Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chris Pontius versus Jaime Moreno

With all the lineup changes and the tinkering we've seen in the first four matches of the 2009 season, I figured this would be a good time to bring back an old favorite feature from 2008.

This matchup pits a grizzled veteran against a rookie for the withdrawn forward role, lining up next to Emilio. One has scored more goals than any other player in MLS history, and the other scored his first goal in his first MLS game just a few weeks ago. To be honest, I have no idea what the end result is going to be when I begin writing these.
Chris Pontius
1. Positioning - It's no coincidence that Pontius has been involved in so many of our scoring opportunities this season. He's the only guy on the team thus far to earn one goal and one assist.
2. Durability - Who would have guessed that Pontius would play all 360 minutes of the first four games? We expect that from Simms and Namoff, but not typically a rookie.
3. Flexibility - This post is meant to discuss the withdrawn forward position specifically, but there is something to be said for a guy who can play at forward, at either wing, and has also appeared at CAM for about a minute.
1. Inexperience - What a huge contrast between these two phenoms. Pontius is in his first MLS season. Moreno is in his 14th.
Jaime Moreno
1. Experience - Now at age 35, Moreno has seen it all.
2. Chemistry - The scoring triangle of Emilio/Moreno/Gomez is just behind Lassiter/Diaz Arce/Etcheverry as the best in team history. Even as Moreno and Gomez near the ends of their careers, they've always had an uncanny ability to find each other, and to find their striker Emilio to create scoring opportunities. Hopefully we'll see some more of that as they see more time on the field together.
3. Leadership - Without Jaime or Benny in Salt Lake last Saturday, there was a noticeable lack of leadership presense on the field.
1. Fatigue - I have my doubts about Moreno playing very many 90 minute matches this season. It's just a part of getting older.
2. He's better as a sub! - This is taking nothing away from Moreno's ability, I just like him best when he enters a match after minute 60. Although this isn't necessarily a weakness, it's a decent reason to start one player over another. When leading, Moreno can control possession and seal a victory. When trailing, Moreno can totally alter the pace of our attack and guide us to victory.
So what do I think we should do? I like Chris Pontius starting next to Luciano Emilio, with Moreno coming off the bench. I like having at least one of Olsen or Moreno on the field at all times, so as long as Ben Olsen is healthy enough to start, I'm ok with starting the dynamic Pontius over the experience of Moreno.
Now on to more pressing matters... I'm really excited about the game tomorrow night. This just feels like the kind of match that we usually win 4-1. And even though this is only the fifth match of the season, after a couple of disappointing results earlier, and now playing against one of our Eastern Conference rivals... Does this feel like a must-win game to anyone else?


Jeremy said...

I am probably about the biggest Moreno backer around, but so far this season, Pontius has been the better player.

During Moreno's limited action thus far, he has looked painfully slow and somewhat uninterested. The last part is such a huge change from last season that it is shocking.

I am hoping that it is just the recovery from surgery, but until he gets fit, I think that Pontius should be starting.

jaywag86 said...

This could possibly be Moreno's last year. And, Pontius seems to have what it takes to be a future star for United. Hopefully Moreno can be utilized for his leadership and experience, on and off the field, with some success durring the 2009 campaign. While at the same time, take Pontius under his wing and teach him the ways of the Master.

Shatz... said...

So one game later, do you guys feel the same way? Pontius as a starting forward is a bit of a scary thought if he continues to miss the target on every one of his shots. Right now, I'm liking our starting lineup against New England with Moreno at forward and Pontius at right mid, but I'm wondering how things will shake out when Fred and Quaranta are both at full strength.

jaywag86 said...

I agree that that is a strong line up. In the first half there were glimpses of DC from a couple of seasons ago with Moreno, Gomez, and Emillio in sync. Wouldn't it be great if they could sustain that level of familiarity. Unfortunately, age is working against us at this point. We were lucky that Moreno got a second wind at the very end. It could have easily gone the other way.