Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Stacking The Deck

To say that the Revs' best days are behind them may be a bit hash. However, with several key players looking to ply their trades elsewhere, and the lack of talent coming in, I'm looking at the upcoming season more pessimisticly than the previous few.

The loss of Clint Dempsey is inevitable. He didn't play a ton of the games with the team last year with the world cup and suspensions. Several players stepped up in his absence, especially Andy Dorman. If Deuce were the only player we were losing, I'd feel OK. Stevie Nicol has shown his ability to draft fairly well, last year being a rotten exception. Fresh draftees, Willie Simms, and a pair of promising young internationals could provide a pool of players to draw from to replace Dempsey and aging starters like Ralston, Heaps, and Franchino.

The problem is we may be losing a lot more than Clint Dempsey. Rumors of Shalrie Joseph signing with Celtic, Noonan and Twellman looking for more pay, and Dorman yet to sign an extension could decimate our above average MLS side. There are no guarantees in the player pool I spoke of previously. Relying on them to fill the shoes of our nucleus is folly.

Miguel Gonzalez and Arsene Oka may see some action this year, but we have no idea if they can be full-time starters. Kyle Brown proved unable to pass the ball to teammates and Willie Brown showed he wasn't quite ready, save the USOC match in Rochester where he added much needed speed to a tired squad. If we lose Twellman and/or Noonan, their potential replacements leave a big question mark.

The recently resigned Hernandez and Jeff "Giner Bonito" Larentowicz will be able to fill Joseph's shoes. However, no one controlled games like Shalrie did over the past two seasons. Just ask DC fans why we beat them in the semi-finals. The issue I have is Joseph gave his fellow DM the freedom to get forward. I'm not sure if our two remaining DM's have the skills to control the game both offensively and defensively. Also, lacking a true attacking midfielder infront of them will hurt the duo.

Left Midfield still remains a weak area for the team. Joey Franchino gave a lot of heart to that position. However, his lack of skill and scoring threat allowed teams to overplay our right side. Kano Smith could become a full-time starter. He's healthy over the offseason for the first time. Hopefully, he's working on his individual skills. A full preseason camp could do wonders. James Reily could also move up. Leonard Marshall is coming back after a year's absense. The Revs essentially have four average options at that position. Let's hope the competition brings out the best in them.

There are also depth issues. We should have learned a lesson from last season. Injuries took us out of the Supporters Sheild race early and our reserve team was awful. Even if our current players step up, the fact still remains that we are an above average club that hasn't won a trophy. We still need an impact player that will shake things up. Other teams have figured us out, and that's with Dempsey. Losing Clint's unpredictabilty makes us easy to defend.

I have no idea who the team is looking at. I'm usually against MLS trades because they usually mess up team chemistry. Alexi Lalas has destroyed two teams attempting to trade his way to victory. If there is a year the Revs should look at trading, it's this year. With the new DP rule, th Revs should look at trading theirs for a proven MLS starter. They should also consider trading away some allocation space, which they never seem to use, for a player like Columbus's Virtuoso. He tore through our defense late last year and is left footed.

Either way, the Revs need to make some sort of move. Maybe they are waiting for the transfer window to open. Maybe they are waiting or the draft. Who knows? I sure hope they have a plan.