During the World Cup break, I will grade the players to date and what needs to improve going into the second half of the season. I'll start with the Goalies today, Defense tomorrow, Midfield on Wednesday, and on Friday, I will discuss the Attack. After grading the team, there will be a Preview for Cruzeiro on Friday. Unfortunately, the game won't be aired on TV so there won't be a game thread, but there will be a review afterwards. There's a lot of big things coming up and I apologize for the lack of updates, I get caught up in World Cup fever.
So far this year the team has had 12 league play matches, 2 International friendlies, and 3 U.S. Open Cup qualifying matches, and we've gotten a chance to scout our keeper skill set. Compared to last season, our keepers are world class. We went from dealing with Conway to having Bouna Coundoul and Greg Sutton, both of whom are significant steps up in our box. Bouna has received all league play starts while Greg Sutton has been receiving the U.S. Open and Friendlies (Bouna started in Santos, but was taken out to give Sutton game time).
Bouna Coundoul has been the most frustrating player on the team. He turns in clean sheets and makes highlight reel saves only to follow them up with miss plays and kicks that can't clear midfield. I thought that Hans Backe was close to benching him in favor of the less athletic but safer Sutton but then he turned in two very good games against Chivas US and Houston. I'm hoping he turned the corner and will be more effective going into the second half because he has that natural athleticism to be an effect netminer. He needs to work on some basics but he has the potential. At this point I give Bouna a B- because of his inconsistency.
Greg Sutton is a wild card for me. I've seen him play in the Santos game as well as the Juventus game and he is a very fundamentally sound keeper. He won't make those brain fart errors and he has a stronger leg than Bouna. He won't make those diving saves but he'll make the smart save. I don't expect him to get any league play time unless Bouna gets injured or has another losing streak. As for the U.S. Open Cup, Hans needs to decide if he sticks with the idea of "If it ain't broke don't fix it" or if Sutton becomes the back up keeper. Since Greg has not gotten league play, his grade is based on his four appearances. He receives a solid B.
Come back tomorrow for the grading of our defense. As always your opinions are welcome.