It took Lloyd Sam the better part of 2 years to consistently make the Starting XI for Mike Petke's version of the New York Red Bulls. Once he made it, even through a change in the coaching staff, he never left. Sam has been a force on the right wing with his impressive footwork and how he can easily fake defenders out. Under Petke he played more on the wing, serving up crosses for Bradley Wright-Phillips and Tim Cahill. This year, he was asked to pinch in more and contribute to direct play.
34 Games Started
2845 Minutes Played
Player Grade: B+
Things done well:
As I mentioned above, Sam was asked to play a more direct role in 2015. Taking on this responsibility was a catalyst for the best goal tally in MLS this year. His play opened up the penalty area for Bradley Wright-Phillips as well as getting him into a better position to finish when given the chance. His 12 goals and nine assists on the year were a product of this play. He was one of three players to reach 20+ goals and assists on the year. if Sam had stuck to the wings this year, we might not have been talking about this team being Shield winners.
Things done poorly:
If there is any drawback to Sam's game, it's the tendency to hold onto the ball too long. Sam has a great ability of cutting the ball back to make defenders screw up. However, when he's on the wing and not crossing the ball in, he sometimes waits too long for the defender to show a weakness. Sam has to be a bit more aggressive when taking on defenders. Sure, it may result in some lost possession, but we've seen that the team this year doesn't care about possession as much as creating chances. Being aggressive is they way to accomplish that goal.