Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Fresh Clipboard: #9

And so we've reached the last position, which probably won't make anyone super-happy for the time being. There has definitely been a talent gap at the striker spot, and the kids aren't quite ready for prime time yet. What we have now is two guys between 24 & 28 that can score, a small variety of unproven options and a wait.

*Bobby Wood

*Juan Agudelo
Jozy Altidore

*Dom Dwyer
*Christian Ramirez

Please find a coach that wants you: Aron Jóhannsson
Worth monitoring next season: Jeremy Ebobisse, Bradford Jamieson IV
Let's see where he begins with Bremen in January: Josh Sargent

Something tells me Wood won't be the starter when the next World Cup rolls around, but he's the guy now. When his movement is unnerving defenses, things happen for the USMNT. When it's not... 

It's also finally time to give Agudelo some proper looks as a #9. Make him stay high and let's see if he can lead a line. We've seen stray episodes suggesting he can, but he also hasn't scored for the Nats in over two-and-a-half years.

This will surely annoy some, but I'm certainly not ready to make Altidore (who turns 28 on Monday) walk the plank. He's easily the best all-around striker in the bunch and could realistically play a savvy, hungry part in the next World Cup qualification run.

I'm also not sure Ramirez, who is 26, will be able to complete the next cycle at top form. I say it's better to find out. His game suggests he could be a bench weapon. Dwyer, meanwhile, seemed to figure out Orlando City before the season ended.

Until a few others age some, the three youngsters stand as the prospect crew. I wish we had more young guys with more experience, but we'll only get that with time. I kinda expect Sargent will see his first team debut for Werder Bremen some time in 2018. And we'll all be watching. Ebobisse has less MLS time to date, but I like his potential as a Ramirez-type. Jóhannsson needs a new job in January, for starters.

On Saturday, we'll start diving deeper into the pool with the multiple position availability question. After that, we'll go over some new technical chore lists and pick a line-up for the Portugal friendly.

- Greg Seltzer


Patrick said...

If he would make the one time switch, where on the list would you put Jordan Siebatcheu?

DaMa said...

I am one of those who think that Bobby Wood just isn't as good as he is made out to be. I know he holds the ball up well and makes intelligent runs... but I don't have any clue if he is a good passer of the ball because he refuses to do so and has two club feet. Sure he can score a rare important lucky rebound goal and if he gets in alone from his great runs 3 times in a game he will probably put one away, but for my money the reliance on his overrated play is a large part of what was a problem this cycle.

UnitedDemon said...

Bobby Wood is good enough to play in the Bundesliga on form, and that's not something you throw away. He might be in a negative spiral, but there's a reason we talk about Sophomore Slumps.

Hamburg KNOWS he can score, and they invested in HIM. Money is important to Hamburg, and they bought an American striker when they were in a death spiral, and that's freaking amazing, historically.

I sure as hell hope Jozy isn't done. He's great. I mean, in the history of the US, he's maybe the best #9 we've ever had, and I'm including the great McBride in here, as well.

Jozy has rewarded the US for his playing time with goals and vital build up and assists. He's done it since he was a teenager, and we should keep giving him stuff. So what if he wasn't effective in the EPL, he was playing for shit teams!!!! If Man City had signed him, you know how many easy goals he scores? A LOT!!!

So, yeah, excited for the future, not ready to throw Jozy under the bus for T&T nightmare.

Unknown said...

Maybe hamburg was wrong. Wood had one pretty good year in 2B and otherwise has been meh his whole career. Great in flashes and otherwise not existent. If he doesnt score in that friendly against germany, he's an MLS player right now.

But beggars cant be choosers so he's a pretty good option for us right now.

UnitedDemon said...

Hamburg stayed up with Bobby helping them, Hamburg wasn't wrong. It's whether they're willing to cut their losses with him, and nothing more. He should still get looks off the bench, and hope that the god of goals going in the net smiles upon him again.

Remember when Jozy had a really hot night?

My point being, Hamburg were smart to sign him, and not great to talk publicly about an obvious hard ship for him.

DaMa said...

I am not saying Wood had nothing to do with Hamburg staying up, or that he is *awful*, but that doesn't make him good OR the future. I just don't think he is a Bundesliga quality forward when he is playing at his baseline. At his best, he certainly is, but when not at his best, I think he serves as a black hole, sucking in the ball and releasing nothing. The one thing going for Wood is he is still young-ish and a lot of his problems are related to his unwillingness and inability to share the ball. Those are fixable problems, I guess.

I was curious to compare him with his Bundesliga peers. No need to read further if you are already bored:

There's a lot of factors to consider when comparing players playing for poor clubs and good clubs, but I watch a lot of Bundesliga soccer and I just don't see Wood being better than "able to take advantage of CONCACAF" but how does one really show that in leagues that are top heavy. I tried to pick a baseline comparison of a typical player in Wood's position.

