Thought I would add a little color to Eric Lichaj’s performance today for those that haven’t seen him.
Aston Villa played Rapid Vienna in the Europa Cup qualifiers to a 1-1 draw today. The Villians were using a makeshift backline with both Carlos Cuellar and Richard Dunne unavailable, the Villa backline went: Beye, Warnock, Davies, Lichaj.
So they were a little unorganized from time-to-time. Here are the bullets:
• Moved the ball well for a hockey assist on Villa’s 1st goal.
• Got beat to the spot, Chad Marshall-style (wrong hip) on the Vienna goal though his man didn’t get a head on the ball…but his mark did disrupt Brad Guzan enough to see the ball skirt through on a long service into the box.
Before this Lichaj had committed some fouls and lost his man some (Marvell Wynne-style), but certainly settled down as the game went on.
• You could tell that Lichaj–should he stay with the 1st team and play in the Premiership–will need some time to adjust to the speed.
A few times Lichaj came up on a defender expecting to win a challenge and arrived more than a tad late. Just adjustment to pace of game there.
• Villa played through Lichaj quite a bit on the right and he pushed on quite aggressively. Was not spectacular with the ball at his feet, but showed a propensity to have a first step or move and beat defenders. Yes, Yanks’ fans, an American defender who actually took on the defense.
More importantly, on the plays where Lichaj’s attack wasn’t an outright success, he wasn’t frequently dispossessed only re-routed. I consider that a very important skill in attacking defenders.
• We didn’t get to see any of Lichaj’s famed throw-in ability. At the Poland camp, maybe we can have a throw-off between Gooch and Lichaj, US Soccer?
• You can see the potential for Lichaj to play midfield if tasked, the Villa official site has listed him as an outside back of central defender. If he’s playing central defense, he’s obviously more in the realm of a DeMerit or Cannavaro chaser-type, as oppose to a stay at home Nesta/Gooch-type.
• If I was mixing up today’s Lichaj Cocktail, it would go something like this: 2 parts Steve Cherundolo (for his shiftiness with the ball, good horizontal offensive movement), 1 part–gulp I hate making this comparison–Gary Neville (for his tracking back and hard in-your-face tackling especially after he lost the ball.)
• Rating: 5.5 out of 10 (the performance showcased his talent, but also showed that he’s got a little bit of climb to being a EPL first team defender)
• Lest we not respect Brad Guzan, the American keeper looked exceedingly sharp today and showcased amazing athletic ability in making some saves and coming out on the ball. Rating: 7 out of 10 for Guzan.