With the move to Keyworth and its wider field, fullbacks will play even more of a crucial role in the DCFC’s success than in the past. Fortunately, looking at the roster, I think this is the deepest and most talented crop that the club has ever had.
It all starts with Zach Schewee, one of three players remaining from City’s inaugural roster (Cyrus Saydee and Wade Allan being the others). He spent the vast majority of his early career at left back and then moved to the right for much of last year after the emergence of Alex Isaevski. As a solid defender who likes to get forward down the flank, he should thrive in the extra space at Keyworth. He’ll most likely start the year back on the left, while the right side should be manned by…
…Billy Stevens, a NY Red Bulls Academy product and former US youth national teamer. Stevens came to the University of Michigan with a healthy amount of recruiting hype and jumped into the starting lineup almost immediately. His bio states that he played as a centerback his freshman year and right back this past season; based on his size (5’9”, 165), I’d expect him to play on the right for City. Word from several Michigan Ultras (UM’s student supporter group for Men’s and Women’s soccer) who also happen to be in the Northern Guard is that Stevens is a ball of energy who feeds off of the emotion of the crowd. I think he picked the right place to spend his summer.
As alluded to above, Alex Isaevski followed up a promising 2014 with a monster 2015 season, flying up and down the left flank on a regular basis and often looking like the best player on the field not named Mellors-Blair. Unfortunately, he’s currently recovering from an injury and probably won’t be ready to go until the second half of the season at the earliest.
On the plus side, Ben Pirmann added another quality left back to the roster in Xavier’s Matt Nance. WARNING: the first part of the following video was filmed in Madison56erVision.
With Isaevski out for the time being, Nance should factor into the rotation right away. His brief highlight video suggests yet another attack-minded fullback, which should fit in well with the team’s philosophy.
With the all-around quality, this looks like it might be the strongest position on the team. Matt Nance may turn out to be the fourth-best option, yet he’d be a probable starter on nearly every other team in the NPSL Midwest. They’ll all play, and they’ll all be good.
One Reason to Be Excited 😀
Interchangeability. Schewee can play left or right, and if necessary, Seb Harris, Omar Sinclair, and Tyler Stephens can all fill in on the right. It would take multiple injuries to really put a dent in the position.
One Reason to Worry 😕
The injury to Isaevski is a downer, and if he can’t come back, or if he comes back at noticeably less than 100%, it would put a bit of a damper on what this position’s true potential could be.
Player to Watch
Billy Stevens – Along with all his other accolades, he won the 2015 “Ultra on the Field” award from the Michigan Ultras. If he truly thrives on atmosphere, putting him in Keyworth will be like letting a chubby kid loose in a Dairy Queen with a $100 bill and no adult supervision.