Dave Clark from Sounder at Heart asked me recently to give him my thoughts on who would be starting for the Rapids this Sunday against Seattle, and in what formation. Obviously Gary Smith has made it clear he wants to switch it up to the 4-4-2 that netted the Rapids their goal late in the game against the Wizards, but the line-up threw me a bit. Who will be starting?
The forwards were easy, Casey and Cummings. The defense was also fairly easy, with Earls, Moor, Wynne and Kimura being the obvious selections. Palguta could easily take Earls' position as he did last game, but I happen to be a fan of Earls and think Palguta had a forgettable outing against KC so I gave Danny the nod. The real question lies in the four men we'll see in the midfield.
Back in the 5-4-1 formation that the Rapids had been using so far this season, Omar Cummings was used often as a midfielder on the wing. Most likely he will be moving up to the second forward position along with Conor Casey, removing him from the conversation. Now, the way I see it there are three midfielders who have almost no chance of being left out of the starting line-up. The captain Pablo Mastroeni, all star Jeff Larentowicz and the third-leading goal scorer on the team, - along with being tied for having the most assists - Mehdi Ballouchy. There's a few people I think could start in the left midfield spot - the one I left open on my roster - including and mostly limited to:
Claudio Lopez - I would love to see Lopez starting. He has been a fantastic presence for the Rapids offense since returning from injury every time he has stepped onto the field. Unfortunately, I see his role on the team being a role-playing substitute for the most part so I doubt he will start this one.
Wells Thompson - Good wide midfielder, can do it all, even showed a little goal-scoring ability earlier this season when he netted two against KC in an open cup qualifier.
Colin Clark - Had a horrible game against KC, but at the very least was trying to get some offensive spark going. Might start if Smith believes in giving second chances. (heheh)
Jamie Smith - Underrated midfield presence, in my opinion. Very good with the ball at his feet, can make plays happen as well. Rarely shoots himself, which leads to some assists but no goals. Might fit well with the two men forward philosophy.
Personally, I penciled in Wells Thompson to my starting XI for Dave. I wouldn't be surprised to see any of the names on that list starting on Sunday though.