Player of the Week

Player of the week: Mark McKenzie

Photo: Rob Simmons

There’s an Argentinian playmaker who plies his trade in Major League Soccer, decimates defenses with his guile, guts, and grit, and scores a goal frankly every other time he takes the field.

No, not Chaco Maidana (sadly). No, not Federico Higuain (#SaveTheCrew). No, not Diego Valeri (though that’s a good guess).

Ignacio Piatti is the aforementioned South American, and the Union have felt the force of his talent more than once. In his 7 matches played against the Boys in Blue over several years, Piatti has 4 goals and 3 assists. He’s only been shut out twice in that stretch.

Looking to make the shutout streak three, enter rookie, Wake Forest Demon Deacon, and Union Academy alum, Mark McKenzie, in only his third professional appearance.

(Piatti’s heatmap is on the left, McKenzie’s is on the right. The reader will be forgiven for thinking the whole diagram looks, when squinting, like a screen capture from Lord of the Rings when Gandalf exclaimed to the Balrog, “You. Shall. Not. Pass!”)

The center back didn’t have a flashy performance. He was turned around several times defending Montreal’s uneven but potent attack. His passing was good, but was mostly lateral. Nothing worth writing home about, except for the fact that the aforementioned Piatti was in his proverbial grill for 90 minutes and still had to settle for a goose egg on goals and assists… and that goose egg contributed to the Union’s first road victory in almost exactly a year.

McKenzie recovered well, showed his strength (and more substantially his poise and patience, particularly when defending in the box), and generally succeeded in pushing Piatti wide. His game was tidy, the hallmark of a defender who realizes what his primary job is.

Because of this work, he is this week’s Player of the Week.

Honorable Mention

Austin Trusty gets an honorable mention this week, and nearly got himself a co-Player of the Week nod.

As PSP contributor Jim O’Leary put it in this week’s Player ratings:

An exceptional game from the Union homegrown. His ability to pick out the offense’s next pass before they made it would be impressive from a player twice his age, and paired with excellent speed made him a key part of shutting down numerous Montreal drives. He would have scored higher too, were it not for a handful of sloppy and dangerous passes.

9 Comments

  1. Rosenberry had a hand in this as well, but I was absolutely impressed that we were able to shut their offense down.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Wow, McKenzie get POTY but only a 5 on the player ratings earlier this week. I knew his rating was low…

  3. McKenzie really stood out through my drunken Gin and Tonic haze as I watched from a family Mother’s Day celebration. Honestly I was surprised he didn’t get more praise in the comments of the Match report. Glad it wasn’t just me.

    • With 3 good looking young CBs now on the roster, I wonder if we try playing with 1 (Elliot I guess) at CDM. Of course we won’t, and really Jones should just be playing there anyway, but these young guys need to keep playing because they are showing they belong. That applies to Fontana and Jones too, they need to be out there more.

      • Not sure about any of those three CB’s starting at CDM (I’d still like to see Yaro there), and of course Jones would be my first choice. But I’m all with you as for getting them more time on the field.

      • Playing young guys out of position is exactly how the Union manage to screw up the development of young players.

        I’d say there will be plenty of work for 3 CBs. They get hurt, they get yellow card accumulations, they get red carded… leave them right where they are. And get Derrick Jones back as the CDM. (Or if you really think he isn’t going to develop as hoped, consider signing a wiley veteran to replace Medunjanin and shield the backline.)

      • Its a shame that they refuse to change their system. Would love to see those 3 play a 3 man back with the sunrocket and Rosenberry running the wings in a 3-5-2 and CJ/Burke getting help up top.

        Accam Burke/CJ
        Fabinho, Ilson, Dockal Bedoya Rosenbury
        McKenzie Elliott Trusty
        Blake

      • Your 3-5-2 would actually work pretty nicely. Too bad it’s waaaaayyy over Curtin’s head.

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