Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Heart of the (Defense) Matter

I've made you all wait more than long enough for the next Clipboard position, so let's play two today. They're really a tandem set, anyway. First, the right center backs...

Matt Miazga
Justen Glad
Erik Palmer-Brown

Being monitored this season: Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman

As you will surely notice, I am mostly ready to turn the page in central defense. Miazga is having a nice season with Vitesse, and stands as the clear starter here for now. I'm very high on Glad, while EPB is fresh off his first Kortrijk start (onward and upward, hopefully).

I'm also apt to keep these two stables tight for the time being, but the new MLS season is upon us and I'm always up for being impressed (or re-impressed in the case of Zimmerman). Now, we'll slide to the left...

John Anthony Brooks*
Ike Opara
Cameron Carter-Vickers

In with a shot: Tim Parker

The starter is a big fat "duh" provided he can, ya know, get/stay healthy. I normally don't include injured folk, but since we're so far off from competitive action, I'll just hang an asterisk on him. That leaves Opara as the temporary start, because a) he plays somewhat similar to Brooks & b) I don't want to put too much on CCV too fast.

That said, I would like to see the youngster get some PT against against Paraguay and/or Ireland. I could easily see Parker's trade to the Red Bulls working out well for him in a USMNT-calls regard. 

- Greg Seltzer


Patrick said...

Agree with all this. Sad thing is, not one of these players was even on the preliminary roster for the game against T&T.

Paul Poenicke said...

If one is simply looking at the T&T game as a one-off, must win, then it is misguided to want any of these players for that match. Ideally, Arena does a better job of integrating younger players, and might bring in a few from this group for the prelim roster whom he eventually sends home before the game. Aside from that counterfactual, Bruce's personnel issues do not extend to not picking from this group with less than 20 total caps to their name. Let's not imagine that a spontaneous "play the kids" tactic gets us a result; at the very least, it it irrational to trust severely inexperienced players to get a point away in such an important match.

Greg Seltzer said...

I don't actually agree with that. This is precisely the type of spin they like to put out after failures, as if there's really no way anyone could blame them for the precise criticisms received. Not only that, but players were available to be seasoned before it came down to one game.

And, of course, all the experience certainly didn't gain the one point needed at T&T.

Patrick said...

The T&T game was simply the last game in qualifying. It was the 17th game or so under Arena after 10 months. Plenty of time to integrate all our talented players. It was a choice not to, not something that had to be done. Every player on the field that night had played in a WCQ with less than 20 caps. There is no minimum caps needed.

Paul Poenicke said...

Patrick and Greg:

I agree with you: Bruce should’be used his friendlies, the Gold Cup, and other qualifiers to season these players. This would’ve allowed grater flexibility to see if these players could in fact be replacements and/or starters during the later stages of the Hex.

My point is that without such seasoning, it would be reckless at best to send out a backline of these players to obtain a crucial point at T&T to get to the World Cup. Once Bruce limited his options, he was forced into playing the shallow, aging pool he developed. My issue is with the fans who think that youth, unseasoned and with very limited caps, would’ve magically done better in the final game than what actually transpired, or that playing those individuals was a sound, rational decision.