Decisions, decisions. Jason Kreis has been faced with a fair few of those over the last 24 hours, and while I'm sure he's figured it out by now, he hasn't yet told us. This leaves us with a perfect opportunity to talk about them.
This one's pretty straightforward. Our central defensive pairing is, after today, a question we'll have plenty of deliberation about. Chris Schuler's coming back into his own after long injury layoffs, Brandon McDonald's experience might be starting to shine through, and Carlos Salcedo has been a proactive defender that plays perfectly into our system.
But tonight, it's Carlos Salcedo without a shadow of doubt. Brandon McDonald is ineligible, so he's out of consideration from the get-go - this is because he played in the US Open Cup this season with DC United already. Chris Schuler is very unlikely to play, as he's played 90 minutes once since May 11 - and that was only three days ago. He may be past the worst of his injury concerns, but taking a risk on not just his season but on his career is out of the question, I think. I admit, I could be wrong about this one.
Three players have essentially been picked already. Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy, and Javier Morales will all play. There's no doubt about that. Unless there are fitness concerns we're not aware of, those were always going to play. But unless we approach the match with a 4-3-3 or some such, we'll need somebody in the other outside-of-the-diamond spot; someone who will sit a bit more centrally.
Our two best options are Khari Stephenson and Luis Gil. Stephenson offers a bit more physicality and calmitude, while Gil offers a bit more creativity and system-fit. But Gil, for all his quality, just played 90 minutes in Vancouver and most of the Reserve League match the week before, so I'd not be surprised if he's on the bench. Stephenson would be a good addition in that he would play more centrally and try to keep the match under control, and if we have any nerves at all, that could be very useful.
Alvaro Saborio will start if he is able. There's no doubt about that. He's an essential figure in our squad; he's brilliant in the air, and he's great for our systemic play. He'll be important if D.C. opts to sit 11 very deep in defense. But who ought play alongside him? Joao Plata, Olmes Garcia, Robbie Findley?
Smart money might be on Plata, but he - like Gil - just came off the Vancouver win. Findley could be the right option, and he and Saborio combine well - as do Saborio and Plata, and indeed, Saborio and Garcia. Even Saborio-Sandoval didn't look bad, though it did look like we liked the width our other forwards bring to the fore.
I don't have a solution for this one. Whatever Jason Kreis decides is best, I'll support. Each forward presents their own particular set of attributes, and all of them bring us real advantages.