Saturday, November 6, 2010

Yeoman's Work

On Friday night, the Terps paid tribute to the senior members of the 2010 men's soccer team -- Will Swaim, Greg Young, Doug Rodkey, Billy Cortes, and Jason Herrick.

Some of the five will have a career as professional soccer players, although, with the exception of Jason Herrick, I am unsure as to which desire such a future.

During the game, our daughter wanted to goof off on the grass near the field. Standing next to her, I got a chance to see Herrick, at field level, deal with a defender that continually fouled him and tried to intimidate him with physical play. Herrick was nonplussed. With each hack, Herrick would pick himself up and return back to the play without a change in facial expression. If anything, the confrontations seemed to light a fire under Herrick.

In addition to a bit of a physical resemblance, watching Herrick play is a bit like watching the English international Kevin Davies. Both are physical strikers that do not shy away from contact. Both are also often overlooked because their consistent and steady play is overshadowed by flashier peers. And both seem to have fully committed to a professional approach to their craft.

After catching Spurs-Bolton this morning, I find the comparison a bit more intriguing. Davies was, of course, tremendous. More than his brace, his best play of the game came on the header that led to Martin Petrov's goal. Through 90 minutes, Davies won nearly every fifty-fifty ball that was near him. The header to Petrov was gorgeous.

Herrick offers similar attributes in the air and Casey Townsend, among others, has benefited immensely from Herrick's willingness to commit himself to every free ball. But I nevertheless wonder if any MLS team will value Herrick's considerable contributions on the field. Herrick is frequently faulted for not being able to consistently create his own shots, but Herrick nevertheless creates scoring opportunities.

Jason will be drafted by an MLS team, but the pick is unlikely to be made with much fanfare. That's unfortunate, because several years of watching him play have eliminated all doubts that he'll be successful as a professional -- so long as he is given a real opportunity to prove himself.

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