Union

PSP Seven-a-side Draft: The captain’s crew

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

First things first: this was the first fantasy draft I have participated in, and I have to say, it was a blast. The inherent drama of hoping the players I wanted would be there when I picked them would have been enough, but it was equally interesting to evaluate in real time the various and competing ideas that each picker had for building a useful team. As the draft got into its later stages, there were players still available whose overall talent far outstripped that of players getting selected ahead of them—I’m thinking of Bořek Dočkal, CJ Sapong, and Sergio Santos, among others, who went way later than pure talent would suggest they should—but who didn’t fit into the team structures of the people making the selections. It was fascinating.

To wit, my own philosophy for small-sided games was fairly simple. Having participated in thousands of such games myself, the primary problem I have run in to is having a team that is weak through the middle. If the opposing team finds it easy to play through the center of the pitch, your own squad is going to struggle. Conversely, if your team cannot pass the ball through tight spaces, it’s going to generate turnovers, which swiftly turn into goals for your opposition on the constrained proportions of an indoor field. How did that translate into my team?

I picked seventh, but somehow, my top-ranked player was still available: Alejandro Bedoya. Not only does Ale contribute meaningfully to how I want a small-sided team to play, but he also provides something that is of outsize importance in small games: leadership. Everybody needs to be singing from the same hymnbook if you want success indoors, where things can go sideways in a hurry. Bedoya provides that.

I was even more suprised, however, that Chris didn’t select my next pick, Vincent Nogueira, considering his long-distance love affair with the Frenchman. Nogueira may be the ideal central player indoors. He’s a connector, and able to play in the tightest of spaces. And, while he’s not a defensive destroyer by any means, he always knows where he needs to be, and so would clog the middle when the other team has the ball. His lack of pace is also not a huge issue.

By the time of my third selection, the team I had in my mind had begun to get picked away from me. Jamiro Monteiro (selected third overall), Le Toux, and Dočkal, were all gone, and so was Maurice Edu, whom I had hoped would anchor my defense. My theory of indoor defense is that while it is important, having guys who can’t contribute going forward is a waste, so your defenders need to be more than just tackling machines. That’s why Edu, and his protege Amobi Okugo, really fits the bill. Converted midfielders, both provide a lot of bite defensively, but have the positional awareness and ball skills of players used to playing farther forward.

By pick four, I was definitely improvising a little. Kai Wagner was still on the board, and while I had other picks I wanted to make, I saw in him an ideal indoor winger. He has the speed and ball skills to play offensively, able to pick out crosses and entry passes into the box, but won’t shirk his defensive duties. As a winger myself, I think good wing play is highly underrated indoors. Wingers are asked to do more physical work than any other position, and if they fail at that running, it can be catastrophic. Having Wagner and Bedoya on the outside of the formation ensures that will never be an issue.

Next, I picked Michael Farfan. Technically listed as a substitute, Marfan had/has all the tools to start in any of the midfield positions if the opposition dictates it. I used to love me some Farfan. His chip against Real Madrid will live on in Union lore forever, and while he never quite lived up to his potential, his flashes were bright. A great indoor player, I am sure.

I left the forward position late, since my first choice, Le Toux, got taken early. Honestly, Le Toux doesn’t really fit with my ideal indoor striker, anyway. Indoors, athleticism up front is useful for harrying defenders, but more important is the ability to hold on to the ball. You need someone intelligent, who can occupy defenders and also slip their attention at the precise moment when the ball is arriving. I thought no one else in Union history did that better than Alejandro Moreno.

Next, I needed someone to partner Okugo in the back. Enter the criminally underrated Andrew Jacobson. He ticks the boxes of smart, strong, and able to pass out of the back.

For my second substitute, I selected Jack McInerney. Jack’s a poacher, with a knack for getting goals out of nothing, even using his head, which is perfect for indoor play.

Finally, I selected Carlos Miguel Coronel with my final pick. No disrespect to Steve, who selected Andre Blake with his third pick, but I just couldn’t countenance using a higher pick on a keeper. My thinking is more like Chris’s, in that I while it’s true a keeper can absolutely save your ass indoors, field players are much, much (much!) more valuable. As long as you’ve got someone actually willing to play in goal, you’re ahead of the curve when it comes to indoor play. And if that guy has played in the Champions League? Um, yes please, I’ll take him, thank you very much.

Like I said, picking this team was a blast, and I’m very happy with how it turned out. It’s not the team of my wildest fantasy, but it is one that would absolutely play the right way and would be a tough out for even the best seven-a-side teams. If there’s one weakness I could self-diagnose, it is a lack of out-and-out goalscoring, but indoors you’re liable to get contributions from all over in that regard, rather than one player who makes magic. (Hats off to Steve, though, for picking Ilsinho first, the absolute, rock-solid, iron-clad right decision. Picking anyone else would have been lunacy.) My only regret is not seeing these teams actually play each other. What a tournament that would be!

2 Comments

  1. hobosocks says:

    I think people are really sleeping on Gabriel Gomez in the midfield in this draft.

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