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LAFC lineup questions loom for Bob Bradley

International break gives time to ponder lineup.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Real Salt Lake
Has Mark-Anthony Kaye earned a starting spot in midfield for LAFC?
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Over the first two games of the season, Los Angeles Football Club has been fairly balanced between its attack and its defense.

LAFC has six goals in two games – it is worth mentioning that those six goals game in two games whereas the three teams with seven goals and the other two with six needed three games to get there – while the defense has allowed just one goal in those games.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Real Salt Lake
Los Angeles FC forward Diego Rossi (9) has certainly proven his worth in the first two games of the season.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

But, with a good portion of the squad on international duty this week, head coach Bob Bradley and the coaching staff do have some questions to answer. The first of which is whether LAFC’s starting XI is set, or could there be a change ahead of the match-up with the LA Galaxy on March 31?

Let’s examine …

On offense, there is little question where things stand. With Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi, LAFC has one of the most potent front lines thus far this season. But, Bradley does have Latif Blessing, Marco Urena and Rodrigo Pacheco as options. With the attack, there are options. Vela, Rossi, Urena and Blessing could be a solid front. You could also have Omar Gaber move more forward if necessary.

New signee Shaft Brewer, Jr. may have a really cool name, but it will likely be awhile before he earns a start.

But, when you look at the midfield, defense and goalkeeper, there is potential for debate on what Bradley could do with the lineup.

In goal, Tyler Miller has proven to be a solid netminder. His stops against Seattle and his block on Real Salt Lake’s Joao Plata is still worth watching … despite Plata getting the rebound for the score.

The question here is has Miller done enough to earn the spot, or does Bradley give Luis Lopez the nod when the Honduran international comes back from injury?

This one is a hard call to make. On one side, Miller seems to have earned a starting spot with his performance. On the other side, however, Lopez brings a ton of experience – both from the Honduran first division and internationally – to the table. I think you have to put Lopez in as soon as he’s healthy to see what he is made of.

In the midfield, like the attack, there are options. Benny Feilhaber and Columbian Eduard Atuesta are solid starters, but the wrench here is Mark-Anthony Kaye. Kaye, who is playing for Canada’s national team with Dejan Jakovic, has done well in the middle. But, you also have Gaber who will come off injury eventually as well as Aaron Kovar and Calum Mallace. I think Kaye may give way to Gaber, who is flexible enough to play forward, center or back.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Real Salt Lake
Joao Moutinho has shown flashes of solid play for LAFC, but is it enough to warrant a starting spot?
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

On defense, Laurent Ciman is this team’s leader and isn’t likely going anywhere anytime soon. Steven Beitashour has also been a rock on defense. Walker Zimmerman is expected to return soon from a hamstring injury, so that leaves one defensive spot left.

Draft picks Joao Moutinho and Tristan Blackmon have had good minutes with Moutinho being a little more flexible in terms of being able to move up with the ball. Jordan Harvey, like Luis Lopez, brings a ton of solid experience to the table as does Jakovic. I would defer to Moutinho being a more regular starter because of his versatility.

All of this said, even with just 23 players on the roster, Bradley has solid options. If he chooses to mix up the formation, he has players who are able to conform or those who can come off the bench.

What do you think? Post your comment below!