Wednesday, October 5, 2011

District #9

No, we won't be discussing fire trucks, school buses or South African aliens today. It's literally the pinnacle of our 4-3-3, the striker. It's also the easiest top choice this side of Tim Howard in our little exercise.

This is the most straightforward job description on the field, really. Naturally, our #9 wants to stay in the middle of the field, make the center backs work, drop back to be available for hold up touches, make effective runs in attack and finish well, by air or land. You like a guy who can score in more than one fashion, preferably all of them. Every purely offensive tool a forward may lack (long shot, aerial ability, dribbling, turning, first-time strikes on the run, etc.) makes him that much easier to defend.

He wants to form a consistent combo relationship at the top of the area with the #10, if not also the #8 (depending on the traits of those particular players). When we're on defense, he wants to stay high, keeping the opposing back line on its heels at the stripe. Oh, and he should be prepared to get his ass kicked around some. Somebody has to win those fouls around the box. Sadly, the "one" a striker takes for his team is not a banana cake donut.

Dammit... now I want a banana cake donut and have none available. You read these while I try to recover emotionally.

#5 - Charlie Davies

Let's not talk specifically about his play for DC United this season. Here's the three-pronged deal: 1) as astutely noted to me by The Armchair Analyst, dude is understandably in need of some down time, 2) it probably was never fair for anyone to expect him to approach 100% athletic return until he'd played a year & 3) no other forward in contention for the second slot here can match his international experience. There were a handful of MLS forwards I could have gone with in this slot and a healthy Conor Casey would have snared it outright, but for now I'm gonna bank a little while longer that the once-incredible goal animal Chuck D can get near all the way back again by June. Let's see how he plays in early 2012 - where ever that may be - and then decide if he's moved up this list or dropped off of it.

#4 - Robbie Findley

Oh, I know. Many will groan, but what I see is a player that is evolving. Findley's near-post runs are still frightening for a defender and he's still suspect with hold-up play, but he's added in a long range game and becoming more difficult to deal with physically in the area. Also on the plus side, he follows system protocol to the letter and has shown he can find space to receive. With four goals across all competitions, including one against Newcastle, the former RSL is Nottingham Forest's joint top-scorer thus far this term despite being only third in minutes at striker. Let's see if the growth curve continues.

#3 - Edson Buddle

Like Findley, Buddle is the leading attacker on his team even though he's been a mere spot starter this season. He provides a decent enough aerial target, though all of his hold up touches could use some polish. The Ingolstadt striker has a nice ability to gain shooting separation on the dribble. As he will be 33 come World Cup, the next eight months worth of friendlies could present his window to prolonged activity. If not or if he flubs lines, we will probably be talking about another, younger player over the back half of 2012. As of now, he seems the best choice for what the Dutch amusingly call the "pinch hitter" role - the guy who comes off the bench to provide power forward actions.

#2 - Juan Agudelo

When deciding who would be the back-up here, I had to weigh into it the fact that the back-up will likely be relegated to sub minutes during early qualifiers. Thinking in that light, what seemed a really difficult choice became easier. Agudelo is fearless going at the defense (perhaps sometimes too much so) and adds instant jump to attack. In fact, I'd not be against him used as a winger off the bench, either... having him run toward a defense at angles when they also need to keep track of you-know-who in the middle just sounds dangerous. He's shown a willingness in (if not always an acumen for) holding up the ball and a flair for hopping off the bench to make plays. Besides, the more coaching he gets, the better. It's sponge time, so let's be teaching him at every opportunity.

#1 - Jozy Altidore

Seriously, I think it's safe to say the AZ sniper is well on his way to fulfilling all that #9 promise. As I promised. Which I will never let you forget.


Tomorrow, we cover the #10's. I can hardly wait for the inevitable widespread abuse to start!

- Keepers
- Right backs
- Right center backs
- Left center backs
- Left backs
- Defensive midfielders
- Right wingers
- Two-way midfielders

- Greg Seltzer


Jon said...

I wonder how far away from this list Bobby Wood is. He's someone to keep an eye on.

Juan has so much potential, but seems to be in a crappy sitation with Backe as his couch. Juan, while healthy, has only played 25 mins over the last three games. I thought the point of him staying in MLS is to play.

Good list Greg. Any chance you see Agudelo moving somewhere in the next year, where he can get either better instruction, or more playing time?

Greg Seltzer said...

Bobby Wood is a long way off this list, and he would be up for a winger position anyway. He stills needs to crack the 1860 line-up.

Agudelo moving in the next year? Hard to predict, but if I had to guess, I'd guess that he will at least complete the 2012 season in MLS. And I doubt with anyone other MLS team than New York. They won't give him up inside the league. No way. I'd eat my hat... the scratchy one.

carrschilling said...

#10 will be great to read. Gotta be Adu at number one because he brings the requisite vision of the #10, something clear for all to see at the gold cup.
Other option would be Torres, though i'd argue that Torres does not have the vision and ability to advance the ball forward with the same incisive passes that Adu can play.

Who else deserves a mention ?
5.Sacha Kljestan
4.Mikkel Diskerud
3.Benny Feilhaber

Jon said...

I don't think he'll make the list now,but in 5 years,our best #10 could be Gil. That kid is a stud.

illson said...

CD9 and Fidnley over Teal Bunbury? Hey Greg, was Teal way off the list or amongst the also rans?

Greg Seltzer said...

Bunbury was just a shade off the list, and obviously he could move up before June. As of now, there are a lot of holes in his game, even if he is among the most suited for the role from a physical standpoint.

With Findley, he's improved since leaving MLS. It's that simple. He is causing all sorts of trouble for opposing defenses off the bench, in a fast and physical league. Right now, I'm on board. I'm not judging what they've done in the past. I'm ranking by who I think can get it done game one in June.

illson said...

Works for me. And thanks for the great feature. Love the idea and the top 5's with commentary.

Jay said...

Gil is too young to be a stud, but damn if he isn't in the right place to become one. Frankly, I don't know who in MLS is better for him to be learning from than Javi Morales. Give him two years and he'll be starting every match for RSL, and pushing the USMNT lineup the year after that.