There are still about ten or so days before the team hops on a plane (or school bus) to Bradenton, Florida for spring training at IMG Academy, and a few more interesting roster things may happen by then. That said, at this point Louisville City has 22 players on the roster, and we might be able to figure out what a starting eleven looks like.
- Goalkeepers: Scott Goodwin, Greg Ranjitsingh
- Defenders: Conor Shanosky, Tarek Morad, Sean Reynolds, Enrique Montano, Kevin Cosette, Ben Newnam, George Davis IV
- Midfielders: Guy Abend, Aodhan Quinn, Kadeem Dacres, Magnus Rasmussen, Niall McCabe, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Paolo DelPiccolo
- Forwards: Matt Fondy (we hope), Nate Polak, Cameron Lancaster, Ilija Ilic, Chandler Hoffman, Andrew Lubahn
Before we even start, I’ll be a little surprised if Cuatro plays fullback or Kaye plays in midfield, but I’m just an idiot with a WordPress account so what do I know.
Anyway, last season seemed to bear out that James O’Connor likes to play 4 in the back, two defensive mids, three attacking mids, and a lone striker, with the two wide midfielders joining the striker to convert the formation into a 4-3-3 at times. If we assume that’s how he wants to deploy this roster, then we can more or less assume that a starting lineup might look like this:
Montano – Shanosky – Morad – Newnam
Abend – Quinn
Dacres – Rasmussen – McCabe
Not too dissimilar from what we saw last season, right? However, that might not be the best use of the talent we have at our disposal. Here’s why: City plays 14 games at Slugger Field, which is a fairly compressed surface from a depth standpoint. While in a 4-3-3 there’s a chance you could get too spread out, Slugger doesn’t really lend itself to that possibility because it’s so short. In an ideal world, on that field, you’d almost rather play a single holding midfielder at the back, two guys on either side to protect the back four but also capable of moving the ball up the field on the wings, and two or three guys up top that can receive the ball, turn, and shoot. This is just me, idiot with a blog, but a really good 4-3-3 with what we have at our disposal might look like this:
Montano – Shanosky – Morad – Newnam
Hoffman Fondy Rasmussen
You could probably put any of the forward three in any of those spots and they’d probably work okay. Cuatro can slot in at fullback or one of the back three midfield slots, and I think Andrew Lubahn can fill any of the forward five roles, or even fullback. We have no idea what Lancaster can do, but he’d probably be one of the forward three, as would Ilic or Polak if either could just get his finishing down. Let’s not forget, too, that Fondy’s future at Louisville City is still very much in the air. I like to think Chandler Hoffman could fill his shoes, but that may have an effect on how the rest of the team is deployed.
Say Fondy’s off to Jacksonville. In a 4-2-3-1 like we saw first, you just change out Hoffman for Fondy and maybe not much changes. But in a 4-3-3, Hoffman probably becomes the central striker, and you can use any one of Rasmussen, Lancaster (an admitted unknown quantity), Polak, Ilic, McCabe, Dacres or even Lubahn on either side of him. Ok, Dacres is all right side all the time, but otherwise this works.
When you take a step back and look at it, James O’Connor has really built a versatile roster with attacking play in mind. He could set out a group in any number of roles or formations with this group and probably have success. Many of his offseason signings are guys that I like to call “plug and play” midfielders, guys that can play in four or five spots on the field comfortably. That means O’Connor has a lot of options not only in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, but even within those kinds for formations he can make changes that have big impacts on how the team
I still personally wish we had another centerback on the roster, and maybe that’s coming, but options are myriad in terms of the front six. Either way, this is going to be an exciting team to watch once the ball drops.
COME ON, CITY