I was in Santa Barbara Tuesday night where 24th ranked Creighton defeated 21st ranked UCSB, 1-0.
It was a typical college soccer game that relies on physical play and an abuse of long balls – no pauses or build-ups in possession.
So I’m only writing this to report on who is ready for the next level.
There are 2 players who should get drafted this year!
Hopefully we can all agree that US Soccer lacks creative center midfielders. This is a necessary requirement for any team or country who aspires to good play and glory.
Well, I’ve got 2 for you! If these guys were in Argentina, they would already have cracked some first team action … seriously! We need them in MLS! So let’s draft them …
Coaches, player agents, selection committees, whoever’s responsible in this wacky system of ours … make it happen!
Jose Gomez (10/23/1990)
* He is a true #10 with excellent technique and decision making.
* Silky smooth touch and calm under all scenarios.
* Defensive and offensive vision is among the best I’ve seen.
* Work rate is impressive.
* His weak foot is better than most player’s strong foot.
* Both long and short ball distribution is excellent.
* He understands about pausing the game.
* A striker’s dream.
I think UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg was aware of the danger Gomez presents. After all, he had him man-marked for this match.
I want to see Creighton’s #10 bark orders and command the team much better. If you understand and can read the game as he does, you should be transmitting your vision to everyone and LOUD!
Technical Quality = 9
Soccer IQ = 9
Physical = 7
Danny Barrera (01/08/1990)
This is Santa Barbara’s elite playmaker and engine. If he’s not given the ball well and often, this team has a difficult time functioning. I’ve seen Danny play many times last year, both in college and for his PDL team.
This is another center mid who “get’s it”. He is a highly illusive player on the ball with excellent vision and decision making. Like Jose Gomez, he shares many of the same attributes and caresses, not kicks, the ball.
And let’s not forget an absolute requirement, which most Americans fail, for any truly elite center mid. The understanding and execution of retaining possession when a clear attacking opportunity is not present.
I would like to see him cover more ground defensively.
Technical Quality = 8
Soccer IQ = 8
Physical = 7
On the Bubble
Ethan Finlay (08/06/1990)
This is Creighton’s highly touted striker. The Junior is a preseason candidate for college soccer’s top individual honor, as he has been named to the preseason Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy Watch List.
I’m always skeptical with players that receive praise or awards in this country. After all, in the majority of my articles I talk about how the US isn’t capable of selecting the absolute best. That they rely on statistics, raw athleticism, and pedigree. So with all the hoopla around Ethan, I made sure to spotlight him.
I will admit, he did not disappoint. There looks to be something there. First off, he does what most American strikers fail to do – properly pressure their opponent’s back line. This guy is a bull! He will chase the width of the field to force the outside back into a turnover. And he will do it at the right angle. Creighton plays with him as a lone striker and yet he still manages to press throughout the game. Think Carlos Tevez …
Additionally, with his team in possession, he makes excellent well-timed runs inviting a goal scoring pass by the midfielders.
Yeah, these things sound trivial. After all, this is fundamental stuff a striker should know how to do, right? Well, in this country they don’t. Finlay looks to be an exception.
I place him “on the bubble” because of the circumstances of the game. With Jose Gomez man-marked and his team forced to play defense for the majority of the match, Finlay did not get many touches. So I could not confidently assess his technical quality. (I’ll follow up when I see more).
Michael Tetteh (01/16/1989)
Another highly touted college soccer player. The Ghanian born outside back/midfielder has the level for MLS but I hesitate to fully endorse him because I only give a thumbs up to the absolute best. Meaning, those players that are special, those that are different. Those where I can’t say: “Yeah he’s good, but there are hundreds like him in the country.”
I’ve watched Tetteh in many games now and he’s very good, but I’ve never been like: “Wow, that was genius”.
However, I think he makes a strong case as an outside back. Forget his defensive responsibilities, his potential to be special is in his play on the ball. He has the technical quality of a midfielder and the capacity to open up defenses with his runs on the wing. This is something the US also lacks. Our defenders are horrific on the ball when compared to their international counterparts. Where’s our Danny Alves and Maicons?
Well, MLS might have a closer version with Tetteh.
Technical Quality: 8
Soccer IQ = 7
Physical = 8
Tyler Polak (05/13/92)
The Creighton freshman is highly rated by US Soccer as he is regularly called up for youth National Team duty. He played every minute of every game in the U-17 World Cup in Nigeria last year.
