We've finally come to some sort of conclusion (albeit not one set in stone) about who ought play through most of the squad on any given matchday. But what questions remain?
In defense: Carlos Salcedo seems a natural partner for Nat Borchers, and there's been plenty of evidence for that. I mean, we can't take everything from it, but Carlos (or as he is sometimes effectively known, Charlie Salsa) has been a force at the back. Of course, saying he's a force doesn't really say much of anything at all, but he's still yet to lose a match with Real Salt Lake.
Importantly, he steps into midfield without hesitation, which — whether he ought to or not at any given instance — is an immensely positive quality. What kills defenders is not necessarily poor decision making, though that's problematic itself, but hesitation and unpredictability. Young master Salcedo is incredible in that regard. He's got some way to go yet, but it's difficult to dispute that he's been battling as hard as anyone for that spot.
In midfield: The big question we all have: Who is the best partner for the midfield triumvirate of Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy and Javier Morales? We are surely deeper than last year, but the automatic decisions have dissipated. Jason Kreis has been willing to roll out formations with three midfielders — something that would've been unthinkable a year ago. But given our best formation is still the 4-4-2 with a diamond in the midfield, we're stuck with the difficult decision.
The most oft-used option has been Luis Gil, and by and large, he's been solid, particularly when one considers his still-somewhat-tender age. He's played in 20 of the 24 matches (starting 16 of those), despite being heavily involved with the U.S. U-20s. The next option would seem to be one of Khari Stephenson and Sebastian Velasquez, with the Jamaicans physical qualities sometimes winning out; Velasquez's sprightly approach is sometimes a determining factor in its own right. It surely is a case of picking the right approach for the match at hand.
At forward: This is why Jason Kreis earns the big bucks, right? Alvaro Saborio is undoubtedly one of the first names on the team sheet. Rightly so: He's a huge piece of our tactical approach and he scores goals by the bucketload. There's no complaint about him. But who ought start alongside him? We have an unusual wealth of options: Robbie Findley seems to be the first option, and he provides much tactically. But the more exciting Olmes Garcia and Joao Plata are both solid options, and they frequently make appearances from the bench.
But for my money, starting Robbie Findley is the right option. Even though he may stop his runs a little early at times, his understanding tactically within the system — playing as essentially a right-sided winger in a lopsided layout — brings a certain solidity to our side. Too often we look at the forward as a purely attacking player, but the truth is anything but. Saborio and Findley are incredible pieces in a team defensive outlook.