From Last Word on Soccer, by Joseph Goldstein
(HARRISON, NJ) The New York Red Bulls continue to struggle to find consistency in the early goings of the 2017 MLS season. There are many players on the roster that continue to have large swings in their form, especially on the road. This is a common sight in MLS. Rookies and veterans alike are not immune to the trappings of the American game.
Sean Davis Can Seize a Second Chance
The debate over a team’s roster pieces amongst fans can be toxic at times with incredibly divisive opinions. New York’s starting XI is no exception. All around the field, fans pick apart the depth chart with calculated analytical precision and careless hyperbole. For my money, there are two players who are exempt from such toil in 2017, Luis Robles and Tyler Adams.
The US U-20 international has been outstanding for the Red Bulls as a player asked to fill in the spot vacated by Dax McCarty. Their stats are nearly identical through the first quarter of the season, which is incredibly impressive. McCarty is celebrated as one of the best defensive midfielders in MLS. Here are their stats side by side:
Remarkably similar, and Adams has played nearly 200 less minutes than McCarty. This is not an indictment of McCarty, but a means to elevate the very impressive work Adams is doing for the Red Bulls. Even Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin had some very nice things to say about Adams.
“I just mentioned it with Earnie, we were talking, and imagine the midfield now for the U.S. U-20s with the kid [Tyler] Adams and Derrick in there. That’s pretty special. That’s two incredible athletes that are really good soccer players as well.”
Coming into the season, Sean Davis was heir apparent to McCarty. Davis started the year well enough, but struggled to make an offensive impact. New York’s slow start opened the door up to Adams starting in place of Davis against Real Salt Lake at home. Jesse Marsch heralded his performance in the game and Adams continued to start ever since.
For Davis, it really is just a bit of bad luck. His numbers aren’t far off from Dax or Tyler defensively. Take a look:
Davis has played only half the minutes of Adams. So why is Davis the odd man out? Circumstantial evidence plays a part. New York’s record with Adams is slightly better, but the team has looked better all around the pitch since his inclusion. Some of that has to do with beginning to gel as a unit as the year goes on. Some of that has to do with the team switching back to their preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.
Whatever the case may be, Davis will have some leeway as he tries to earn back his place in the starting eleven. Marsch has few other options should Davis struggle. Dan Metzger could fill the gap, though he doesn’t appear to be in the Red Bulls immediate plans.
Davis is a very good player that has had an unfortunate start to 2017. I think he is capable of turning in better performances with greater midfield support. Jesse Marsch still has faith in him. He said after the Union game, “We’re going to miss [Tyler Adams] as he goes with the U-20s, that’s for sure. We wish him well and hope he has a great tournament but he’s done really well for us. There’s no question about that. Now we’ll need Sean Davis to step up in a big way and I know he will.”
Once again, the pressure is on for Davis.