Thursday, July 19, 2018

Starting Over: #11

We now move over to the bookend left wing slot, which features a bigger crowd, the most solid USMNT flank player of the moment (when he's fit, that is) and our hottest young speed threat prospect.

Kenny Saief
Kelyn Rowe
Timothy Weah

Hangin' around: Julian Green
Keep it going and we'll talk: Romain Gall
Please get out of Sunderland: Lynden Gooch
One to watch this season: Timothy Tillman

Saief is a legit starting-caliber guy because he's so comfy and proactive on the ball. Now we just need him to stay healthy and regain form. Because of that, Rowe is currently the most reliable choice because he can make the final play. While Weah has to start earning more club minutes to develop consistency, he should always be included in camp because vroom vroom vroooom.

I'm not sold on the idea of Julian Green as a #10, but I have seen him do a bit of damage in a US shirt from left wing. He's a threat to breach the top three because he's one of those guys who can angle his way into the box with regularity and consistent PT should now be at hand. Sometimes, it just takes a real extended run for a talented youngster to break out. That also applies to Gooch, who needs to make a move away from Sunderland, for oh so many reasons. I still have hopes for him because he has the skills to run at the box on an unnerving diagonal line and routinely trouble keepers with shots from the 20-25 meter range. Meanwhile, Gall has moved up in the Allsvenskan world by joining holders Malmö FF. He'll jump in the US frame if he stays hot and enjoys some runs in Europe because he's a goal threat from the flank-type.

You may notice a few guys who wore asterisks as depth options in the #10 chart. We really could throw Tillman in that group because he demonstrated production potential there during his first Bayern Munich II season. The teen, who will get his first shot at first team pitch time while on loan at FC Nürnberg this term, starts his Clipboard time at this position because of his two-way, at pace abilities. 

- Greg Seltzer

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Sabbi off to fast start

A damn fine goal slipped by my this weekend, and it's time to make up for it. Hobro attacker Emmanuel Sabbi came into Superliga opening day with one career goal. He didn't wait long for a second, burying a consolation cracker in their 3-1 loss at Vejle BK.

- Greg Seltzer

Starting Over: #7

For the attack, we'll go right wing, left wing, striker. That first stable is ripe for development, which is a nice way of saying there's a lot of youth and no one who has grabbed the starting role with both hands yet.

Paul Arriola
Sebastian Lletget
Brooks Lennon

Rising fast: Jonathan Lewis
Needs more end product: Rubio Rubin

Of course, Arriola has recently flourished playing in a more central midfield role. Rather than throw him the Nats' #8 crowd, I think it's best to see if we can get him to show a similar spike in offense out wide. He will get a quality attack mentorship from Rooney, who needed barely 30 minutes to play a part in two sweet Arriola goals. Lletget is another guy who could easily get lost in the central midfield traffic jam, and I quite liked how he operated on the wing before an injury broke his USMNT momentum. Both of these guys have the skill to contribute in attack, it's just a matter of finding consistency at a new level.

Lennon is faring pretty well as a Real Salt lake right back this season, but this is one more case of keeping a guy where he can have more impact. Before this year, I'd have said his two-way awareness was a good distance behind that of the top two here. Has playing in defense heightened his back-track sense? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, he's definitely a legit late game weapon, if for no other reason than his serves into the box. Lennon should hope to get a chance to impress before Lewis zooms right past him on this chart, though. He jumped onto the Clipboard a while back, and is now on a nice super-sub run for NYCFC. The kid has speed and has a knack for making plays in packed areas - never a bad thing to have on hand for CONCACAF duels.

Rubin, meanwhile, should see more action now that he has a preseason to hit the ground running with Tijuana. From a Clipboard standpoint, now would be a great time for him to bust out. Of course, we could say that about almost every US option on either flank...

- Greg Seltzer

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Starting Over: #10

Now that I'm done watching the D.C. Roo-boys christen their new digs with a victory, it's time for a rundown of the easiest position to pick a starter and the toughest position to populate.

