The Wizards left for Argentina yesterday. The team should be in Buenos Aires, where they went last season. They have left with the goals of defining the roster and honing the new 3-5-2 formation. Today a Rob Russert artcle on mlsnetcame out. Russert has quotes from Scott Sealy, Curt Onalfo and Peter Vermes. And there is some discussion of Ivan Trujillo, possible signing of Claudio Lopez and an improved Carlos Marinelli.
In regards to Claudio Lopez, there seems to be some confusion over how long it will take before he is signed or can join the team. According to Brad Porter’s blog it could take longer to sign Lopez than it did to sign Trujillo. From Brad: “Officials tell me that Lopez qualifies as a designated player and that, unlike the Trujillo signing which took 2-3 months, signing Lopez would be much more difficult.” However, if you saw Oz City today then according to Greg Lalas and Shep Messing, Lopez is all but on the team. In that same Oz City story, there is a SoccerAmerica which points out “(Monday) is the date by which teams must be complaint with the salary cap, precise figure unknown, and the limits for the regular (18 players) and full (28) roster limits.” Teams can negotiate for extra compliance time (aside:this seems to jive with the thoughts of many that all MLS rules are drawn in sand) but they still have to tell MLS “…how they plan to get their numbers in order.” The article also points out that Lopez is probably between $750,000 and $1.2M and KC is not really strapped for cap room. KC actually gained an additional $400,000 cap space as payment from MLS for the sale of Eddie Johnson. So, KC could be getting Lopez soon or … not so soon. Still seems a mess. I for one am hoping that the deal is worked out by Monday and the louse will get as much time as possible with the team before the season starts.
Eloy Colombano was already in Argentina, he did not come back to KC from Florida. Also, from Brad Porter, we know that “Colombian forward Ivan Trujillo…will join the team Tuesday in Argentina.” Yay. We hope to hear good things from Ivan.
OK, so we know there are 28 roster spots. If you go to the Wizards roster pagethere are 22 that are taken up already. For me, 20 of them are safe spots. My opinion(based on Florida minutes and what I’ve seen at practice) is that Lowery and Kraus are probably the two. So that leaves 8 spots that are being fought for. We have Trujillo who is a lock and assuming we sign Lopez, that would make for 22. And it seems a good bet that Boris Pardo will be the third keeper bringing the total to 23. So, with five spots left that means the fight is between tryout-trialist Kevin Souter, Yomby William, Jon Leathers, Matt Marquess, Rauwshan McKenzie, Micheal Kraus, Amir Lowery and possibly Andrew DiCicco (update: he is with the team). But also bear in mind this from Brad Porter “…the Wizards are also looking at one player from Africa and another from South America.” That makes possibly ten players for five spots. Though, we really do only know for sure it’s seven for five spots. The one that I feel most comfortable with saying will make the team is Jon Leathers – and I base that off his performance in practices and the amount of playing time and starts he got while down in Florida. Of course, Amir Lowery has been playing holding mid a lot and more depth there would be desirable.
It seems that most of KC’s injuries are at the scoring end of the team. Scott Sealy has continuing quad issues, Davy Arnaud is out until sometime in April, Ryan Pore missed a practice or two. Andrew DiCicco had some knocks too. In fact, Sasha Victorine started as striker in one of the most recent practices (Eloy was in Argentina). So it’s vital that KC get these guys healthy and get any new forwards into camp. While I am certain that Davy Arnaud will make it difficult for starters to keep their spot when he comes back, I am also certain that Sealy, Colombano, Pore, Trujillo and possibly Lopez will have had enough time to show Onalfo what they can do up top. Of course the versatile Arnaud can also push for a midfield position – specifically wide right where Chance Myers will be at.
Right now on defense the front runners look to be Conrad, Jewsbury and Wahl. I am not so certain it’s the strongest backline but it seems decent. Jack will be in his second year playing D in MLS. Wahl filled in well last year. And then we have Conrad. Outside of Conrad we could see some fighting for starting time from Leathers and Hohlbein. And then there is also Chance Myers and Micheal Harrington who not only play wide-mid but can also play on defense too. All of them backed by a fitter/leaner Kevin Hartman who will be in his 12th year.
I mentioned the wide players already. KC will be be playing with one attacking mid and two holding mids. Though one of those holding mids will most likely be able to attack too. What we have seen mostly from practices are Kerry Zavagnin and Kurt Morsink as holding mids. And Morsink has played wide as well as attacking last season. The attacking midfielder will be Carlos Marinelli. He didn’t have the greatest season last year but is much improved so far this preseason (see Russert’s article from above). We also have another versatile player in Sasha Victorine. Sasha, in his 9th season and 4th with KC, can play wide, attacking or holding. He has also played on defense. I fully expect Sasha and Kurt to be fighting for that spot alongside Kerry. Sasha missed the Florida trip, where Morsink got a lot of playing time, due to the birth of his first child. I’d not be surprised to see Onalfo use some kind of midfield rotation system depending on the opponent.
Ok, so the team is in Argentina. Who will they play? Hopefully some very good competition. The Argentine league is in its fourth week of the new season so any teams they play should be a real test. I expect that we will soon hear from either the official team blog or from KCWizards.com what the schedule is and who the opponents are. Maybe we’ll even get to see some video of games from the trip like we did last year(it was for STH’s only).