Saturday, December 15, 2018

A Spine Detour

Okay, you caught me. Between classes and annoying paperwork-y chores, I've been busy all week. But that time hasn't stopped me thinking and plotting the squad make-up. And the thing that has been in my mind all week is the deep midfield region. So today we'll continue heading straight out from goal (the #10 spot and strikers will be next), and we'll double back wide to hit the flank spots last.

That means we'll start this USMNT Clipboard double episode in defensive midfield:

Tyler Adams
Geoff Cameron
Russell Canouse

January camp General (at least): Michael Bradley
Wait-and-see mode: Wil Trapp
Future watch: Chris Durkin, Derrick Jones

Right off the top... yeah, I've now decided that Adams should be listed here, and if he's listed here, he's the starter. And not just because he's potential to groom. He's the guy I'd go to if a big match was scheduled for tomorrow. By the way, same goes for Canouse; he's not just a unseasoned talent pick. My money says the guy could make a difference next year.

Cameron edges out the grizzly guy nod at this time, mainly (but not solely) because I'm concerned about Bradley's play on the ball slowing. I don't assume he's done playing for us, but at the very least, he can still be in the camps overrun with youngsters to show the ropes. A lot of people would prefer to just give up on Trapp, but I'm not one of them. The defensive work in his last US outing was encouraging. I'm not saying he can develop into a destroyer, but if he can add annoying off-the-ball positioning to his outlet game, we might have something. He stays on the fringe in my book. But watch out, as the stock of young guys like Durkin and Jones could well rise in 2019.

Now, on to the two-way sorts:

Darlington Nagbe
Weston McKennie
Sebastian Lletget

It's a tough scrap, show us you belong: Kellyn Acosta, Cristian Roldan

Obviously, Nagbe is not a prized sapling. What he is, right now, is our best ball-hog metronome. McKennie has the higher ceiling, but I'm a little perturbed about how he keeps having to play odd positions for Schalke due to injury crises. Even when he was still in central park, there was still plenty of room to grow toward becoming a possession master like Nagbe. He'll get there.

Lletget could easily be a somewhat puzzling flank problem for opponents, but for sustained impact, I prefer him in this spot. At a very tough spot to find PT, Acosta and Roldan have an uphill battle, despite their talents and even before a few precocious youngun's get growed up. 

- Greg Seltzer


UnitedDemon said...

I pretty much agree. I would hope Danny Williams would stay uninjured long enough to see Trapp fall entirely out of orbit, but, such is life. Canouse really is terrific.

I am also high on Nagbe.

Patrick said...

I'd go with Morales over Cameron. Servania instead of Jones.

Patrick said...

Nagbe is not young and not getting better. He can hold the ball and make a short backwards or sideways pass.

Delgado combines better and will pass forward. Delgado will also play defense.

ZackL said...

@UnitedDemon: I agree with you whole-heartedly about Canouse, he was great during the second of DC's season. He was especially excellent against Columbus in the playoffs, final result aside. We'll see what a full season brings, but I definitely prefer him to Trapp at the moment. I was definitely a bit skeptical when DC signed him, but he's certainly proven me wrong. He deserves a real look.

@Patrick: Nagbe kills me, I (and probably a lot of USMNT fans) keep hoping he'll become our version of Luka Modric. It's too late for that, but he's basically the best dribbler in the player pool, aside from Pulisic. And as such I think that makes him valuable. I think you're right; Delgado offers more defensive cover, but the center of the midfield is already full of hard-working runners who will cover space and play defensively. Nagbe offers something different, even if he can only offer it sporadically at the international level. At any rate, I hope McKennie keeps developing and eventually takes Nagbe's place.