Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The L Words

I know this sounds crazy, but bear with me: There may soon be a time when worrying about the USMNT left back depth chart will be a thing of the past. No, really. It won't be tomorrow, or perhaps even until the 2026 cycle. But it's coming.

Sergiño Dest
Sam Vines
Antonee Robinson

In the frame: Chase Gasper, Aaron Herrera
Break glass in case of emergency: Ryan Hollingshead

As noted before, opportunity cost dictates we slide Dest to the left. As noted before, he's not a big crosser and certainly doesn't mind joyriding to the middle for a crack at goal, so playing on the left only really affects him defensively. We'll find out how much it affects him in 2021. Hopefully, it's not much.

I've become increasingly psyched about Vines' potential as this year has progressed. I've always appreciated his more subtle talents, but now that he's burning down lines with lead balls down the flank, umm... yes please thank you very much. Meanwhile, Robinson is getting an "Ivy League" education with Fulham, even if they've enjoyed a bit of success deploying him at left midfield the last couple weekends (dude was Man of the Match against Liverpool). I still have faith in the potential of his quick footwork and deadly crossing.

Gasper and Herrera (who like Dest slides over to help balance the fullback scales) are decent if unspectacular options that could rise depending on how they continue to develop. And, no, I'm not ready to throw out the possibility of giving Hollingshead either a deserved look or a Bat-signal call if we're in a selection pickle. As for the future, we also have guys like Bello, Gloster and Sepúlveda in the pipeline. Taken overall, it's a prettier picture than we've ever had, even if a couple of these guys are tourists from the right side.

- Greg Seltzer


DaMa said...

I think we can agree on Dest as 1. While I think Vines has some solid potential there, I have been watching a bunch of Fulham to get a feel for Robinson due to his questionable form with the national team. I wouldnt say hes been playing midfield. Wingback in the 3-4-2-1, but pretty pinned back at times. He's pretty good. Still a risk taker defensively, but his makeup speed is for real and I think he has gotten better incrementally better defensively. He's ahead of Vines for me right now and it's not that close. Thats not a knock on Vines. I like him. He may be the best defender of the bunch and hes young and can hit a good pass. But Robinson's speed/offensive contribution is a level above.

Just my view :)

Greg Seltzer said...

I hear ya, but mistakes cost bigger at this level and I'm suddenly in love with Vines' lead passing. But these guys are all so young, the order will shift constantly. What I'm really looking for is who will be best come summer 2026. To me, that's when we should actually expect to compete for a World Cup title.

DaMa said...

That's fair. Mistakes in a WCQ can be pretty devestating for sure. But really your main point is absolutely correct. I juggle these guys back in forth in my mind all the time and it's not a 1v1 competition. Vines probably makes the most sense if you have a risk taker on the right because he slots into a psuedo-back three with the most defensive responsibility when the right has bombed forward.

If we are really talking 2026, then I think we would probably both agree that the answer is "none of the above" other than playing dest on his wrong side. Feels like there's enough real talent in the pipeline now, that whether its someone like Bello or whatever, 6 years down the line Antonee probably isnt in the conversation (and he'll be almost 30... somehow).