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The Starting XI: What I Got Wrong and What it Means

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Let’s take a look at how I messed up (and what I got right, while we’re at it).

MLS: D.C. United at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As exciting as it is to come back from a man down and a goal down to steal a point at home, I couldn’t help but think about my starting XI prediction earlier this week. Obviously, I didn’t get everything correct, and I thought I’d do a post-mortem on my predictions and see what it all means.

Defense

What I got right
When it came to the defense, I was four out of five. Joe Bendik was indeed in goal, but I’m not feeling like that was a big stretch of a prediction. Jonathan Spector started in his usual spot, and Scott Sutter started in his at right back. I also correctly predicted that Mohamed El-Munir would get the start at left back.

What I got wrong
I predicted that Donny Toia would fill in at center back alongside Spector. In reality, it was Amro Tarek getting his first start for Orlando City. I chose Toia based on his presence in the center during the preseason. Tarek was obviously a better choice, I simply didn’t realize he’d done enough during the preseason to get the nod from Jason Kreis.

Midfield

What I got right
Well, I had Will Johnson on the right wing, and I got that right. I also had Yoshi Yotún in the midfield, but look below to see how that was also a wrong prediction. Unfortunately, that was all I got right.

What I got wrong
Let’s start with Yoshi. I had him at the base of the diamond, based on the idea he’d return to the defensive midfield from whence he came. Instead, Kreis put him up at the top of the diamond, which makes a lot more sense, given the skills he has for creating chances, and linking the midfield. Next, I had Justin Meram on the left wing, and instead he played forward where he created a ton of havoc in the D.C. United defense. This is why Jason Kreis is the coach, and I am not. Lastly, I had Jose Villarreal at the top of the diamond, and he didn’t crack the starting XI or even make the 18. However, Jason had PC start in the midfield, and his red card put Orlando down a man with most of the game to go. So I’ll call those two a draw.

Forwards

What I got right
Chris Mueller got the start up top, and he looked as dangerous as we all hoped he would as a rookie getting his first MLS start. I think he showed enough to continue to get serious playing time, even when Dom Dwyer returns.

What I got wrong
I had Stéfano Pinho starting next to Mueller, however, Kreis rightly put Justin Meram up top. By doing so, he paired youth with experience, and took the pressure off of Mueller in his first start. While Pinho didn’t start, he did come on for Mueller, and all he did was score the goal that saved a point for Orlando City. Well done.

What does it all mean? It means that given imperfect knowledge from closed preseason matches, I got some stuff right, and some stuff wrong. It also means that I can look back and compare my predictions with the reality and see how the reality was mostly better than my picks. As we get players back from injury and suspension it might get easier to pick the starters, but I guess we’ll just have to see going forward.

Go City!