Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Marshals' Office

Time to hit both center back spots, and there are quite a few variables in play here. First, we visit the right CB chart...

Walker Zimmerman/Matt Miazga
Cameron Carter-Vickers

In case of emergency*: Omar Gonzalez
Future watch: Miles Robinson, Chris Richards

Miazga and Zimmerman (who has improved a good deal with his distribution over the last year) are effectively tied for the top spot, which means this one's an all-out battle for now. The former is a little more mobile, but also maybe a little more prone to errors on the move. They're basically even in the air game department. Long story short, this duel is definitely one to watch in the coming months.

Carter-Vickers first needs to sort out his club situation (Spurs have supposedly put him up for sale) and then he needs to sort out his consistency. Gonzalez can still be useful, but only against certain opponents (he's one of those guys who is actually better against higher quality teams that carry play and pack the USMNT in, as opposed to the speedy CONCACAF sorts that hit on the break) and in certain situations when one or both of the top two aren't available for some reason. Robinson is closer than Richards because he plays tons of first team minutes, but probably doesn't have as high a ceiling as the Bayern Munich youngster.

Now it's just a jump to the left...

John Anthony Brooks
Aaron Long
Erik Palmer-Brown

Future watch: Auston Trusty

Like Yedlin, it's been a while since we've seen Brooks at his best for the Nats, but there's no denying his defensive abilities and I love his incisive passing game. In Gregg Berhalter's system, that is a huge plus. HUGE. Long, on the other hand, is the pool's ace at defending on the run. This, of course, means he's the opposite of Gonzo - his best days will likely come against teams that cede a large portion of the ball to the US and live on the counter.

Like Carter-Vickers, Palmer-Brown has to secure his immediate future. He'll go out on loan, for sure, but where? Rapid Vienna reportedly is after him, but that would be a ice-hard no from me. He can do a lot better. And if he does do a lot better, there's no reason that he can't build on the progress made down the Eredivisie stretch last season. Philly youngster Trusty has a lot of great qualities and I feel like he'll eventually put it all together, but that hasn't quite consistently happened yet.

There's also another precocious guy to consider... provided the USMNT can convince him to file a FIFA switch: new Ajax signing Kik Pierie could and likely would vault up the chart if that happens. 

- Greg Seltzer


DaMa said...

Hmm. So would Long not get the start in a match if Brooks is healthy? If I had to pick a pecking order of the non-Brooks guys, Long would be first ... but i recognize he is always on the left. Just not sure how left foot dominant he is. I continue to maintain that a lot of the USMNT fullback issues would be more easily solved by using a 3 CB system. We have a glut of promising young CBs (I am suitably excited by both of your future watch guys... especially Richards) and a dearth of viable full time left backs and some questions at attacking wing. Change to a 3-5-1-1 and play to our strengths. Suddenly Arriola is a better starting choice as he can be more of a wingback and his final third inefficiencies are less of an issue. Yedlin/Cannon could easily be the other guy... or use a more attacking setup with Arriola/Weah... etc.

DaMa said...

(and i appreciate the rocky horror picture show allusion ;))

DaMa said...

(didnt mean to imply that i wasnt excited about Miles Robinson... I would have had him at the Gold Cup... he has been amazing this year)

Greg Seltzer said...

No, separating them into left and right charts does not necessarily mean that Long cannot start alongside, say, Brooks. It's just the base. Of course, some of these guys I'd rather keep on their regular side. Others travel better.

And, in fact, I would actually not be opposed to seeing what Long could do as a left back (albeit one that tends toward staying home more than one that raids the opposing corner).

DaMa said...

I hear you... I certainly think Long would do a better job as a stay at home LB than say, to pick a name at random, someone like Tim Ream.

That being said, if we are using a back 4, I like Long and Brooks together... Long has the kind of speed that can make up for those occasions when Brooks does a risky step-up that fails.

Think there's any chance Berhalter shifts to a back 3, or are we stuck looking for a viable LB for the next 2 years?