Could this Team of Bench Players Make the Playoffs?
Before you bite my head off…
This roster is made up of players who have not been consistent starters for their teams this season, maxing out at around a 50% start rate. Additionally, these are players that I selected for this imaginary team based on my own judgement. We would love to hear what changes you would have made!
GK: Adam Grinwis
This guy balled out in his performances for Orlando in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and that alone was enough for me to tag him in this roster. Recency bias? 100%. But he still makes my starting XI. Hot hand approach is the way to go with GK’s, which knocks Alex Bono onto my bench.
LB: Marquinhos Pedroso
I don’t know about you, but I saw some great flashes in his games for Dallas last year. I think this is the hardest position of all for me to look at a team and say; “yeah, this guy on the bench should really be starting”. The position is weak in starting lineups for that matter.
CB: Michael Parkhurst
He’s started a lot more games than the others on this list, but he has fallen to the depths of the bench at this point in the season. He is apparently too slow and does not fit the system for Atlanta United. Either way, he fits my hypothetical system and will be a rock next to virtually any CB pairing.
CB: Sebastien Ibeagha
Ibeagha looks great every time he fills in for a starter in the Bronx. He is a former USL DOTY, and NYCFC are lucky to have him on their bench for most games.
RB: Connor Lade
Lade is not a superstar, but I find him to be a very consistent player. With the right side of defenses having a bit more depth on most teams, it is understandable that he is on the bench especially behind Michael Murrillo, but I would take him as a starting RB to fill out a team.
CDM: Jeff Larentowicz
A great defensive midfielder and a strong leader, Larentowicz is one of the best non starters in the league at the most important position.
CM: Kelyn Rowe
Say what you want, I still believe that Kelyn Rowe has elite vision and passing ability comparable to other MLS midfielders as well as his fellow countrymen. Having Rowe on the bench of any MLS team would be a luxury, as he is incredibly versatile. I’ll take him in my starting midfield (or whatever position is weakest).
CAM: Lee Nguyen
A guy who averages 16 stats a year anytime he plays 30+ games? Not too bad. Granted, he is on LAFC and it is a little hard to compete for playing time against their three-headed monster. Regardless, Nguyen’s only competition for being the best non-started MLSer are the two players following Nguyen on the list. And no, not the RSL player…
RW: Hector Villalba
This hypothetical team was built from this player. I get that ATL is loaded and there is little breathing room in the starting lineup for attackers, but wow. A team is doing it right in MLS if a player of Villalba’s quality is on their bench. LAFC is the only team in the league that you can argue Tito not being better than a starting attacker.
ST: Bradley Wright-Phillips
Yikes, an MLS legend of BWP’s caliber seeing 7 starts for his club is almost unheard of in this league. I don’t care why he is on the bench, but there is nothing needed to back up his spot in this XI.
LW: Sebastian Saucedo
One of the deeper positions for this list’s candidates, LW belongs to Saucedo for me. I have a lot of fun watching this player when he gets the chance to play. He is flashy, but also can be brilliant in his build up play and vision.
David Accam, Fafa Picault, Krisztian Nemeth, Jesus Medina, Ilsinho, Daniel Steres, Mark McKenzie, Marlon Hairston, Connor Lade, Alex Bono