Monday, March 23, 2020

Moving On (The #8 Song)

It's quite clear now that USMNT observers cannot count on Darlington Nagbe moving forward, and really, that's okay. It's not like we're short of options loaded with upside.

Weston McKennie
Jackson Yueill

Paxton Pomykal    
Getting close: Keaton Parks
Situational use: Cristian Roldan
Future watch: Christian Cappis, Brandon Servania

So yeah, McKennie is back to being the clear starter here, but he should breathe no sigh of relief. Yueill (who I prefer in this role, rather than in the #6 slot) and Pomykal should provide great competition for this job for years to come. And before long, we may be putting Parks in that group. Each of those four has a distinct specialty and plenty of room to grow their overall game.

McKennie has been molded by the highest level of opposition, but needs to maintain a two-way presence better. Yueill is the patented outlet sprayer, but can become more consistent defensively. Pomykal has impact on both sides of the ball and vision for days, yet is unproven at this level. The same can be said of Parks, who supports the offense as good as any of them and gets properly stuck in.  

Some may find Roldan limited and/or unnecessary here, but I'd certainly not go that far. One would imagine he'll still have his chances, especially against CONCACAF foes. Cappis is an intriguing prospect from a ball-control standpoint, while Servania looks like more of a blunt instrument option. Both could well be useful for a long time. Honestly, the depth and versatility at this position keeps the 5-4-1 (or, gasp, even a 3-6-1!) in as a viable alternate formation.

- Greg Seltzer

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