Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lineup Churn

There's been a good deal of grumbling this week about the amount of changes we've seen in the starting XI under Pablo.  Every game is a different starting XI.  Mastroeni says its his philosophy that every player should be ready to play and that players should be rotated in and out of the lineup for rest.  The fans think that leads to a lack of chemistry and the defensive mess we saw on Sunday.  I actually general agree with Pablo's general philosophy but i can be taken too far.  Are we at that point?  Time to take a look at the numbers!

I broke down the starting XI of every game this season, looking at the changes.  I then removed any change that was due to a player being unavailable due to injury, suspension, or wife's pregnancy (Sanchez).  Here are the results:
* = Piermayr got his first start in this game, as he was signed earlier in the week.  It was an "unforced change" but due to a new player being available that wasn't available before

So if you take out Piermayr's first start there were never more than 3 unforced changes made before the last week.  That seems reasonable and in keeping with Pablo's philosophy of getting some players rest each game.  Even with Piermayr's first start the big changes (4 and 5) came after the Rapids two losses in which some players stood out in not good ways.  Its not unusual for a coach to make more changes after bad losses lie we saw against KC and in Seattle.

Then last week happened.  In San Jose and against Chivas Pablo made as many changes as any 3 other games combined.  4 changes against San Jose from a team that beat LA, then 8 chances from a team that beat San Jose.  No real surprise that the team struggled to stay on the same page in those two games.

I think what the last week was was a learning experience for a new coach.  Up until this point he'd been handling working in his rotation strategy well, but he seemed to overreact to the idea of 3 games in a week.  Combined with the "lesser" opponents Pablo seems to think he had the freedom to rest more players.  He found out he didn't.

So I find myself in the same general spot.  I support Pablo's ideas, but I think he needs to learn the lesson from this past week, lineup rotation can be taken so far.  We need a core group that can expect to start every game, with 1-2 of those players being rotated in and out.  What we don't need is making 8 chances in 4 days.

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