United finished the preseason with an uninspiring 2-4 record, with the only two wins coming against USL opponents (who may actually be better than MLS opponents if the Champions' League is any indication). Without dwelling on the past, let's take a look at the potential starting lineups for Sunday's opening match, keeping in mind that Quaranta and Fred will be sidelined with injuries.
Here's what I think we'll see:
But here's what I would rather see:
But there are many other possibilities. I've said before that I think Burch has earned his spot in the starting lineup, but others disagree, so it may be just as likely to see a back three of Jakovic, Janicki, and Namoff. Also, although I don't know if he's ready to start, we could see Ben Olsen return to the starting lineup at either left wing, right wing, or central holding midfield next to Simms. I'm sold on Chris Pontius from what I've read, but there's also a strong possibility that our other rookie Rodney Wallace could start at left midfield ahead of Pontius.
Regardless of the lineup, the 3-5-2 continues to scare me. It worked with very limited success last year, and abandoning that formation was one of our New Years' Resolutions for 2009. The only instances in which the 3-5-2 worked last year were when we were matched up against teams without much offensive firepower, and with a midfield that knocks the ball around well. Do either of those traits describe the Galaxy? We are playing against a team with the most productive strikers in the league (Donovan and Buddle), but not much else. Seems to me like we'd be better off taking a conservative approach, rather than using one less defender. Of course there are ways that the 3-5-2 formation could work, with the right players. A midfield with wingers who can hustle and play both sides of the ball would be effective. But until United finds a way to convince Josh Gros to unretire and reverses the Guerrero trade, we don't seem to have the right personnel at the moment.
Sorry for the pessimism to start out the year, but I'm predicting a 3-0 loss. Hopefully the boys will prove me wrong.