Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Sheanon Williams

Photo: Earl Gardner

It’s rare that professional athletes are able to play more than one position well. Most players find a niche and become specialists. One is a point guard, not a shooting guard. A first baseman, not a center fielder.

In soccer, where positions are more fluid, it’s still the case that players tend to find a position and stay there. Indeed, players that are able to play more than one position often find themselves the victims of their own versatility, becoming jacks of all trades, masters of none, at least in the eyes of their coaches.

Look at Ray Gaddis. As the suspension of Amobi Okugo has shown, Ray is a wonderful right back, but Union fans have watched his struggles to adapt to the seemingly simple switch to the left side. He’s still a fullback over there, but the job is harder, because it’s not what he’s used to.¬†Okugo, himself, has had some adapting to do, making the switch from defensive midfield to center back, though he’s made the transition better than most.

Of course, with Okugo’s suspension, there’s one player that’s had to make a much bigger change: Sheanon Williams. Make no mistake, playing fullback and playing center back are very different things, especially in the modern game, where fullbacks are asked to bomb up and down the wing, leaving the center backs to cover the entire defensive area while also organizing all the players in front of them.

Against Montreal, Williams showed just what a talent he is, shutting down the vaunted Marco Di Vaio and the rest of the Montreal attack. Shorter and lighter than your average center back, Williams played like he’d never played anyplace else. Using his speed and vision to snuff out attacks, his excellent vertical leap to get to high balls, and with the calm veteran presence of Jeff Parke beside him, Williams not only got by, he was the Union’s best player against a league-leading Montreal Impact side.

Having just given up five goals against New England, it was important for the Union defense to respond, with or without their young star, Okugo. All four players in the back line put in good performances, but it was Williams who truly shone. While right back will always be Williams’ home, he showed that players can be versatile without losing quality. That’s why he’s PSP’s Player of the Week.

15 Comments

  1. Well deserved. The whole backline was excellent against Montreal, and they did a particularly good job stepping up into the outer part of the 18 to cut off the space behind Brian Carroll that New England so ruthlessly exploited. But Sheanon was everywhere.

  2. I don’t think I was the first to suggest this, but why not consider keeping Sheannon at centerback? I would have never considered it before, but he was outstanding against Montreal, and he fits the same style of player (fast/agile) that pairs well with Parke. That would free up Ray for RB, Fabinho for LB and…(wait for it)…Amobi at center-mid. We wouldn’t lose much as Amobi would still be a force on set pieces at both ends of the pitch. While I doubt it would happen, it would be fun to see. If we fail to make the playoffs, we should petition Hack to show us Amobi in the midfield at least once before the end of the year.

    • I am secretly hoping that Carroll catches a cold before the Houston game just so we can see this

    • Is that worth losing Williams’ throw-ins? Or are you going to go unconventional and have your CB do throw-ins when you get near the box? (There’s nothing wrong with unconventional – at least as long as it works.)

    • Southside Johnny says:

      I would give up the throw-ins in a heartbeat to see this happen. I think it would be the best positional move yet.

      • Fair enough. Of course, in desperate moments – late in game and down a goal – you can still go the unconventional route and pull Williams up for a throw. They do the unconventional now sometimes anyway, and have Williams come over to the left side for a throw in late in a game.

    • Because as good as he may have been this past week as a fill-in — and I voted for him as player of the week — he has been physically dominated by stronger and bigger target forwards in the past at center back. That’s what happened in 2012. He also picked up injuries playing there, if I remember correctly. Bottom line: He’s a really good right back, one of the league’s best this year, and he should be playing right back if at all possible.

      • Southside Johnny says:

        I’m not saying it would be ideal by any means or a long term solution or even good for Williams, but I think given who we have, we could finish the season stronger. We desperately need more strength up the middle on both sides of the ball. Okugo could provide it. I was one of those doggedly advocating for Amobi at Dmid in preseason and if Hackworth hadn’t anointed Carroll, I bet we would still have Soumare and a solid spot in the playoffs.

  3. The union just posted a “haha told you we don’t need any defensive depth” article.

  4. Take the best fulback in the league this year and put him at center back and I guarantee John would of lost his job.

  5. It’s a tough problem:
    1. I don’t want to lose Fabinho’s service
    2. Ray’s 1v1 was really good and he seemed very reliable on the right
    3. Amobi is this team’s defensive star in my opinion
    4. We do need some height and physicality.

    I think I’m in agreement with those above to see Amobi in Carroll’s role. Perhaps his first thought won’t be to turn around and kick the ball back to whence it came.

    • The short term answer – though Hackworth won’t do it – would be to start Fabinho at left mid, leave the defense the same as typical for the year (Gaddis, Parke, Okugo, Williams).
      .
      Next year, assuming Carroll’s contract is up (anybody know?), sign a CB (or bring back Valdes) and push Okugo back to the spot he belongs in with the midfield.
      .
      Honestly, I’d prefer to leave the defense alone as much as possible this year. It’s working, and in a lot of games they’re carrying us to points.

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