The "Who will return next year" thread addresses this issue a little bit, but I wanted to spur some discussion about the decisions and work to be done by Bob and Nick and the rest of the team over the course of the winter in full detail, breaking down the personnel decisions into four categories: Definite Keepers, Maybe Keepers, Trade Bait, Release or Let Contracts/Loans Expire. First off, I believe that Nick and Bob should be retained in their roles. The team improved significantly during this last year, and with progress on the SSS continuing and some positive player development this year, I think the key decision-makers should be retained. Now for players: Definite Keepers: Jonny Walker Steve Jolley Eddie Pope Ricardo Clark Eddie Gaven Amado Guevara Mark Lisi Chris Leitch Mike Magee John Wolyniec Mike Nugent Jacob LeBlanc I doubt many would argue against Walker, Jolley, Pope, Clark, Gaven, Guevara, or Lisi. Leitch became increasingly essential to how the team plays late in the year, and I think he's prominent in the team's thoughts. Magee and Wolyniec are roster and cap friendly, and could serve pretty well as the #2 and #3 or #3 and #4 strikers for the squad next year. Nugent and LeBlanc are fine and cap-friendly, and as long as they remain roster-spot-friendly next year, I'd keep them. If LeBlanc is no longer P-40 in terms of roster space, or if Nuge can no longer be counted as developmental, they move off of this list. Maybe Keepers: Paul Grafer Edgar Bartolomeu Tim Regan Grafer is a serviceable, cap-friendly backup, though it's certainly possible that a superior replacement is available at the same price. I'd be tempted to keep him for continuity's sake, plus, he's always been a good teammate. Edgar showed flashes and is a versatile performer who can do things other no one else on this team can; keeping him may depend on whether or not we can find a superior Senior International with our cap space (keeping in mind that Guevara is the only SI on my Definite Keepers list). Regan seems to me to be a cap-friendly solid backup defender with the potential to be better than a backup someday. Trade Bait: Craig Ziadie Joey DiGiamarino Richie Williams All of these guys seemed to have fallen out of the rotation toward season's end. I view Ziadie in particular as a very good player who probably shouldn't be on an MLS bench, so he may be someone that the team could receive value for on the trade market. DiGi had good and bad moments, but I bet other teams might want him. A team with less veteran leadership or a bigger hole in the defensive midfield might want Richie; but I think he makes too much to keep if we're not going to play him. He had a poor year, though, which might hurt his value. Release / Let Contracts/Loans Expire: Juan Forchetti Jose Galvan Joe Addo Kenny Arena Jaime Moreno Andrez Juskowiak Clint Mathis If Forchetti and Galvan can still be counted as TIs next year, I'd be open to trying to retain either, but neither really made their mark as much as we would have hoped. Addo is somewhat expensive and really is a little too duplicative of Pope and Jolley without being as good, although he is at least useful as depth. Kenny should probably spend a season in the A-League, where hopefully he can get playing time and improve. Which brings us to Jaime, Andrez, and Clint. Probably $600K of cap space here, which is a huge number versus the $1.7 million cap. Andrez never made his mark, and Jaime just isn't worth the max until he proves himself healthy again (which may never happen.) A change of scenery may really benefit Mathis, and using his salary money to go after another striker, even someone we wind up paying the max, may be the right way to go for the squad. Mathis and Guevara just didn't produce goals; the combination always seemed like it should work, but then just didn't. Painful as it might be, I think we have to take a shot with one or even two entirely new strikers, and work them in with Magee and Wolyniec. Amazing that of 4 max / near-max players from early this year (Pope, Howard, Guevara, Mathis, Moreno) that we may be down to two. But the team should have lots of room to bring people in. Needs: Starting strikers - at least one, maybe two. Wing defenders - If we keep Leitch, we also need to keep or replace with quality one of Ziadie/DiGi/Edgar. Probably need at least three warm bodies for two starting lineup slots in this category. Wing midfield on the left (if Clark is on the right): You could go with a centrally-oriented Lisi, or do you give the slot to Edgar. Could be another spot to bring someone in. "All this team needs is a stud striker" is almost an axiom of this sport, but that's just about where we are. Our purported stud striker just wasn't, this year.