Christian Pulisic

Hmm, maybe another option: Lynden Gooch*, Kelyn Rowe*, Kenny Saief*
Find some PT, man: Emerson Hyndman
The seasoned hand: Benny Feilhaber

No surprise, Pulisic is the man here. Sure, some would prefer him out on the wing, but this thin depth chart combined with the number of potential options out wide obviously dictates that CP10 runs the show from the hole. Duh. However, if Saief, Rowe or Gooch (who are wearing asterisks because their primary listing will come at another position) can show a little sumpinsumpin playing behind the striker, maybe moving Pulisic to the flank on occasion can be discussed. Each has the required skills, but maybe not the mindset needed to take the attack keys.

Hyndman clearly needs to get himself into a much busier club situation. Honestly, it's hard to truly judge his international potential until he earns playing time in a league better than the SPL. As for Benny Boy, he is my pick out of three veteran MLS name brand guys for the "In case of emergency, break glass" option. After pondering it for a good while, I just think he'd be better than Kljestan or Nguyen at upholding the system in a 4-3-3. I'm guessing LAFC fans would agree with me on that. Yeah? Good. He can help keep things running in "business as usual" mode when Pulisic and the rest of the Europe-based fellas are unavailable for selection.

- Greg Seltzer

Friday, July 13, 2018

Starting Over: #8

As always, pardon my slack - there's just a lot going on around here lately. Instead of going in numerical order, we'll stick to a field progression by moving to the two-way midfield guys. It's a deep position, if not the deepest in the USMNT pool. Lots of strong competition means lots of movement, and there has been a bit of shuffling for this edition.

Tyler Adams
Weston McKennie
Darlington Nagbe

Hangin' around: Christian Roldan
Need to pick it back up, fellas: Kellyn Acosta, Marky Delgado
Could move up this season: Keaton Parks

Due to a combination of his form, a slight spring slip from McKennie and some tactical thoughts of mine, Adams has moved to the top of the list here. I don't feel our young group is quite ready to hog the ball yet, so the Red Bulls midfielder's game probably provides the better fit at this time. Don't get me wrong: McKennie will no doubt rise again and I've not yet abandoned the idea of them playing side-by-side, but that's definitely a work in very early progress.

Nagbe is out for a couple months, but should be ready for when the fall friendly tests begin. He's been so money for Atlanta, it would be foolish to think he is ready for the out door. In fact, he has plenty to teach our young talents. Roldan hasn't really shined in a US shirt yet, but at 23, he could well line up as our depth man for when European-based players are unavailable (yeah, Adams will be over here soon enough).

Perhaps because he was injured at the start, Acosta has struggled some this season. I'd think he will rebound, but how long before his Euro-interest returns? Yes, I'm absolutely implying that he'll need to make the pond jump to keep up with the Joneses at this position. Delgado has also had a down year so far, and it is certainly reasonable to say he might have a better shot at climbing in a more seasoned and settled USMNT side. It is up to Parks to earn Benfica playing time and gain some of the experience he'll need to leapfrog some of the names ahead of him. Some may project him as a #6, but his defensive abilities need a lot of work and I'm not so eager to move him that far from the attack anyway.

I'll be back tomorrow with the #10 chart. Scout's honor.

- Greg Seltzer

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Starting Over: #6

If you're going to stick a vet in among all the kids, defensive midfield may be the best field slot for it... which is great, I guess because that's what this pool currently offers.

Danny Williams
Geoff Cameron

Michael Bradley

Keep at it, young man: Chris Durkin
Geez, not sure what to do: Wil Trapp
Value there, but perhaps not now: Perry Kitchen

It really would be nice to see what Williams could become with regular time as a "run it down, take it away and move it along safely" destroyer. We all know what Bradley and Cameron have the ability to offer, and hopefully after extended USMNT furloughs those elements can return in full force. I'm leaning Cameron today, because he stays central more and adds an extra set piece defender. Our  stark regression in that area of the game has nagged me for a few years now.

Durkin is a very impressive kid doing often thankless work on a plays (and loses) a lot of close games, but let's remember he has played only 13 pro games to date. Trapp simply doesn't bring enough of a deterrent up the middle, and his nice passing game isn't so cutting that you want him closer to the attack - I fear he may not even prove to be CONCACAF-caliber as a lone defensive midfielder, so he definitely needs some mobile muscle nest to him. I've realized that Kitchen would probably have more value if ours was a stable system team. That, of course, is not the Nats station at this time.

There are others out there who many would like given a run at this position, but in my view, none of them prorate as a pure #6 player. So you'll still see their names in this Clipboard, just not here.

- Greg Seltzer