Thursday, March 5, 2020

Command Center

Work duties have been coming one after or another for me lately, but while I have a spare moment, let's move on to the Clipboard center back charts. We'll tackle both at once, plus a dire contingency reserve crew.

And I can't believe I'm about to say this yet again... but these USMNT stations seem pretty clear-cut at the moment. We'll go left to right this time.

John Anthony Brooks
Aaron Long
Tim Ream

It could certainly be argued that the top choices here represent the most ideal pairing out of the entire central defense pool. Brooks has confounded us from time to time with some real stinkers in a US shirt, but he's still easily the most talented and complete center back available. Long should be the obvious choice when Brooks isn't around for some reason or another, especially when we expect to be on the front foot most of the game. I've said ti many times before: He's a true ace at defending on the run. Meanwhile, Ream has happily complicated matters by going on what has been by far his strongest run of Nats showing in recent appearances, and at this point in his career you know there isn't much he hasn't seen barreling his way.

Miles Robinson
Walker Zimmerman
Matt Miazga

If he's fit, I'd partner young Mr. Robinson with Brooks (and not just because he needs experience at this level before shit gets super-real). He reads the game so well and can make just about any play you'd want. Zimmerman is a fairly safe choice (which I know isn't always the best choice) and the biggest threat on attacking set pieces. Miazga (who's still only 24, mind you) has maybe slipped a tad this season, but remains capable of top-shelf outings. I actually kinda wish he'd stayed at Vitesse a season longer to firm up his ball pursuit and passing games, but we're past that now.

And then there's my "break in case of emergency" group...

Justen Glad
Omar Gonzalez
Cameron Carter-Vickers

This order isn't etched in stone, as picking which one gets the disaster relief call depends on exactly who would be missing at a given time. Honestly, I'm surprised (and even a little annoyed) that Glad hasn't had a cap yet. I'm definitely perturbed that Real Salt Lake coaches keep pretending he shouldn't be a lock starter in the middle - it should be glaringly obvious by now. I have no doubt many will scoff at the inclusion of Gonzalez, but he re-demonstrated his worth after arriving in Toronto last season and actually has a pretty impressive performance record when facing the top tier of world teams. His struggles maddeningly tend to come when you don't expect them. Carter-Vickers (who's still only 22) has so much potential, but hasn't quite put it all together. If he ever finds consistency, perhaps he'd also find a steady club home, which would likely benefit everyone.

- Greg Seltzer

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