Carlos De Los Cobos has used the one forward formation for a majority of this season but the addition of Nery Castillo and Freddie Ljungberg has increased the coach's tactical options. It may be another week or two before we see what De Los Cobos has ultimately decided on. Nery Castillo is probably two weeks away from full fitness, while Patrick Nyarko has not fully regained his game form while recovering from concussion symptoms.
The 4-5-1 formation used for most of this season has featured Logan Pause and Baggio Husidic as central midfielders. Husidic has had the freedom and ability to come forward and join the attack as needed but has been usually stationed next to Pause defensively while several players have attempted to fill the central attacking role. Initially, most suspected Freddie Ljungberg would fill the central attacking position with Castillo as a withdrawn forward behind Brian McBride or Collins John. Ljungberg has played the playmaking forward role during his first two matches with the team and assumed that role again in training today.
De Los Cobos has looked at both one forward and two forward formations during training. If Nery Castillo is not ready to join the starting eleven on Wednesday, another variation of the 4-5-1 could be deployed.
According to this, either Mike Banner or Calen Carr would start in midfield if Castillo is not ready to start against the Revolution. New England is not a particularly fast team so the thinking may be geared toward utilizing speed against them on Wednesday night. Without Castillo to begin the match and Nyarko unavailable I can see a 4-4-1-1 with Pappa and Banner on the wings, Pause and Husidic centrally in front of the defense and Ljungberg playing behind McBride.
Ljungberg appears to be developing a good chemistry with McBride in training. The combination also provided the Fire's best offensive moments against New York.
As I said before, De Los Cobos will have options to consider once all the pieces are available. If Patrick Nyarko is ready to go this weekend against Houston the Fire will be as close to 100 percent as they have been all season. Although the ideal starting eleven would include Nyarko and Pappa on the wings with Ljungberg as the central mid this would leave Pause alone to cover alot of ground defensively. This may work against a struggling Dynamo side but teams with faster more dynamic attackers will pose a problem.
DLC may ultimately be leaning toward a one forward formation since he has mentioned that Castillo could play on the outside as well. If this is the direction, one important attacker will sit. Since that's not likely to be Ljungberg, Pappa or Nyarko are the likely candidates.
Adding more "good problems" for the coach is the availability of John Thorrington. If he is able to return effectively, Husidic could be forced to the bench in the central role next to Pause. Pause's willingness and desire to defend and stay home makes him hard to substitute. He's also been pretty solid after a less than spectacular first few matches to begin the season. Replacing Pause with the yellow card prone Thorrington would not benefit the team at this poiint.
Carlos De Los Cobos has alot to think about and not a whole lot of time to figure it out and mesh all the pieces together.
One decision has apparently been made. Gonzalo Segares will start at left back on Wednesday. Krzyzstof Krol has not been bad but Segares is the better player. If he's fit and ready to go, Segares is the right choice here.