Sporting played the best game of the season yet, totally dominating in a 2-0 win over previously unbeaten Montreal. It's no surprise that we finally had the best 11 on the pitch. Chance Myers coming back in for Mechack Jerome made a huge difference. And the Besler-Collin pairing looked much better than when Peter played Ike Opara. (In a nutshell, Jerome and Opara may be decent squad players, but both looked out of depth and should only be used in non must-win situations.) I've always been a huge believer and supporter of Benny Fielhaber. He has had many naysayers from the get-go, and, admittedly, his earlier performances were far from sterling. But he has the quality and has proven himself at the highest level, and it was always just a matter of time before he settled in to the system. Kudos to Peter for being patient. Against Montreal, Benny was Man of the Match. Benny is exactly what this team needs and what we've lacked, a player who can open up defenses with that final pass. His defense and work rate were second to none as well.
This will be a long season, with multiple competitions, but below is my two cents on the team, position-by-position:
Goal Keeper: Captain Jimmy is still the best in the league, nuff said... Kronberg has played well when i've seen him, and will need to start a few games, especially if they are not must-wins (e.g., if we are ahead by enough points in our CONCACAF Champs League group).
Central Defense: Matt Besler deserved to be MLS Player of the Year, as he hardly ever put a foot wrong. This technically gifted, cultured defender reminds me of the late great Bobby Moore, Captain of WHU and England's victorious 1966 WC winning team. Aurelien Collin is his perfect compliment, the crazy, hard man to Besler's cultured approach. Together, they are the best central defensive pair in the league. IMHO, Lawrence Olum MUST, MUST be third on the depth chart. Olum played superbly last season when called on, while Opara looked out of depth this year when he played. Why Peter decided to start Opara ahead of Olum I cannot understand, unless Olum was injured.
Fullbacks: Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic are the most under-rated players in the league. They could start for just about any MLS team. When one of them is out, the team suffers. Nothing against Jerome, but he is not anywhere near Myers' standard. Others? Kyle Miller, Josh Gardner, and Kevin Ellis may get some playing time and it will be a matter of seeing how they do when called up.
Central Midfield: Uri Rosell has been our best player thus far this season. Uri will become Peter's best ever find, and should be immediately signed to a long term contract. He has all the tools to become a superstar player for one of the largest Euopean clubs - perhaps even taking over Busquet's role at Barca. Yes, I believe he is THAT good. Fielhaber is an exceptionally cultured midfielder who can find that last final pass (as he proved with 2 assists today) AND he also showed all the naysayers that he can work hard and make some very well timed sliding tackles to break up play. He will also pitch in with a few goals as he can shoot from range. I have also always liked Nagamura - excellent work rate, good passer, and can also hit the frame with some thunderous shots. Not to mention he is Brazilian - has to be good. BTW, Fielhaber was born in Brazil, so the two have that in common and work well together. Those three are the best starting central mids on our books. Number 4 is also an easy choice for me - Peterson Joseph. I'm also a big fan of Peterson Joseph, the Haitian "Xavi." Peterson really slots in well to our system and I love his style of play. Peterson Joseph, along with Uri, had a massive game for us in our last match of the 2012 season against Houston when those two ran the show from midfield. It's going to be difficult for Michael Thomas or Mickey Lopez to get games, but I believe both those youngsters will have bright futures.
Forwards: Zuzi is a must at outside forward, his call up to the USMNT is well deserved. Bieler is our best out-and-out central striker. The final slot for the remaining outside forward will be between CJ Sapong, Joseph Peterson, and Bobby Convey. Each of those bring something different to the attack. CJ Sapong can also be used effectively as a central striker if Bieler needs a rest. When fit, Teal Bunbury will bring another option at central striker: he is much faster than Bieler and will be a good option for a counter-attacking style of play, but Bieler is the better proven poacher and outright goal scorer. Finally, I've always been a big fan of Soony Saad and hope he gets more playing time.
Quite a lot to look forward to this year!