Saturday, December 19, 2020

Guard Dogs

Okay, I've put a lot (read: too much) thought into portioning the cast of seemingly thousands that now jam pack the USMNT's overall midfield frame. There might be a name or two that seem to be missing from this gate-keeper list, but it's more than likely that I simply decided they don't properly belong at the #6 spot at the international level.

Of course, I normally put a group of three at the top, but this time the starter is such an obvious choice that he sucks up most of the oxygen here.

Tyler Adams
Russell Canouse

Getting close: Hassani Dotson
Looking for a level leap in 2021: Chris Durkin, Johnny, James Sands 
Misused in club life: Derrick Jones, Mauricio Pineda

Now that Gregg Berhalter has installed Adams in front of the back line, he'll probably remain there for much of the decade. He's a mobile destroyer that can now spark rushes with his passing = I'm quite happy with this position. Even though he's been playing (way too much) right back for D.C. United, Canouse belongs in defensive midfield and is arguably a clear second choice on quality of protection for the defense.

Now we get to the mob of kids revving up for a roster run. I'm very impressed with the athletic capabilities and rising situational maturity of Dotson (23 years old), and he comes with the added benefit of also being a suitable back-up option for the entire right side. Durkin (20) is doing well in Belgium, but he should get better. The same goes for Johnny (19), who needs to improve with the ball, and Sands (20), who needs to improve defensively.

Then there's Jones and Pineda (both 23), who would benefit greatly from shifting to the #6 in club life. Jones is often pushed up the field, but his physical skills have always suggested (to me, anyway) that he'd be an ideal destroyer who can drive forward when the time is right. Pineda played a decent rookie season for Chicago as a central defender, but he seems best suited to play as a deep-lying distributor that, yeah, can also defend. Two different looks at the role from two talented guys that would likely enjoy a position change at their day jobs.

Tomorrow, we'll move on to the #8 slot, otherwise known as easily the most clogged position on the entire Clipboard.

- Greg Seltzer


Unknown said...

I'm hoping the #8s didn't get lost in the void..

Greg Seltzer said...

Nope, they're going up in a few hours. Been a busy (and eventually lazy) holiday period.