Roster Analysis: February 2014

Detroit City FC dropped its first real news about the upcoming season yesterday, announcing the return of 15 players from the 2013 squad. Also, although there was never any serious chatter about his status, quotes in yesterday’s announcement confirmed that head coach Ben Pirmann will return for his second season in charge.

Below are a few thoughts on the pre-season roster. Note: I’m solely looking at the players that are currently committed and not taking into account any whose status is uncertain at present. The open spots on the roster will be filled with tryouts on March 22nd and May 3rd.

Forward/Striker

Team MVP and top goalscorer Zach Myers returns and will be the centerpiece of the attack along with fellow starter Wade Allan. The speed of Tom Oatley and the height of Nick Schroeder (6’5”) provide a nice mix of playing styles for Pirmann to mix and match.

Wide Midfield/Wing

DCFC is loaded with talent on the wings with the return of 2013 Great Lakes Conference ‘Best XI’ performers Cyrus Saydee, Jeff Adkins (both First Team), and Miche’le Lipari (Second Team).

Center Midfield

With three players who saw extensive playing time in 2013 – Latif Alashe, Dave Edwardson, Locky Savage – and the return of Spencer Thompson from injury, this position is the deepest on the team.

Fullback

One of the biggest advantages DCFC had over other teams in 2013 was its outstanding fullback play. With both Zach Schewee and Zeke Harris gone, Jonny Evans is the only true player at this position currently on the roster. Left and right back will certainly be at the top of Coach Pirmann’s ‘Needs List’ come tryout time.

Centerback

The heart and soul of the club, Josh Rogers, will return to anchor the back line. With the departures of Adam Bedell, Nick Lewin, and Luke Diener, the search will be on for a new partner for the captain.

Two other returnees, Matt Ybarra and Chase Jabbori, are listed. I have to confess that I haven’t seen enough of them to comment on where they fit in. Detroit City lists them as defenders while their college rosters have them as midfielders. If both do play at the back, that would still only make 4 defenders on the current roster, meaning plenty of opportunities for anyone looking to try out at those positions.

Goalkeeper

This is obviously the most glaring need, since, at the moment, there are no keepers on the roster. Jeremy Clark was brilliant in his two years, and Bret Mollon was so good in 2013 that he essentially became a co-starter. Picking up a good #1 here is crucial, and with the structure of rosters in the NPSL (limited player availability due to family/career/etc.), finding a solid #2 is a must.

[Update: Right after publishing this, Bret Mollon stated that he will be back for 2014.]

Overview

One of my biggest concerns heading into 2013 was that if there was too much roster turnover, the foundation laid by the promising inaugural season would be torn up and the team would have to start from scratch. That concern was mitigated by a large portion of the 2012 team returning, as well as an excellent group of newcomers such as Myers, Mollon, and Kevin Taylor.

By retaining over a dozen contributors, the club has again set itself up for success. The biggest needs are in goal, at both fullback spots, and at centerback opposite Rogers. After that, it would be nice to add a speedy striker who could play a role similar to that of Shawn Lawson in 2013, some depth on the wings, and an attacking midfielder in the Keith Lough/Fabio Pereira mold.

I have no doubt that the popularity and reputation of DCFC is a huge draw to local players, and tryouts will surely become more and more competitive as the status of the club grows.

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