When the New York Cosmos take on Ottawa Fury FC to kick off the 2016 season, fans of both sides are going to see quite a few new faces. Both squads have been overhauled over the course of the last five months, with the Fury, in particular, having replaced the bulk of last season's starters. With that in mind, fans of both sides will be more than a bit curious about how their team will look when we kick off on Sunday evening.
Ahead of the match, I've decided to have a go at predicting both lineups, an exercise that was probably far more difficult ahead of this particular fixture than it will be at any other point in 2016. Here's my best educated guess at how both sides will look come Sunday evening:
New York Cosmos
Head Coach: Gio Savarese
Predicted Starting XI: Jimmy Maurer, Hunter Freeman, David Ochieng, Carlos Mendes, Ayoze, Danny Szetela, Michael Lahoud, Niko Kranjcar, Juan Arango, Yohandy Orozco, Yasmani Duk
There's a fair chance that we see Ruben Bover in the lineup instead of either Lahoud or Szetela, but my gut tells me that Savarese will opt to play a bit more conservatively in the opener, when facing so many unknowns. Still, I'd expect to see quite a bit of Bover in a central midfield role this spring, as he's come a long way over the course of the past year.
Head Coach: Paul Dalglish
Predicted Starting XI: Romuald Peiser, Kyle Porter, Rafael Alves, Rich Balchan, Marcel De Jong, Jonny Steele, Julian de Guzman, Mauro Eustaquio, Gerardo Bruna, Paulo Junior, Dennis Chin
I'm really not entirely certain whether Dalglish will go with a group as offensively oriented as this, or look to take off one of his more attack-minded midfielders in lieu of a more defensive option. I guess we'll see, but this is my best guess, without ever having seen Dalglish manage this group.