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Saturday, March 19, 2011
Depth chart analysis: midfield

By Buzz Carrick

By this point the midfield is about as ingrained as anything on this club, perhaps because it's the team's strongest position. Even with the departure of Dax McCarty the midfield is still quite good, although eh does leave us one big question mark in the formation.

The name seemingly written in pen on the team sheet is David Ferreira. FCD's best player, league MVP... what do we need to say about this guy. He's first choice at the high attacking mid spot in the 4-1-4-1 and isn't coming out of the team anytime soon.

It is important this year, with US Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League, and the Rio Grande Plate, for Ferreira to take some game off. The player getting the most recent look in this spot as a fill in is new signing Ricardo Villar. We haven't seen enough of Villar yet to know if he can reliably fill in here, so stay tuned. Eric Avila is also capable of manning this spot if needed and Bryan Leyva probably has some potential here.

The name we don't know much about is Fabian Castillo. Can he play in this system in the Ferreira spot or would FCD have to transition to a 4-4-2 for him to thrive here?

At holding mid is the captain Daniel Hernandez. He's as much ingrained in place as Ferreira except that Hernandez is 34 and coming off a knee injury. Hyndman has made a concerted effort to bring in some depth at this position by first drafting Bobby Warshaw, a player very similar to Hernandez when he came out of college, and then by trading for Andrew Jacobson from Philadelphia Union. Jacobson is a tall, strong defensive minded midfielder with nice feet and good passing ability. Jacobson is #2 right now at this deep spot and can also contribute at the next spot we'll talk about.

There are a few more names on the chart at holding mid, Eric Alexander can play here but is likely to be busy somewhere else. Jackson can fill in here as he did admirably last season with this tremendous range. I also think Zach Loyd could play this spot, but I'm not sure Hyndman thinks that's true, Bruno Guarda has played some here, and of course George John played here in college. Lastly there us home grown talent Victor Ulloa who is a natural holding mid.

Between the holding mid and the attacking mid comes the linking position vacated by Dax McCarty. After letting him go for primarily salary cap reasons, FCD is giving the first shot to fill this spot to Eric Alexander who did so well filling in last year when McCarty was hurt. Hyndman would like so see a few more goals out of this potions, mainly on box penetrating runs, so in the offseason FCD signed Ricardo Villar. I mentioned Villar in terms of backing up Ferreira, but this linking spot is the real reasons he is here. Villar is going head to head with Alexander in perhaps the most contested battle in the FCD lineup. his injury has slowed Villar this spring, but watch this spot cause it's going to be a heated battle.

After Villar there are a couple more names to consider. Andrew Jacobson played a bunch here this spring after Villar was hurt, although it's not ideal for him. Linking mid is Bruno Guarda's best position, even though he has fallen far down the depth chart from when he was a starter. Bryan Leyva can play here and it may be his best potential position in the current formation. Last but not least, this is another spot that Eric Avila can also play from time to time, although his defensive liabilities cost him here.

On the right side of midfield we will see Marvin Chavez. Chavez won the job from Attiba Harris last season allowing FCD to expose Harris in the expansion draft. Behind Chavez is a mis-mash of players, Eric Ailva will figure prominently here in games as a attacking player off the bench and spot starter. Eric Alexander might actually be better wide than central, at least Hyndman thinks so. Again Bryan Leyva can figure here as do both Peri Marosevic and Andrew Wiedeman in reserve games. Jackson can even do this job in a pinch, showing one again his immense versatility. And it wouldn't be a stretch to see Brek Shea play on the opposite side. Perhaps brand spanking new home grown signing Jonathan Top can figure here in some reserve games.

The left is where the run really begins. Brek Shea is the man here, expect as we discussed in the defender analysis, Hyndman wants to move Shea to center back. The only way that can happen is if someone steps up at left mid.

Getting the first shot is Eric Avila, this is his best shot at finally grabbing a full time starting role. If he can't hold it down and Shea comes back to left mid, Avila might not get that many more chances at starting.

The next name to consider for left mid is another we know so little about and that's Fabian Castillo. The 18 year old Designated Player (for this season only) is nominally a striker, but can and does play on the left flank. He is the prototypical fleet footed, slashing, penetrating wide mid that Hyndman relishes in this system. Yes Castillo is a striker, but with only one striker in this system, Castillo may best help the team wide left rather than in the Jeff Cunningham late sub role. Some of the reserves here are the same as right mid: Leyva, Wiedeman, Marosevic.

Midfield Depth Chart

Attacking Mid
1. David Ferreira
2. Ricardo Villar
3. Eric Avila
4. Bryan Leyva

Holding Mid
1. Daniel Hernandez
2. Andrew Jacobson
3. Jackson
4. Bruno Guarda
5. Bobby Warshaw
6. Victor Ulloa

Linking Mid
1. Eric Alexander
2. Ricardo Villlar
3. Bruno Guarda
4. Eric Avila
5. Bryan Leyva

Right Mid
1. Marvin Chavez
2. Eric Avila
3. Eric Alexander
4. Bryan Leyva
5. Andrew Wiedeman / Peri Marosevic / Jonathan Top

Left Mid
1. Brek Shea
2. Eric Avila
3. Fabian Castillo
4. Eric Alexander