Jordan Allen should start at the 10 for Real Salt Lake in place of Javier Morales -- starting last Saturday. I’m not the first to say this and I don’t think that it’s really that far of a stretch or outside the realm of possibility.
We’ve seen him do it before, we know he’s capable: Young, dynamic, aggressive in the right moments, and a talented defender — he could be the spark that RSL has missed this year and especially recently.
Watch out now, this hot take comes with some stats. I’m going to use goals, assists, and shots/shots on goal to talk a little bit about this; and then we’ll round it out with some real solid opining.
In 2015, Javier Morales lead the team in goals with 8. He also lead the team in assists with 12. Took the most shots with 50 and had a SOG % of 40%. Not too bad at all! Now, there’s a lot that goes into that number and there should be no discounting the fact that in large part last year Javi had to be the player that carried the team.
With injuries and absences, there was a weight that fell on his shoulders that needed to be lifted and he did a miraculous job. He played “better than his age” and looked fantastic doing it. With the addition of Juan Manuel Martinez and Yura Movsisyan as well as the return to form we’ve seen from Joao Plata, there is less of that weight to carry for Javier.
That said, thus far this season he has 1 goal (from a PK) and 2 assists.
I’m only giving this a brief treatment here, but from your playmaker, that is less than ideal. In the past Javi has been the guy to pull the strings, make that last dynamic cutting pass, or put a ball over the top for his teammates to run onto for a chance on goal.
This year, that has fallen to others, and the play making is mostly coming from Joao or Burrito at this point. Not a terrible thing by any means, but part of what has ailed RSL thus far this season is an inability to settle the ball down in the middle of the field which helps create chances through the center-backs into space for Yura or to the wing players to run on to.
Let me add this before the opining: I love Javier. I think there is so much more that he brings to this team than just some numbers in columns on a stat sheet. This all comes from the opinion that we need to start looking toward the future at that position and more importantly that we need to do a better job handling players like Jordan than we have in the past.
Jordan has, through his play this year and last, more than earned a real opportunity to start matches consistently and make an impact on this club. I think we’ve seen something similar happen, or a model for this, with the Justen Glad/Jamison Olave rotation in the center-back position this year.
Applying that approach to the #10 position would be a huge move for RSL, but one that could pay huge dividends. Coming into the season there was a lot of talk about this being the ultimate goal for Jordan, to find him in that spot consistently as a late sub for Javi/rotational starter.
We’ve not seen much of that and instead we’ve seen him playing that “Swiss Army knife” role—playing all over the field. For Jordan, and for the team, is it not in his best interest to help him slot into a position and gain some consistency to play at his best? Would it not be better, even if in a rotation, to have a player with his abilities, speed, and soccer IQ feeding the ball to the forwards? I think it’s time. I think it’s time we saw more of Jordan Allen and more of him consistently at the 10.