Monday, August 12, 2019

The Key Master

My week-long radio silence (it was quite crazy around here) ends by tackling the second of our two great station debates. We already dealt with the issue of which position best suits Tyler Adams, and now the #10 chart settles another big argument (I wish).

Christian Pulisic
Emerson Hyndman
Duane Holmes

In the frame:
Djordje Mihailovic
Break in case of emergency: Mikkel Diskerud
Future watch: Brenden Aaronson

While there will almost certainly come a time when a young central playmaker will emerge so Pulisic can be used out on the wing, keeping him out of central park traffic to unleash his full attacking potential, that time has not yet arrived. He's still needed to organize the offense, even if he tends to fan out wide a lot (we'll account for that with the wing selections, trust me).

Quite predictably, Hyndman has fit in well with Atlanta United. Even if he's not an outright final ball artist or forceful late run type, he can direct traffic forward well enough. Frankly, I nearly included Diskerud in the top three, if only as a suitable creator off the bench, but his use will be limited by having too far to travel while his club is in season.

Albeit conditionally, that leave Mihailovic to take that slot, even if he still needs to be much more efficient and forceful in the final third. Of all the young up-and-comers with sights on this role, Aaronson stands closest to frame. One simply must be impressed with any 18-year-old that can earn 19 of 26 starts in such a stacked, experienced midfield stable for East leaders Philly.

A year or two from now, this chart will likely look a whole lot different. For now, it is what it is, and no amount of bemoaning the idea of Pulisic in "the middle" should change that. This is where he's needed, at least temporarily.

EDIT: I was under the impression that Holmes would be out for a little while, but apparently he returned to full training on Friday and shold be available before long. As such, he slides into that third spot, a choice I'm more comfortable with right now than having Mihailovic there. Holmes mixes grit with his creative game, and is more quickly decisive than the Fire youngster. 

- Greg Seltzer

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