Sunday, March 14, 2021

Attack Force

When it comes to the Olympics Clipboard at the main two offense production posts, there will be a lot that happens between now and summer that determines how the squad list actually ends up looking in Japan. Several players could be up with the USMNT, or they could be busy with a medal hunt come July.

We'll start with the #10 options, and then hit up the loaded forward chart.

Giovanni Reyna*
Brenden Aaronson*
Paxton Pomykal*

The specialists: Cole Bassett, Djordje Mihailovic
Coming in hot: Taylor Booth*

You'll surely have noticed that eligible names like Pulisic, Adams and Dest have not been listed during this Clipboard, for the obvious reason that they'll be needed with the senior team. The same might be said of Reyna, but I can also envision a scenario where they let him have a shot at running the Olympic show.

If not, Aaronson is the easy choice for this spot. He brings a two-way level of effort to the position, and I say he'd produce big at this level. We all might have said the same about Pomykal a year ago, but now we have to just wait and see how he returns from over a year on the sideline.

Bassett is another big play bench weapon, and might be more than that by summer. I think the move to Montreal could spark the best of Mihailovic, who can make many of the plays Aaronson makes when he's on. The hard charger at this position is Booth, who has made a fast impact (a goal and two helpers in 304 minutes) on loan to St. Polten.

Now, we wrap things up with another overstocked stable...

Josh Sargent*
Jeremy Ebobisse
Daryl Dike*

Capable of getting hot enough: Ayo Akinola, Jesus Ferreira, Niko Gioacchini*
Bench weapons on call: Emmanuel Sabbi*, Sebastian Soto, Haji Wright*

Sargent is in the group of guys straddling the line between the Nats and the Under-23 set. His recent hot streak may have nudged him toward Gregg Berhalter's squad, but again, the staff could decide to allow him the chance to run wild at another youth World Cup.

Now we get to my main beef with the qualifying roster. To put it mildly, I am baffled by the Ebobisse blind spot. The guys runs defenders around right, can score in any manner you like and is among the most efficient MLS finishers. Plus, the guy gets a little better every year. I don't get it.

I almost gave Dike the second slot, just because he's about the last US striker any team will want to see entering the game in the 67th minute. He's a smart power forward if there ever was one. Akinola is much like Dike in how he wears defenders out and then finishes, but he could still decide to turn out for Canada. Ferreira has shown he can false nine it out there, but I'd still like to see a similar outing against better international competition before nudging him higher. Gioacchini has also looked good in USMNT caps and has the attributes to make noise at this level, but is inconsistent.

Finally, we have a few different specialists that would make solid strike sub options. Sabbi is the guy who wants to find the soft spot in the area and receive for a quick release. Soto is the prototype pinch-hitter of the target man variety. Wright is a blur that can run around you or through you, but he's going behind you either way. 

Add it all together and honestly, friends, we could make a B team capable of qualifying and causing a little trouble in Japan. The talent in this 18-23 age group is as deep as it is strong.

- Greg Seltzer

No comments: