I-N-C-O-N-S-I-S-T-E-N-T! If one word could be used to describe the Rapids this year this would be it. For fans this has to be one of the most frustrating seasons ever. With wins coming few and far between right now consistency is what fans are looking for. We understand that losses will happen, but when a team cannot seem to put more than two quality halves together something is wrong.
Last week I thought that consistency would be on the rise with players coming back from injury. But even after getting our injured players back we haven’t seen a consistent starting lineup. I don’t even want to think about the ridiculousness that was the lineup on Saturday night (4-1-4-1) leaving Conor Casey up front where he was free to be marked by multiple players.
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Developing chemistry will lead to more consistent play from our boys and should in turn lead to more wins. And the only way I see to build that chemistry is to have a more consistent lineup. I understand that there are times when certain players are stronger against certain teams but when every game there seems to be new players starting in a new lineup the chemistry cannot develop.
When Casey and Omar Cummings came back from injury I was hoping to see them starting up top together since they have played so well together for so long. And after a 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps; Oscar Pareja decided to change things up and go with the ridiculous 4-1-4-1 lineup that we saw against the Seattle Sounders. Pareja’s lineup juggling is costing our boys. How can we expect good solid play when the starting XI is never the same? The loss to the Whitecaps was due to a lapse in judgment on the part of the defense. It was a solid game except for that one mistake. But even though we pounded the goal, we still could not recover.
Pareja has done a good job of getting young players that will eventually be able to provide solid play. His biggest mistake is giving them too much playing time right now. I’ll play coach, and suggest that Jamie Smith should be starting over Jaime Castrillon, Cummings and Casey should be starting together up top, and now that Marvell Wynne is back and mostly healthy our starting lineup should start to look more consistent (that is if Pareja can recognize the weaknesses of certain players…looking at you Castrillon)
This is the lineup that should start every game (in my coaching opinion) Matt Pickens, Hunter Freeman, Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne, Luis Zapata, Brian Mullan, Jeff Larentowicz, Martin Rivero, Jaime Smith, Omar Cummings, and Conor Casey. Those starters give the Rapids the best chance to win.
Defensively Freeman, Moor, Wynne, and Zapata are our top guys. The only other option we would have at this moment would be to move Moor to the wing, but that would mean Scott Palguta or Tyrone Marshall would need to start (and none of us really want that). At midfield the only change I would make would to swap Smith in for Castrillon. Castrillon is not able to create chances where as Smith is able to create chances for himself as well as for others. At striker Cummings and Casey are the only logical choice to start up top. They have the chemistry that it takes to play up top together; they feed off each other and have done so years past. Kamani Hill and Tony Cascio will probably develop in to solid players, but right now they are too young and do not have the chemistry necessary for consistency to develop.
With this starting XI the Rapids should start to move up the table and become more competitive this season.