In this game, he had a good performance in the second half, but got regularly exposed in the first 45 minutes. This is a player that needs to be polished! Currently, he is a prototypical american defender that struggles with proper decision making on the ball – overdribbling, too many long-balls, and wants to be a playmaker. Don’t get me wrong – he has raw potential – but there is a lack of development.
Technical Quality = 7
Soccer IQ = 6
Physical = 7
Sam Hayden (03/17/1989)
I’m sure the UCSB senior goalkeeper is quite capable of playing MLS, but I don’t have any urge to report on this position. US Soccer does just fine here.
Recommendation to MLS bloggers
Oh, and for our beloved readers who happen to be fans of an MLS team and blog about it … start lobbying for these two midfielders. Remember I touted the virtues of Danny Mwanga last year here and here, and look how that’s turning out. 🙂 Trust me, your team will be blessed.
If you know any of these guys … what do you think?
Let me know of college players you think are worthy, and I’ll try to catch their games.
Ben Rogers says
Choco NEEDS to be in the MLS.
I’d say you’re stretching it by calling Polak “highly rated.” He was last called by the u20s in March; meanwhile left backs like Greg Garza, Bryan de la Fuente, Moises Hernandez, etc., have been called multiple times. He’s fringe at best.
Gary Kleiban says
You may have a point there dth!
It’s just difficult to not say he’s highly rated when he played all games of the U17 World Cup.
I guess we’ll just have to see if he continues to get called up for the U20s.
Well, he was highly rated at the u17 level. But surely we can think of tons of players–in any country–who have played a fair amount at u17 and not been rated subsequently. Particularly when, at the u17 level, he wasn’t highly praised for his play there.
Gary Kleiban says
You’re right dth.
There’s lots of players who fall from grace for one reason or another.
Now I haven’t done any research on this, but it seems from my experience that this is particularly true in other countries. My reasoning for why this happens is twofold:
1) They have a higher coaching turnover rate – and with that comes different player preferences.
2) They have a finer eye for quality and can better assess whether players are developing quite nicely or stagnating.
By contrast, in the US, it seems to be the same ole network of guys at the helm forever playing with the same player pools from U-15 to U-20.
Only recently, after the last U20 WC, have I seen Rongen cast a wider net. This is good, but it certainly doesn’t mean the players that have been in the pool forever (ie Polak) have been discounted. If we only look at when was the last time a player got called up, we’d also have to think guys like Amobi Okugo and Luis Gil have fallen out of favor. NOW that’s crazy talk!
I’m actually inclined to think the opposite. It may be entirely possible that Rongen has a set of players in his mind that are “untouchables”. Gil, Okugo, among others … Polak maybe? If so, there’s no urgent need to invite them to camps or take them on a tour for evaluation. His invites are much better spent on players he doesn’t know very well, if at all.
So I guess we’ll just have to see come next summer who’s representing the country.
But you may be entirely correct. 🙂
Luis Gil is probably not in Rongen’s plans–he had an opportunity to invite him to the Milk Cup but he went with the u18s to Argentina instead. Rongen has three other number 10-like players anyway–Molano, Lletget, and Orozco–who are older and more experienced, so I think it’s a sensible decision if true. I think it is: Rongen has often said he wants his main guys together as often as possible, and it was certainly possible for the Milk Cup. I’m sure Gil can play his way onto the team anyway–certainly is getting first-team minutes with AC St. Louis.
As to the alleged stagnancy of the player pool, recall that Dillon Powers and Mikkel Diskerud were introduced to the pool basically out of nowhere–neither were much on any youth coach’s mind previous to last u20 world cup. It may be that there’s not enough churn in Rongen’s pool for your liking, but he’s seen something like 110 players or so in this cycle–it seems to me on that evidence that he’s fairly open-minded if he has the options.
Garrett Stoker says
I went to highschool with sam hayden and played 3 different sports with him. I have never seen someone that is more athletic than him. He has no fear as a goaltender and that makes him close to impossible to score on. He is a boss, and you should have taken the time out of your day to write about his talents.
Gary Kleiban says
The problem is that I don’t think I have the chops to assess keepers at a really deep level. I feel it would be irresponsible, and disingenuous, of me to endorse someone or something under that condition.