I can breathe again. I’m really enjoying it actually. It seems like such a little thing when you can do it without much effort. When it’s a problem, well, it’s really a problem. Anyway, I think I’m actually going to live, which is relief to many (although a downer to some, I’m sure).
I start with a bit of news that I know sunshine doesn’t care about, but is of passing interest to me. It appears that Kris Boyd has signed on with Kilmarnock in the SPL. I know that many of you out there will just be glad to have got shot of the guy, but I feel a certain human sympathy for the guy. Granted, I feel this more so now that he’s off our payroll. I do think that he can provide value for money for Kilmarnock. Their style is much more likely to suit him. More likely than ours was, that is. Really, we didn’t have a style.
In other news about players who won’t be suiting up for us this season, Nigel Reo-Coker has signed for Vancouver. As sunshine adverted to yesterday, we had right of first refusal on the guy, having discovered him. According to CP, we never really had an interesting signing him. sunshine really ran the guy down in his column, I think partly because of his association with Martin O’Neill, for whom sunshine has little regard. I tend to agree that moving his rights along for a couple of superdraft picks was a good bit of business. sunshine is right that he never lived up to the billing in terms of his potential. He’s not the biggest man in this business and he never quite seemed to be able to handle the sort of punishment that the EPL deals out up and down the line, but especially to those of smaller stature. I think the main reason that we weren’t really interested in him is that he doesn’t really do anything in central midfield that Valeri or Chará doesn’t do better, while the latter both are younger and less likely to crumple up like a gum wrapper at the first heavy contact. According to some press out of Vancouver, they might play him at right back. Given a choice between Reo-Coker and Ryan Miller at that spot, I think I’d go for that latter on the basis of what I’ve seen so far this preseason.
Tonight we play the final match of our preseason tournament against AIK. They are a decent side in the Allsvenskan. They haven’t really played terribly well in the tournament so far, managing only a couple of scoreless draws. The interesting questions about this match mostly surround who is going to play for us. I would think that they will put out something that pretty closely approximates a starting 11, unlike the other night against Dallas. If I had to guess, I would expect to see a 4-3-3, with Nagbe, Ryan Johnson, and Alhassan up top, with Will Johnson, Diego Valeri, and Diego Chará in midfield. The back four has been unsettled and will continue to be. Mosquera picked up a knock against Dallas and will apparently miss this match, although not a whole lot of time after that. I think that Horst picked up some kind of niggle down south and so he might be out of frame as well. The likely suspects would seem to be Jean-Baptiste, Danso, and Tucker-Gangnes. JB has been getting a good hard look so far, and I would expect that to continue. The obvious partner for him would be Danso, just to have a bit of experience on the pitch.
We’ve been quite unsettled in defense so far this preseason, and that seems set to continue in this match. It’s a bit unfortunate that not everyone is fit because this is something that we very much need to get sorted in short order. Attacking football is something that, to a certain extent, can be organized on the fly. This is not so much the case in defense. For reasons that are probably obvious to anyone who is taking the time to read this, it is essential that a defensive line plays as a unit and the each knows what the others are going to do in any given situation. At best, we are likely to have only one player out in the back four who was a even close to a regular figure last year. JB has looked a lot more like a viable regular than he did in his appearances last season, although his performance in the match against the Quakes will not provide many candidates for his highlight reel. I really liked Danso last year, but he provided just about the same thing that Horst did, while the latter worked better with Mosquera. That was the pairing the worked best, and it might have worked better if we’d managed to get more consistent play from our fullbacks. It’s worrisome that Mosquera has looked so mediocre so far this term. I’ve seen some argue that he doesn’t have the skills to play in the way that Porter’s system demands. I haven’t seen things that would necessarily convince me that that was the case. On the other hand, he has really looked out of sorts thus far and I don’t think that it’s absurd to suggest that the new system has something to do with this. The question comes down to this: does he have what it takes in terms of skills to adjust in the long term? To my mind he’s the most physically gifted of our center backs, and he’s young, so you’d think that he’d be as likely to be able to adjust as at any point in his career. In any case, we won’t be sorting this out tonight.
If I had to guess, I would think that when the season starts the first three choices at center half are going to be Horst, JB, and Tucker-Gangnes. I know the rookie is a bold guess, but he’s got a lot to recommend him physically and he’s a guy who seems to be comfortable playing within his limits.
Ok, that’s all for now. But just to give people a heads up, I’ll be posting some stuff on Farcebook in the hour or so leading up to kickoff. Generally I’m only going to be doing this for road matches this year, but I thought I’d do it tonight just for the hell of it. See you later then.