Hard to say if the Andy Najar experiment at right back is going to last. But, since this stuff is as fun to discuss as eating Ben and Jerry’s from the carton, let’s get into it.
His appearance at right back around RFK Stadium worked for an evening, of course. The Honduran international’s work up and down the right side was something Chicago needed to deal with last night.
But the issue will never be Najar’s attacking, of course. It’s more about his ability to make a rapid adjustment, and one that would happen seriously on the fly. Because defending from the midfield is different than defending from the back.
First, the calculations are different. Midfield tackling can be slightly more aggressive due to the cover. Miss the tackle in the back and, well, good luck with that breakaway, Bill Hamid. Or that penalty kick.
Positioning along the outside will be critical, too, especially away from home, when there’s more defending to do. Forget to step out quickly one time and Najar (or anyone, of course) could leave an attacker onside for a critical, game-changing goal. In a tight playoff race, that’s the kind of mistake that tends to change a coach’s thoughts on these things.
And what about teams targeting Najar. You know, see if the kid’s got it in him. Make him defend more and attack less. How might that work out for him?
But, we’ll see. For one night, it was a hoot to see the guy menace Chicago’s left side. Here’s what United manager Ben Olsen had to say after last night’s performance.
I thought Andy [Najar] had a really good day at right back…It was pretty impressive. It was fun to watch, that’s for sure. I think he knows [that he can be a good right back]. He has these unique qualities in this League and they all lend itself to the modern right back. You look at soccer now and the outside backs have to be good on the ball and dynamic, they have to have great engines to get up and down the field and they have to be brave in their defending. He’s got a lot of those qualities. He will grow into it. We’ll still use him on the flanks and it’s a good option to have.”