable upgrade do it, otherwise skip it. The real need is goalkeeper. Letting Nick Rimando go to RSL with Freddy Adu in what was a salary cap related move now looks silly, but then again did we know Troy Perkins would be snapped up in Europe?
Where do we start? Simply brining in Brian McBride while an upgrade won’t change alot. The midfield is inconsistent and now with Blanco facing a potential suspension matters get worse. The backline is solid especially in breaking up the attack but the linkage with the midfield has been lacking of late. With such a deep backline, if the Fire can manage to keep Wilman Conde, is moving Bakary Soumare back to the midfield such a horrible idea for Dennis Hamlet?
Well the turf has likely cost the Reds the player they needed to possibly get off the hump. As a Manchester City supporter I can safely say that Paul Dickov is no Darren Huckerby. I’m told Huckerby is almost certain to sign with the Quakes and if he doesn’t, he’s going back to England. The idea of Huckerby playing with Mo Edu, Amado Guevara and Laurent Robert in the TFC midfield had me thinking of an MLS Cup run and probably the most dangerous team in CONCACAF play from MLS. However, that will not be the case. TFC, still needs a striker to play with Danny Dichio or an attacking midfielder of the Huckerby ilk. Dickov will merely provide what Edu and Robinson do (winning balls in the midfield) with far less grace.
Juan Carlos Osorio knows his team is short on talent and has already secured several moves that will make Red Bull more competitive. Diego Jimenez is a solid signing to sure up the back for the club and doesn’t cost the team a foreign player slot. Jorge Rojas and Juan Martin Pietravallo will both be helpful in the midfield where Red Bull has been awful this season. Can Osorio work the magic he did with Chicago the second half of the year again? Probably not, but these signings are a good start. Now he needs to find a striker to replace the departed Jozy Altidore and the ineffective Oscar Echeverry. George Welcome could be this player.
Bringing back Josh Wolff should help but the concerns in the midfield are plentiful. Davy Arnaud has dropped off substantially this season due to injury, and neither Ivan Trujillo or Claudio Lopez seems to have settled in to the attack. Lopez would probably like to be moved back up top to pair with Wolff and Scott Sealey being brought off the bench if midfield help can be acquired.
The defense has been terrible partly because the midfield is so attack minded they don’t break up enough plays or track back quickly enough. Eduardo Dominguez was a nice signing but the team needs a player like Paulo Nagumura who the Galaxy exposed in the 2006 expansion draft to sit in the midfield and break up plays.
The Goats problems are largely injury related. However acquiring another striker or even a left sided midfielder now that Jorge Flores is injured would not hurt. Panchito Mendoza has been ineffective this year and needs to be replaced. I was telling CSRN’s Peter Brown the English Language voice of Chivas USA home matches that Darren Huckerby would be the perfect signing for Preki’s team. Evidently he is not being sought however, by the Gaots.
Real Salt Lake
RSL is probably the most complete club in the league besides New England. But they don’t know how to close out games and simply need to develop a winning mentality. Kenny Deuchar isn’t the striker many thought he be in MLS, so acquiring a striker other than Jeff Cunningham would be a good move.
The two time defending MLS Cup Champions have issues all over the place. First off, acquiring a striker or maybe two is a must. In the midfield, Rico Clark has been neutered this year thanks to fear of being suspended again (I suppose) and Stuart Holden seems to have cooled off. Corey Ashe has shown some nice flashes but is incomplete. If I were the Dynamo I would try and acquire a right sided midfielder that can replace Brian Mullan or allow Mullan to drop back and sure up what has been a leaky defense. Patrick Ianni has been awful, Wade Barrett is looking a year older and when Eddie Robinson is hurt the Dynamo look incredibly exposed.
Getting Mike Petke and Greg Dalby healthy will not hurt though. Petke is till one of the most solid professionals in MLS and he will give the Rapids some much needed on the field leadership and fire especially if Pablo Mastroeni leaves for Serie A. Both Petke and Dalby played in Colorado Tecate Cup victory over Tigres Wednesday night.
This side is so difficult to assess I think I am going to take a pass. Seriously, the Hoops just aren’t playing well. I don’t see this changing unless a whole new team is brought to Texas.
The Quakes sit at the bottom of the table in the league yet in my mind have far more upside than FC Dallas, Kansas City and New York. The potential acquisitions of Fransisco Lima and Darren Huckerby could propel the Quakes into the playoff race. I like Ramiro Corrales and Ronnie O’Brien as supporting players, and once they can return to that role, Frank Yallop’s side will have the depth and midfield quality to compete with anyone in the league. Still needed however is a striker who can perform what Peguro Jean Phillipe could have provided had he not gotten injured yet again.