Come on, you knew we couldn't get away with at least one more of these before the off-season started in full, didn't you?
As of right now, the slate is clean. None of the players who are injured on this team seem unlikely to stay that way long enough to affect their status for 2014. That means that we can assume the team at full health right now, and that's not something we were able to do for much of the 2013 season. With this team at full health and with a season of watching these new-look Rapids under our belts, what's it look like depth-wise? It's time to call on our old friend to find out. For the uninitiated:
The Scott Palguta Memorial Depth Meter measures the amount of depth available on the team before we start to see horribly below average replacement players like Scott Palguta making the team. A Palguta Level of 1 is ideal, while a level 4 means we've hit peak Palguta!
I know a lot has been said about the defense, but this is the position that I think needs the most help this off-season. When you get past Deshorn Brown, Vicente Sanchez and Gabriel Torres, there's a lot of what-ifs in there going into 2014. That includes the guys who actually got the minutes: Buddle struggled with fitness for the entire season after an early injury and really only found his stride for three or four games. Atiba Harris had the same season he has every season, except he was given an exorbitant number of minutes to do so this time.
The bigger what-ifs are the guys who struggled to find the field. Will Jaime Castrillon make it to 2014? Can Tony Cascio put that sophomore slump behind him? Can Kamani Hill do something that actually catches Pareja's eye and gets him some minutes? Can Danny Mwanga do anything even remotely resembling a thing that a footballer should be doing?
Don't get me wrong, a starting three up top of Brown, Torres and Sanchez will likely prove lethal next year. However, there's so much turbulence behind them at the moment that I'm going to give this spot the worst rating of any of them this time around.
PALGUTA LEVEL - 3
This is still looking perfectly fine. Pareja has settled nicely into a 4-3-3 (which highly resembles a 4-2-3-1) formation, largely because he's got the perfect personnel to do so in the center of the park. Dillon Powers, Hendry Thomas, Nathan Sturgis and Martin Rivero are obviously the highlights of the package (I'm assuming in this post that Rivero re-signs) and they're bolstered by having a few guys in other positions who can step into the midfield easily. Vicente Sanchez at attacking central midfielder and Shane O'Neill in the back role are the two that jump immediately to mind, and they also have the effective if not flashy Nick Labrocca, who can play either of those midfield roles. Though there's probably room for another pure midfielder on the team, there's little room for concern in the center of the park.
PALGUTA LEVEL - 1
I'm not quite as worried as some other folks are about the defensive depth this season. Most of the guys they have in the back can play more than one position ( and the only real loss they might suffer will be from the likely retirement of Brian Mullan. Add in the fact that both Kory Kindle and Davy Armstrong should start getting their names mentioned as potential spot-men and it doesn't look all that bad in the back.
PALGUTA LEVEL - 2