It seems like a simple question:
The Rapids have been running a 4-2-3-1 in the Pablo Mastroeni era and while you can debate whether it has been successful or not (his record would argue it has not been successful) he has always been consistent in his approach. But to run that 4-2-3-1 you need a target forward that is able to hold the ball up (such as the injured Kevin Doyle). Now with Kevin Doyle injured for a bit there are a couple of questions that the Rapids should be asking themselves:
1) Who should replace Doyle while he is out in a 4-2-3-1 formation?
2) Should the Rapids stick to that formation or move to something different?
We ran a poll on Sunday asking the question as to who should replace Doyle up front and so far Shkelzen Gashi and Luis Solignac seem to be in the lead. And while that is all good and stuff, I actually think a formation change is the way to go for the Rapids. I debated a couple of options and came down to two: the 4-1-3-2 or the 4-4-2. And for my money I went boring and went with a 4-4-2:
First off: this will never happen.
Secondly: this will never happen.
Thirdly: here is my rational--
Gashi and Marco Pappa look like they will be the creative engines that make this team run. Having them on the wing will allow those two players to bring the ball up the field and find the two (2!) strikers in the middle:
Luis Solignac and Conor Doyle.
AND you can have Powers playing a bit deeper which should benefit his game.
But why Solignac and Conor Doyle? Why not Dominique Badji? Or stick with the single forward (in the 4-2-3-1)
Honestly, I am not completely comfortable with Badji as a lone striker.
And I think that Solignac would benefit with a strike partner.
And with Gashi and Pappa feeding the ball to them I believe this would make the team more dynamic and utilize the width of the pitch. The Rapids have had a bad habit of bring the ball straight up the field and this makes them predictable. It's pretty easy to stop the Rapids attack: clog the midfield and force them into uncomfortable situations and that situation is out wide.
A 4-4-2 could/should fix that.
But again, why Solignac and Doyle. Solignac has had a rough go since his arrival in Colorado, but I believe that part of the problem stems from being played out of position and being left on an island. Having someone up there with him would help. And with Conor Doyle you have a young, fast and physical player who has a great deal of potential but needs to play. This should be his opportunity.
Again, I do not believe this will happen. If I had to hazard a guess, Mastroeni goes with this lineup:
Like so many things with the Rapids, they need to get this decision right. They have brought in some big names with the likes of Jermaine Jones, Tim Howard, Gashi, Pappa, etc...but they need to get results. In the brutal Western Conference the Rapids are eighth in the table (based on points per game because of the uneven amount of games played) and they need to get results. In April they play Toronto FC, New York Red Bulls and Seattle Sounders at home and play at Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, and Montreal Impact. It may only be the second month of the season, but if the Rapids have a horrible April they could be behind the Eight Ball before the season really gets cranking.
So whatever Mastroeni and the Rapids do during Kevin Doyle's injury rehab, they have to make sure they have to get it right.
The Western Conference dictates that they have to get it right.
Will they get it right?