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MONDAY MAILBAG: Spreading the Offensive Minutes, Wing Battle with Seattle and More

FRISCO - Blame it on the weekend off or the struggle to adjust to Daylight Saving Time, but the Mailbag is coming at you on a Tuesday this week. Nonetheless, we’ve got some good questions to dive into on the offense and this weekend’s match against the Sounders!

Why have we not seen more of Maxi, Colman, and Mauro on the field at the same time?” - Alex Gonzalez

While I appreciate the push for more time with Cristian Colman and Mauro Diaz playing together (a question we’ll address again shortly), when you look at this trio, they simply do not all fit on the field at the same time - unless you’re chasing goals late and just throwing in the kitchen sink. Maxi Urruti and Mauro? We know what that looks like. Maxi and Colman? That was the starting look last year and one where Maxi could play high alongside Colman or underneath him. Colman and Mauro? Again, we’ll get there.

The trouble with all three on the field is they all play central roles and you’re inevitably taking off another vital piece of the overall shape. If you go with a 3-5-2 look, you’re taking off Michael Barrios, who constantly plays at a top level in the attack. A 4-4-2, you’re probably taking off one defensive midfielder and leaving Barrios and Santiago Mosquera out wide, two players who aren’t defensive minded. Your traditional 4-2-3-1 is out because you’ve got two central strikers.

Between the trio, there is just too much overlap in the type of player each is. I think if you put all three on the field at once, you’re inevitably sacrificing yourself defensively in some capacity - a mindset Oscar Pareja is not fond of.

“How does Santi match up against Seattle? What does he excel at? Do you suspect Colman and Mauro ever getting significant minutes together?” - Clayton Travis

The first part of your question is one I’ve been a little excited to see. Not only Mosquera, but also Barrios against a Seattle full back tandem that had a shaky opening league match. Granted the team was resting its main group for CCL action, but Nouhou and Jordy Delem were no match for LAFC on the wings. Waylon Francis and Jordan McCrary had better performances vs. Chivas, but the Sounders lost Joevin Jones at left back in the offseason and haven’t made that productivity back up. Jones in particular was a nightmare for FCD in recent seasons.

Where Mosquera excels is his speed down the flanks, much like Barrios, but also his ability to cut to the inside and cause havoc in the middle. We haven’t seen him fully adjusted to MLS and FCD yet, but I believe the extra week of work on the training ground will go a long way in seeing what he can do on the field.

The second part is a difficult one to predict, but their chances are higher in 2018 than they were in 2017.

In their current roles of starter and late-game sub, their minutes are inherently limited. Mauro Diaz is traditionally subbed out in the 75th minute or so. I say their chances are better this year because they can’t get much worse. In 2017, Colman was the guy early in the year but his confidence was waining by the time Diaz came back healthy. The two were just on different trajectories. From Mauro’s first start on June 23 through the end of the year, Colman was averaging just 16 minutes of time in the games that he did get into (there were five he was left on the bench). By that time, Diaz was usually out of the match.

This year, we see that Colman has an early-season boost off of a CCL strike late in Leg Two and the coaches are trying to ride that confidence wave. He played 27 minutes against RSL off the bench, a sign that he's being trusted with more time off the on-game sample, it’s just a matter of how much time that overlaps before Diaz comes out.