Saturday, August 3, 2019

A Full Deck of Crazy 8's

So now we've reached what is probably the deepest chart on the Clipboard by a fair margin: the box-to-box midfielders.

Weston McKennie
Darlington Nagbe
Paxton Pomykal

Getting close: Jackson Yueill
Situational use only: Cristian Roldan
Future watch: Christian Cappis, Keaton Parks, Gedion Zelalam

If not for the age disparity/eye to the future, McKennie and Nagbe are likely options 1A and 1B for me. The former obviously has the higher ceiling we need to reach for, while the latter is for now  easily the more consistent traffic director. McKennie should keep improving and will hopefully round out his game to be more responsible defensively. Frankly, I'm not sure why Nagbe has been all but ignored since the T&T shipwreck back in 2017 (he was far from the worst offender that gruesome night). He's quite possibly the best crowd handler/build passer in MLS.

That brings us to Pomykal, which despite him being uncapped, brings us to three guys I'd be quite comfortable starting in a competitive match. He arguably brings the most offensive upside of this entire bunch and has been a revelation off the ball. His first call is overdue. Yueill has been nearly as impressive; he's a very similar player on the ball, but with a little less central park bite. It's also high time we see him in red, white & blue.

Roldan is basically a "close out the game" bench option at this point. His club form has never really crystallized in a USMNT shirt, but jeez he's still only 24. The three young guys are all highly intriguing. You may not be well aware of Cappis (or aware at all, even) - if so, check this out. He plays quick, smart and with both feet, and can already compete physically among men as a 19-year-old. Parks definitely has the athleticism and the technical skills, and I'm confident the game savvy will follow. Zelalam is smooth as silk on the ball, but needs to bring more impact in both sides of midfield play. That said, he has been one of the brighter spots in a fairly dim summer for Sporting KC.

This group is so packed, there was simply no room for other decent candidates such as Acosta (who I've not counted out, but seems to be slightly regressing in Colorado), Morales (his passing game simply doesn't cut it for me) and an again-resurgent Diskerud (who actually could be a solid creative option off the bench, but is up against a list of guys way younger at this point). This position will be a dogfight supreme for years to come.

- Greg Seltzer

1 comment:

DaMa said...

Pretty much on board here. I know you were wondering ;)

In all honesty, I think I am done with Roldan. I mean clearly you pretty much are too... situational use is probably not good enough to earn a regular roster spot, which seems about right. He reminds me of the old-person reference to the Ralston line. Good enough to be a solid MLS starter/occasional all-star consideration. But not good enough to impact against non-concacaf minnows. AKA situational.

I've been liking what I've been seeing in NY from Parks. Needs some seasoning so his decision-making gets a bit better, but really seems like he can fill the same role as Wes.

Now that Latif has re-upped for LAFC, it seems like he may become eligible at some point, right? Obviously he's been a revelation at what is a new position for him... where do you think he fits in if hes eligible? I think he'd be alongside Yueill, but maybe higher?

USMNT should send ALmeyda a thank-you basket for the work he's done reclaiming some of these guys. TT may start working his way in to the discussion and Lima SHOULD be getting a long look on the left side (heck he's got to be a better choice there than Lovitz, right?) Anyway... I digress...