Picking a random mid to bottom table team, let's say Freiburg. They score fewer goals, have struggling 23 year old (mostly) forward in Haberer and seem a good comparison. This season, Haberer has played 70 more minutes or so, so I'll use averages. Haberer has 1 g, 1 a, 1.2 chances created per game (33% higher than Wood), 0.9 successful dribbles (28% higher than Wood), 1 shot on goal per game (33% less than Wood), 1.6 fouls per game (15% more than Wood), 73% pass completion (only 10% higher than Wood, as this is the one stat that has gone up for Wood so far this season).

You get the point. Comparing him the two players yields two struggling, non-successful Bundesliga forwards and Wood is still the worse of the two.

For the record, in the year Hamburg stayed up, Wood had 5 goals and two assists in 23 starts (28 matches, about 2100 minutes), averaged less than one chance created per match (barely less) and passed the ball at about a 61% clip. Other than the goal scoring, this year the numbers are effectively identical. And let's not pretend that a 20ish% goal rate in the season Hamburg stayed up is anything to write home about.

I am more than ready to give Agudelo (or anyone) a chance. Both have been successful against CONCACAF and at least Juan passes the ball.

DaMa said...

"fouls" per game should have been "fouled"

UnitedDemon said...

I see a lot of words DaMA. He's a black hole because he wants to score. He wants to score because he's a goal scorer. He's a goal scorer because he can be the #9. He's a number 9 because he's a fighter. He's not scoring because opposing defenses won't give him easy chances, because they watch him play, and know his game. If he doesn't score soon, he's likely going to be sold. IF he's sold, he has to start over somewhere where they might not be so trusting, by a coach who may be fired.

Personally, I would never go to the press and say that someone is in a negative spiral, because now the press has something to get in his head about.

I think Bobby Wood will be the prince of wales for that position until Josh Sargent or somebody pries it from his cold, non-scoring hands.

I've watched Wood play, he's in a sophomore slump, as is Pulisic. End of story.

I don't disagree with your numbers, but numbers don't play soccer. That's FIFA video games, and they only have gotten better because EVERyone plays FIFA, for like 10 minutes.

tzvi said...

i think wood does do a lot of work that doesn't show up on a stat-sheet

but i think he's not a bundesliga quality striker right now and i'm not sure he will develop.

Unknown said...

Sophomore slump? What was last year then? Its not a slump he's just not at that high of a level.

UnitedDemon said...

Signed last season. This is his second season in the Bundesliga. Same for Pulisic. Americans ALWAYS have a sophomore slump. It's one of the things that makes us American. That and being fitter than most countries.

DaMa said...

@uniteddemon: I can't buy into the theory that goal scorers don't need to pass because they are goal scorers. I certainly don't buy into the fact that statistical analysis doesnt matter in today's sports world.

Neither Wood nor Pulisic are really having a sophomore slump. Dortmund are playing awfully (still terrible defense) but Pulisic hasnt been the reason. His pass completion rate is up to 81% from 73% last year, he is averaging slightly more chances created per match, more successful take ons and he has slightly more goals per minute that he did last year. The real crux is Dortmund and specifically Aubamayeng have fallen off a cliff.

As the numbers I cited above point out, Wood isn't really slumping either. He is one goal off his scoring rate last year. That is not statistically significant given the sample size. He just isn't that good.

The most shocking assertion in your reply is that stats dont matter, just the eye test and yet somehow Pulisic (who clearly looks as good as ever) is in a sophomore slump.

UnitedDemon said...

I never said statistical analysis doesn't have it's place, but it's still the beginning of numbers in soccer. They're fresh, hot, minty, but utterly pointless when you have to pick a squad. And when you choose forwards, you have a LOT to weigh.

I want zero goals from Bobby Wood for at least four months before he's out of the top spot.

UnitedDemon said...

And Pulisic is in a statistical sophomore slump, which situation-aly puts you firmly in the category of irony. I know I just made up a word, but, fun fact, scholars can't point to anyone using the word ROAD before Shakespeare used it. So, top THAT with your numbers, numbers guy!!!!

p.s. I'm being facetious. I believe that the answer, as always, lies in reality, which no mere fan or even coach can quantify.

gratefulag said...

Wow. Juan Agudelo couldn't shine the shoes of a decent striker. Needs to go back overseas with Morris, honestly.

- Bobby Wood is probably one of the best 2or3 options up top. The dissapointment is just that we don't have anyone else, not that BWood isn't good or some other nonsense like that.

- I would expect to see some other options listed (e.g. Weah, Boyd, and Julian Green), but then again I'm not the expert.

tzvi said...

bobby wood isn't in a sophomore slump. he is bad this year just like he was bad last year.

pulisic is not in a sophomore slump. as DaM mentions, auba's form is the biggest difference for BvB and for pulisic's lack of assists.

but yeah the big thing is just lack of other options.

interested to see what altidore does with his career / life but he's the #1. hopefully we can hire a manager who knows how to use him

UnitedDemon said...

I fully gree with gratefulag about Bobby.

DaMa said...

Unfortunately Jozy will be in his 30's next world cup. Maybe he doesn't drop too far as he is a pretty impressive physical specimen, but I am not sure he should be the focus. I really don't know what to think about him. He is clearly our most talented striker by a huge margin, but from far away as just a fan knowing nothing about what is really going on, there are too many matches where I watch Jozy and wonder what is on his mind. Then again I used to have the same issue with Deuce, but he grew out of it.

