Sunday, January 17, 2021

Big Decision 3A

Pardon my slack, once again. Between a work deluge and taking care of my ill lady (no, it's not that), it's been a busy week. Honestly though, I probably needed more time, once again, to sort out the hierarchy for the wing slots. Obviously, a certain pair of youngsters were not on the USMNT's #10 depth chart, which means I had to sort them out for the flank slots. On top of that, their presence here kinda shoves some worthy contenders out of the line-up. So yeah, it was a whole thing. But now I've come to a decision.

Let's start on right wing...

Giovanni Reyna
Paul Arriola
Timothy Weah

Climbing the ranks: Chris Mueller, Benji Michel
Yeah, I'm still banging this drum: Brooks Lennon
Future watch: Cade Cowell

I picked Reyna for this post for a few reasons. Thing the first, I wanted him wide on his good foot for playmaking purposes. It's not that he's that much less of a goal threat than Pulisic, just that I prefer the Borussia Dortmund phenom at full chance-creating capacity. Perhaps more importantly, this side gives him better defensive support, both while he's on the field and in the event that he departs for a sub. While he's out there, Reyna would have Cannon (a more "reliable"-style defender than Dest, to be sure) at his back. When he subs off, we can turn to human two-way motor Arriola or even Weah, whose recovery wheels allow him to make some helpful track-back plays.

Slotting the back-ups here was no east feat, either. Weah might be a more outwardly dangerous player in the final third, but his production level is still catching up to that danger element, so at least temporarily placing him behind Arriola is no biggie from my viewpoint. Really, they're choices 2A and 2B, depending on the situation. If we're leading, Arriola is the shrewder pick to come on. If we're trailing, calling Weah's number is more advantageous.

It was hard as hell to keep Mueller out of the top three, but hey, he's only played 90 minutes of international soccer and it was against El Salvador. He's still on the learning curve. And while we're on the topic of Orlando City spark plugs, folks shouldn't sleep on Michel. His speed and eye for the moment makes him one to watch for late hero/back it into the garage assignments. Meanwhile, I'm not yet ready to simply toss out Lennon, who is still among the best crossers/set piece delivery guys in the pool. And then there's Cowell, who, while not ready at the tender age of 17, should soon enough become a discussion point due to his barnstorming ways. The kid has got something and it's just a matter of seasoning it. Consider him a player to pencil into the 2026 cycle frame.

At this point, you may be wondering about the sheer of volume of players listed at this and other Clipboard positions. I meant to mention it before, but now is as good a time as any to talk about the massive fixture glut the USMNT will go through this year. Before they even get to certain obvious matters that shall not be named, there's Gold Cup and the Olympics and the pointy end return of Nations League. There's a ton of minutes to go around this spring and summer is what I'm getting at. It will be a great opportunity to take a look at a lot of players, and depth charts such as this one reflect that. So... now it has been said. 

- Greg Seltzer


DaMa said...

Agreed with most of this. I wish I could somehow combine Mueller and Weah into one winger. That being said, Weah is still pretty young.

I will continue to be a hold out on Lennon. From age 17 he has struck me as a guy with a solid skill set that is just missing that bit of athleticism to implement it. I wonder if he would somehow be better served by a move, not backweard, but inward. Maybe his soccer brain will play better in the middle where his lack of pace won't show as much? Just doesn't do it for me.

Greg Seltzer said...

I still think Lennon's best USMNT shot, if he really has one, is as a specialist late game weapon. If Jonathan Lewis can get looks for that role on the left, Lennon might have a similar effect on the right. He can also find guys in the box, but using different tools. It's a longshot and they'd need to be feeling lean, but it shouldn't be out of the realm for me with all these different tourneys. I believe his case would strengthen if he got a chance to go back to the wing. In one of his few RW outings of the season, he torched DC for a goal and two helpers.

DaMa said...

Agreed. Not a bad fullback for a wing, but always a bit out of place... again in large part because of the athletic limitations. He definitely can find people in the box. On the other hand, I continue to be unclear why coaches won't give Lewis a starting role.

Greg Seltzer said...

I'd imagine it's because they aren't trusting of his 90-minute, 100-yard game. That's the only thing that makes sense.

DaMa said...

Oh for sure. And I clearly don't see him during training and stuff so I have absolutely no clue and I suspect Fraser knows waaaaaaaaay more about soccer than me, but sometimes I am left wondering. Some of the guys who have gotten PT over him in past years...

anyway every year they bring more attacking guys in and it seems like he gets further away.
with Barrios being picked up, I continue to think a move out of Colorado would be great for him.

DaMa said...

(not that it was fraser for the most part and this last year they had more viable tools)