Friday, September 30, 2011

With Plan A already in the waste can before we start...

Yep, the Stuart Holden bad news changed things in both this defensive midfield ranking and the two-way man list to drop on Tuesday. As I said on day one, those injured past January can take drops, as our view here is to the first qualifier.

Originally, I had Holden (out until April-ish) as the topper at the #8 position and Michael Bradley atop this depth chart. As Mikey is one of the designated players I've deemed able to work from two places in the formation with no level drop, I've slid him over to that middle midfield post in the name of balance.

Enough of that spoiler alert, let's talk job description. The defensive midfielder has so many duties that you want someone who is full of organized determination.

At the back, some of the main responsibilities are eliminating open shots from the top of the area, tracking the late runner into the box and making sure the opposing #10 gets no time to deal. There are others, some of which change slightly depending on the opponent's set, but these three are universal here and stand out most if they go undone. As previously discussed, this man will also hang behind a center back dribbling forward.

In the middle of the park, this man's first defensive thought is to be home. Unless he knows he can cut off the passing lane to the opposing #10, he'll be content just to keep his back in sight. He does not want to get passed up the middle with the ball under any circumstance, especially if a defender is caught up, and he does not want to be dragged out wide. If you approach the top of his area from any direction, he wants to be in your face. He wants to negate any passing lane that points to that area. You get the idea.

This is your safety man up the gut, your disruptor. To this end, it certainly doesn't hurt if he's also good in the air and can challenge without fouling excessively - whistles on him are usually very dangerous free kicks.

In transition, ideally you want this guy to have velvet receiving touch even under duress, an ace's knack for shielding, good one-step separation skills and a nice lead pass wide. He'll move forward to keep a triangle shape in midfield, holding during possession at about the level of wingbacks not in the act of running two-man game at the box or corner... imagine a standard "half court offense" formation snapshot as one that looks 3-2-3-2 squeezed into the attack half, with this player in the middle of the deeper "3". Urgh, I need a blog-o-strator.

Offensively, the favored traits are an accurate long shot and ability to support the two more attacking midfielders in possession. Of course, any and all varieties of area entry skill passes are welcome, but simply dishing it quickly to someone better equipped to make plays is perfectly acceptable.

If you think this description was laborious, just wait until the #8.

#5 - Daniel Williams

I'll be forthright; I've not been overly impressed with him as a Bundesliga wingback. However, I have seen him show great promise as a physical disruptor with a silky lead pass. With right back already crowded, Klinsi may be thinking the same thing. Williams could move up this list if he breaks into Hoffenheim's starting midfield.

#4 - Kyle Beckerman

The RSL dude has done alright in his appearances as an empty bucket CM, but I'd like to see what he can do as the #6. Perhaps simplifying his tasks down to the things he does best will elevate his international game.

#3 - Jonathan Spector

See the last line of Beckerman's blurb. Of all those listed, Spector is easily the best man for drops into the backline. I do sometimes wonder, however, if he's been doomed to handyman-land forever.

#2 - Geoff Cameron

Many very smart folks want him in central defense, but I'd prefer his considerable offensive skills above the area not go to waste. And think about it... is there an ask in that description above he can't handle? I'm still trying to figure out how he only has one cap to date.

#1 - Maurice Edu

The combination of Holden's setback and a form surge with Rangers makes Mo a starter. Some may not agree, but I have no doubt this is Edu's natural role. If he can continue displaying the receiving touch and dispersal promptness of late, he will prove me right. As a bonus, he is a tough-ass mark on danger set pieces and always seems to find the ball during any ensuing scramble.


Tomorrow, we jump over to right wing (a ka the #7 position) for some fun. Here are the oldies...

- Keepers
- Right backs
- Right center backs
- Left center backs
- Left backs

- Greg Seltzer


Will said...

Bravo Greg:

" want someone who is full of organized determination."

Jay said...

Call me reactionary, but I can't wait to see Ricardo Clark get left out of the depth chart for the #8.

Jesse said...

Interesting that you don't consider either Jermaine Jones or Ricardo Clark on the depth chart for this role. Klinsmann doesn't seem to rate Jones highly either, and since he isn't playing enough with Schalke to sway opinions his time on the national team might already be past.

Jay said...

Did something untoward happen to Spector today? He was pulled in the 12th minute of Birmingham's match with Nottingham Forest.