The crisis in central defense
March 28, 2016
Last year, Metro's central defense was pretty darn great. Matt Miazga and Damien Perrinelle partnered to lock down opposing attackers. Miazga's high line and subsequent distribution often helped kickstart the attack, and Perrinelle's smarts and cleanup saved Metro time and again.
And then, Perrinelle went down in the playoffs. And then, Miazga was sold to Chelsea.
So, to replace two starting defenders, Metro signed... one: Gideon Baah. Now, we understand the logic: Perrinelle will return in midyear, so all we need is get through that point unscathed. The problem is, the scathing already happened. But before we get to that, the bigger problem is the player partnering Baah: Ronald Zubar.
Now, Zubar is far from being the worst central defender in team history. (That would be Taylor Graham.) And yet, Zubar is a walking calamity. What's worse, he keeps making the same mistakes over and over again.
Remember the psychotic tackle that should have sent him off during last year's playoffs? He repeated it in this season's opener, and got suspended afterwards. Remember the whiff, when he missed hitting the ball last year in Toronto? It happened again, a week ago versus Houston.
Zubar's only positive quality is that he is frequently injured, that he sees more time on the bench than on the field. Such is the case now, when he is sidelined with a hamstring injury. The problem? Baah is as well. Your starting central defenders are Karl Ouimette and (likely) Zach Carroll (or an out-of-position Kemar Lawrence?).
Which brings us back to the starting point. Ali Curtis knew that he was losing two starting defenders. Curtis must have seen that Zubar can't stay healthy. He must have realized that Zubar is not exactly... good. Let's hypothesize that Zubar is on a guaranteed contract and can't be cut; fine. But why go into the year with him as your starter?
Let's not hear claims of cap; last year, Metro had the second-lowest team salary in the league. They are also awash with allocation money from the Miazga sale. Heck, right now they have Amobi Okugo on trial, who will not come cheap. Why was this only done now, when the defense is in crisis? Why was that not done in the offseason?
Let's hope that Okugo is signed and the crisis can be averted. For having a starting defense of Ouimette and Carroll for the immediate future is downright scary...
But so is a defense that features Zubar.