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Pairing Borchers: RSL's center back options each come with questions


It has been said, and I have to agree, that RSL is by far the deepest team in MLS. We have seen multiple lineup changes throughout the season and Real has proved itself to have the depth to compete even when its "stars" are missing. Beckerman, Rimando, and Saborio in particular have missed plenty of games due to international team call-ups as well as suspensions and slight injuries. During that time, RSL was definitely not at its strongest but did play well enough to still be considered one of the best clubs in the league.

One spot where I think RSL is not in the best situation heading into the playoffs is at the center back position. To be clear, there is no need to defend Borchers' pedigree. My concern is with the second center back spot. In MLS playoffs you need experience to beat the likes of the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders front lines. While Carlos Salcedo, Chris Schuler, Aaron Maund, Brandon McDonald, and Kwame Watson-Siriboe have done very well overall, each one comes with a liability down the stretch. The question is this: Who will pair up with Borchers in the last handful of games left in regular season (each one being massively meaningful) as well as the playoffs?

Salcedo is young and extremely promising, especially considering he is only 19 years old. His inexperience in MLS playoffs is a big question mark if he is the CB that Kreis chooses to pair with Borchers in the biggest games of the year. It's not that I don't think he could do well, but there is some uncertainty. Historically, Kreis has leaned towards giving veterans time in the most important matches. You want every advantage you can muster against players such as Keane and Dempsey and the like who have played on the world's stage. Experience matters.

Schuler as well all know has all the tools to be a national team player, but has been injured most of the last few seasons and is barely returning from injury now. Lagerwey and Kreis have both referred to him as one of RSL's veterans, but how quickly can he be thrown into the mix? Lagerwey stated on ESPN700 that "He's now fully under consideration for the first team" but there is no question that it will take him at least a few games to get back into full fitness and form. And what does the coaching staff risk by putting Salcedo down a slot or two in the depth chart? He may lose form and/or confidence by not seeing the minutes he has lately.

Maund has and McDonald have seen the least minutes in MLS play of the center backs. Both have shown very well with the little time they have been given and each is very athletic. McDonald specifically is a very physical player that can be intimidating in the back, but have either of the two seen enough time with the RSL defense to meld well in a playoff scenario?

Each center back outside of Borchers comes accompanied by some question marks. This will be the position to watch over the next four or five games as we approach the playoffs as whatever decision Kreis makes could very well affect just how far RSL can go in their quest for three trophies in 2013.