It’s that time of the week again, where we at Once a Metro give you a look at the team Jesse Marsch might field if the season started today. With the team currently in the middle of a ten day reprieve, not much has changed from last week’s XI.
I’m going to stick to Marsch’s preferred 4-2-3-1, which is something he seems set on implementing going into next week’s IMG Suncoast Pro Classic.
With Bradley Wright-Phillips (FWD), Dax McCarty (CDM), Luis Robles (GK), Lloyd Sam (RM), and Roy Miller (LB) locks for the starting lineup, let’s look at the rest:
Ronald Zubar (CB): Having played in the Premier League and Ligue 1, Zubar is definitely the most experienced center back on the roster. Although he has been immortalized on YouTube for his defensive miscues, he did play at such high levels for a reason. He wins the majority of his aerial duels and seems to be a better option than Damien Perinelle.
Andrew Jean-Baptiste (CB): One of the most athletic players on the roster by far, AJB has more MLS experience than Matt Miazga, and until we find out if Armando is staying with the squad, he is the most viable partner for Zubar.
Chris Duvall (RB): Duvall showed flashes of promise last season, playing well before he fell out of favor with Mike Petke. While it will be interesting to see how he develops under Marsch, a lack of competition should see the MLS sophomore reclaim his spot in the starting XI.
Sacha Kljestan (LM): This one might seem strange, seeing as Kljestan had been playing as a defensive midfielder during his years at Anderlecht, but Marsch keeps hinting at this being the role for Sacha If the friendly against Toronto is anything to go by, he already seems to have genuine chemistry with Roy Miller with the two combining for several chances. As Marsch also wants his wingers to contribute on defense, Kljestan’s natural defensive tendencies give him yet another advantage over Sal Zizzo, who missed the friendly against Toronto because of a minor knock. Expect to see Kljestan cut to the inside often to allow Roy Miller space for those slaloming forward runs.
Leo Stolz (CM): This one was a tough choice, with Sean Davis being the other option. With Stolz and Davis both being dynamic attackers during their college years, whichever one of the two that starts alongside Dax will have more liberty to roam forward. I give Stolz the nod here, but much like RBNY’s preseason schedule, that is subject to change if Stolz fails to deliver on the hype.
Felipe Martins (CAM): I love Peguy Luyindula as much as the next guy, but we have to admit that he isn’t getting any younger. Felipe, having recently gotten his visa approved, will look to create some chemistry with Wright-Phillips as quickly as possible if he wants to edge out Luyindula. He even played under Marsch during his time at Montreal, so that familiarity could be a factor behind his inclusion in the starting XI.
Matt Miazga (CB): Although he is a promising product, Miazga still has plenty to prove in MLS. His lack of experience will likely see him start the season on the bench, but hopefully, he gets his fair share of minutes.
Damien Perinelle (CB): He has yet to prove himself as anything but an average defender, despite starting all of the CONCACAF Champions League matches last season.
Sean Davis (CM): The homegrown player, while a bright prospect, has some solid competition no matter what role he plays. Should Kljestan resume his normal role in the center of the field, Davis could be seeing a lot of the bench.
Peguy Luyindula (CAM): Even though age might catch up to him this season, I expect Luyindula to be the first player off the bench. A skillful playmaker who ages like a fine wine, Luyindula seems to get better and better as the season goes on. This could lead to him taking Felipe's starting spot.
Mike Grella (FWD/LM): Grella is another name being floated around as a candidate to fill that void on the left and seems to be hitting his stride in preseason. A natural forward, he isn’t afraid to take his man on and take a shot from distance. Grella could provide a spark if RBNY finds themselves lacking creativity. Click here for a look at some of his highlights.