Friday, January 27, 2006

Balloucy set to run RSL offense

According to a profile on ESPN, Mehdi Ballouchy may be "handed the keys to a team's offense" some time in his rookie season.

The rest of the profile gives a good in-depth look at Ballouchy and it fills in the gaps between his life in Morocco and playing at Santa Clara. He still has another year of schooling left, but I guess the League will be picking on the tab on his last pair of semesters. It didn't say where he was going - maybe the U?

This is the first I've heard of the concern about his work rate. With only one source writing it I'm hoping it's only a myth. Sure, he may not be big enough for some people's liking for him to survive in this type of league. But, you can put weight on easier than create the skills that we hear Mehdi has.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Supa, Super Draft!

As I watched the draft slowly come to pass on the Draft Tracker I'll admit that my first thoughts when seeing that RSL picked Mehdi Ballouchy as second overall pick that the thought, "who the crap is Mehdi?" Screamed through my brain for the next few hours until I could get out of work and educate myself.

Only knowing that he was a midfielder I began thinking about where Mehdi would fit. My initial thought was that Ellinger would be playing Sequeira as a defensive midfielder (I know I heard that from a source once...or maybe it was my imagination) and Ballouchi would fill in while Douglas is away at the World Cup for a few weeks. Now knowing that Mehdi is considered the best playmaker in the college game I realized that my first thought was folly. The next option that I pieced together was having Ballouchi teaming up with Kreis in the middle of the park to feed the strikers - Cunningham and "other" (ie. Tarley, Watson, or Cila, etc). That was until I saw this blog post from one of the Tribune writers that made me believe that Ellinger plans on using Jason up top this season.

With that information my thoughts are that Ballouchi will still be in the middle he'll just be working with Williams instead. With more than a few sources saying that this kid is the best playmaker coming out of college I like the idea of him and Andy feeding balls out to our wings or through to Cunningham and Kreis.

RSL's other draft pick was Ryan Johson a midfielder, coming in the 3rd round out of Oregon State (who knew they had a soccer program?). Johnson impressed Ellinger and Pastorino at the Combine. Before that point the RSL brass hadn't heard of the Boston native (they obviously didn't know about OSU either, I'm not the only one) who holds duel citizenship and played on the Jamaican Olympic Team in 2003.

Johnson leaves OSU as the all-time leader in assists (30) and he holds the OSU record for assists in a single season with 13 in 2003.

Another aspect of Johnson that I like, and it's a trend that I've seen with many of the new pickups for RSL this offseason, is that he's 6'1". Three of the other new field players are at least 6-feet tall. Carey Talley is the biggest at 6'2". Sequeira is listed at 6'1" and Diego Walsh is an even 6 feet. To give your mind's eye a reference as far as height you may have already seen Melvin Tarley is only 6'1" and Eddie Pope is six-feet. The added height will bring a new aspect to RSL's game this season that Salt Lake fans will enjoy.
Also, if you're interested in a 2005 Columbus Crew Media Guide please email me at desertcrown [at] gmail[dot]com.