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Who steps in for Luis Gil? Midfield absence opens a spot for one of four

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

With Luis Gil in doubt for Saturday's match against Philadelphia Union with what now seems to be a hamstring injury, we'll be reshuffling the midfield a little.

Thus far, he's been the right-sided midfielder in the diamond, and while he struggled during our last match against Sporting KC, he's been important in building play. Now, he obviously floats around a bit, as does Ned Grabavoy, and that's important when we're considering his replacement, too.

We have two big options in place: The first, Luke Mulholland, has been good on both sides of the ball and an able worker. However, he's not seemed 90-minutes fit, so we'd have to play him with an eye toward substitution in the second half. This is never an optimal place to be. The second, Sebastian Velasquez, is only just returning from an injury layoff and hasn't played any minutes this season. That's more problematic when we're looking for a starter.

The scales seem tipped toward Mulholland. He's fit pretty neatly into our system, so there's not a big tactical concern playing him in this match. This gives Velasquez an opportunity to play late in the match, and his ability to retain possession could be an important factor.

We do have two other options that could sneak into consideration: Cole Grossman and John Stertzer. Grossman provides a safe, defensive-minded option; this frees Grabavoy to play further up the pitch. Stertzer presents more of an unknown, but he's well-rated by the coaching staff (at least publicly, and honestly, who wouldn't rate their players publicly?) and has looked good when not injured. Either could play in Gil's spot sufficiently.

A look at the opposition

Against Chicago Fire, very little action took place in their upper-left quadrant - a few throw-ins, a corner, a pass or three, but not much else. Is there a tactical reason for this, or a weak point? It's difficult to say, but it's not something that's appeared in their other matches. During that match, they also conceded an outstanding 14 fouls. Fun, right?

The implication here is that there will be opportunities from set pieces. Against Chicago, those fouls were in deep positions and, in one case, led to a penalty. Is this something we can look at as a weakness? I mean, why not, right?

The implication might also be that left back Fabinho, who was substituted at the half during the Union's last match, is responsible for the attack down the left; without him in the side, there wasn't a lot of movement there. Perhaps Chicago Fire used Lovel Palmer in a more reserved role at right back to counter options down the left, too - it's just hard to say.