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Midfield rotation against Houston Dynamo necessary with injury, fatigue concerns


With Kyle Beckerman a reported "50-50", Yordany Alvarez remaining suspended by MLS Disciplinary Committee decision, and Javier Morales in doubt with an adductor injury, Jason Kreis could be forced to roll out a rather untested midfield for Saturday's match against Houston Dynamo.

We're forced to address one pressing concern: Who plays as a defensive midfielder? Operating under the assumption that Kyle Beckerman will indeed be out for the match, there's only one clear option: Ned Grabavoy. The MLS veteran has been deployed as the anchor man, particularly during the pre-Yordany Alvarez days, and he fared acceptably if not spectacularly. But it's interesting that on Wednesday, he was our midfield attacking outlet. If he does play deep, it'll mean that in one week, he played three different positions in the midfield. Remarkable.

Grabavoy's skill set lends itself to a different style of approach than might seem intuitive with Beckerman, but in reality, there's not much substantial to change. Through most of this season, Beckerman's rarely just sat at the anchor point; instead, the midfield rotates and pivots, with RSL's captain moving into high and wide positions at times; the two goals he created in the last week are good evidence of that. As such, one would expect Grabavoy to remain as mobile as ever, and there's little reason to suspect he'll stop his quality runs into the box that have saw him score five goals already this season.

The questions then turn to the rest of the midfield: In the side-of-the-diamond spots, Sebastian Velasquez could well be in line for a start, but Jason Kreis might take a more conservative bent and look at someone like Cole Grossman, who hasn't played but one match this season for Real Salt Lake. He's made some appearances on the bench in recent weeks, suggesting he could be called upon if needed. Khari Stephenson seems almost a lock to start on the opposite side of the diamond, looking more than of a sufficient quality against opposition in recent weeks despite coming off the bench in his last three MLS matches.

That leaves only the top of the diamond spot left, and should Morales be uninvolved as I suspect, Luis Gil could step in. Interestingly, he ceded that position to Ned Grabavoy on Wednesday, but if Grabavoy does indeed drop to the defensive spot, the opening emerges. Of course, someone like Sebastian Velasquez could be an option: Gil has surely not lacked in playing time this season, and even he could use a rest in spite of his young age (or perhaps because of.)

Questions about who starts in the midfield won't be answered until tomorrow evening, but surely Jason Kreis will make changes in a bid to stave off fatigue - let alone injury.