The title of this is easy to answer: Play Yordany Alvarez. Yeah, that's obvious. More interesting is looking at how we have fared without him this season, as Kyle Beckerman missed rather significant minutes through national team duty.
With Beckerman out once again — this time for yellow card accumulation — we're thrust into a situation in which he's absent once again. His likely replacement, Yordany Alvarez, has just returned from a suspension himself.
Since the beginning of 2013, Beckerman has missed a handful of matches. Let's go over those.
- March 23, 2-0 loss to FC Dallas
- April 20, 1-0 win over Chivas USA
- July 3, 2-2 draw with Philadelphia Union
- July 13, 3-0 win over FC Dallas
- July 20, 2-1 loss to Sporting KC
- July 27, 4-3 loss to New York Red Bulls
Of our 25 matches, our captain has played in 19 of them; of our 8 losses this season, Beckerman has played in 5 of them. While it's not meaningful statistically, it does lend some evidence that playing without Kyle Beckerman doesn't lead naturally to a loss, as his 75 percent of possible appearances corresponds neatly to the 62.5 percent of losses he's played in. Had he played in one more loss, he'd be at 75 percent — like I said, it's not statistically meaningful.
But surely it gives us reasons to not be quaking in our boots, doesn't it? Yordany Alvarez can be a dangerous entity for us and for the opposition, as evidenced by that recent three-match suspension for his poor tackle against New York Red Bulls.
But clearly we can't imply that playing without Kyle Beckerman doesn't make a difference, because quite obviously, it does.
Yordany Alvarez lacks the composed play of Beckerman, but he's still a passing machine. He averages 86 percent passing accuracy — Beckerman averages 82 percent. That surely has something to do with the types of passes attempted, surely — of Alvarez's passes, 31 precent are backward to Beckerman's 27 percent.
Further, Beckerman has been creating chances fairly consistently, and though he only has two assists, he's created 19 chances. Alvarez has created three chances, which, given he's played in roughly 40 percent as many minutes as the captain, shows a slight trend.
So what do we get? Alvarez is a more prototypical defensive midfielder. He'll lay the ball off well, he'll play a simple pass, and he'll step into fine positions. He'll even make a poor decision or two, and he'll make a regrettable tackle once or twice.
That's just what you get from Yordany Alvarez.