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Winning Eleven: RSL vs. FC Dallas

How will RSL line up? Let’s speculate.

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Winning Eleven is a series looking at a potential lineup for the upcoming match and making some wild, ridiculous and not-very-good predictions.

Goalkeeper

  • Likely pick: Andrew Putna — I think he’ll continue in his starting role.
  • My pick: David Ochoa — I do think there’s a non-zero chance we see Ochoa, and I, for one, am completely ready.

Defense

  • Likely picks: Aaron Herrera, Nedum Onuoha, Justen Glad, Donny Toia
  • My picks: See “Defense, Likely Picks”

Midfield

  • Likely picks: Pablo Ruiz, Everton Luiz, Albert Rusnak
  • My Picks: Pablo Ruiz, Everton Luiz, Albert Rusnak

No need to change here. Everton Luiz is listed as available, but he’s gone in and out of availability for quite a while, so, uh, I guess maybe we shouldn’t plan on him being there. With that in mind, here’s another option.

It is also worth a contingency pick for Albert Rusnak — he’s apparently going to be available mere hours before the match starts after a ten-day quarantine (or something like that) — so he’s expected to play. That said, there are so many unknowns around this that I’ll make a contingency pick there, too.

  • Contingency picks: Kyle Beckerman, Pablo Ruiz, Justin Portillo, Damir Kreilach
  • Contingency with Rusnak and not Luiz: Kyle Beckerman, Pablo Ruiz, Damir Kreilach, Albert Rusnak
  • Contingency with Luiz and not Rusnak: Kyle Beckerman, Pablo Ruiz, Everton Luiz, Damir Kreilach

Alright, so my contingency pick has Kreilach dropping back into the 10 spot, which means we’d play with two forwards. We’ve tried the four-man midfield before in a bit of a diamond, but it had Giuseppe Rossi at the point (he, of course, is still unavailable through injury) and three defensive midfielders.

Beckerman and Portillo here are both defensive players, and Ruiz has a good defensive mind to him. But this would be a safe-passing midfield, with players who typically hit the high 80s or lower 90s in passing percentages. If we can move up through the center of the park, then play wingers in with some neat passing, it could be successful for us.

That said, I don’t think that works without a goalkeeper that can pass the ball out of the back. Yes, apparently Andrew Putna has a cannon for a leg, but from the midfield forward, this would have us a bit short (save Damir Kreilach, who is most definitely not short.) Sure, it could be made to work with a long ball specialist, but is it a good idea? I don’t think so.

Attack

  • Likely picks: Justin Meram, Damir Kreilach, Corey Baird
  • My picks: Jeizon Ramirez, Damir Kreilach, Corey Baird
  • Contingency pick: Douglas Martinez, Corey Baird

The contingency here sees Kreilach drop back, with Douglas Martinez and Corey Baird playing the role of strikers in some fashion. I suspect both are better as wingers, but they’re also both talented players who are capable of showing it in spurts. An attack consisting of those two only works if there are players who can consistently perform behind them, and I think the midfield above is that option.

Substitutes

I’m going to try to do the substitutes section a little differently this time around, so bear with me — and of course, let me know what you think. I’ll break them into five distinct sections, knowing of course that there is a wide degree of variability there.

Halftime, if we’re leading or drawing

  • Likely picks: None
  • My picks: If we start Kyle Beckerman, and I think there’s a non-zero chance of that, halftime is the right time for him to come off for another player. Maybe Rusnak, Luiz or Portillo, depending on who’s available and who’s starting? Whoever it is, I’d drop Ruiz back into the deepest spot.

60th minute, if we’re leading or drawing

  • Likely picks: None
  • My picks:
    Jeizon Ramirez for Corey Baird — this is assuming that Ramirez will not start
    Maikel Chang for Justin Meram — Chang has done a great deal for us this season, and I would like to see him play, but I do think he’s behind Meram and Baird in the rotation. I could well be wrong. Regardless, Meram does a lot of defensive work, and he tends to tire out about this time.

60th minute, if we’re losing

  • Likely picks: None
  • My picks: Maikel Chang for a midfielder, pushing a winger as a forward in a 4-1-3-2 of sorts.

Late (75-plus), if we’re leading

  • Likely picks: Jeizon Ramirez for Justin Meram
  • My picks: Nick Besler for a winger — let’s change our shape radically if we’re ahead here. Crowd the midfield, force the play wide. I don’t know. It’s probably a bad idea.

Late (75-plus), if we’re losing or drawing

  • Likely picks: Jeizon Ramirez for Corey Baird
  • My picks: Marcelo Silva for Donny Toia — go purely three at the back, push Aaron Herrera forward, and keep a center back forward at all times possible