Well, the offseason is finally over, and man, what an offseason it was. Now the focus is FC Dallas and the question looms: what is Curt Onalfo’s first starting XI going to look like? We take a look.
Goalkeeper: Brian Rowe
Brian Rowe is the undisputed number one goalkeeper on this roster. And although he was inconsistent at times, there is no question that Rowe should be in between the sticks to start the season.
Defense: Dave Romney, Jelle Van Damme, Daniel Steres, Rafael Garcia
The defense has the biggest question mark hovering over it, and everyone knows it.
Losing your two outside backs to injuries in the preseason is never good — Robbie Rogers is out with nerve damage in his foot, and Ashley Cole has a calf injury — but not having any real replacements is a problem.
And that is where teams are going to attack now, especially the right side where Rafael Garcia will be, as he looked shaky in that last preseason match against the Portland Timbers.
Midfield: Romain Alessandrini, Joao Pedro, Jermaine Jones, Sebastian Lletget
The midfield is revamped to start 2017 with only one of the four, Sebastian Lletget, returning as a starter — Emmanuel Boateng will come off the bench in late game situations.
In the center of the field are Jermaine Jones and Joao Pedro. Jones, 35, is a veteran of Major League Soccer. And while injuries have plagued him late in his career, he is still going to patrol the middle of the pitch, working tirelessly from box-to-box. Pedro, the young Portuguese who turned down bigger European clubs for the sunshine of Southern California, will be hovering in front of the back four looking to thwart everything that comes that way.
The wingers, Lletget and Romain Alessandrini, are certainly going to provide as much width as possible this season. Alessandrini has loads of experience playing the whole of his career in France before making the move across the pond, although he never really lived up to expectations. Can a new location give the 27-year-old the fresh start he was in search for?
Forwards: Jack McBean, Giovani dos Santos
Giovani dos Santos is definitely going to carry the load of the offense, at least until Gyasi Zardes is back to full strength, which could be soon.
But for now, he’ll have young Jack McBean as a strike partner, and he is known to have a knack for finding the back of the net. However, he does not have many minutes under his belt in MLS play and it’ll be interesting to see how the Newport Beach native is going to handle better defenses.
That’s our starting lineup to begin the 2017 MLS Season, what’s yours? Comment below with your suggestion!