So I’ve been pretty late on this stuff. I could say I did other things the past couple days, but honestly I just kept willfully thinking “No, I’ll get it done later.” But since you’re reading this, I guess I did get it done (or I found this in my drafts a couple months later). So here’s some players that I have thoughts on after watching them play. We’re gonna do a “Stock Up/Stock Down” situation here, so buckle up. Or, you know, do whatever, it’s not a big shake to the system to do this.
Bakero was absolutely outstanding on Day One, setting up Albert Ruiz for the first goal of the Combine and just generally controlling the game. He did a bit less in the second game, but I think that this cements him as a Top 3 pick. He still takes up an international slot, but after these performances, teams aren’t going to care about that; especially teams that were bad enough to be that high in the Draft.
This is our first big surprise of the Combine. Jones has a massive motor on him and is really impressing me with his work rate at the tip of the spear. Also of note, he’s a big dude and deadly in the air. His goal on Day One was basically him sticking with the ball even after it got saved, just pushing always for that goal. It might get him into trouble with looking for goals in the wrong places, but for now he looks pretty good.
Frandtzy Pierrot and Mamadou Guirassy
I couldn’t decide between the two because they were all over the Team X front-line. Both had great work rates in the box and got back on defense when needed. Really, I half hope they end up on the same team in MLS because they were a great tandem. Pierrot is more of a target man in the box, while Guirassy actually has some moves on him. Just a great one-two punch.
I don’t expect this to actually change his stock at all, but I don’t think anyone was impressed by Hillard-Arce the past few days. He just hasn’t performed to the level that we all know he can. He was overshadowed by Moutinho in the first game and picked up the first booking of the Combine in the second one. But he might just be resting up because Bradley already told him he’s their golden boy. It just seems kinda stupid that he’s even playing if that’s the case. I just want to see a good performance from him to at least use as a benchmark or something.
Already coming into the Combine with questions surrounding him, Wild hasn’t done much to settle them. Being virtually silent in the first game, he finally showed up a bit in the second. Unfortunately, it was through some unnecessary long shots, almost as if he could feel the judging looks and he was getting frustrated. He came close once or twice, but really didn’t show anything encouraging to a team to have them pick him up.
The Mere Thought of a Central Midfield
This sounds weird, but roll with me on it. I don’t know what it was about this year, maybe it’s the style of play, but there was almost no play in the center of the pitch. At least nothing that looked good. I feel bad for teams that are completely set up on the attack and are looking to fill holes in the middle of their spine because I cannot find anyone who can do that for them. Maybe if they want a #10 or a winger, but I haven’t seen anything below that. I hope it’s because of tactics and not that all the midfielders in this draft are shit, but it isn’t pretty out there at times. Everyone seems to prefer to be further out wide than teams normally play and when the ball moves over, it doesn’t usually get stuck in at the center of the pitch, it stays in a certain end for a certain period of time then gets flung down the side to the other end. While it may be good tactics, this isn’t doing any favors to the midfield players trying to get noticed.