Move an Attacking Player to Left Back: Another Tommy Soehn Positional Brainwave

Canadian Soccer Jesus trying to win the ball. Not shown: Canadian Soccer Jesus winning the ball.

According to the official Vancouver Whitecaps site, Tom Soehn has the brilliant idea to try Russell Teibert at left back. Teibert, coming off a hip flexor injury, played at left back in the Whitecaps Reserves game against the Los Angeles Galaxy and seems set to take those "skills" to the first team.

I was surprised when I heard this (brofist to Carl Valentine's Afro on Twitter for letting me know). I probably shouldn't have been.

We've seen Tom Soehn take talented players and chuck them anywhere on the field just for the sake of having them out there. Camilo Sanvezzo can shoot and dive, so put him at left wing. Of course Camilo's not a left winger so semi-competent midfielders have spent the last couple months tearing him a new asshole. This doesn't matter to Soehn, who sees Camilo score a few goals and sits back smiling. Then he throws Davide Chiumiento at central midfield, which is where Chiumiento wanted to play and where he's also not any damned good. Release Mouloud Akloul so you can put Alain Rochat at centre back? Make Terry Dunfield an attacking midfielder then trade him for a box of Aron Winter's farts when he turns out to be crap at it? Play Jeb Brovsky at right back? Play Peter Vagenas in a position where he has to do anything? Sure, why not! That's the Tom Soehn way: see player, put skilled player on field, think about the rest later. He probably kicks ass at FIFA 11.

I should be happy at seeing Teibert again. I love Canadian Soccer Jesus and think he deserves a lot more playing time then he's getting. However, I don't let my creepy man-crush on a teenager blind me. Teibert's a great young player: loads of razzle-dazzle with the ball at his feet, crosses well, terrific offensive awareness, and he shoots very well when he has the nerve to unleash it. There are areas in which he has to improve and one of them is defending.

Teibert is a poor ball-winner and his instincts for when to get back are substandard. This is a minor problem when he's playing on the left wing, although he's worked hard at improving that part of his game and recent appearances have been significantly better. I venture, however, that it will be a significant problem when he's playing on a defense, particularly one that already has Jonathan Leathers on it.

We saw Tom Soehn go with an attacking lineup against the Los Angeles Galaxy: a midfield of Gershon Koffie, Shea Salinas, Camilo, and Chiumiento with Mustapha Jarju and Eric Hassli up top. Poor Koffie had shell shock by the end of ninety minutes from all the balls he was being force-fed thanks to the defensive incompetence of his fellow midfielders. The second-best ball-winner in the front six was Eric Hassli, which should never happen.

A child could have told Soehn this wouldn't work and it didn't. There were a few decent chances but got generally steamrolled by a team that only started trying half an hour into the game.

Normal people would say "hrm, maybe I should stop filling out my lineup card like this is a fantasy team". Instead, Tommy Dreamer determined the problem was that he isn't playing enough offense-first players out of position yet.

I think Teibert is great and would love to see him start... at left wing where he's comfortable. Camilo can play forward or lurk on the bench as a killer substitute; you know, things he's good at. I also think that Jeb Brovsky is a mediocre but potentially useable player when he's a central midfielder, that it's no coincidence Davide Chiumiento stopped getting results when he stopped playing out wide, that we really should have kept Akloul around... in short, that positions are important.

Instead, our coach is running this team like a bad U-12 program. If I had a kid and Tom Soehn was coaching him I'd find another team.

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