DaMa said...

Green has zero goals and zero assists in 430 minutes for a Bundesliga 2 side. I don't know what you expect out of that.

Boyd is a 26 year old striker who can't get a start for a Bundesliga 2 side. He at least has as goal, though it didnt earn him more pt.

Weah had a pretty good u17 world cup. I have no clue how close he is to being relevant at PSG. I would say, given who plays for PSG, a minimum of 3 years. And I mean that's CP10 rate of success at a club that does not have the reputation of Dortmund as far as promoting from within.

I am not saying Bobby Wood isn't in our top 3 or 4 strikers right now. I am just saying he isn't very good and we should be spending the next 4 years finding better options (or waiting until he improves to hand him starts).

gratefulag said...

You're evaluating this as though there are better options. Let me know who those people are DaMa, please. I'll take the former Bayern youth player who scored a peach of a goal at the WC over 95% of what's available in our pool. Real quick... To reinforce this point, in the world cup it was Julian Green, not the in-form MLS legend Wondolowski, who scored in a tight match. Pressure and competition matter in all sports.

UnitedDemon said...

Wow. gratefulag, you got this. I'm stepping back.

Unknown said...

Julian green mishit his world cup goal. Tried to volley it with his laces and ended up shanking it off the side of his foot. Lucky to shank it in. Beyond that, he has 2 goal in 23 games in 3 years of being a senior footballer. All these points are kinda moot here cuz he's played 22 of those 23 games as a winger. I'll take most MLS strikers before a non-striker who's barely played senior football and barely scored a goal in his life.

I'd take wood right now, and jozy will be fine at age 32 next world cup (because 32 isnt that old, not because he's a 'physical specimen' which he's not. Not every black athlete is.) But neither of those two has a lock on the position. If weah, sargent, or morris are playing (unlike green) well (unlike wood) at a decent level (unlike jozy) than the position is there for the taking. Obviously, wood or jozy can solidify their spot by remedying their deficiencies. All three of those guys are probably 2 or 3 years away from factoring. Maybe haji wright will push that spot within the next year or two.

UnitedDemon said...

Ugh, not the Green was lucky bullshit. It was a round of 16 goal, in extra time! Did he have to make it perfect, or just in?!??!!?!?

I never understand why people denigrate that shot.

You're right about Jozy and Wood, and I have hopes for Haji, too, though Sargent might be the real gem.

Unknown said...

Randomly shanking a ball into a goal is not indicative of a player's ability.

UnitedDemon said...

We have seen that Green is not the next Robben, probably, but he still scored that goal, and no one can take that away from him.

Personally, I wish DC United would make him a DP. We could use some pedigree in the stable.

DaMa said...

Better options? I would be giving Sargent and Wright time over Wood at this point. Morris isn't healthy now, but he would be on my list ahead of Wood right now. This is not me saying that this second Haji is better than Wood. Maybe he isn't... but he is on an upward trajectory of improvement for 4 years from now... Wood (to me) is not.

Don't paint me as a Wondo (this generation's Jason Kreis) supporter either. Landon Donovan should have been there ahead of both Green and Wondo. But please don't talk to me about Julian Green's "peach" of a goal. I am not "taking it away from him" but talk about absolutely destroying your own credibility. It was great he scored it and everything but pointing to that goal as evidence of Green's talent is just ... strange at best.

I do agree that Green is certainly someone who should move back to MLS if he wants to have any chance of playing time. I think that would do his game a world of good in the right situation. DC isn't a bad choice, they might even try to make him a striker instead of a wing, which I believe he prefers, and Arriola, Acosta and Green would make a decent triangle in MLS.

DaMa said...

(sorry I said "back to MLS" for some odd reason... obviously just meant "to MLS"

DaMa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DaMa said...

I'll delete my response to the accusation that somehow Jozy's race has anything to do with my view on his conditioning and shake my head in shame about responding in anger to a moron troll.

The man doesn't drink or do drugs (also has nothing to do with his race... though it does have something to do with his religion so maybe that makes me anti-religion... which I kind of am) and has a body that I would kill for. He is an absolute rock. Go look at any of a billion pictures of him without his shirt on.

UnitedDemon said...

Whoa, you said that Jozy was black, wait, hold on now, what???

DaMa said...

No, I didn't. I did say he was in great shape. Not sure what brought on the other nonsense, but not worth repeating assininity. Shrug.

UnitedDemon said...

Fair enough, I guess.

Greg Seltzer said...

It was Dany that made that stray remark about Jozy. Regardless, take a deep breath.

DaMa said...

Yep, I did that and am past it. You should see the post I deleted, thats the one that needed the deep breath :)

UnitedDemon said...

Wow. That was more dramatic than you get normally on no short corners.

UnitedDemon said...

BTW, Greg, I sent Sean and yourself an email, that I would love to hear back about. Some time before the glaciers thaw.