Colorado Rapids: Is Fernando Clavijo's Dilemma a Good Problem to Have?
Okay, put yourself in Fernando Clavijo's shoes.
Your team opened the season with a four-goal shut out. Many observers have noted how bad the opposition was, but the Colorado Rapids have seen bad before and struggled to win by one goal.
In that first game Clavijo had to play four players, maybe six, that no one would have predicted to be starters. All the young players did their part and played well.
One week later, Clavijo now have at your disposal the at least two of the guys who were to be starters. Do you sit the fill-ins?
This is what people call depth, and you read the trite phrase, "It's a good problem to have."
No. It's a good problem to have when your back ups prove they can fill in.
It's a good problem to have when they perform well enough, but not so well that the starters are clearly better.
It's a good problem to have for a successful team. It's a problem coaches really do not want to have when they have not been successful.
Clavijo has not been successful, and that is the problem. Are the starters clearly better? There is no winning legacy that suggests that this is an easy question.
On a one-to-one basis, the starters are clearly better than the subs. Pablo Mastroeni is a much better player than either DiRaimondo or La Brocca. Gomes has foot skills that neither of the two young ones can match.
But, and this has to eat at a coach, the combination of the two kids was very effective.
And, that leads to the question. Is the individuality of the starters going to help the team more than the combination of DiRaimondo and La Brocca?
I have been a long time critic of Pablo Mastroeni the Rapids player. As a national team player, I think he has been great. Particularly under Bruce Arena who liked to have an attack dog in his midfield. Pablo suited the role perfectly. The Pablo the Rapids have had has been less spectacular.
With the Rapids Mastroeni has displayed the kind of interactive relationship with a midfield partner that Di Raimondo and La Brocca displayed last Saturday. In tournament play with the national team it is less of an issue. With the Rapids, in league play, it is a glaring flaw.
What does Clavijo do? Is it better to go with the talent that looks great on paper? Or, do you stick with what worked?
Those are the questions that would keep me up all night if I were Clavijo.
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