Injuries may hamper RSL ability to retain normal shape, force Cassar to adjust

Saturday looms: Toronto FC (read: Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe, et al) comes to town and we're sitting here with injuries piling up around us.

Tack on a concerted campaign from LA Galaxy to see Alvaro Saborio suspended for a shoulder barge on A.J. DeLaGarza after the ball was gone, and we could be left in a precarious position.

Let's talk about a worst-case scenario - one that doesn't involve new injuries, but one that does involve assuming injured players won't recover in time.

Surprisingly, everything would be pretty peachy with our back line and midfield. There don't seem to be any new injuries of note, so we can breathe slightly easier. But when we hop up to our forward line, it gets difficult. If we assume Saborio is out, we're left with two strikers: Olmes Garcia and the unproven Benji Lopez. Joao Plata is out with a hamstring injury, Devon Sandoval is still recovering from his broken foot, and Robbie Findley needs more time to get back to fitness after his offseason surgery.

Now, we have two distinct options here. We can throw Lopez into the fire and see what comes out, or we can give him a spot on the bench and think about playing him later in the match. But if we don't play him from the outset, we're going to have to adjust tactically. What are our best options?

If we are to keep our same approach in the attack, we might look at playing one of our midfielders as a forward. I might advocate for the moving of Luis Gil into that spot, given that's one of the places he first looked good for us. It is clearly not his best position, but his speed, ability with the ball at his feet, and excitement might make him a perfect foil to Olmes Garcia. Additionally, he could add a new tactical shift by dropping into the midfield to influence play, where he is more comfortable.

No other fit midfielder really fits the bill, though.

Maybe our best option would be to move to a five-midfielder set-up. It would enable us to play with a little more width, and we're well-stocked at midfield, too. Throw Luis Gil on the left flank, Luke Mulholland on the right flank, and send Javier Morales up the center. We're left without a diamond - that's a pentagon, of course - but maybe it does what we need.

We could, alternately, play in a striker less system by taking the diamond midfield, retaining it, and giving two wide attacking midfielders free reign. The key here again seems to be Luis Gil.

It's fascinating: Luis Gil has suddenly become a very important player for us if we're to have any sort of tactical flexibility. Who would have predicted that?

Of course, maybe Saborio will indeed be available, and maybe our injured players will suddenly recover. One can hope.

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