The offseason of MLS:
Yeah, we're all pretty much that guy in the yellow coat. We we're all inside staring out into the white vastness know as MLS' offseason. Or winter. They kind of blend into one big boredom.
And instead of grilling up a fresh burger on the grill, "Somebody get this man some soccer!" How about some preseason soccer available from sunny Bradenton, Florida and the IMG Academy? Done.
The 2014 MLS Preseason slate begins tonight as the New England Revolution take on Swedish club Malmo FF tonight at 7PM EST. The game will be streamed by IMG and we're planing to do a live thread of the game later tonight. The full preseason internet stream schedule can be found here at MLSSoccer.com. This match will is the only official match schedule for the Revs in Bradenton, FL before the Revs head west to Tuscon Arizona and the Desert Diamond Cup hosted by FC Tuscon (USL PDL). The full Revs schedule is here at RevolutionSoccer.net.
According to this tweet from Jeff Lemieux, head coach Jay Heaps won't be playing anyone more than 45 minutes, so since there's really not a lot to preview for the first preseason game against a Swedish club team, let's try and guess the first and second half lineups.
4-1-4-1: GK Bobby Shuttleworth, LB Chris Tierney, CB Jose Goncalves, CB A.J. Soares, RB Andrew Farrell, CDM Scott Caldwell, LM Patrick Mullins, CM Lee Nguyen, CM Kelyn Rowe, RM Diego Fagundez, ST Dimitry Imbongo
Okay, so we're really going out on a limb here. The only real question for the "first eleven" is that left mid/wing spot. With Saer Sene out there are a number of ways to fill that gap. I opted to put the rookie Mullins right into that spot but trialists Marko Perovic and Ivan Melo can also feature there. Diego Fagundez could play on the left (even though I'm completely against this idea) and Charlie Davies among others could play on the right. Imbongo might not be the goal scorer the Revs need up top but right now, he's the best man for the job.
4-4-2: GK Brad Knighton, LB O'Brian Woodbine, CB Darius Barnes, CB Stephen McCarthy, RB Kevin Alston, LM Donnie Smith, CM Andy Dorman, CM Paolo DelPiccolo/Alec Sundley, RM Charlie Davies, ST Marko Perovic, ST Jerry Bengtson
Seriously, I can think of way worse lineups that would be considered "second eleven" in MLS. This lineup actually has a chance to compete (note I stopped short at saying "win") in MLS. The defense, including Woodbine, is pretty solid and while the midfield might lack creativity it makes up for it with hard work. Am I sold on either Smith or Davies on the outside here, no, but it's preseason and those are the two positions that those players will likely feature at in the regular season. Bengtson finally gets his strike partner in Perovic and I think it's a really good fit. Perovic is likely to drop back allowing Jerry to attack and move into space and also follow up shots. Heaps could stick with the preferred 4-1-4-1/4-3-3 but putting Perovic wide left and DelPiccolo or Sundley in the holding midfield spot.
Malmo FF plays in the Swedish Allsvenskan, the top division in Sweden and are the defending champions of the league. Last season they lost 0-4 on aggregate to English Premier League club Swansea City in the third round of qualifying and have been a regular participant in the MLS Preseason in Bradenton. Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimovic started his professional carrer at Malmo from 1999-2001 and current England national team coach Roy Hodgson coached Malmo from 1985-1989, winning five league titles in as many seasons with the club as well as two Swedish Cups (similar to the FA Cup and USOC I'm assuming).
There will be a live thread of the match since we know everyone is itching for the regular season to begin.