If we created a super-simple professional player scale, the grading options might look like this:
- Not good enough
The gulf between “Accomplished” and “Exceptional” is Grand Canyon-wide, of course, with a wealth of steps in between. The very first is the ability to hold fast in the “Accomplished” zone, which isn’t as painless as it seems.
For once you’ve broken through and climbed to accomplished heights, the pressure is fierce to remain there. The weight of expectations can be heavy, not to mention all the extra attention you’ll receive from opposition.
That part is especially true with attackers. Once you prove a sufficient menace, opposing managers begin cueing up the video, dissecting tendencies and preferences for useful relay to the troops on the field. The man who can’t adjust and possibly expand his bag of tricks risks slipping back into the “average” zone.
Something like that might be going on with Chivas USA midfielder Nick LaBrocca. I had LaBrocca on my “underrated” list for years, going back to his first meaningful year in Colorado, in 2008. LaBrocca finally had his time in the media sun in 2011, enjoying that elusive breakout campaign for Robin Fraser at Chivas USA. His campaign included 8 goals, 6 assists and an MLS All-Star appearance.
This year? Like all things around Chivas USA, the sledding has been more of a slog. (Two home games, zero wins, zero goals.)
In this piece, Labrocca talks about the ongoing adjustment, as more teams focus on shutting down the Ameri-Goats midfield engine.