Jason Kreis: Justin Braun is still behind tactically, technically

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Mea culpa time for me on Justin Braun. I suppose, anyway.

I wrote a couple of years ago that Braun was a Brian Ching starter kit. He looked like a striker with bags full of potential. He was faster and more athletic than Ching – and obviously younger, too.

He looked to me like a guy who could play as a target and find goal, go bang a little with center backs, fight for second balls and do the little things. And when Bob Bradley called Braun into a January national team camp, I felt a little vindicated.

But Braun is, roughly, the same player then that he was now. He simply hasn’t progressed much.

That helps explain why Chivas USA was willing to let him go at the end of last season. Braun went to Montreal, which made some sense. Impact coach Jesse Marsch had played alongside Braun for two seasons, so he saw something there, too.

So I thought perhaps Braun would regain his feet and potentially rise for the Impact the way I always thought he might for Chivas USA. But two months ago Braun was shipped off to Real Salt Lake for a conditional pick in the 2014 SuperDraft. Considering he hasn’t played much for RSL, that conditional pick probably won’t turn into too much.

So … where are we now? (Besides my mea culpa, that is.) Because it looks like I was wrong. For now, at least.

RSL manager Jason Kreis did offer something of an explanation today. Essentially, he said, Braun got a late start with higher level coaching, so he’s behind on the game’s finer points. What he told MLSSoccer.com:

He works extremely hard. He fits into our mentality with his character as a person and with his work rate, but tactically and technically he needs improvement.”

We all know about Justin’s history. I don’t think he’s come from the most organized and the highest levels of youth and college soccer. Some of that he still has to learn. To look at him, and to look at his age, I think he is still a younger player than what his age says – if that makes sense. To me, I still look at him as a young player who is finding his way in our system.”

Braun, 25, played at a small junior college in Utah and was 20 years when he was spotted playing on an amateur team and offered a trial with Chivas USA.