Saturday, March 19, 2011
Depth chart analysis: forward
By Buzz Carrick
And finally we get to the biggest positional question mark on the team: striker. This, at least for me, was the biggest problem of the year, heck make that the biggest problem of last season as well. Maybe even the biggest problem since Kenny Cooper left. (This is not a bring back Kenny Cooper post. Cooper never was right for Hyndman's team and FCD has ZERO chance or method to bring him here.)
That doesn't change however that no one has really locked down and controlled the loan striker spot. Even Jeff Cunningham, in his terrific season, or half season, of two years ago, never made me feel confident about the striker spot. Mostly because FCD needed a second reliable striker after Cunningham, which never happened. Last year, when Cunningham fell off a little, Milton Rodriguez was brought in and played solid, if unspectacular, ball. Yet now Cunningham is gone and FCD is back to one proven player up top, a proven player who is 34.
I fully expect a strong season from Rodriguez, but one proven player up top still makes me question the potential success of this team a little. What happens if Rodriguez goes down? With the heave lad of games (CONCACAF Champions League, US Open Cup, Rio Grande Plate) who is going to spell Rodriguez? There is little chance he can hold up for 90 minutes a game for 40 games.
Which brings us to the other options, and as exciting as they are, they are quite young. Ruben Luna at 19 is the first choice back up. The fact FCD didn't bring in a prime of their career striker shows how much faith the FCD coaches have in him, faith I don't feel is misplaces. Early in the season Luna will be coming off the bench as a late game sub, perhaps making spots starts.
Make no mistake this kid has serious talent, he's Carols Ruiz with work ethic and great off-field habits. Can Luna challenge to take the starting spot this year? Yes I think he can. But can you count on him to for sure, 1005, to be healthy and score goals? No, at 19 there is a risk factor.
After Luna is the even greater unknown of Fabian Castillo. FCD appears to have paid a great deal of money for him, at least a MLS great deal of money. Enough money that Castillo is a DP for this season. The coaching staff must have great confidence. But he is 18 and he is an unknown quality. How will he adjust to MLS and life in the States? He's also small and he plays more as a slasher or winger. That's a postion that FCD doesn't really have in their system. Does his arrival mean FCD may look to a 4-4-2 shift at some point or does he end up at left mid as we discussed in the midfield section?
Then of course we have the two Generation adidas players who frankly have yet to pan out. Andrew Wiedeman has spent a lot of time at wide mid or outside back. One can't help but wonder if he's not really a striker anymore. Peri Marosevic is a striker, but hasn't really produced or progressed. Both players, and really Marosevic in particular, should relish the return of the reserve league. That man really benefit both of them. Marosevic, who is a goal poacher, needs to prove he can actually produce day to day and not just have a great game once in a blue moon.
Lastly at striker there is Jonathan Top, one of this season's new home grown signings. At this point we know very little about him, outside of the fact he's a US youth international. Top was the leading scorer for the FC Dallas Under-18 Development Academy team in 2010 with 8 goals in 10 matches in US Developmental League play. I have been told he's more or a withdrawn type striker rather than a Ruben Luna type target player, one that might really fit a 4-4-2. Being so new to the team and so young, it's unlikely Top will contribute much to the first team in 2011.
Forward Depth Chart
1. Milton Rodriguez
2. Ruben Luna
3. Fabian Castillo
4. Peri marosevic
5. Andrew Wiedeman
6. Jonathan Top