Kwame Watson-Siriboe. At the start of the season, the only supporters who really knew the center back were generally fans of Chicago Fire, and even some of those may have issued a "Who?" or an "Isn't that the lad from Sherlock Holmes?"
In three years with Chicago Fire, the young central defender from California had made only 10 appearances - seven starts — for the club. A grand total of 681 minutes. But after his rookie year, Watson-Siriboe made a whopping zero appearances in the league before making the jump to Salt Lake. No minutes, no tackles, no passes - no nothing. He had been relegated to the substitutes' bench or worse for a Chicago team that, at times, failed to find its feet.
But changes of manager will do that to a player, and as hard as it can be for the player, it's sometimes harder for the coach. Exactly why Kwame Watson-Siriboe was relegated may remain a mystery. Perhaps it's better it does. These sorts of things aren't generally public for a reason, and they don't become public routinely.
It's perhaps more surprising because since arriving in Salt Lake, he's shown some excellent ability to perform - a level, perhaps, where we needn't worry about injuries to one Jamison Olave with such vigor. He's not a like-for-like replacement, but he's a player that gets in, closes players down and battles for balls further up the pitch than someone like Nat Borchers. In essence, he fits the system.
The question remains: Just how well has Kwame done? As usual, a few statistics will prove elucidating.
- The kid has played 288 minutes - fewer minutes than Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave and, yes, Chris Schuler, despite his injury issues. During that time, he's won all of his tackles - six in total. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is more than Chris Schuler won before his injury. I'd put part of this down to the nature of the positions, where Nat and Chris will stay slightly further back to sweep up any mess that comes along.
- He has won 15/19 duels, putting him at a 79 percent win-rate. This is higher than Borchers (64 percent), Olave (61 percent) and Schuler (50 percent).
- His 92 percent passing rate is the best at the club, ahead of even Borchers (88 percent) and Kyle Beckerman (87 percent).
Sure, Kwame hasn't come in and won everything. The circumstances between the playing time for all four central defenders differs a great deal. It's not all just clear cut - though I sometimes wish it was. But the California Kid has come in with a good attitude, got his head down, and performed on the pitch.
For a young player with the best years ahead of him, it's hard to ask for too much more.