By the end of the season, a lot of teams have an established identity. They know how they want to play and they know which players they want to play with. For better or worse, the Philadelphia Union don't have that. They don't even have something close to that. You could come up with three or four different starting XI's that you think Peter Nowak might go with when they open their MLS Cup Playoffs campaign on Sunday against the Houston Dynamo and still be wrong. There's just no telling which guys Nowak is going to turn to or how they're going to play.
One thing we do know is that Sebastien Le Toux will start. The question is where he starts. In Philadelphia's regular season finale he started as a lone striker, but it didn't go so well. He had to go it alone up top because Veljko Paunovic was out with a right hamstring strain, an injury that is likely to keep him out on Sunday. So does Nowak choose to start Le Toux as a lone striker again? If Nowak chooses not to leave Le Toux alone up top, he will likely pair him with Danny Mwanga, who came on at halftime in that regular season finale.
Another thing that Nowak will have to decide is whether to start Freddy Adu. He's played the midseason signing as a supporting striker, out wide or as a central midfielder just in front of a defensive midfielder. All are options again on Sunday, but there's also the option of not starting Adu, which has been the case in five of Adu's 11 appearances for Philadelphia.
As for who plays in the center of the midfield, there are three options. Brian Carroll is the veteran and likely to start, but then there's also the emerging Amobi Okugo and Roger Torres. Nowak could play two of the three or just one with a more attack-minded player like Adu in front of him.
Lastly, there's Justin Mapp. He has a quadriceps strain and is a doubt for the match. If he can't go, does Adu just slide in for him on the wing? So many options all over the place for Nowak and we have no idea what he'll do.