1. Identify your starting lineup and stick with it. United players young and old complained that it was hard to get in rhythm when you never knew if you were starting or not. It may be nice to have a couple versatile utility players, but when you’re asking a rookie to go from a forward one week to a holding midfielder the next, you’ve got an issue. The team’s inability to establish a consistent starting lineup last season was certainly due in part to injuries and the additional international matches. So with a solid core group of players, and with fewer matches on the calendar now, this should be an easy revision for 2010.
2. Get more playing time for the most productive players. My favorite statistic from 2009 was Jaime Moreno’s 0.0073 goals per minute average, which was far higher than any other player on the team, and among the best in the league. A piece of that stat though is that Moreno was only on the field 45.92% of the time. No one is going to argue that Moreno should be asked to play 90 minutes in every match, but if he’s fit, he should be playing.
3. No more pre-half time substitutions. I can’t think of a more demoralizing thing to say to a player than to tell him that he’s not even worthy of finishing the half. One of the defining images of the Soehn years would be Jaime Moreno standing at the scorer’s table with something like 41:00 on the clock. And it’s an image I’d like to forget.
4. Bury the 3-5-2. Sound familiar? Maybe that’s because this was one of our resolutions for 2009. And like most of my personal resolutions, it ended by the first week. The problem with a three-man back-line is that it requires three defenders with good speed and a high positional sense. While this formation is nice because it allows you to utilize a central attacking midfielder and two defensive midfielders, United just doesn’t have the right defensive personnel to support it.
5. Make some progress on the stadium. The fanbase craves a real soccer stadium to watch our team, and we’re all tired of being envious of Toyota Park, Home Depot Center, and Red Bull Arena. We need a place to call home. I don’t have any expectations that construction will start this year, or even that a deal will be in place. All I’m asking for is some enduring piece of good news before the end of 2010.