Roster Analysis: March 2014

Previously: February Roster Analysis

Just a day before its first tryouts of 2014, Detroit City FC announced a group of signings which, when added to those of February, brings the current roster total to 32 players.

Returnees

Luke Diener (CB)
Zeke Harris (RB)
Nick Lewin (CB)
Bret Mollon (GK)
Zach Schewee (LB)
TJ VanSlooten (M)

In my February roster analysis, I said that the area of greatest need was on the back line, where Josh Rogers was the only returning starter. That statement is now outdated and irrelevant with the return of both starting fullbacks – Harris and Schewee – as well as the two centerbacks who saw the most time alongside Rogers in 2013 – Diener and Lewin.

Bret Mollon is also officially back and gives City an experienced, quality starting goalkeeper, and TJ VanSlooten gives Ben Pirmann yet another solid option in midfield.

Rookies

Tyler Arnone, University of Michigan (CM)
Moustafa Bazzi, University of Detroit/Nejmeh Sporting Club (LW/RW)
Connor Furgason, Western Michigan University (CB)
Sean Hazen, Western Michigan University (RB)
Alex Isaevski, Saginaw Valley State University (M)
Michael Lamb, Saginaw Valley State University (CB)
Colin McAtee, University of Michigan (M)
William Mellors-Blair, University of Michigan (W/F)
Craig Neal, Saginaw Valley State University (D)
Brad Ruhaak, University of Akron (D)
Zach Vasold, Saginaw Valley State University (M)

I’m not a college scout, so I can’t give a detailed breakdown of each and every one of these players. Over the course of doing a little internet detective work, however, there are three who stood out to me as having the potential to provide an immediate impact.

Although the center midfield is loaded with returnees including Latif Alashe, Dave Edwardson, Locky Savage, and Spencer Thompson, Tyler Arnone has the ability to step in and start from day one. Playing at Michigan, he was First-Team All-Big Ten in 2012 and 2013, the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year in 2013, and is currently ranked as one of the Top 100 players in the country by Top Drawer Soccer.

Michael Lamb (Saginaw Valley St.) was the 2013 GLIAC Defensive Player of the Year and although centerback is now a crowded position, he should compete for a starting role right away.

For me, the most interesting new signing is Moustafa Bazzi, a former UDM winger who plays professionally for Nejmeh Sporting Club of the Lebanese Premier League. Judging from his highlights, he will bring a new dimension to City’s attack with his flair and creativity.

The pirate theme music seems fitting, what with DCFC supporters’ affinity for skeletons and skull flags.

Overview

Detroit City has yet to hold a tryout in 2014 and the majority of the roster is already set. This speaks to the club’s growing reputation – college players want to play here, and current players don’t want to leave. Case in point, Tyler Arnone’s quote from the official DCFC release:

“When (Michigan) coach (Chaka) Daley told me that I could play for DCFC this summer I couldn’t let this opportunity go by,” Arnone said. “DCFC has such an amazing reputation in the soccer world, especially here in Michigan. For me, it’s going to be a great honor wearing the DCFC jersey and playing in the NPSL.

Even with these new signings, there are still a few areas that need to be bolstered. The most obvious one is striker, which currently consists of Zach Myers, Wade Allan, Tom Oatley, and Nick Schroeder. This is a good group to start with, but more depth is needed. It would be nice to add a pure speedster a la Kyle Bethel/Shawn Lawson, as well as an impact sub (paging Knox Cameron…).

A couple more goalkeepers, including a solid backup for Mollon, are a necessity, and it would be nice to have some more depth at left back (said every club at every level around the world).

Aside from these minor issues, this team is loaded. There is a ton of skill on the wings, the center midfield depth is obscene, and the back line is arguably the best in the NPSL. Not to make any predictions (that’s what the upcoming season preview is for), but another double-digit win season looks like the bare minimum expectation for City in 2014.

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