Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Orange ya glad you're not Oliver Luck?

With Joseph Ngwenya now heading to Austria and rumors that Nate Jaqua is trying to join him, the Internet (or at least the MLS corners of it) are abuzz with opinions on the problems Dynamo are going to have scoring goals in 2008. And while the problems are real ones, a sober analysis says not to sound the warning sirens just, just yet.

Let's begin by looking at this, like Gene Kranz, from a position of status. What do we have on Spaceship Dynamo that's good? Well, let's start with the four areas:

Goalkeeping: Pat Onstad just put in the best season ever in the history of MLS in terms of goals against. However, he is right now the oldest player in MLS and the only keeper on the roster. Clearly, Dynamo need a keeper to back up the Canadian. Free agent (formerly Chicago Fire No. 1) Matt Pickens is available. Pickens is on trial right now with Norwich City in England, but if that doesn't work out, he would be a great and attractive option. Some problems are that Pickens is a No. 1 keeper and might not want to be a backup. With Dynamo's well-documented fixture congestion problem (Pan-Pacifics, CONCACAF Champions Cup and Champions League, SuperLiga, U.S. Open Cup and MLS), that might not be a problem as there will be plenty of playing time. Still, you can see why a definite no. 1 job elsewhere might be more attractive for him.

Another option is a trade with the Earthquakes for Preston "Mountain Man" Burpo. Though this is where Brad Guzan's possible move to Celtic could complicate matters. If Guzan heads to the Hoops, las chivitas will be without a keeper and in dire straits. Burpo was the Goatboys' No. 2 until the expansion draft made him the Quakes 3.0's No. 1. Now San Jose went and acquired Joe Cannon and he's back to No. 2. I know it's heresy to suggest this, but, how about Craig Waibel to San Jose fulfilling a player/coach role over there for Burpo? I hate losing Waibelinho, but you don't get value unless you trade value and you can't pick Alexi Lalas' pocket every single day.

Back line: Right now, Waibelinho, Patrick Ianni, Eddie Robinson, Bobby Boswell and Captain Wademerica Barrett make up the back, with Richard Mulrooney also being able to fill in. If Ramiro Corrales, who was on the Quakes 2.0's 2001 and 2003 Cup winners, comes back to MLS (and we own his rights after all) from SK Brann in Norway, we have the makings of once again the best back line in the league. (Corrales did tell the Houston Chronicle: “I’m married now, and my wife is not too happy there, I think it’s time to come back.” Sra. Corrales may just be on my new list of favorite people if this happens.) This could be very attractive for both Pickens and Burpo. Also, Corrales' possible move back here makes someone available to leave via trade and sorry, but all signs point to that guy being Waibel. Waibel for Burpo looks better and better the more you think about it. One possible other option, Corrales signs and he's dealt for Burpo. I don't like that one as much, but I'll take it.

Midfield: Again, Dynamo has easily the deepest midfield in the league. Mulrooney, Clark, Mullan, Davis, Holden, De Rosario, Chris Wondolowski, Ashe, who am I missing? Not everyone can start, but it does lead to some interesting combinations. If I had to absolutely, positively trade someone, it would be Ashe, but the deal would have to be great to let go of anyone else.

Forward: Easily the most troublesome point, though not as troublesome as some would suggest. Ching and Jaqua, possibly Chris Wondolowski and, perhaps the perfect solution, De Rosario. Bernardo Fallas in his blog at the Chron posits the intriguing thought of putting DDR back up front to pair with Ching and he guesses at the unlikelihood of Jaqua jumping to Europe.

Pairing Chingy and DeRo is a great idea and will probably happen at some point, but it does not completely address the problems at hand. It is often said about short players who are great that they "are short, but play large." If anything, Jaqua frequently is large, but plays short. How could someone who is that tall (6-3!) lose so many high balls? When he started to play better later in the season, he was finally winning those things, but if he reverts back to his customary form, he is average at best. That being said, the big guy serves the team better on the field than coming off the bench as he doesn't really contribute the speed you'd be looking for in a mid-game sub. So with Jaqua there, DeRo goes back to attacking mid.

Another problem is that you can really only expect that Ching, unless his body suddenly decides to get less injury-prone this season, will play about 60-65 percent of the fixtures. So back up top goes De Ro when Ching is out to pair with the mobility challenged Jaqua. I know, I don't like that pairing either. Another wildcard that Fallas mentioned is that when the Austrian season is over (end of April), it's highly possible that SK Austria will be relegated and Ngwenya released. Dynamo have his rights and he might just be back here before the season is five games old, which, ironically, was how old the season was last year when he came here.

However, as Dynamo prez Oliver Luck said, we cannot go into the season with this roster. Additions will be made, probably in the next 2-3 weeks, so stay tuned.

Options I think are the least likely to happen: Adding a DP slot; a high profile international signing; Jaqua going to Europe.

Options I think are most likely to happen: Trade for a back-up keeper, which is THE most critical need; Corrales coming here; De Rosario moving to forward for at least 40 percent of games this year.

1 comment:

playtherapy said...

I luvs Waibel- Mister Cooool too but given his age and his recurrent ankle problems, how tradeable is he? I agree the player-coach idea enhances his value aside from it being a great fit for him.